Battle across a hand-drawn cyber wasteland in this stylish puzzle platformer

Amid a pretty good year for games in that nebulous puzzle-platformer genre the metroidvania you might have been forgiven for missing the release of Haak, stylized as HAAK, a stylish example of it that dropped a little over a week ago on Steam. Haak's vibe is a kind of cyberpunk world that's gone to absolute apocalyptic wasteland trash.

The real draw is the blend of pixel art environments with hand-drawn characters and action. It looks great in motion, with the main character dashing and countering enemies smoothly while executing energy attacks and ranged beams.

Haak first released in 2020, when we put it out there as a game you might have missed on Steam. That was Early Access, and its come quite a long way to release and maintained 88% positive Steam reviews along the road.

In Haak you're the eponymous Haak, an explorer crossing "the vast cyber-wasteland" on a quest to find your brother. The environments are a nice draw, very compelling, and there are a few interesting characters to boot. They range in variety from cities to metro tunnels, expressways, and rocky wilderness. Along the way you find new powers, using hooks and dashes to traverse, as well as fighting some neat bosses.

Haak's real draw is that freedom of movement, going fluidly from surface to surface. You jump fluidly, a vital feeling for the genre. You dash, for a quick move, or charge slash for more oomph. I like the hook, which doubles as weapon and traversal, letting you swap between floaty air combos and fast movement between targets.

It's a good one to check out if you've already chewed through your log of other metroidvanias, which have had a few releases this year but have overall been pretty slow. I've not played too much of it, but I did quite like the number of secrets and hidden things I was finding—always the highlight of the genre, to me.

You can find HAAK on Steam for $18, or 20% off until September 7th.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.