The Gunk (Xbox Series X) Review

The Gunk (Xbox Series X) Review 6
The Gunk (Xbox Series X) Review
The Gunk
Developer: Image & Form Games
Publisher: Image & Form Games,
Played On: Xbox Series X/S
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
MSRP: $31.99
Release Date: 16/12/2022
| February 1, 2022

The Gunk was a breath of…slightly polluted…fresh air. I’ve been killing myself trying to find a new game I love. I find myself diving into sim games or RPG’s hoping they will take over my life and mostly ending up underwhelmed. When I opened up The Gunk I didn’t hope for much, but before I knew it, I was three hours deep into an adventure I didn’t expect.

The Gunk opens up with you dropped on an alien planet that has been overrun by a slimy parasite, Gunk. Your character, Rani, takes it upon herself to rid the planet of the parasite using the tools on her arm, which she lovingly calls pumpkin. Essentially, you need to vacuum all the gunk away. It’s a simple concept, but the scenery and serenity are what really hooked me.

The Gunk (Xbox Series X) Review

Like I said, I usually look for games with hundreds of hours of gameplay. The Gunk is only about seven hours long. Realistically, it could be done in a day. I looked forward to sitting down at night, solving small puzzles and making my way through the eight-chapter game.

“Image & Form Games, created exactly what they sought out to with The Gunk, a beautiful, calming adventure.”

The puzzles were typically simple enough, and allowed for a really relaxing gaming experience. I rarely found myself frustrated, and only got lost a few times. Using the plants and area around you, you climb, dive, and tunnel your way from area to area. To some, the simplicity may be an issue, but I think the developers, Image & Form Games, created exactly what they sought out to with The Gunk, a beautiful, calming adventure.

The Gunk features minimal fighting and the combat is fairly simple. Just remember, your vacuum is your best friend. Though you can find upgrades for pumpkin, like decoys, and extra damage from your canon, the focus lies more on cleaning up the planet and making your way to the final battle.

The Gunk (Xbox Series X) Review

My first recommendation would be to upgrade your vacuum as soon as you can. The boost does not add a heck of a lot, but this part of the game can be tedious at best without it, especially once you get to the giant tower. Fun fact, you don’t need to clear the whole tower of Gunk, just a path to the top. I tried to clear the entire thing and wasted a ton of time and frustration.

On your journey you’ll collect materials and scan items for your database, all using pumpkin.  A little way into the game, I found there was very little new to scan, I wish there was more to interact with. A few items you can suck up, a few you can scan and do nothing with, and even less you can interact with. I would have enjoyed a little more oomph.

There are minimal characters in the game, only six if I’m not mistaken, so the dialogue is kept at a minimum.  Between Rani talking to herself and conversations with Becks you can see that Rani wants to save the plant and Becks wants them to save themselves. The story was actually really sad at moments. For a game where I ran around vacuuming up goo, I was surprisingly invested.

The Gunk (Xbox Series X) Review

Part of what made cleaning up the planet so enthralling was the setting. There are lush jungles, canyons, deep caves and deserts, so the areas were never boring. I do wish there was a better minimap to get around, as I love exploring every nook and cranny. A map would have really helped there.

Again, for anyone looking for a tough battle, this probably isn’t the game for you.  Only at one point toward the end of the game did I have any real difficulty with a fight, but I will note the small creatures can come out of nowhere and sneak up on you. Sometimes I was half dead before I even realized they were attacking me. The final battle is, realistically, complicated when you try to fight everything off. I just happened to run the bad guys through lasers and that ended things pretty quickly. I’d highly recommend that route.

The Gunk is a gorgeous puzzle adventure that you can knock out in a day, or a few small sessions before bed. It’s an excellent escape, and will help you work your brain while relaxing at the same time. The Gunk is on Xbox Game Pass right now, so I suggest you go check it out while it’s there!

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can read more about CGMagazine reivew policies here.
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