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Ensnared- Grappling Hook Review

Every so often a game is released that everyone feels the need to imitate. Portal not only featured a revolutionary gameplay concept, it was darn funny as well. This spawned games inspired by Portal‘s gameplay and games inspired by its humor. Grappling Hook is a game that flagrantly apes both, and still manages to be decent fun.

Grappling Hook is an indie PC/Mac/Linux game based around its titular hook. Your goal is to traverse each level of the game using an energy-based grappling hook gun that allows you to grab and pull yourself towards special green surfaces at high speed. Along the way you must collect all floating access codes to unlock each level-end teleporter. As one might expect from such a game, the levels are designed to provide some significant impedance between you and your goals. Blocks will try to crush you, lasers will try to blast you, electricity will try to fry you and gravity’s ever-present tug will often be your literal downfall.

This is Grappling Hook‘s main draw, its level design, not so much the grappling as one may think. The game attempts to throw occasional inside jokes and Portal-esque taunts at you. These mostly fall flat. The graphics don’t quite pull off a Tron-like virtual reality look and end up looking a bit boring, clinical and sometimes even ugly. The level design, however, is brilliant. Taking a simple gameplay mechanic like a grappling hook, and building such varied and clever levels around it must have been a daunting task. The developer, Christian Teister, pulled it off quite brilliantly. The levels aren’t perfect in every respect, but I feel confident in saying Valve should hire Christian and put him on the level design team for Portal 2.

Grappling Hook‘s creativity lies solely in its level design, and yet that’s all a game like this truly needs at its core. It includes an achievement system and a level editor for armchair architects. Unless you demand an epic story and jaw-dropping graphics, you’ll find some great and challenging gameplay in Grappling Hook. The price of $14.95 USD feels a little steep for about 3 hours of gameplay, but I still recommend it.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

24 comments

  1. Cool, I could easily play another Portal-like game.

  2. I’ll check it out.

  3. Roscoe Pepperspray

    You might want to mentioned there’s a Linux version as well!

  4. Kind of a short review. I still have a lot of questions.

    Are there any enemies or just blocks? How many levels are there? Can players share created levels? How big is the community?

    It was good, but it felt like half a review.

  5. I’ll try the demo.

  6. Thanks for letting us know about the indie stuff, Adam!

  7. I’m a bit tied of the soulless virtual reality look myself.

  8. Thanks for the review, Tide!

  9. Thanks for the heads-up!

  10. I’ll try it out for sure.

  11. I always like to read about games that no one else covers.

  12. Thanks for the info. The graphics dont look too bad, just plain.

  13. I’m getting the demo right now. Thanks!

  14. I gotta say, I like the combination of big reviews with a little bit of indie stuff.

  15. This looks sweet! I love indie games. Great review.

  16. thanks for the review, tidegear.

  17. hmm unique game look fun

  18. Interesting stuff

  19. Looks interesting.

  20. This is different..

  21. Adam Milecki - TideGear

    Fixed, thanks!

  22. Adam Milecki - TideGear

    Thanks for the feedback. I often wonder if my reviews are a little long. This was a rare shorter one.

    There are no enemies, unless you count laser turrets. There are about 30 levels.

    As for sharing levels, I can’t confirm but I’m fairly certain you can. Grappling Hook’s site doesn’t seem to have much of a mapping community, even in the forum.

  23. Adam Milecki - TideGear

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words!

  24. Blogs are a great way to connect to people and share your experience or useful information to your readers. You are able to achieve that here.