The Gunk is a platforming adventure game, developed by indie studio Image & Form, who are well known for their Steamworld series. The Gunk was published by Thunderful Publishing, and released on XBox consoles in December of 2021.
When Rani (pronounced Raw-Knee) and Beck’s stumble upon a faint energy signature coming from an unknown planet, they find themselves drawn toward it. For this planet could be filled with materials or treasures that they could sell off, to pay off their debts, buy some food, and live happily! But when Rani lands, she finds something that isn’t exactly inviting. The Gunk. The Gunk is a sentient form of organism that sucks the life out of the landscape, and turns everything into a barren wasteland.
Rani of course takes it upon herself to follow the strange readings, and this mysterious organism, even at the behest of Becks, who by the end of the game, I didn’t know what she was to Rani. Whether she was her friend, or sister, or co-worker, or even lover. The game points in the direction of the latter option, but even then, it was truly only left up to speculation. But the writing between them, and relationship building felt very real. The game is filled with dialogue, as Rani explores and Becks tells her to come back to camp, and they have their fights because of it all, or they get closer because of animals they see, or get excited about the potential of the planet!
The story is broken up into 8 chapters, and you’ll find yourself clearing gunk throughout the entire game. Though the game is mostly platforming and light puzzle solving, it truly felt like the game was meant to be something else, and then they threw in the gameplay after. Rani is equipped with a mechanical arm that basically has a vacuum cleaner in it. When you encounter the Gunk, all you do is suck it up, to bring life back to the area it’s in. Now and again there might be a small enemy that you can suck up and shoot back at other creatures, but for the most part, the game is platforming and puzzle solving, as I said earlier. Which isn’t a bad thing. The game excels at both those areas, and mixed with some truly beautiful scenery and amazing violin music, I didn’t need anything more for the journey.
As you go through the planet, you actually get to scan some objects to learn more about them. Like the patch of flowers, or the weird mushrooms, or even the metal that you suck up. Coupled with some fauna that I could actually acquire to get upgrades for Rani, I felt like. I was exploring every nook and cranny of the planet, to learn more about it, and acquire more good. But unfortunately the upgrades that you use the materials on, all felt very useless. There was never once where I went “oh I need this upgrade!”, as eventually, I just got them all, to have them all, because why not? Which brings me back to the point of, some mechanics felt like they didn’t belong, and we’re just added to give the player more to do between the platforming and puzzles.
Though the game looks absolutely gorgeous in some areas, and the devs do a great job at making the planet seem void of life in certain scenarios, there’s a few times where everything looks off. The character design doesn’t exactly fit with the rest of the beauty of the game, mostly because of the faces, and sometimes some areas just look incredibly blurry. At first I thought my glasses were dirty, so I cleaned them. Then I took a screenshot and showed my friends. So it wasn’t just me. It was odd to see, and it made those areas hurt my eyes in all honesty.
- Fantastic Violin Score
- Fun Story
- Great Platforming & Puzzles
- Blurry Visuals In Some Areas
- Some Gameplay Mechanics Didn’t Feel Like They Belong
The Gunk is a fantastic adventure set on an uncharted planet. I will be honest, I don’t like the developers Steamworld series, but I was absolutely happy to give them another shot with their new IP and it worked! I hope they continue this series with more adventures, especially with such fantastic puzzle design and great platforming!
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