Whether they’re a central mechanic or an optional mode of conveyance, grappling hooks in games are almost always a blast to mess around with. Sometimes they’re essential to progress, other times they can do a lot of the heavy lifting, and they almost never get the recognition they deserve. Well not this time!
These eight grappling hooks are all really cool, and really useful, in their own way. Some might be a bit cooler or more useful than others but each one is special and deserves a hearty “thank you” from all the protagonists they’ve ferried around over the years.
8 – The Grappler – Axiom Verge
As you complete Axiom Verge, you’ll unlock a surprising number of special traversal abilities, but none of them are quite as entertaining or fluid in their operation as The Grappler. Passing through walls is neat and all, but I guarantee as soon as you get your hands on this alien contraption you’ll be flinging yourself all over the place. Using your momentum to speedily make your way through tricky rooms feels very satisfying, and eventually using it to reach previously inaccessible areas harkens back to the kind of exploration and backtracking that made older, classic platforming adventures classics in the first place.
7 – Bionic Arm – Bionic Commando: Rearmed
Using the Bionic Arm to get around in Bionic Commando: Rearmed is fairly similar to Axiom Verge’s Grappler, but it’s way more useful in combat. Which is to say, it’s actually useful in combat. In addition to the ability to swing through the air with the greatest of ease, it can also be used to grab metal drums that can then be tossed at enemy soldiers or even used as a temporary shield against their bullets. Being able to pick up a large object for protection against gunfire, then use it as a makeshift weapon, is every bit as humorous and satisfying to pull off as it sounds.
6 – Grapple Beam – Super Metroid
Much like you’d expect, Super Metroid’s Grapple Beam is a pretty cool way to get around. While you’ll inevitably start using the Space Jump as your primary means of conveyance, you can still use the Grapple Beam to take out small enemies, absorb power-ups like health and missiles, and even defeat the underwater area’s (Maridia) boss, Draygon, by channeling electricity from destroyed wall cannons. Having the ability to destroy small enemies and pick up power-ups can be especially useful when you find yourself on the verge of a boss battle with low health and missile reserves – you can simply park yourself next to an enemy spawn point and keep firing the Grapple Beam to take out the baddies and gather health and missile pickups without having to move.
5 – Devil Bringer – Devil May Cry 4
Being able to yank yourself around the environment is all well and good, and it’s necessary for Nero to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. But what really makes Devil May Cry 4’s Devil Bringer a ton of fun is its ability to grab enemies. Not only will this help to extend your style combos, it looks freaking cool. And it’s even more badass when you start using it to pummel the game’s massive bosses.
4 – Blades of Athena – God of War II
On the topic of using something to both get around and beat the stuffing out of boss monsters, how about those Blades of Athena? Kratos’ weapons of choice for God of War II – which are pretty much identical to the Blades of Chaos from the first game, only without the tragic backstory – allow him to pull his enemies in for an evisceration, climb on walls and ceilings, fling himself across large gaps, and even pull some environments apart. I suppose they’re really more of a set of weapons that he uses as grappling hooks, but I’m sure as heck not going to question him!
3 – Gravity Gun – Half Life 2
This bizarre invention doesn’t help Gordon Freeman get around (at least not directly), but it excels at bringing all sorts of stuff closer to him. It can be used to launch just about anything that isn’t tied down at enemies, can pull items like health packs and ammo in close, and eventually can even be used to toss Combine soldiers around like ragdolls. Ragdolls that quickly evaporate for some reason. And don’t pretend like launching massive saw blades at headcrab zombies isn’t one of the most satisfying things ever.
2 – Protec Grappler G3 – Just Cause 3
At this point I think it’s safe to assume that Just Cause has officially wrestled the title of “That game with the grappling hook” from Bionic Commando. Forget Rico Rodriguez, the Protec Grappler is the real hero of the series. The way you can use it to keep yourself in the air, tether things to other things, or zip from vehicle to vehicle was pretty amazing at the time. Now we’ve got the Protec Grappler G3, which does all that but does it better – and allows you to place several more tethers simultaneously. So whether you’re setting up a giant slingshot for a car (because why not?), smashing enemy soldiers together like mid-90s cartoon slapstick, or dragging half a dozen cows behind your car just to see if you could, you’ll have the Protec Grappler G3 to thank.
1 – Grapnel Gun – Batman: Arkham City
Batman’s Grapnel gun takes the top spot because, much like the caped crusader’s utility belt, it’s useful in almost any situation. In Arkham City it’s his primary means of getting around, letting him reach the tops of buildings or increase his gliding speed with the touch of a button. But it’s more than just his biggest means of getting around – it’s also necessary for opening up new paths, reaching hiding spots, and pulling badguys off-balance. I’m a big fan of using it to pull badguys off-balance. The follow-up clothesline is so satisfying. It’s impressive just how versatile a cable with a hook on the end can be – or futuristic approximations made out of energy, for that matter.
Some of the examples on this list are better for fighting, some for traversing, but the one thing they all have in common is that they make getting around a whole lot more enjoyable than simply walking or running. Of course there are lots more grappling hooks out there, and many of them are also worth celebrating. Which ones are your favorites?
Rob Rich (@RobsteinOne) is just a guy who likes to play video games, then tell people about them. He’s also a fan of the indie development scene.