Flynn & Freckles (PS4) Review

Avast ye landlubbers – today I be lookin’ at Flynn & Freckles from the small indie team at Rookie Hero Games, Yarrrr shiver me timbers! Ahem, sorry about that – Flynn & Freckles is yet another game which has been helped via the PS Talents team in their Madrid Games Camp. The team are really small, made up of four members who met as students back in 2015 and are now working towards a successful launch of their first title. The game is a throwback to old 3D platforming like A Hat in Time and Yooka-Laylee, with its colourful environments, cute characters, and frustrating platforming.

PS Talents have helped a few really good games come to market recently, such as Deiland and Timothy vs the Aliens– both of which I personally recommend. However, does Flynn & Freckles offer the same amount of enjoyment and fun? I guess you’ll have to read below and find out! One thing I can say right away though, Flynn & Freckles is very charming and a delight to play – even with its flaws, I still had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

A very familiar scene if anyone has played Zelda: A Links Awakening on the original Gameboy!

Flynn & Freckles beings with a brief history – Captain Freckles was an evil pirate who roamed the seas back in the times of magic and mayhem. However, there was one treasure he had his eye on – the elusive Golden Banana (Looks like someone has copied Rookie Hero Games’ Idea!) – which he set out to find, and he did! With this magical treasure, he truly became the ruler of the 7 seas. But as with all great treasures, it came with a price; slowly over time Freckles became un-easy and wary and thus locked himself away on his own island, away from the pirate life and his crew.

Captain Freckles slowly became a myth as all traces of him vanished – it appears the treasure which once gave him strength had slowly become his curse. However, the legend that has arisen surrounding Captain Freckles is that his soul was entrapped within his infamous magical sword, granting its powers to anyone who finds it and frees him…

And so begins our story – you take the role of Flynn, a young pirate who resides on a small island. He is new to this pirate malarky and sets his sights on seeking the most valuable treasures in order to make a name for himself, with the fabled Captain Freckles being his number one target. The game begins very Zelda-esc (which I’ll come to later) as you help out various townsfolk find their chickens, treasure and generally hack all the bushes! Your pirate buddy – Johnny – has news regarding a notebook that will lead you to Captain Freckles’ treasure, so off you go on the biggest adventure of your young pirate life.

Throughout your adventure, you will venture across various environments as you defeat enemies, bosses, complete puzzles, and collect treasures and coins. What starts out as a simple treasure hunt quickly turns into a much deeper experience as you uncover Captain Freckles’ treasure and unlock the secret which really resides within the sword. The game isn’t very long, but it’s full of action and brain-teasing puzzles which will have you entertained for about 5-6 hours which never has a dull moment or monotonous section. So, come with me, me hearties, as we set sail for the review of the game, yarrrrrrr!!

I may have had trouble with jumping in general, but I had no issues jumping on this Grog… I mean Grorg sellers head!

I’ll begin, where I usually do, with the controls. The game is your standard 3D platformer in the vein of old-school 3D platformers of the late 90’s – albeit a lot prettier – with your standard controls, jump, attack, roll, move, and interact. The control feels fine, there doesn’t appear to be any lag or any restrictions on movements. You base weapon is your sword, which can be used to cut grass (just like in Zelda), kill enemies and smash various environmental objects in order to gain coins and health. Combat feels okay, with the enemies reacting to being hit – however, there isn’t always a sound upon impact with the enemies, so you see them move and they groan but there is no contact sound or feedback within the rumble. This is something which I feel is a missed opportunity as it would have added more impact to the attacks.

Jumping is where I had my main issues and it’s the part which leads to the vast majority of my deaths. The game sometimes requires pixel-perfect jumping in the early stages (later on you learn the double jump and at that point the jumping becomes a lot easier) – there is no shadow beneath your feet as you jump so you don’t always know if you will land where you want too and there is no pull-up animation if you slightly miss a jump. This means the jumps are all either you make it or you fail, basically. There is an option in the settings to enable ‘jump assist’ which the developers said should help and place a maker of sorts on the ground to help you jump, but it didn’t appear for me. *Feedback from the developers is that this should enable support (will be fixed in an update)*

One thing I will praise the developers for – the controls have an ‘invert Y-axis’ option out of the box! Thank you so much for this 🙂

The enemies are delightful – I know they shouldn’t be, but they really are. The first island, for example, has both small, dumpy Kiki-mask wearing enemies and killer leeks. Yeah leeks, the kind you eat – for some reason on this island they are anamorphic and seem to hate you – but boy do they look happy as you slice them down with their constant smile! I really do like the design they have gone for with these, they are both crazy and fun to fight.

Collectable wise – you have coins, which I can’t seem to find a purpose for other than paying for bombs later on. *The developers have confirmed you can purchase a bigger bomb bag and they are also used as a direction aide – if you follow the coins, they guide you through the level*. I noticed that when you die you tend to lose a lot of them – so maybe they are there to pay for a continue? You also have a few (2-4) collectable gold statues per level. There is a trophy for finding all of these, but other than that, I don’t think they serve any other purpose. The good thing about these golden statues is that they aren’t always out in the open – or they are but you can’t reach them so you must find a way to them. It encourages exploration and gets to you think outside of the box – like dangling a carrot in front of a pony!

I’m sorry, but this is hilarious! If you throw the chicken, it explodes and you get a trophy – as I found out by accident!

In regards to the combat – you will spend about a third of your time fighting, a third solving puzzles and a third platforming around, the combat is almost solid. As above, hitboxes and actual attacks are fine – nothing feels cheap as it all feels well-done; however, a little feedback from the controller or a sound would add a lot more to the combat. With that being said though, even without it, it’s a joy to play and plays great. The minions are really easy to take out with one or two hits, but the bosses take a lot more and require more thinking. One of which is a giant snake-like creature who you must avoid as it spin-attacks you then you attack whilst it’s recovering – all whilst dodging ‘acid’ falling from the sky.

The puzzles aren’t too hard, but they are somewhat varied. You have a few NPC quests such as finding and returning the chickens at the start (or killing them for a few trophies) and collecting an item from other NPCs. The environment puzzles can be as simple as performing some platforming in order to operate some switches, jumping on the correct floor panels or overcoming obstacle courses. So there is a bit of variety and some of them are quite challenging when you factor in the jumping mechanics. One thing I will say though is later on in the game, there is a part where you must collect crystals in order to operate boats – I found myself a little confused at this point as I had a crystal but a boat wouldn’t move. By chance, I took it to the NPC who gave me the quest and he swapped it for a boat crystal. This wasn’t clear and did have me stumped and retracing my steps for about an hour! Other than that, the others were all straight-forward.

Graphically, the game reminds me a lot of WindWaker, A Hat in Time, Gex, and Spyro – with it’s brightly coloured exteriors and dark interiors. The character model is a little confusing though as the world is clearly very cartoony and fantastical, yet the main character looks human. I know that probably sounds strange – of course, he should look human – but what I mean is, he looks a little too human/realistic. I’ve put a picture above so you can see as it may just be me, but I feel he looks a little out of place in this art style the world is created within.

Regarding the environments though, there are a few different locations, each with their own feel and tone. I loved the second island you ‘arrive’ at as it’s bright blue seas and the use of bright yellow and green for the sand and grass looks stunning on the TV, with the colours truly popping out at you. Also, the level designs are pretty good – there doesn’t appear to be any secrets to uncover as such, other than the collectables but the way forward isn’t always clear and will have you thinking at times (which is a good thing). Some of the jumping puzzles at the beginning can get a bit tedious and annoying if you are slightly off – but stick with it as they are all possible and if not then you are trying the wrong thing!

Audio-wise, this is where it gets a little bit interesting and also disappointing I’m afraid. First the sound effects – if you close your eyes and jump, roll or slash your sword, you would be forgiven if you think you’re playing Zelda Ocarina of Time! The soundbites sound very similar, to the point I had to load up Zelda and match the sounds. Again, not a bad thing, but something that stood out immediately to me, someone who has played all of the Zelda games many times.

Next the music, this is where I feel the game could have done with a little ‘more’. The music is great, it fits the environments and it changes based on where you are – however, it appears to be very short loops. As such, the music does get a little repetitive at times, especially if you are stuck and have been on a level for a while, as you will be hearing the same music clip over and over. Don’t get me wrong – there is no obvious split as it all seamlessly mixes together, there just isn’t much difference in the bars of music.

I can’t explain how bright that sand and the light blue sea is by means of a photo. Let’s just say, it’s very bright.

There are a few things I didn’t like about the game which I think I should mention – as I try to be fair and report on everything. There is only one save slot and it’s an automatic save. So, when you first start a game, it will begin to save your adventure as you go along. On the main menu there is an option for continue and a new game (at all times) – if you hit that new game button then I presume it will begin a new game and erase your existing one (i’ve not tried yet as I don’t want it to delete my data). So, if there are multiple people playing the game, ensure you are on different console profiles!

Next is the performance issues. I’m playing on the PS4 Pro and the game suffers in scenes with a high particle count – so any scenes with waterfalls for example. I’ve only seen two or three areas like this, and they are just areas you pass through and that’s it – 10-30 seconds later and you never look back. But, other than that the game was stable throughout. I have been advised that the team are continuing to optimise and fix issues as an on-going event though, so maybe we’ll see an update which fixes this in the future?

Other than that, I think this is a great first game from Rookie Hero Games and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Flynn & Freckles is a great little 3D platformer based around the late 90’s games such as Spyro, Gex, and Croc. As such, it does inherit some of the frustrating aspects, such as looping music, not much guidance, and pixel-perfect jumping, but it delivers it in a much cleaner package in terms of visuals and art-style. Due to the nature of the game, with its lack of blood, easy puzzles, and cute cartoony characters (Flynn not included), I can see this game being enjoyed by people of all ages, especially younger children. So, whether you’re a trophy hunter (easy platinum), enjoy platformers, or just a fan of the 90’s – this game will surely keep you entertained as you search for Captin Freckles’ treasure and beyond.

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Flynn & Freckles

£11.99
8

Final Score

8.0/10

The Good:

  • Very colourful and fun environments
  • Interesting story and NPC interaction
  • Nicely detailed characters (the Leeks are adorable)
  • Shadows and overall lighting effects are really good
  • Reminds me of Guybrush Threepwood in a Zelda environment but played like a Spyro game

The Bad:

  • The music loops after a short while, which can get a bit monotonous
  • The jumping needs to be a bit too precise before you get the double jump
  • There are some performance issues, especially around waterfalls (in this version)
  • Only one save with no 'slots' - so be careful not to overwrite it!

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