The Gunk Review

Since its inception, developer Image Form has been known for its SteamWorld franchise, with such critically acclaimed titles as SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Heist. Now part of the Thunderful Group, the studio took a different route with its next game, The Gunk, ditching the 2D graphics of the SteamWorld game in favor of a 3D platformer/action-adventure game exclusive to the Xbox console.

Xbox console exclusive The Gunk tells the story of Rani and Becks, two space explorers who encounter a mysterious, resource-rich planet terrorized by a hostile substance known simply as the gunk. The relationship between Rani and Becks is the focal point of the game, with the two communicating constantly throughout the adventure. Actors Fiona Nova and Abigail Turner (Rani and Becks, respectively) are excellent in their roles, though the game’s animations don’t quite capture their stellar performances.

Rani and Becks’ facial animations are wooden and completely expressionless. They almost look like puppets, so the intensity of emotion in the actors’ voices combined with the deadpan characters creates an unintentionally creepy atmosphere during the cutscenes. This undercuts the actors’ hard work and makes it harder to really invest in the main characters’ relationships.

The  Gunk  release  date Thankfully, The Gunk doesn’t spend much time in cutscenes, with most of Rani and Becks’ interactions happening through dialogue while actually playing the game. As for how it plays, The Gunk isn’t all that different from Kena: Bridge of Spirits, which was released earlier this year, as it clearly draws inspiration from PS2-era platformers. As protagonist Rani, The Gunk players must solve puzzles, complete mini-platforming challenges, and fight off enemies. Rani is equipped with a special vacuum cleaner that influences much of the gameplay, as it is used for combat, resource gathering, solving puzzles, and sucking up the titular trash that acts as an obstacle throughout the game.

In The Gunk, Rani’s main goal is to clean the Earth of the goo that is poisoning it. Successfully removing all the junk from an area heals it, allowing the player to move on and get rid of any lingering enemies. While not a very exciting mechanic to base an entire game on, exploring The Gunk’s alien world and cleaning it up can be relaxing. Cleaning up trash and exploring the world are also rewarding, and players will often earn crafting materials for their trouble.

Gunk provides players with crafting materials to buy upgrades that are primarily designed to make combat easier. Scanning objects in the environment unlocks new upgrades, and it’ll be fun to scan everything and learn more about the strange world Rani and Becks are in.

The-Gunk-Game-Xbox-Game-Pass-Length-How-Long-To-Beat Every upgrade in The Gunk counts, and they make scanning objects and thoroughly exploring the game world to craft materials more fun. There’s one problem with The Gunk’s upgrades, however, and that’s the game’s runtime. The Gunk is so short that players can beat it in about four hours if they take the time to do all the extra stuff, or three hours if they just focus on getting to the final boss. Achievement seekers might spend an extra hour cleaning up during playtime, but other than that, The Gunk can be easily done in one go without too much trouble.

Due to The Gunk’s short length, players will find that some of the upgrades they get later in the game never really use that much. As a result, players will go through the hassle of scanning objects and collecting crafting materials needed to buy upgrades, but it won’t necessarily be worth it in the end, as they’ll see the end credits pretty quickly. Gunk was a good time, but it was so fleeting that it’s hard to recommend anyone pay full price for it.

Fortunately, anyone interested in playing The Gunk can do so without committing any real cash to the game itself. Gunk is on Xbox Game Pass, and it really is the perfect game for the service. With The Gunk’s launch as the first Xbox Game Pass title, the blow of its extremely short playtime was much less of a shock. It’s easier to forgive games for being so short when one doesn’t actually have to pay for them.

The the  gunk  new  4k  gameplay  trailer  shot Gunk’s short playtime is its biggest flaw, but it’s not the only problem in the game. While The Gunk is a mostly flawless experience with few glitches or technical glitches, some of the platforming in the game is problematic. Many of the puzzles in The Gunk revolve around throwing organic alien objects into glowing green pits, causing large plants to grow leaves that players can use to reach new areas. Gunk players will quickly learn to wait an extra second or two after doing this though, as it takes a little longer than expected for the game to register those foliage as a platform. So what happens when a The Gunk player tries to jump on those leaves too early, Rani just falls off the leaves as if they weren’t even there.

Gunk players may also find themselves frustrated with the game’s restrictive linearity. Gunk wants players to complete its platforming challenges in very specific ways, with no real room for experimentation, and this is best illustrated on its ledges. Throughout The Gunk, Rani will encounter many ledges that she should obviously be able to grab, but can’t grab at will. The only ledges that Rani will grab are the ones with the yellow markings on them, so it looks like the other ledges should be made taller so she can’t reach them, since there’s no real reason she can’t grab that the developers don’t want her to this way.

Gunk has its flaws, but it’s still the most enjoyable way to spend a few hours. It’s a short but sweet adventure with gameplay reminiscent of PS2-era platformers, so fans of the genre should definitely check it out via Xbox Game Pass.

Gunk is out now on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant reviewed the game on Xbox Series X.

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