Clunky Hero review | In the past years the Metroidvania genre has been spawning games left and right. Clunky Hero joins that long list of games with a character that has a bucket on his head. Bucketman Rufus is on a quest to rescue his wife Brunhilde and so this medieval adventure begins. Clunky Hero is developed by Chaosmonger Studios, known for the point-and-click game Encodya. Reviewed by our lovely VicciVulpix. The game was decent so I was positively confident that this game was going to be enjoyable too! Things turned out a bit differently, sadly enough.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Hand-drawn visuals | Most of the time Clunky Hero looks really good, with nice aesthetic visuals. Backgrounds are detailed and there is enough variation too. The basics though, you have your castle, forest, and caves. They do look very good but something more original would have been welcome. Characters are mixed as if some NPCs were done by a generator to save development time. Monsters look decent too, they don’t always match the environment style but I didn’t really mind that. It is the best part of Clunky Hero and it visually outmatches many other games in the genre but it isn’t Ori or Cuphead quality. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the looks of the game!
- Some kind of spoken language and music | There’s no full voiced-work but gibberish, keeping in mind that this is an indie game I was happy to have that gibberish as it brings a bit more personality to the characters. Your adventure with Rufus is accompanied by some atmosphere music that never gets repetitive or too loud. With exciting moments the volume goes up a bit giving it more punch. Boss fights do benefit from this, giving them a bit more oompfff.
- A Metroidvania game for everybody… or maybe not | Going by the words of the dev Clunky Hero should be a Metroidvania for everyone. I highly disagree with that statement, I played my fair share of them and I was often a bit lost or clueless about what I had to do. The constant respawning of enemies is another reason why this isn’t a game aimed at casuals. I completely understand that enemies respawn while you enter a new part of the level or even when you revisit previous levels but entering a small house should not reanimate all enemies in the map level. Clunky Hero’s combat isn’t the strongest part of the game so beating the same enemies multiple times just ain’t fun. The main problem remains that I was lost multiple times, the combination with respawning enemies even makes that problem bigger. To start the camera should have been wider and there should have been more help with navigation. I regularly felt that I was stuck in Disneyland Paris Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, desperately looking for whatever I had to do with my newly earned abilities.
- Story | It is your average Mario who has to rescue Princess Peach’s story. The only twist is that Rufus and his wife are two non-typical characters in video games. Later on, in the review, you’ll read more about the dialogue and (failed) comedy approach but one thing that Clunky Hero misses is character building and background story, you know why Rufus is searching for his wife but it lacks concept. It is nice that villagers give Rufus additional quests, most of the time with some nice 4th-wall-breaking dialogue. I give Chaosmonger Studios credit for trying to be original here, despite the ancient old story angle.
What we Disliked
- Dialogue | Mostly the dialogue takes way too long with complete nonsense. Woman jokes, balancing dangerously close on a not appropriate line, and predictable poo jokes happen every once in a while. When I review a game I force myself to read every dialogue or piece of informative collectible but damn… it was difficult not to skip conversations. I had two reasons for that, first of all, the comedy simply does not deliver and can best be described as out of touch. Secondly, I felt that most conversations with NPCs didn’t learn me anything new about the story. The only thing that started to happen was that I was hating Clunky Hero’s protagonist, Rufus more and more, there is such arrogance surrounding him. I started to wonder if this was done on purpose by the developer Chaosmonger Studios but why would you allow players to start to hate your playable character? It fits the anti-hero part of Clunky Hero but I didn’t see much value in it.
- Not enough save points or regain health points | Beating a challenging boss and being forced to fight your way to a save point that’s still 10 minutes away is simply not user-friendly. Let this please be a lesson for all game developers, ALWAYS allow the player to save after defeating a boss fight. I had half a bar of health left after facing regular mobs and a boss fight, only to have to redo all of that again because my buckethead hit the ceiling while I was jumping to a platform. The result? Rufus dropped down on the spiked floor and he seemingly committed suicide as the jump looked incredibly silly. And the other result was a frustrated gamer, that is now processing that annoying moment in this review article. This wasn’t the only time that I was setback a couple of minutes. There is just a lack of save points or spots that recharge your health.
- A few very annoying game design choices | Blind jumps. I hate it and Clunky Hero is infested with moments where you have to jump without knowing where you land. Obviously, because that’s how life works, I always landed on an enemy or a trap. So annoying, especially if this is the reason why you end up having to restart an entire section. Another weird decision is that when you collect a map fragment you first have to open it from the inventory screen, why couldn’t this be done automatically? The menu isn’t exactly the most user-friendly thing so I wanted to stay away from it as much as possible.
How long to beat the story | 7 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 10 hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Guacamelee, Hollow Knight
I had more hope for Clunky Hero but it didn’t turn out as I thought it would. I never expected it to be really good but I had decent expectations after Encodya. The game looks good and hears good but everything else is below average. I’m sorry Rufus, seems that the bucket on your head is for hiding your shame.
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