The Gunk – Review
Follow Genre: Action-adventure
Developer: Image & Form Games, Thunderful Development AB
Publisher: Thunderful Publishing
Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X
Tested on: PC

The Gunk – Review

Site Score
Good: It's fun to clean an alien planet in outer space, It's a meditative game
Bad: The gameplay reinvents itself too little
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

The Gunk is one of those games that you might not have heard of yet, but it is actually included in the Xbox Game Pass. It’s a game crafted by Image & Form, a company that’s now part of Thunderful Development. You might know Image & Form from their successful Steamworld games such as Steamworld Dig and Steamworld Heist, though The Gunk is the very first game that’s using a 3D environment. How did that work out? Let’s check it out together.


The game revolves around Rani (you) and Becks, two space scavengers/miners who are already past the edge of poverty. Hoping to find something worth their while, they react to a certain type of energy coming from a planet. As they land, they quickly discover that this is a planet full of life and mystery, as the wild flora and fauna also seem to be under siege by a particularly passive black goo. Luckily the inventive girls get to work, and Rani uses some sort of space vacuuming device to clean up the alien planet, one bit of gunk at a time. While she does, she discovers more about the history of the planet and the mysterious energy that might make the gals rich. The game follows a somewhat cinematic approach during all of this, involving cutscenes and dialogue.


We have to say that the graphics are probably the most impressive part of the entire game. The models for the alien planet you find yourself on are simply great, and highly creative. It’s like a mix between the enlarged flora of Alice in Wonderland or Ferngully, with a side of jungle and beach holiday vibes. It’s wonderful to walk through the environments, stand still and behold the sights, and ultimately dispose of the gunk that’s covering the planet. While animations, such as running and jumping, are also great, the only remark we have is that the mouth movements in the cutscenes are poorly done. Then again, if that’s all there is to complain about, you know the rest of the game has been handled in a professional fashion.


Together with the holiday-like graphics that show you a green, lively environment, the sound creates a meditative experience. The latter of course is only true when things are peaceful in your surroundings. Generally, the music sounds orchestral, with loads of strings, chimes, and more. It fits the game really well, and it offers room for self-reflection and a proper perspective when you are trying to figure out where to go next. The voice acting on top of that is great, and the few sound effects that are present sound unique and are well-designed to fit the game and its needs.


You play The Gunk like you would play any third-person action-adventure game. There is a part where you are jumping on platforms and are trying to find the right path to progress, and there’s a part where you “shoot”. In this case, shooting means pointing the vacuum machine connected to your hand at enemies, general goo that needs to be sucked away, and plant life that’s part of a puzzle. It feels a bit like the all-time classic Super Mario Sunshine, though you suck in stuff, instead of spraying it. While the concept is fun, it’s hard to create a proper challenge for games such as this.

Sadly, The Gunk barely has any challenge in it. You can’t really die, and battles are really easy. Instead, the game focuses on the story-driven gameplay where you need to push on and on to rescue the alien planet from the black gunk that’s covering everything. While this seems to fit a more meditative game, the game is also largely stretching out the same gameplay where you just run and hold the vacuum button on everything. There’s just too little variation to really give you a satisfying feeling while continuing. The same goes for the other “paths” that don’t move along the main story. These quickly end in finding “treasure”, which are basically small resource veins that you will eventually use for rather meaningless upgrades for your gear. This is a shame because we dare to say that a lot of the other aspects of the game are absolutely great. Eventually, you will be playing this for the story, and not for the “fun” of the prolonged platforming experience that eventually dulls down when you’ve been playing the game for an hour or two.


The Gunk is a straightforward game: You run, jump, and clean up an alien planet to preserve it. Even though the graphics and the sound are great, and even the story is entertaining enough to make you curious, the gameplay is lacking. There’s simply no challenge present and the simple mechanics are stretched out without any actual variation to look forward to. This is what makes The Gunk a decent game, but not a great one.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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The Gunk - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for since 2017.

1 Comment

  1. | The Gunk is now out on Steam
    April 29, 2022, 23:04

    […] Games have announced that their space-exploring adventure, The Gunk, is now officially out on Steam. To celebrate the launch, a new trailer highlighting the game’s […]

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