Flynn: Son of Crimson is an indie platformer developed by Studio Thunderhorse and published by Humble Games. Released in 2021, this game was originally crowdfunded via Kickstarter in 2017 by hopeful pixel platforming fans everywhere. So, did it deliver on its promise?
Taking on the role of titular protagonist Flynn, you set off on an adventure through the fantastical world of Rosantica. This land has enjoyed peace due to a magical barrier established long ago to ward off an evil known as the scourge. Waking up on his home of Cardinal Island, Flynn takes his canine companion, Dex, for a walk and encounters a mysterious threat called Rozia. She bests Flynn in battle, who is only armed with an old wooden sword, resulting in Dex being drained of her four guardian spirits.
Here is where Flynn acquires his signature crimson weapons, which play a major part in the combat of this title. Here, the game’s plot is set in motion and you must guide Flynn and Dex across the world of Rosantica to reclaim the guardian spirits, defeat Rozia and fight off the scourge!
The game plays like a classic action platformer, with hack-and-slash combat using Flynn’s crimson arsenal. You start off with the crimson sword, allowing you to carry out dash attacks, uppercuts and standard slices. Progressing through the relatively short 6-hour story, you will acquire an axe and a set of claws. The axe delivers devastating power but requires a lengthy charge up time, forcing you to be strategic in your timing, which contrasts the button mashing style of the sword. The claws are more of an aerial addition, allowing you to attack at rapid speed with spiral drill attacks. These weapons also provide a metroidvania element to the game, with the axe capable of smashing previously indestructible obstacles and the claws allowing you to climb to unreached heights to access new areas. When attacking enemies, a stun meter fills above their head and when filled, opponents will be left staggered and open for a flurry of attacks.
Dex can be summoned too and riding atop her, you can blast through walls and make light work of hordes of enemies. Aside from this melee combat, there is also the option for elemental magic attacks, with fire, ice and lightning spells. We enjoyed the variety in combat provided through the different weapons and magic, as well as the option to summon Dex for a bit of extra assistance!
As you move through Rosantica, you will discover a large variety of locations and biomes. These areas include luscious forests, crystalline caves and spooky swamps. The art style is fantastic throughout, with incredible detailed hand-crafted sprites and backgrounds that result in an immersive experience, bringing to life every new locale!
These locations generally end with an epic boss battle, which you will need approach with different tactics in order to progress. Combining platforming and combat, these boss fights were an excellent addition to break up the levels. Despite the games short length, there are over 40 unique areas with distinct challenges, moods and enemies. This variety was a staggering surprise and a major achievement for Studio Thunderhorse.
Gems are collected throughout these stages, which you can trade with a character named Loretta in the game’s hub village of Sanctia for additional skills. Relics are also hidden throughout the game and trading them with a certain NPC will grant you vast amounts of gems. Carrying out side quests for NPCs sometimes rewards Flynn with keys that can be used to access challenge levels in each region of Rosantica. These challenges require you to fight off gradually increasing waves of enemies and reward you with plenty of gems for your efforts.
Flynn: Son of Crimson is an excellent action platformer with a vast array of combat options throughout the over 40 unique and beautiful areas. Fighting enemies, collecting gems and upgrading Flynn’s abilities was a very satisfying gameplay loop, with boss fights being a particular highlight!
Whether you’re blasting foes with magic, summoning Dex to deal some extra damage or slashing your way through the game with the crimson weaponry, the experience is consistently engaging. Sometimes we felt like the metroidvania elements resulted in a little too much backtracking, even if it was satisfying to reach different areas with our newly acquired abilities. We absolutely loved our time with the game but despite the variety in biomes, this title does feel disappointingly short and we just wish there was more of it!
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