Becks and Rani You are two poor adventurers and scavengers who have made it their business to travel the galaxy in an old, dilapidated ship. When they land on a seemingly uninhabited planet, everything indicates that their financial problems are gone, as it is apparently full of energy. But we wouldn’t have a game if they got it, went home and had their problems solved, would we?
There is also a black substance scattered all over the surface of the planet that interferes with radio signals and appears to kill everything organic. As Rani sets out to explore the planet, she comes across one anomaly after another. In addition to this blackish matter, there are indications that a civilization once existed there and the adventure begins.
In essence, The Gunk, named for the slimy, blackish substance, is a puzzle platformer. Rani moves through a linear world, solves puzzles, finds materials, opens doors and jumps precisely between platforms. Little by little he explores other areas of the planet, while Becks remains on the ship as the command center. There is also an easy upgrade mechanic that allows you to learn more skills with different benefits.
This enchanting adventure conquered me from the start. It’s inherently convenient to vacuum up this toxic black dirt in large quantities with a device that looks like a battery-powered vacuum cleaner. For example when you vacuum the dust from the corners of your house and you can immediately see with your own eyes how much it has improved. Rani himself remains unchanged throughout the adventure, but gradually new types of puzzles or variations of known game mechanics are added so that it does not repeat itself.
Examples of these mechanisms are the destruction of debris by explosive vegetation, rotating bridges, or the planting of seeds that instantly grow into a large plant with the leaves acting as platforms. This part of The Gunk is my favorite and it’s always a very fun game whenever I want to try different solutions to the challenges I face. What’s more the level design is very well thought out and when something seems difficult in excess, it means that it is not there. If you keep looking, you will quickly find a more convenient and ingenious way of addressing the problem.
But unfortunately the game also has some flaws. First of all, inhaling the dark substance loses its appeal over time. Arriving in a new area and being able to run and vacuum right away is more of a chore than fun, just like using the vacuum cleaner in real life.
Although Becks and Rani cultivate carefree dialogues and comical dynamics, Image & Form opted for a soundtrack that is characterized by its subtlety, but also because of his melancholy
I also think it’s a shame that the resources that are gathered in the game have so little relevance. In the beginning, they allow me to purchase essential upgrades, such as the ability to shoot, vacuum, and run more efficiently. I don’t ask for a full level tree with tons of extras, but unfortunately it doesn’t make a lot of sense to upgrade Rani’s gear now and in most cases I don’t even have to use the new tools.
Unfortunately, this generally relieves you of a few points. The Gunk is one of the finest adventures I’ve played this year and a strong contender for the best design of the year. Rani sometimes pauses during the game to say that the world she is exploring is incredibly impressive and verbalizes what the player is feeling and thinking. The fact that we also don’t expect the story to be so good that it will slowly but surely unfold as the planet’s many secrets are unraveled is a huge motivator for me to move forward.
In short, The Gunk remains at a remarkably low level; It’s an adventure that doesn’t live up to its own potential due to some questionable choices. But even if the rhythm is sometimes too slow, which is amplified by melancholy music and also has some minor technical flaws, I still recommend downloading it. If you are looking for a relaxing adventure to have a quiet time during the Christmas holidays, this game will make you do it for fun.