Wednesday, December 23, 2015

PC Review #135: Flywrench

Title: Flywrench
Developer: Messhof
Platforms: PC, Mac
Price: $9.99
Almost two years ago, I wrote about the allure of difficulty, how the looming challenge of roguelikes and hard-as-nails platformers offer a unique kind of satisfaction by demanding the utmost focus and skills from the player. How each failure sharpens your skills until you finally pull off that white-knuckle, honed-to-perfection finish. Flywrench encapsulates that perfectly, in a stylish psychedelic package.
In each stage, you guide a rectangle through claustrophobic gauntlets of gates, projectiles, rotating barriers, and more. Your default movement is a simple floating descent; flapping and flipping round out your moveset. While you only have three movements, they compliment each other, letting you pull of acrobatic evasive maneuvers with ease. You're always in control, especially once you master the feeling and physics of the movement. Learning how to time your flaps and flipping or the amount of upward movement you'll gain from each flap, and maintaining your momentum are all crucial to weave between the tricky array of hazards that Flywrench throws at you,

But evasion isn't the only thing you have to worry about. Each movement is color-coded - default being white, flapping is red, and flipping green - and you can only pass through same-colored barriers. This adds a slight puzzle element to Flywrench's precision flapping, as you figure out the best route through each level, when it's best to flap, flip, or float, when you need to act to build momentum or bleed off speed to fly around a corner at the perfect angle.
You might not reach the finish on your first attempt, nor your second or third or perhaps even your thirtieth. But Flywrench throws you right back to the start a split-second after each failure and like with the best in the genre, soon your losses start to feel less like losses and more like learning. With each reckless collision with a wall, you learn to slow down a second earlier to gracefully reverse direction and keep moving. Each crash into a spinning barrier trains you to flap earlier or later to better maintain control, or to flip now to ricochet at just the right angle to careen through a narrow passage a hair's-breadth from danger. Each loss improves your mastery over the controls, until perhaps you can enter a level for the first time, study the hectic arrangement of lines and color, and pull it off in a single flowing maneuver.

The aesthetic and music certainly make tackling Flywrench's challenges much more enjoyable. The game is pure spectacle of color and motion, as you leave a fluid trail of red and green and white in your wake, distorting the background with each movement. The soundtrack, with music from artists like Daedelus, Dntel, and Goodnight Cody, perfectly complements the arcade action. You might even find yourself flapping and flipping to the beat.
Rounding out its sizable selection of 170 levels with time trials, leaderboards, and even a level editor to craft your own gauntlets, Flywrench offers hours of content for the fans of the genre. Tight responsive controls, a colorfully minimalist aesthetic, and a rapid-fire pace that demands honed skills makes for an always tough but satisfying arcade experience.

You can purchase Flywrench on Steam.
The game is currently on sale for $6.49 (35% off) during the Steam Winter Sale.

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