That’s One Off My Bucket List

HIGH Pleasant 2D graphics with nice animated sprites.

LOW Run-of-the-mill platforming gameplay with average humour.

WTF The hipster woodcutter stereotype feels very 2005.

The makers of Encodya decided to switch from the nostalgic flavors of a point and click adventure to… well, the not-too-far-removed nostalgic flavors of an early ’90s 2D platformer.

Clunky Hero follows the adventures of a bucket-wearing hero intent on going out to rescue his wife, plus doing sidequests for whoever he meets.

The writing likes to underline the fact that this is, indeed, “A Videogame”: fourth-wall breaking jokes come around a bit too often for my liking, along with characters complaining of “lazy writing”. While the humor failed to get a laugh out of me, it’s not offensive (for the most part) and it doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay.

While the developers use the word “metroidvania”, this feels like an inappropriate use of the term, since Clunky Hero would be best described as a free-roaming 2D platformer. The player is free to explore at their leisure while defeating enemies, collecting coins, jumping around and solving quests (which are, for the most part, of the “fetch” variety). In my mind, a metroidvania would offer something more — some RPG elements, loot to collect or, at the very least, experience/level up mechanics. None of this is in Clunky.

It is possible to learn new skills, like the incredibly necessary genre-standard double jump, but what’s on offer adds little to the overall play beyond having to go back to areas which have been previously visited, and this doesn’t clear the metroidvania bar for me.

Combat is okay but lacks variety. Each defeated enemy will drop coins, but these are only useful to buy health and mana-restoring items which makes collecting them feel like it’s of low purpose. Further, most of the enemies in Clunky Hero are quite inoffensive, which makes killing them tedious — they’re dangerous only if the player gets distracted and they get the drop on them. What’s worse is that these enemies respawn as Clunky leaves the area, and since there’s little value in defeating them again, this gets annoying fast.

There’s no way to buy upgrades to weapons, nor different kinds of armor or amulets of any kind. Some weapons can be obtained via solving quests and… that’s it. So, the gist of the gameplay is walking around, killing enemies and solving puzzles of the “pull lever to open door” variety.

This is all fine, really. I’m not against the kind of simple gameplay Clunky Hero offers, but I definitely feel like there’s room for improvement as it’s still in Early Access. That said, I doubt that it will evolve into something much different than its current form — it’s just an overall solid platformer that checks off the required boxes, and nothing more.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Chaosmonger Studio. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: The game is not rated by the ESRB, but it contains violence, sexual references and mild horror with enemies like goblins and big heads. Skipping the dialogue, this could be for all audiences. However, considering some of the humor, I would recommend it to a teen audience.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not feature spoken dialogue, nor are audio cues used to communicate enemies’ attacks. Text cannot be altered or resized. In my view, the game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The game is controlled via the keyboard or gamepad (see diagram), with the D-pad to move around, A to jump and X to attack. Controls cannot be remapped.

Damiano Gerli
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