The Gunk

 Week of 20 December 2021

There is something to be said for short. Developer Techland got in some fuss this week when it was said that the game had “at least 500 hours” to fully complete Dying Light 2. I have a job. I have children. I even have other interests. 500 hours isn’t going to happen.

The Gunk is short. It’s five hours from start to finish. And I enjoyed it. I don’t think it needs to be anything longer. I get the distinct impression developer Thunderful Games had some fun ideas, implemented them and then stopped. This is a breath of fresh air compared with the dragged out experiences of so many other games.

The game is fairly simple; it has elements of 3D platforming and adventure-style discovery. The plot, such that it is, is that your ship has crash landed on a planet and your search for resources leads you to the eponymous gunk. Your investigation of this gunk tells you more about the reason for it being there. You can’t really go the wrong way very much; it’s a fairly linear experience and elements of it reminded me of Beyond Good and Evil, although that’s more because of the colours and the characterisation, rather than the gameplay.

So many games on alien planets are a sea of grey and brown. The Gunk almost consciously reverses this; sucking up the gunk in any given area effects an explosion of lush vegetation in bright, almost Sega-esque colours. There are enemies, but combat is not a large part of the game; it’s more exploration and the use of the new mechanics (how do you get that exploding seed pod to break through a barrier?).

There are, and I’m possibly being generous here, five characters in the game. I’m not going to claim you’ll play this for the story, but the characterisation between the protagonist and her shipmate is nicely understated. They have deep affection for each other and it comes through well without being too heavy handed.

I’d argue this is another triumph for Game Pass. I wouldn’t have bought this on its own I don’t think (I would now I know what it’s like). Game Pass removes that need to take much of a chance; this is a game that cost me nothing extra and treated my time as valuable. It’s colourful, different, satisfying and then it’s done.

Developer: Thunderful games

Platform: XBox

Price paid: Included with Game Pass


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