Many of today’s great game developers were once “indie” developers with a big idea. In a couple of years we might be saying the same thing about Christian Teister and his first big creation, Grappling Hook. Read on this review to find out more about an incredible first person puzzler/platformer, a title that already is one of the best indie games released this year.
The story behind Grappling Hook is just an excuse to get you started: you’ve been teleported to a strange place to “perform some tests” and the only way for you to get back home is by finding the right teleporter and activating it using a specific number of access codes (some rhomboidal orange… things). But as I was saying, this is just the excuse to offer some really high quality puzzles and challenge our inner macho gamer.
You start slow, getting used with the controls, learning that electricity is bad, red platforms can be bad too and just the combination between green areas and your almighty grappling hook can save you from frustration and immediate death. And, by the way – you’ll get enough of both, since Grappling Hook is a real challenge!
It is the gameplay that makes you love this indie title: the lighting fast, frantic, incredibly intense gameplay, combined with some really smartly done puzzles – neither obscenely difficult ones in which your shot must be pixel-perfect, but neither insultingly easy ones (and no, I don’t count the first five levels here since they only exist to get you used with the game). If the level design would’ve been just a bit off or the gameplay would’ve offered too many dead times, then Grappling Hook would’ve been an embarrassing miss. But the way it is right now – with short but challenging and intense levels, all smartly done, it’s perfect.
You’ll have to jump into the abyss, notice a green area, shoot it, release at the right moment to fly towards a platform that only stays there for a few seconds, so you have to jump again and shoot another green platform and let yourself dragged to it in order to collect an access code, then jump again to a teleporter – and everything in about 15 seconds! This is Grappling Hook and trust me when I say that it’s much more intense and awesome than I make it seem it is.
Of course, there will be moments when you’ll feel the frustration level growing and growing and growing because you won’t be able to hit the right combination in your first three tries and other times it might seem that there’s absolutely no solution for the puzzle, but in both cases you’ll get over it and in the end you’ll have a satisfied smile on your face: one of the nicest rewards a game can offer!
Grappling Hook, on a normal level, is kind of short though, but probably a level pack will be delivered if the title manages to record the success it deserves – hopefully for free – but even without extra levels it can be made live a longer life on the hard difficulty setting and for those who wish to unlock all the achievements and accomplish all the chalanges.
Visually, Grappling Hook is not impressive, but that doesn’t disappoint at all since the minimalist graphics go great hand in hand with the game’s concept and more detail really is not needed. The sound aspect is both a hit and a miss: a hit thanks to the Mortal Kombat-like announcer that congratulates you on various occasions and, well, announces stuff and a miss thanks to the soundtrack that is rather dull and unimpressive.
As a whole, Grappling Hook is an amazing product. It is lighting fast and very challenging, it manages to deliver some really smart puzzles and oblige you act quickly. Or die. I’ve tried to avoid comparing it with an obvious game everybody will compare it with – Portal – simply because I didn’t like Portal too much. However, I loved Grappling Hook and I would go as far as saying that for those like me who prefer a faster, more reflex-based gameplay, Grappling Hook is the better choice. The game’s price is about $24, but if you think it might not worth that “much” money, there’s a demo available on the game’s official website. And at least that has to be played by everybody!
Confused? Learn more about our rating system!