ReviewsReview: The Gunk

Review: The Gunk

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No matter who you are, you’ll want to lead a happy and healthy life. Everyone’s views of what this comprises are different. However, most of us aspire to wealth and excitement. Consequently, we’ve all dreamed of undertaking an amazing adventure while becoming wealthy beyond our wildest dreams. Science Fiction tackles these ideals in weird and wonderful ways, and this is where The Gunk leads the way.

Developed by Image and Form Games and published by Thunderful, this is a sci-fi puzzle platform adventure title. It’s set in a stunning alien world that will blind you with beauty and choke you with claustrophobia. Furthermore, it has a touching story of friendship, discovery, and morality. Sadly, its core concept fails to evolve, but the ideas are enjoyable in this short indie game.

What have the aliens done to this once beautiful world?
Probably best to keep away from the lightning.

The Gunk is weird but familiar. 

Science Fiction is guilty of rehashing plots and clichéd characters. Yet, fans of the genre care not! No matter how many times they experience the same drivel, they still lap it up. Luckily, however, The Gunk attempts to mix things up with its wholesome and mainly family safe approach. Yes, there is the usual alien imagery, weird language, and obvious dangers, but it focuses mainly on the puzzles and the protagonist’s relationship. This slight twist on the norm made for a refreshing and touching change of direction.

You control Rani, a fearless adventurer with a massive heart. She is partnered with her sensible and reserved friend, Becks. This adventurous duo explores space while trying to find their fortune. Sadly, they are heavily indebted to a massive corporation and are therefore desperate for success. Luckily, though, their prayers appear to be answered as they identify an energy source on an alien planet. Without hesitation, the ship lands and Rani immediately discovers that the planet is in trouble.

An alien life form coined “The Gunk” has killed the wildlife! What’s more, you must stay alert as evil creatures roam the land. Rani must remove “The Gunk” to kill the creatures and restore the planet to its former glory. Annoyingly, this sounds like a much bigger task than it is. With the use of a power glove called ‘The Pumpkin’, you’ll suck up the gloop, kill the aliens, and save the day.

So much beauty once the Gunk is removed.
The world is beautiful once the Gunk is removed.

It’s far too basic.

The Gunk opens by hiding no secrets. Consequently, you understand exactly what is to be expected from the off. Now, this may not seem like a bad idea, but in this case, it was. Unfortunately, the game fails to evolve even though the mechanics and ideas are fun and interesting. Therefore, once you’ve hoovered up one batch of alien slime, you hoovered up every batch of alien slime. Again, this doesn’t mean it’s boring, because it isn’t. It merely plateaus very early on. 

The action focuses on basic platform elements, resource gathering, research, and minor tech upgrades. As you explore, you can scan the surrounding environment. If you find enough unique items, you’ll unlock a new piece of technology. You may think that this is excellent! However, it rarely adds depth to the gameplay, and this was disappointing. This is with the exception of the gun that is used to complete the uninspiring puzzles. It would have been much better if the technology was linked to progressing the story. Yet, it wasn’t, and this made the upgrades and resource gathering feel worthless.

You’ll unlock shields, health boosts, a gun, increased strength, and so forth. However, none of these things matter. As long as you suck up anything in sight, you’ll progress. Luckily, though, where The Gunk excels is its characters and the story. You can’t help falling for the juxtaposed personalities and the many plot twists. 

The Gunk looks phenomenal.

Not only did the story impress me, but the graphics and alien world are incredible. I loved how the landscape blossomed and shone as the slime was removed. Plants grow before your eyes and the bland colour palette explodes into life. Furthermore, there was an excellent blend of open and tight spaces and a nice variety of backdrops. In short, The Gunk never gets old and its performance never falters.

Alongside this, you experience some emotive, touching, and high-energy audio. With excellent acting, crazy sound effects, and calming music, it sets the scene. What’s more, most of the action is family-friendly except for a few choice words. The mainly non-offensive gameplay makes this a perfect game to enjoy with younger players.

The Gunk has some creepy and dark environments
The alien architecture is dark and creepy.

Point and shoot. 

With so many basic elements, The Gunk is easy to play. The platforming mechanics are simple, and clambering and leaping are helped by the wonderful sense of depth perception. On top of this, every task is straightforward, as most of the time you simply point and shoot your weapon. For veteran gamers, this may be disappointing. However, younger players can progress with little help or guidance. Moreover, the responsive and well-mapped controls make it easy to understand.

Because of the barebones approach, this is devoid of both longevity and replay value. Sadly, the linear approach and short gameplay won’t encourage you to return. Yes, there are secrets to discover and a large array of upgrades to unlock, but this screams unnecessary filler. It was a shame as the world is so unique, and the story is incredible. 

The Gunk needs more depth. 

What I experienced was a fun but short and undercooked title. It needed much more depth and a greater range of difficulty. None of the aliens will test you and this undermines the difficulty. I wish the developers had worked on the resource management and upgrade system some more. If this had been explored, the gameplay would be exponentially better. All things considered, I enjoyed it, but I wanted much more. Subsequently, despite its shortcomings, I recommend you buy it here! Can you explore the alien planet, get rich, and survive to tell the tale?

SUMMARY

The Gunk is a beautiful and atmospheric sci-fi adventure title. You'll enjoy basic platforming and shooting mechanics as you remove every ounce of alien slime. Unfortunately, though, it is this simplicity that holds it back.


+ Stunning graphics.
+ Atmospheric audio and excellent acting.
+ Simple controls.
+ Excellent characters and a touching story.
+ A wonderful twist on the sci-fi genre.

- It doesn't evolve.
- The technology is pointless.
- Far too easy.

(Rating: PEGI 12 Moderate Violence, Mild Swearing Release date: 16/12/2021 Price: £19.99)


(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One and PC.)


Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="font-size:14px"><em>The Gunk</em> is a beautiful and atmospheric sci-fi adventure title. You'll enjoy basic platforming and shooting mechanics as you remove every ounce of alien slime. Unfortunately, though, it is this simplicity that holds it back. </p><br/> + Stunning graphics. <br/> + Atmospheric audio and excellent acting. <br/> + Simple controls. <br/> + Excellent characters and a touching story. <br/> + A wonderful twist on the sci-fi genre. <br/> <br/> - It doesn't evolve. <br/> - The technology is pointless. <br/> - Far too easy. <br/> <br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(<b>Rating:</b> PEGI 12 Moderate Violence, Mild Swearing <b>Release date:</b> 16/12/2021 <b>Price:</b> £19.99)</p><br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One and PC.) </p><br/>Review: The Gunk