There are plenty of “hard” games in video game history. In the arcade era, games often had short but incredibly difficult stages in order to give the illusion of quick progression so that you wouldn’t feel bad about tossing in more money, hoping that this time you’d get to stage 2-6. Of course, we’re not in that era anymore, but we still get the occasional challenging game popping up every once in a while. I’m not talking about your strategic combat adventures like From Software’s creations, though.

Games like VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy bring back that twitchy gameplay with short levels filled with deadly hazards, along with the stress of playing through them and the exhilaration of clearing a level. Then there’s Messhof’s Flywrench. The game has been around since the late 00’s as a Game Maker title, it was brought back in 2015 in an updated version with spiffier graphics and an impressive soundtrack.

Not to mention plenty of odd quotes.

Not to mention plenty of odd quotes.

It can be difficult to visualize what Flywrench is without seeing the game in action. Not so much a platformer, the game is more of a series of aerial obstacle courses. You’re tasked with guiding a line segment known as the Flywrench through a twisting maze from the starting point to an exit portal on the other end. Of course, the task is anything but simple. Each stage contains a series of colored gates to cross using a specific type of movement. One button makes the ship “flap”, lifting it a bit and turning it red as long as the button is held. Another button turns the ship green and sends it spinning forward with wild momentum.

Getting to the exit portal requires passing through specific gates with the matching color. Touching the gate with the wrong color is instant death, but restarting is only a button-press away. Everything begins simply enough – flap up a bit, hold the button to pass a red gate, spin to pass through a green gate, then release all buttons to pass through the white gate and hit the exit. But as enough stages are cleared, new worlds open on your journey from Pluto to Mercury. And each new planet brings new challenges such as pink walls which are death to any color, spin windmill gates, enemies which shoot projectiles, and other obstacles.

Personally, I’m not very good at these games, though I do enjoy the challenge. I stuck with the easy mode which allows players to touch the yellow border walls of each level, but the standard mode doesn’t even allow this, meaning constantly managing the ship’s position. Some stages require quick movement while others will favor a more thought-out, patient approach. A keen sense of the ship’s momentum is absolutely required for clearing many stages, given just how easy it is to propel yourself too far, or to spin into the wall at the wrong angle.

Controlling momentum is essential if you don't want this to end badly.

Controlling momentum is essential if you don’t want this to end badly.

If you, unlike me, are actually decent at games requiring split-second decision making and the ability to pull off quick changes, then there’s further challenge available by completing each stage in a given world, which unlocks the time trial mode. There is a level creation tool on the PC version that allows players to share their own worlds with daunting gauntlets, but unfortunately this has been removed from the console version. A few extra stages have been added on to make up for this, but of course it’s not the same. Given the difficulty of some levels, that could mean anywhere from a few extra seconds to a few hours tacked on. Might as well give it a spin.



2/4 Pops: Decent  There might be problems that mount up and prevent it from being a top tier game, or it might not do enough to quite make it stand out, but a 2 can still be an enjoyable experience that the curious should try.

Review based on a digital version, played on a PS4 Pro.

Review code supplied by the developer.

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