Clunky Hero: A Clunky Adventure
Life is normal in a village far, far away. Until a few minions, cast by the Evil One, have been spread around town. These minions capture Brunilde, Rufus’ wife, and put her in prison at the Evil One’s castle. Worse, she’s been transformed into “a blondie duck-faced doll girl.”
Rufus isn’t going to just sit around and do nothing about it. He puts a bucket over his head, carves out a few holes so he can see out of it, and brings a broom as his weapon of choice. It’s his job to not only save his wife, but the entire village as well. And now everyone calls him the Clunky Hero.
And while the concept is great on paper, there are some things that make this game fall short.
Image credit: Chaosmonger Studio
The game is set in 2.5D, Metroidvania-styled. Rufus can jump, swing with his broom to attack the baddies, recover health with food he picks up along the way, what have you. Controls are, for the most part, fluid. I have noticed in certain situations where his attack animations are missing. For example, if he attacks while in the air, then immediately attacks down or up, the animation doesn’t play, although the wave effect from his broom still appears.
Enemies are interesting. There’s ogres, ogres that are bigger than the “normal” ones, leaves that have a face and will attack Rufus, bears. Bosses might include an angry beaver that spits out fireballs. The sound effect these enemies make as they’re getting hit, or when they collapse to the ground, can either be funny or disturbing; it depends on how you interpret it.
The dialog between Rufus and several of the NPCs he comes across can also be pretty hilarious, although I have noticed a few spelling mistakes in some of the quotes.
Adding to the humor is some of the descriptions of the various items Rufus collects along his journey. One such description for a jug of farting cider says, “Well, for a minute I’ll be…ehm…the name says it all! The cloud of my flatulence will cause 1 HP damage to my enemies, every second until it disappears.” Another item Rufus can get is a mushroom. Taking this will make him recover 2 HP every second for 30 seconds, but the world around him – as expected from taking in the shrooms – starts to look funny. You’ll notice this yourself; the screen starts changing colors, and sound effects are louder and echo.
I appreciated this humor while I played the game. What I didn’t appreciate, however, is I pretty much got lost as soon as I got into the game.
Maybe I went off into the wrong direction, but the game starts off in Rufus’ home village. I made Rufus go left, and he entered into a forest. That was a terrible idea.
The forest area in the game is massive. And there’s not really any clear objective as to what Rufus should do and where he should go. So I’m kind of forced to explore this area, without having any maps on hand so I can get a better idea as to where Rufus is located, having to rinse and repeat defeating the same enemies that respawn every time an area is revisited. I couldn’t even figure out how to get back to Rufus’ village.
As such, I got frustrated within just a few hours of getting into the game. Getting lost, defeating the same set of enemies over again and getting nowhere, and having a limited supply of items to recover HP was becoming old. Items, while they can be collected just by walking over them, will disappear once they’ve been used. Your only option at that point is to buy more items from a merchant that’s scattered somewhere on the map, and if you don’t have enough coins from the enemies that you defeat, you’re forced to sell something…if you even have anything in your inventory.
It was just a bad, really bad, idea to have players picking up the game for the first time to explore this massive maze, without even knowing how to get back to where they were in the first place. Again, I probably wasn’t supposed to go in the forest in the first place, but if that’s the case, there should be some kind of pointer in the game that says, “You can go here if you want, but it’s not the right direction to be in right now.”
Image credit: Chaosmonger Studio
Every time you get a game over (whenever Rufus runs out of HP), Rufus goes back to the last savepoint. Note, however, that save points are manual. Meaning, saves aren’t saved automatically. Saving the game requires going to a certain access point and pressing the appropriate button on your gamepad. So say you defeat a boss, but get a game over later on without saving. Guess what? Yup, you gotta defeat that boss once again, because you didn’t save your game.
What adds to the frustration of save points, is that neither Rufus’ HP or MP is restored. So if Rufus only has 10 HP left, 10 HP will remain after saving. If he doesn’t have any items to recover his health, how is he going to survive going to the merchant without getting hit by an enemy? You’re just going to have to put your survival instincts on, battle your way to that one mushroom that’s available several rooms away, without getting hit once. If he gets hit, well, you’re just going to have to start from scratch again.
Here’s a few suggestions to the devs: have Rufus get a certain amount of HP restored whenever the game is saved. Or just give him full health. Especially if he doesn’t have any items on hand. There are the “big tit” rocks that do this, but those are few and far between. Also, incorporate some kind of “checkpoint” system after a boss is defeated, in the event Rufus dies before saving the game. And have maps instantly unlock the area when they’re collected; I didn’t even know about the maps until I got them and pressed the A button while on the inventory screen to unlock a portion of the area. I had spent a lot of time not knowing where I was until I finally hit that A button.
All in all, I’ve got mixed feelings about the game. The humor is a check. The controls are also a check. Native Linux support? Check! On the other side of the spectrum, however, is a frustrating save system, easily getting lost and not knowing where to go next, constantly dying on low health without having any items on hand, a repetitive set of enemies, and, well, the list of cons just goes on.
How Does it Steam Deck?⌗
Very, very well. That is one good thing out of this game. Can lower the resolution to 1024 x 640, tune the TDP and GPU clock almost all the way down, and get a pretty decent 40 FPS experience on high settings. Native Linux support is also great to have; I have no complaints as far as how the Linux version of the game runs, be it on desktop or on Deck.
Optimal 40 FPS build would be as follows:
- Resolution: 1024 x 640
- TDP limit: 4 W
- GPU clock: 600 MHz
- CPU threads: 2 (if you have PowerTools installed)
- CPU clock: 2,000 MHz
- Downclock memory: enabled
- interesting concept
- hilarious dialog between characters
- descriptions of some items are funny
- fluid controls
- native Linux support
- great Steam Deck support
- forest is difficult to get out of
- poor navigation as far as where to go next
- no items? Buy them from a merchant…if you can survive getting there and have enough coins
- enemies respawning whenever re-entering the area can be a nuisance to deal with
- poor save system; HP isn’t recovered, so if you’re on low health with no items, expect to keep coming back to the save point
I’m conflicted as to whether you should buy this game or not. The $15 price tag isn’t that bad to be honest. And if you like Metroidvanias, you might like this. Just don’t go left. Don’t go into the forest and get yourself lost. And make sure you have plenty of items on hand for recovering HP. But if exploration isn’t your thing, or you find yourself constantly going back to the same save point because you’re on low health, well, it may be best to stay away from Clunky Hero.
Clunky Hero is available on Steam for $15, available natively on Linux.
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this product from https://keymailer.co