Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Flynn: Son of Crimson (XB1, PS4, NSW, PC) Review

The second-to-last month of 2021 (wow, this year is going by fast!) sees a new review hitting SuperPhillip Central. It's a marvelous 2D platformer from a new indie studio, and their first project and release is Flynn: Son of Crimson, available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Here is the SPC review. 

A guardian dog-gone good game

When a mysterious and formidable villain steals his guardian wolf Dex's energy, our hero Flynn must search far and wide across the land of Roscantica to recover the lost energy. That is where our tale kicks off to a fast start, offering dozens of 2D platforming levels with hack-and-slash action sprinkled on top of it. 

The developer describes Flynn: Son of Crimson as a light Metroidvania, though this might conjure up ideas of an interconnected series of levels where players earn new abilities to progress through it. While our titular hero does earn new abilities in the form of weapons like an axe that can smash through crystals, and magic like fireballs that can light torches and lightning that can shock enemies, the levels in Flynn: Son of Crimson are segmented in a world map more akin to a game like Super Mario World or Donkey Kong Country than something like Metroid or Castlevania.

Flynn and his trusty guardian dog spirit Dex leap into action!
The aforementioned hack-and-slash action in Flynn: Son of Crimson involves our hero's ability to utilize one of three earned weapons within the game: a standard sword, a heavy axe, and a quick striking claw. As players progress in the game, they'll encounter a character that they can spend the in-game currency on, discovered from defeating foes and destroying red crystals of various sizes. This currency can be spent on further evolving Flynn's skillset, adding more attack power to his arsenal, giving him more health, increasing his combo capacity, and much more.

Speaking of leaping into action, both Flynn and these foes are doing just that!
Apart from offensive capabilities, our hero has some ways to help him help himself with the ability to heal himself in an almost Hollow Knight manner. By finding and smashing green crystals, Flynn can store healing energy in a vessel that can be used when his health is low. He'll need to not be interrupted by an enemy's attack to heal himself properly, but this really helps in a pinch in the more pressing enemy engagements and levels. such as in the game's secret survival levels, where you face wave after wave of enemies one after the other with not much in the way of a break in between each wave.  

When you're not slashing and slicing enemies as Flynn and taking on epic bosses in stellar one-on-one showdowns (though I must note that most of these showdowns sport very little in the way in context of why you're engaging in them in the first place--small gripe, though), you'll be solving environmental puzzles. These are rather basic, but they're fun to solve all the same. None outstay their welcome, and each level introduces a new mechanic to make for an enjoyable experience overall. One level features acid rain, which requires Flynn to occasionally seek shelter under ceilings and inside caves, or else slowly have his health whittle away, while another is an ode to the Lost Woods from Legend of Zelda fame, where players must properly choose the correct path by listening well to an NPC's words to successfully navigate through it.

One could say that our hero is "Flynn it to win it?"
...Okay, maybe not, but he's ready and able to succeed all the same.
Occasionally, Flynn, and by extension players as well, will encounter Roscantica's threat firsthand with the Scourge. This results in levels being blocked by the player until they uncover the Scourge's source in one of the levels, and completing a short but intense Scourge-version of one of the game's levels. These usually involve dark, dimly lit areas, sometimes featuring acid water, plenty of thorns, and even a magical axe that stalks our hero, ready to strike him if Flynn lingers nearby for too long. These brief roadblocks in Flynn's adventure don't take too terribly long to complete, but like many of the levels themselves, they split up any possible monotony players might face. 

Flynn: Son of Crimson is a short game, especially if your intention is to just speed or rush through it. Still, even if you're going for 101% completion, Flynn's adventure isn't a lengthy one. For me, the game clocked in at just over 7 hours for full completion with every achievement attained and every secret revealed. 

While the length of the game is a short one, Flynn: Son of Crimson does not feature much in the way of padding whatsoever, as the game maintains a steady and enjoyable pace from beginning to end. With three difficulties and a wealth of accessibility options that are much welcomed, as well as loads of hidden exits in levels and secret relics to acquire, Flynn: Son of Crimson has no shortage of goodies to discover, making repeated playthroughs a joy.

Collect hidden relics in levels to trade to an in-town NPC for massive amounts of red crystals.
Unlike the locations of the game's hidden relics, throughout its pretty pixelated presentation, which is exemplified in its gameplay, environments, and even in its cutscenes, it's no secret that Flynn: Son of Crimson is one seriously gorgeous game. Everything, from the characters to the enemies, to the backgrounds and objects, is remarkably and impeccably defined, offering a clear and colorful visual style that must be seen in motion to be believed. The soundtrack is stellar, delivering memorable tunes and melodies that will be dancing around in your head long after you end your gaming session.

Defeat enemies, destroy red crystals, and collect red shards in the wild to also expand Flynn's "wallet" of sorts.
For a first effort from Studio Thunderhorse, the team has managed to craft one of the better indie titles of the year. And perhaps that's a bit too limiting as a description. Nay, Flynn: Son of Crimson stands as one of the better titles of the year, indie or not. What it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in brilliant design--whether within its levels or its gameplay, its immaculate pixel art style, and terrific pacing. No matter if you pick it up off Game Pass on Xbox or PC or purchase the game, you're in for a real winner with Flynn: Son of Crimson.

[SPC Says: A-]

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