Grokion is clearly a clone of everyone’s favorite bounty hunter adventure- Super Metroid. Cloning, paying homage to, or mimicking such a monumental game as Super Metroid has its pitfalls. For one, every player will immediately compare the experience of the Metroid clone to their nostalgic memories of Super Metroid. I did just that, and Grokion not only makes an admirable effort at Metroid greatness, but also brings some new things to the table that I would like to see in future games.
For any of the readers that have not played a Metroid game (shame on you) these are games that are focused on the exploration of a large environment. Certain areas in this environment are blocked, and the player must find new weapons or suits to access new sections of the map.
In many ways, Grokion misses the mark of Metroid’s golden standard. The minimalistic story is not all that engaging, the environments are not often varied, and the platforming can be tricky. Some jumps appear to be impossible, and can only be made through dumb luck or countless repetitions. While the platforming controls themselves are serviceable, the level design is what most often let me down. Not only can levels be difficult to traverse, but they do not contain enough visual landmarks to avoid getting lost in the repetitive environments. Grokion is also overly difficult at times, even during my time with the casual difficulty I found myself dying far too often in some areas- the final boss in particular is a drag. The most important part of a Metroid game outside of exploration, is also missing in Grokion- weapon upgrades. Players only receive the “charge beam” during the course of the game.
Luckily for gamers, many of these flaws have a solution, or at least a counter-element to help ease the pain. Grokion is currently only the first chapter of a series of free updates and the game hints at the addition of other environments and more weapon upgrades. Future updates, judging from obvious cues in the ending sequence, will fix the lack of variety. The spotty platforming is trumped by aiming controls that at times exceed the finesse of those in Super Metroid. The frequent deaths are accompanied by an excellent checkpoint system, so that the player is never stuck running through five minutes of gameplay just to return to the problematic sequence. While the countless deaths will be frustrating, the game is compelling and just accessible enough to keep the player motivated.
The first chapter of Grokion, all that has been released so far, is both challenging and brief. Many times, the game is challenging in the sense that the player must think outside of the rules of conventional Metroid experiences. I won’t spoil the fun, but the game will change the way you think about its enemies and environments and force you to use both to achieve your goal. Environmental puzzles are aided by the game’s physics system, adding a touch of realism to the experience. The chapter is over before you expect it to be, and I expect that future chapters will only get better with the release of new weapon and suit types.
Anyone that enjoys platformers or games in the “Metroidvania” genre needs to play Grokion. The game is an intense experience, bolstered by excellent music and detailed visuals. I found the challenge, shooting and exploration of Grokion to be right up my alley, and if you have ever enjoyed a Metroid or Mega Man game I wager that you will enjoy Grokion as well.
Grokion is available on the App Store for $1.99
This game was reviewed on a 2nd gen device.