This game was reviewed on Xbox Series S.
Nestled in between the two juggernauts of AAA exclusives being released on the Xbox for holiday of 2021 of Halo and Forza, the Gunk was always going to be slightly overlooked. This third person action adventure puzzle game cant be underestimated however; combining some unique grungy but colourful aesthetics with the mechanics reminiscent of Luigi Mansion crossed with Re-Core, there is much to like. This is a main console debut for developers Thunderful games who look to be gamers at heart as evidenced by the finished product.
Story and Characters
You play as Rani who with her travelling companion Bex are two scavengers trying to make ends meet in a corporation infested universe. The Alien style blue collar workers trying to survive by making do by collecting any scrap they can find leads them to a once lush green world which at first looks to be grime personified- with every square inch of beauty being covered by the titular Gunk. You even have a trusty robotic companion who acts a guardian to your spaceship. The antagonist who is behind this destruction of the Eden like paradise that you have landed on is simply and mysteriously called ...the Gardener.
Rani is infinitely curious, a trait that led her to losing half an arm in the past. She has turned this to her benefit after obtaining her hoover like device as a replacement that is called Pumpkin. It is her desire to solve the mystery of the planet, save the day have an adventure and annoy Bex as much as possible. Their voices are more of a success than the facial models which seem out of sync.
A standard third person mechanical affair with the camera controlled with the right analogue stick and left to move with some platforming elements that involve jumping across giant leaves, waterfalls and some steampunk elements of industrial sized and moveable locks. You use the triggers to control and suck up all the Gunk you can find in order to open up the levels progression. This ultimately leads you to cleaning up the planet in the similar vain to the Luigi and Mario titles of the Gamecube era. This is perfectly functional except for the jumping which will get you frustrated as many pitfalls which look easy to vault across will lead you falling to your doom much too often. The only bright side to this is that you don't have a one shot permadeath handicap, in fact it takes a lot to produce a game over. The difficulty increases over time in the standard gameplay trope where you will be fighting monsters, organic turrets and some big boss battles. This is where there are some issues as the puzzle solving towards the end of the game starts to get a little tedious and the pacing suffers when it should be leading to its crescendo.
Length and replay
The main campaign is around 5 hours long and can be completed pretty easily. There isn't a lot of replay value apart from collecting all of the components for tool upgrades. This leads the game to having little legacy going forward as there is no multiplayer of forthcoming DLC as I am aware. Don't get me wrong its nice to see a game that is more linear with a purpose driven narrative than the flooded marketplace of open world titles. Its a perfectly fun game to spend time with.
Fun and satisfying sucking mechanic
Neat unique look
Little replay value
Character models little unpolished
Can get annoying toward the end