What’s going on everybody, Wav3yGawd here! If you listen to our podcast Phuca-Pod, available on all streaming platforms, then you know I am a big supporter of Xbox Game Pass and I say that it is the best deal in gaming right now. Even though most of the games are older, they do have Microsoft exclusives day one and they also show a lot of love to indie games! The Gunk is one of those games that is from an indie studio and is not that long of a title clocking in at 5 hours. Even though the game is not long, there are still a lot of positive aspects of the game but it’s not perfect either and I will get into my likes and dislikes.
A Beautiful Vibrant Plant
One of the positives of this game is the planet that you are on for the whole game. To further clarify my point, the premise of the game is that you are a scavenger who’s name is Rani (who is also played by G4TV host Fiona Nona) who is accompanied by her friend Beck and they discover a strong energy coming from a planet and choose to explore it.
While exploring it, Rani learns that there is a strange substance that she calls Gunk all over the planet that makes it look not as appealing so she uses her powered glove called Pumpkin to fix it and you use Pumpkin all throughout the game to fix the planet by sucking up the Gunk. When you finish using Pumpkin on the Gunk in an area, the area will start to glow and you see the beautiful plants as well as the area brighten and that is where the game starts to brighten and it shows off the time and effort the developers and artists really put into the environment and it shows especially on the Xbox Series X and it is more than likely the same if not better on PC.
This takes place throughout the whole game and it is a beautiful sight to see.
Platforming and Gameplay
The Gunk is a platform game through and through, where you use the environment in order to get around and climb on different rocks or hanging on cliffs in order to progress in the game. Or using the plants in the environment that can be used to throw in a puddle of water and can grow into mushrooms in order to get into difficult places. With this game being a platformer, there are also collectibles in the game that can extend your gameplay if you try to collect everything. As far as gameplay, it doesn’t do anything new because like I stated in the section above you are just cleaning up the Gunk on the planet with Pumpkin. However, in the game there are parts of the planet where while getting rid of the Gunk you have to get rid of aliens as well but you can also just suck them up throw them into other aliens to get rid of them but as you progress in the game the aliens get bigger but the concept is still the same, and during the game you also get upgrades that can help you against the aliens.
Speaking of upgrades, you get those by scanning the environment whether it is plants or murals or plaques and with each scan your upgrade meter goes up.
Another part of the gameplay is the puzzles in the game so while you are cleaning up the environment you also are solving puzzles to either get collectibles or to get to the next level, and the puzzles aren’t super challenging either so you won’t be pulling out your hair.
The Planet is in trouble
While I explained some of the plot in the first section of this review, there still is more to the story than just cleaning up a planet. While you are exploring the planet as Rani, you start to learn that the planet was home to an alien species that used to thrive on the planet but started to leave the planet when the gunk started to appear. So in cleaning up the gunk with your glove Pumpkin you are also restoring a civilization. Towards the middle of the game you learn about The Gardener who is an entity that moved to the planet long ago while the other species was living on the planet and actually caused the gunk to come to the planet in the first place hence forcing the other alien species to leave. Rani finds her way onto the ship where it resides and is able to meet the Gardner where it immediately realizes Rani is a human and accuses her species of not being good for the planet nor the galaxy.
Once Rani learns about this she wants to be the hero and save the planet but your partner Beck doesn’t quite agree causing a rift in the friendship, but would later turn back around when Rani tries to fight the Gardner but gets sent to a wasteland because she is not strong enough to fight it yet. Finding Rani in the wasteland, Beck sees what Rani is trying to do and joins her side on saving the planet. Then the final journey begins on getting back inside the ship where the Gardner is and ending it’s reign over the planet once and for all. Defeating the Gardner is a satisfying experience because you are finally saving the original species of the planet and the beauty that you made throughout the game with Pumpkin by cleaning up certain areas, can finally start to happen for the whole planet again.
The plot for The Gunk is in fact simple but so is the game which has a very chill vibe to it as you are on a journey to restore a planet and seeing it’s beauty along the way with puzzles and the casual defeating of enemies. If you are looking for a simple game with puzzles that won’t make you pull your hair out with a chill story this is definitely the title for you. The visuals will also have you wanting to explore more of the planet in general. Remember if you have Xbox Game Pass like I do, this game comes in the subscription being a Microsoft exclusive and the games runtime is around 5 hours like I stated above, so it can be something you play before all the big big titles that are coming out this year. While the game looks great, it doesn't bring anything new to the table in it's gameplay and the story is short and very straight forward. However, it does what it needs to do with just having a good gaming experience.