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I’m glad Flywrench has an “Unlock Everything” button

by Eric Frederiksen | February 22, 2017February 22, 2017 6:00 pm PDT

I’m okay at most games that I want to play. I’m great at a few. But then some other games? I’m really, really bad at them. Usually, there’s a correlation between how bad I am at the game and how much I hate it. So let’s talk about Flywrench, a game that I’m so bad at that I went on YouTube not to see how to beat a level, but to see proof that someone actually had beaten it.

Flywrench comes to us from Messhof games, newly released for the PlayStation 4. You might know the studio from the Atari-inspired, lightning-fast fencing game, Nidhogg. Flywrench has actually been around for years. It was originally a little free flash game from lead designer Mark Essen that delivered the basic idea way back in the ancient year of 2007. You know, back when the first iPhone was still a new thing.

It floated around indie circles for some time after release, and Essen was able to generate some crowdfunding for it in 2010. In 2015, Essen suddenly announced that the game would be seeing a full release and shortly after that, it hit Steam. In other words, this game isn’t new.

Despite all that extensive history, the game managed to float under my radar. My adventure with it on PlayStation 4 was the first time I laid hands on it.

In this game, you play as the Flywrench, a little sort of mechanical bird thing in the same ultra-simple Atari style of Nidhogg, albeit even simpler and even harder. Depending on which button you press, Flywrench will shift into a different color, and this allows it to float through different-colored barriers unhindered. Hit anything you don’t match, and you’re done. It’s the same kind of brutal, ultra-difficult and ultra-fast gameplay so many indie action games have grown up around in the last few years. Think of it a bit like Flappy Bird built for an Atari console for fans of Super Meat Boy.

I loved Nidhogg, so I was stoked to dig into the game and waste a few hours on it. The game’s hundred-plus levels are divided up by planets (and Pluto). You’re trying to work your way toward the sun. Pluto and Neptune are pretty manageable and right away I was enchanted by the simple art style, unique mechanic, and incredible music. It’s on Spotify and Apple Music among other services. Go load it up – I’ll wait.

I hit a brick wall

That reputation for difficulty isn’t a lie or an exaggeration. At least, not as far as my skills are concerned. And then I found out I was playing on Easy difficulty. That one hurt my pride. I’ve played through my share of games on their hardest difficulty levels and found my way through, but I couldn’t even hack this one on baby mode.

I was weirdly thrilled when browsing the options menu, though, when I happened upon an Unlock Everything button.

I’m not lying to anyone. I’m not going to say I finished the game. But I wanted to experience as much of it as I could with my limited skills.

Thanks to that little button, I was able to check out all of the game’s weird, abstract cutscenes, and try my hand at levels throughout the game, right up to the Sun at the center of the solar system. I was able to take a tourist view of Flywrench, kind of like hopping in a helicopter to check out the tops of mountains I’m definitely never going to be able to climb.

I want games to be insanely difficult when that’s their goal. There are incredibly skilled players out there, and watching someone float through a level of Flywrench is nothing short of magical. I don’t want developers to compromise the way their games work to satisfy a dope like me that can’t get past the first third of the game.

When a game is as beautiful to look at and listen to as Flywrench, though, you want to experience as much as you can. That Unlock Everything button is a nice compromise.


Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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