The Gunk is sci-fi adventure Rani and Becks, two down on their luck space haulers. A large portion of this game plays like a relaxing cleaning simulator. Don’t worry if you like a bit more of a challenge. As Rani gets closer to the gunk tower the combat intensifies and there are a lot more puzzles. Players get to explore an unnamed world as Rani discovers a lost civilization.
The game’s slow pace is helped by mostly good environmental storytelling. There’s no map, even of places Rani has already been. The world lets you know where you can or can’t go once players recognize which signs to look for. This keeps the players moving forward. Some of the puzzles involve more back and forth than necessary and are spread over multiple areas, but otherwise The Gunk moves smoothly from point A to B.
The story starts off fairly typical. Rani stumbles on a ruin with a statue of “The Gardner”. Multiple tablets praise this being as a savior while allowing Becks to translate the language. Clearing the gunk will not only bring the world back to life, it will reveal more signs of this civilization. The further players go, they discover this civilization may not be quite as lost as they first assumed.
After fighting their way through the gunk tower, players will meet a survivor and eventually learn a harsh truth. The same energy signal Rani and Becks followed, hoping for a big payday, is responsible for all of this destruction. On their quest to get rid of the gunk and defeat the Gardner players will encounter stationary gunk drippers, small insect creatures and a large rhino-like enemy that charges at you. The smaller gunk creatures can be vacuumed and easily thrown. The larger alien can only be defeated by pulling out the core on its back.
There’s also aggressive floating gunk that will fly towards the player but by far, the most annoying enemy are the plant creatures that shoot projectiles and can only be defeated by pulling it from its root. Until the stun upgrade is unlocked. These enemies can shoot Rani through the gunk, which can become annoying. Some of these creatures lay behind a puzzle before they can be destroyed. In Comparion “The Gardner” fight feels a little anticlimactic. The boss fight is difficult because of the creature spawns as well as switches having a long, uninterruptible animation. However, the beam can be easily avoided with a beam telegraphing its location and when it’s about to fire.
The Gunk would’ve been a perfectly satisfying space cleaning game. Its story feels like a bonus with memorable characters. Though Becks does spend most of the game off-screen, communicating solely through radio. The world feels massive and in the wasteland area it truly feels like you could run in every direction. But you definitely don’t want to. The Gunk is an indie gem worth picking up.