Ever find yourself playing your favorite puzzle flash game on, well, the website where all your favorite flash games are, and, after around a half-hour or so of playing the game, you finish it and wish there was more to play? You hope and hope, and wait and wait for the sequel, and it never comes, and your wishes stay nothing more than just that? Well meet Grappling Hook which plays with that paradigm a bit.
Grappling Hook takes spirit of those arcade-style puzzle flash games and takes it to the next level. The games goes from flash-mini-game to full-fledged video game status. Allow me to further illustrate now to what makes this game so much different from everything else out there.
First off, the gameplay is a bit deeper than other flash based web games. The fact that you get full 3D movement and view alone sets it apart from the majority of the other flash games on the web. As you would expect from a casual game the controls are easy and very uncomplicated. In fact, there are only seven different functions you're going to even need. Mouse to look, left-mouse to shoot your grappling hook, space to jump, and of course, WASD to move about. Playing the game is a lot of fun although there's and while there's not too much of a challenge at any point which makes Grappling Hook an easy to kill some time or occupy some time while you're waiting for something else.
As hinted above, the plot of the game centers around you, the main character, finding yourself lost in space, with no way back to Earth. You soon discover a special jumping ability, and, conveniently, find yourself a grappling hook to swing your way through the mazes of cubed areas to the portals at the end, until you finally get to the last portal, which will take you home. It's not as simple as swinging through some floating cubes to the end of the maze... You will find yourself in large rooms, that slowly close in on you, until you are either crushed, or escape through the portal in time. In some cases, you will find yourself having to make a leap of faith from a block in the middle of space, to the next one, which you must grapple to from a great distance. But at the end, all of your hard work, and all those leaps of faith, and getting out just in time, will finally pay off.
Now for the big one: graphics. Some people say it's the gameplay that makes or breaks a game, but I disagree, somewhat. Really, which is more important? Being able to understand how to play the game, which you will inevitably figure out eventually, and with a little bit of practice? Or being able to actually understand what's right in front of your face, on the screen, and playing in a believable, easy to understand environment? I mean, you've got to be able to figure out what the big thing in front of your character is before it runs into you! You have to decide whether to shoot at it or just run away.
And that's one of Grappling Hook's strong points: graphics. They might not be the most realistic, but they immerse you in a strange and alien world. What exactly would that be? Well, just a very box-oriented environment, truthfully. But everything you see is believable, and when you see it, you know whether it's an electrical field, a box you can grapple onto, or one of the keys you need to open the portal out of the area you're in. Of course, the graphics aren't very important when it comes to this game, since you do expect some cartoony graphics from a game of this kind. But now that I think back to it, it really would be nice to see the basic idea of Grappling Hook (you getting around a strange world with a grappling hook) applied to a game with more realistic graphics. But for this game, the simple, cube-oriented atmosphere certainly suits the kind of game G-Hook is. But the graphics do still leave something to be desired. Perhaps grappling up a skyscraper, then, after finally reaching the top, you get to look down at the city below, where you started? Overall, the graphics in Grappling Hook don't necessarily hurt or even help the game much, but there is a little left to be desired from the player.
Grappling Hook comes in a little short in the levels deparment. It does come equipped with 22 levels, three different difficulties (the standard easy, normal, and hard), 30 different achievements, and 176 different challenges. But the short list of levels does leave a lot more to be desired.
Here's where things get tricky. The game might have easy to use controls, and entertaining graphics, but how well does the game run? Well, taking into account the fact that the controls aren't very complicated, and the graphics are as smooth and simple as they are, this game runs great. There's never any lag of any kind, fuzzy graphics, slow or lag. The developer's site sets the system requirements at 1 gig of ram, a 2.0 Ghz processor, and recommends NVIDIA GeForce 9600, ATI Radeon HD 2600 or better. And on another positive note, in the time I've spent playing (and beating) Grappling Hook, I never found a single bug or glitch of any kind.
Overall, there really isn't anything left for a person to really dislike about Grappling Hook. Sure, it could use some updated graphics and some more levels, but hey, it is what it is, and it's a great take on first person puzzle shooters. But as a side note, if there aren't any plans for a sequel, I do think this game would still benefit greatly from a level editor! Perhaps in the next patch?