Sometimes, I’m fed up with all those big fancy games which require me to understand complex mechanics and read whole paragraphs of sublime English prose (I’m looking at you, Failbetter Games!). Sometimes, all I need is simple and calm gameplay to cool down my mind after a day of work. Fortunately for me, it seems that there are more people thinking this way. Two of them, Maciej Targoni and Wojciech Wasiak, created Hook.
Basically, it reminds me of the mini-games encountered in large cRPG titles like System Shock or Skyrim. The goal on each level is to make the titular ‘hooks’ disappear. Each of them is connected to a power source by a wire and the player needs to guess the proper order, because two hooks touching each other means failure.
The gameplay gradually gets more complicated with each stage having more elements and occassionally adding new mechanics. Of course, you don’t need to have a degree in advanced mathematics or be a cryptologist working for the CIA, but later levels require some patience and careful thinking.The real-life equivalent would be untangling my MP3 player headphones after taking them out of my pocket, although Hook is decidedly less frustrating than that.
The current version has 50 levels and I think that everyone gifted with an average I.Q. can finish it in half an hour, but that’s not the point. Like a meal prepared by a master chef or a classical painting, it is meant to be savoured slowly. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future university textbooks will mention Hook as one of early examples of a video game becoming a true work of art?
Surprisingly, my innocent pastime with Fire Force is taking longer than expected. While I was planning to play just it for a while and eventually drop it, discouraged by the player-unfriendly difficulty level, I’m actually managing to pass the first missions without any effort, and enjoying it. Even awkward controls can’t scare me off. Of course, it’s always a little discouraging see the name of my brave Navy Seal with a little K.I.A. next to it, but, all out of sudden, I found a way to deal with the (perma)death…
…which is surprisingly simple. So simple that it’s no wonder that I haven’t discovered that one dirty trick before. Just like mentioned in my previous post about Fire Force, the game records the outcome of each mission on a special savedisk. Of course, using two different disks to avoid the permadeath would definitely be cheating, but there’s another way to save my character’s skin when things are about to go SNAFU. Similarly to the Cannon Fodder series, it’s possible to abort the mission on any given moment simply by hitting the Escape key. No matter if my stalwart defender of the American Way of Life has just received an entire AKM magazine into is stomach, no matter if the extraction zone is on the other end of the level — the game will return to the roster screen without saving the game status, giving the player a chance to replay a mission without any penalties. Of course, a true hardcore gamer would be too high-principled to exploit this option, which certainly looks strange in a game trying to be somewhat realistic (for the standards of a platformer released in 1992, of course). Well, this doesn’t bother me at all, because I wouldn’t dare to call myself a hardcore videogame player (despite my unhealthy inclination to set myself impossible challenges) and, of course, I don’t have that much time to play daily anymore while there are so many other titles I intend to finish. Besides, it really seems that the miraculous escape button is a genuine feature, not bug. Hey, the game even keeps rewarding me with medals and promotions, so I guess this time my conscience is clean.