Flywrench is weird, really fucking weird. From the moment I did a google image search to see what I was about to deal with I was left thinking “Wait what?” I had no idea what to expect diving into this and thankfully I was kind of impressed.
Flywrench isn’t much to look at, for the most part it is just a monochrome background with a few geometrical coloured lines, not even shapes really it’s mostly lines. The player character is just a line and every obstacle is a line. There isn’t much charm to be found in the art style, it lacks creativity and variety it is just bare minimalism, but that has its own appeal.
The hard contrast of dark background and bright lines for the rest as well as how hard you need to focus to play well actually made my eyes hurt a little bit into a play session, I felt the need to turn a light on so it didn’t feel so harsh on my eyes. I found towards the end of my time with the game an option to change the theme that would change around the colours of the various lines and the backgrounds which at the point I found it only served to confuse. The story was obnoxious and I barely payed attention even though it was maybe 10 words between levels, the structure is that you are working through our solar system from Pluto to the sun and each planet has a series of gameplay levels and after beating a certain amount to unlock the next planet with the Sun being the end goal which requires beating ever part of each planet.
The gameplay of Flywrench is minimal; my initial impressions were something like “Sooo, flappy bird on acid?” And I was pretty much correct, only it’s more comparable to a flappy jelly-fish than flappy bird. This is a pretty difficult game to explain, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless you watch it or play it and I am really struggling to think of how to describe the gameplay.
Basically you are a little minimalist white jellyfish, you push X to flap which gives you momentum and turns you red, if you hold in X you stay red, if you push square you turn green and start spinning. You flap and swap colours to navigate and pass through coloured lines, red for red lines, default white for white lines etc. The aim is to guide yourself through the level passing through gates to get to the portal at the end, the levels are outlined in yellow which you bounce off in easy mode but die on in the normal mode.
The game really is bare; there isn’t much in gameplay mechanics or visuals or anything, an indie game through and through. But that’s the appeal of these minimalist indie games, when done well they can stretch the extent of the bare minimum mechanics that they do have to make a fun game and that’s what Flywrench is, fun. I found myself surprisingly engaged, trying over and over to beat the harder levels even though I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it that much. It had a similar effect that something like Hotline Miami has, they are completely different games but to beat a stage you need to do it perfectly and when you fail it is instant and you restart just as fast, so you try again and again until you finally beat it with a single perfect run and it feels great.
Throughout the game each planet introduced a new mechanic to shake things up and would rise in difficulty as you went through. I didn’t beat the game all the way to the sun so I can’t speak for what was in there but the last planet before there was a real challenge, a test using every mechanic that has been introduced that far and combining them into much longer stages and this is where my interest in the game wore thin, I probably would have enjoyed trying to beat my way through to the very and do it all but I just didn’t care enough, there was no real reason for me to continue short of the good feeling that I got from beating a stage, the game felt great but it didn’t convince me to push through it, frustration overcame and I didn’t want to keep playing.
Flywrench is pretty good. It was a nice experience but it honestly felt like it belong on Newgrounds or a similar site as a free flash game, it didn’t feel as fleshed out as I would expect from a game I payed for. Packaged with other games or if you can pick it up really cheap I would recommend giving it a spin but further than that I really couldn’t say it’s worth it.