Today, to push an indie action adventure emphasizing pixel art and/or metroidvania inspired level design it must stand out in the crowd. Owlboy and Dead Cells are both on my to-do list for their incredibly detailed art and responsive gameplay styles respectively. So when I started the demo for Flynn Son of Crimson I was initially cautious. Beyond the title’s subtle assonance and a flashy trailer, will the developers fashion a remarkable addition to the genre? If the demo is any indicator, Studio Thunderhorse certainly has a good shot.
Fighting as Flynn
The arsenal starts with the bow. Pull back, hold, and shoot. If you jump and shoot in midair Flynn freezes in place. The other three weapons, the Crimson Sword, Crimson Axe, and (you guessed it!) Crimson Claws, vary slightly in speed and power. The sword can thrust upwards to hit flying foes and the claws can drill down through obstacles. There is a high ceiling of finesse for dexterous players, and the game promptly conveys each weapon’s potential and role within the set. Switching between weapons is a matter of a swift button click and players who know which weapon fits their current position are rewarded. Defeating enemies is a satisfying affair, with multiple means of evading (jumping, crouching, and rolling), hit stop, and screen shake (which can be switched off).
Putting the “A” in Action Adventure
The platforming isn’t a slouch either. In the fifteen minutes I spent with the demo I caught on to the level design and was well practiced in grabbing ledges and grappling. In the dark and cavernous Scourge areas I better learned to sneak and avoid being caught by unnerving spotlight eyes. Furthermore, the platforming and fighting inform one another and the mingling of the two was enjoyable.
The demo ends with a set piece; free-falling and dodging debris then fleeing on the back of Flynn’s trusty beast Dex. The multiple styles of gameplay and areas are a vote of confidence that Flynn Son of Crimson will be a stand-out title when it releases, and more than 2,400 people on Kickstarter apparently agree.