Cleaning in video games is quite gratifying for some reason. Cleaning may be tedious labor in real life, but games like Viscera Cleanup Detail, PowerWash Simulator, and Unpacking make it a surprisingly enjoyable hobby. Perhaps gamifying tedious housekeeping with prizes and goals is sufficient, or perhaps it comes down to the fact that these games can make you feel productive even when you’re not. In any case, The Gunk applies this method to an alien planet in the deep depths of space. There’s more to Image and Form Games’ debut 3D release than just cleaning, but of all the ideas it pulls together, clearing up the planet’s eponymous mess is the most pleasant. In this article, we are going to review ‘The Gunk’ game in detail. So, fasten your belts as we dive into this abnormal adventure!
About the game
The Gunk is an action-adventure video game published by Thunderful Publishing and developed by Image & Form. On December 16, 2021, the game was launched on Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Series S.
Image & Form, the studio behind the SteamWorld series, created the game. Following the release of SteamWorld Dig 2, the team began brainstorming ideas for a new game (2017). They planned to make a game with a higher size and 3D computer visuals. Because this was the studio’s first 3D game, Image & Form chose Unreal Engine 4, which allowed for a smooth transition for the team. Director Ulf Hartelius produced the initial prototype of the game.
The prototype had the player “[vacuuming] limy sludge off the ground and seeing plants come again.” The crew thought the experience was “ridiculously rewarding,” so they decided to develop it into a full-fledged enterprise. Unlike earlier SteamWorld games, which were available on a variety of platforms, the game’s 3D graphics necessitated the use of more powerful hardware. As a result, the team collaborated with Microsoft to exclusively distribute the game on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and Series S.
The Gunk was unveiled on July 24, 2020, during the Xbox Series X Games Showcase. The game was originally scheduled to be published in September 2021, however, it was pushed back to December 16, 2021.
Minimum System Requirements
Recommended System Requirements
We started The Gunk with glee, blazing over the whirling clouds of the sky. The first cinematic is stunning and full of promise. Regrettably, it is also the pinnacle of the short game’s trajectory. The Gunk falls unexpectedly flat in a game full of distant landscapes saturated with color and teeming with otherworldly mystery. Fortunately, with engaging people, decent gameplay, and a serviceable tale, this spaceship manages to remain afloat.
Rani and Becks, the Gunk’s heroes, are a couple of valiant but destitute space transporters. They land on an undiscovered planet in the hopes of finding significant resources to pay off their debts and put themselves up for life. As Rani, you explore the unknown planet courageously, scanning living forms for data, hopping from jagged rocks to enormous leaves, and finally cleaning away obstructive, planet-destroying Gunk. Becks stays aboard the ship, but the communications enable for simple back and forth between the ship’s co-captains, which reminds me of Cowboy Bebop and Firefly, demonstrating that star intrepid space travelers are always in need of cash. While this isn’t a horrible company to maintain, it does highlight a troubling trend: nothing in The Gunk feels distinctive.
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Everything in this journey reminds me of something else, and, for the most part, it’s been done better elsewhere. I flashed back to Luigi’s Mansion after meeting the planet’s titular sticky material for the first time and vacuuming it up with my robotic arm. Other aspects, such as opening shortcuts by dropping climbable vines, firing luminous buttons that unlock locked doors, and harvesting the planet’s plant life for manufacturing ingredients, feel extremely well-trodden and unoriginal. On the one hand, The Gunk feels familiar and a little cozy. However, nothing really stands out, making this experience nearly forgettable.
Despite being inspired by previous outstanding programs and games, The Gunk never quite lives up to its predecessors. Despite the variety of colors in these exotic environments, the colors never stand out, and the scenery always appears undersaturated. Instead of causing an awe-inspiring transformation of the dreary, Gunk-infested environment into a brilliant sanctuary of exotic plant life, the muted aesthetic means that removing the Gunk from a site only has a mild visual impact, which reduces the excitement of purifying each region.
The character models’ mouths flutter like lifeless puppets during dialogue-heavy passages, resulting in sequences that are fine to listen to but difficult to see. Running, jumping, and shooting are all fluid motions, however I occasionally get hung up on the surrounding geometry. Hovering hopelessly in the air due to a bug is inconvenient, as is noting that plants and rocks frequently have the same texture, but it didn’t stop me from having a fun time rushing around the globe and completing my quest.
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This assignment appears to be simple at first glance. Collect materials from throughout the world to perform much-needed repairs to my robotic, vacuum-ready prosthetic limb, and keep an eye out for anything that may sell for a lot of money. However, the daring Rani can’t help but strive to cleanse the Earth of the sticky mass that is endangering its flora and animals. Unraveling the riddle of the Gunk’s genesis puts Rani at odds with the pragmatic Becks, who don’t want to squander their limited resources on someone else’s problem. As a result, the struggle at the center of this novel was compelling enough to propel me forward from one linear part to the next.
The Gunk deserves some criticism and barely a little unqualified praise. The characters’ relationship pulls the plot together, sucking up goo is weirdly pleasurable, and the mechanics function as they should. However, I wish the world was more clear and realistic. The environment has the potential to be a vivid kaleidoscope of dazzling colors and otherworldly shapes. Unfortunately, it falls short of expectations. Overall, The Gunk is a respectable, but not outstanding, interstellar adventure.
The Final Verdict
The Gunk is a charming little platforming adventure filled with malevolent messes that are a lot of fun to clean up. The minor changes each new area makes to its fairly simple mechanics never significantly shake up its formula of vacuuming the landscape and then hopping to the next location, but an enticing story and a beautiful sense of style keep the clean-up process consistently entertaining throughout its relatively brief campaign.