Power will make the sanest of creatures mad, just think of Smeagol from the Lord of the Rings. He’s a bizarre little being that becomes warped and twisted once he has control. Therefore, this proves that anyone can become corrupted given half the chance. El Gancho uses this idea at its core as you fight an invasion of aliens while trying to save the day.
Developed by Sidral Games and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is an arcade-action platform title. It utilises a wonderful pixel art style and has an addictive, albeit repetitive, soundtrack. Its fast-paced and physics-based gameplay is easy to pick up and tough to put down. Consequently, its straightforward approach makes it a wonderful casual title.
El Gancho: a weird sci-fi hero story.
I’m used to science fiction stories being bizarre, but this one takes the biscuit. El Gancho is weird, makes little sense, but its madness matters not. You quickly forget about the plot as you focus on the task at hand. The game takes place on a planet called Cocodu! This once peaceful location is home to the eternally happy Cocos. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and this happens sooner than many predicted. The evil Pogovon Empire has invaded and captured every Coco in sight! Regretfully, they plan to extract their happiness to power a superweapon of mass destruction.
How happiness will power a doomsday device is beyond me, but let’s overlook that slight digression. You play as a Coco who must save his fellow beings. This frail creature carries a gun, a laser-hook, and a secret ability. He must swing from platform to platform, creating a trail that destroys anything in its wake, and the quicker he moves, the larger the trail becomes. Thankfully, this Coco is wonderfully nimble and can fly around each level with ease. If you are hit, you can restore your health by gobbling up any of the food that is conveniently left hanging around every stage. Subsequently, your chances of survival are vastly increased, but this doesn’t make it any easier. Sadly, death is all but guaranteed, and this makes it super addictive and challenging.
Procedurally generated stages and big bosses.
Everyone loves surprises, and this is where El Gancho excels. Thanks to its procedurally generated stages, no playthrough is the same. Therefore, you must search every inch of each level to save each kidnapped colleague. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, as every creature you encounter wishes to kill you.
Furthermore, your progress is halted by 6 enormous bosses! These beastly creatures love nothing more than to shoot you out of the sky. Sadly, your weapons and special ability are powerless to defeat these monsters, and you must find hidden switches to overcome each overlord. This was an excellent twist on the gameplay by the developers, and it helped to prevent the action from becoming mundane. Moreover, the inclusion of power-ups at set intervals allowed you to alter your approach. You can add a droid that protects you from missiles or simply increase your health. There are many choices and whichever you choose is up to you.
El Gancho looks wonderfully dated.
Retro aesthetics may not be for everyone, but in El Gancho they match the theme perfectly. Therefore, the simple and dated look complements the straightforward concept. Furthermore, the garish tones work with the bizarre Sci-Fi theme. Unfortunately, however, the simplified backdrops were a little disappointing. It would have been nice to experience a little more variety, as each run can last a considerable amount of time.
The repetitive nature of the gameplay is compounded by the upbeat synth music. Annoyingly, the soundtrack appears to be stuck on a loop and this quickly becomes tiresome. Though the tunes work with the action and add energy to the gameplay, it gets tedious if you play it for many hours. This doesn’t mean I disliked the audio. No, I enjoyed it! However, I just wish there was a considerably larger array of songs to listen to.
Timing is everything.
El Gancho is a title that requires accuracy and patience. Swinging between platforms and avoiding your foes is no mean feat. Thankfully, the fundamentals are covered with a thorough and simple tutorial. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t prevent it from being tough to master. You’ll die and fail repeatedly before you can be considered competent. However, once you get to grips with it, you’ll love the death-defying moves and killing every monster.
There is no denying it. This is a small indie title. Luckily, it is also jam-packed with challenges and plenty of reasons to return. The aforementioned procedurally generated stages ensure every playthrough is fresh and difficult. Furthermore, you can attempt to beat any score from a previous attempt. If this doesn’t interest you, there is an array of Cocos to unlock that have unique skills and abilities. Therefore, you’ll want to keep playing to experience different tactical approaches.
El Gancho is casually addictive.
I love a casual title, but even this one took me by surprise. It’s a challenging beast that offers many unique opportunities, and you’ll never know what’s on offer or how well you’ll do. I loved it and I recommend that you buy it here! Will you prevent the Pogovon’s dastardly plan, or are the Cocos doomed? Grab your laser-hook, upgrade your skills, and save every Coco in sight.