A budget Metroidvania captures the fun of dungeon crawling exploration.
Clunky Hero delivers almost all of the charm for a quarter of the price.
Clunky Hero is out now! For #Steam #Gog #Linux #xbox #playstation #nintendoswitch! Go to https://t.co/S1EhWvMHw0 to find all the stores URLs, or simply search for "Clunky Hero" on your favorite one! Let's push this crazy #platformer #metroidvania all together! #indiegame #gamedev pic.twitter.com/3yKjMcnZZQ
— Chaosmonger Studio (@chaosmonger79) January 25, 2023
Metroidvanias of both the Indie and Triple-A variants often have a hard time balancing ambition and sensibility. One of the things I praised about Metroid Dread was the fluidity of its exploration, and the lack of “Metroid moments” that so classically have players lost, traversing every part of the map to find secrets with no visual cues. For Metroid Dread, the solution to this was genius complex game design that took a massive team replaying the game to ensure a fluid gameplay experience. In Clunky Hero, these moments are also very minimal, almost nonexistent. Their solution was a bit more simplistic, ensuring none of the exploration elements are too complex or convoluted for players to understand, or be interrupted by. Still, Clunky Hero's dungeons do get progressively larger and more difficult as you move through them.
Clunky Hero provides plenty of difficulty in platforming and combat for both casual, and medium experienced players. The combat and exploration systems aren't quite as complex as some other games in the genre, but what they've done well is ensure none of the weapons or abilities go to waste. They all make sense in the context of furthering they player's game. The items to be found and bought are actually quite creative in their design and uses. Its where a majority of the originality really come into the game. I would highly suggest using them when you can and getting creative with the time and enemies that you use them for. There are visual and audio cues all around the different dungeons of the game to allude to future or current abilities being able to access new areas and discover secrets. It isn't the most complex Platformer/Action game ever made, but it is a well designed one. There was clear care taken to ensure the staples of the game type were all present and polished.
The motivator for the game is extremely simple. Rufus's (Clunky Hero's) wife is taken by the evil king, and he must venture out armed with only a broom as a weapon and bucket as a helmet. The charm in the story comes from the fact that despite its simplicity, it really is the only thing Rufus care's about. As side missions are given and interactions are made, Rufus doesn't care much for the people he is helping, only that they will give him money or items that will help him get to his wife. As simple as it is, it serves as main point of comedy and interaction for the game, growing a bit of the character's small personality off of it. You won't end up too invested in Rufus' actual goal, but you will very much enjoy the teasing and laughs that come from it.
Everything in Clunky Hero almost everything follows the medieval theme. From environments to enemy types, each resource is used in very intentional ways. As a 2D Platformer Indie game, it's not too bad. It isn't as clean looking as 2D art style Platformers like Hollow Knight, but the fact that it is 3D art gives it its own sense of style and identity. Its rough around the edges, but it gives its own original Indie game vibe. The graphics themselves are fine. Nothing to gawk at, and nothing of complaint. The change of environment that comes with each new dungeon is refreshing and definitely gives the game a more rounded style, more than just a flat one note feel.
When it comes to the Switch version, which is the version I received and played through, it was suggested to play in the handheld format. On the smaller screen, the visuals look much cleaner without losing the detail put into the enemy and environment design.
In terms of thematic feel, the music is spot on. It conveys medieval adventure trudge, and the darkness that comes with it. As far as video games go, it's not a soundtrack you'll find yourself singing along to. Just about all of it is very distant background music. Over the sounds of fighting, and character grunting, it simply sets tone for the entire dungeon or game rather than adding to the experience during gameplay. As creative as the humor and items are in Clunky Knight, it lacks a good adventure fueling soundtrack. Luckily the game is quite fast paced and very engaging, so reliance on mediums like music aren't necessary.
Clunky Hero – 7.5/10
Clunky Hero packs plenty of fun into a classic package. It's a throwback to simpler, more refined Metroidvania styles mixed with updated humor, slightly updated battle systems, and some original ideas in the form of items and design. While not up in the class of the actual Triple-A platformers like Metroid or Castlevania on the front of visual and audio polish, it really does almost encompass everything people love about Metroidvania games. For $15 there's no reason not to enjoy everything Clunky Hero has to offer: the classic style of a now diluted genre.
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