This is a dumb game. I don’t mean it’s dumb in its construction, or dumb in how it’s presented. I mean it is a game that is fundamentally dumb. Get this: you throw your pistol at bad guys, and they explode. You then shoot your pistol (yes, the same one you threw) to make it run into more bad guys — of course, your bullet also kills them. When your seven shots are up, you run up to it and throw it again. The vicious cycle continues.
This is supposedly a demo for the full Pistolchet, which has yet to be released. I’ve had enough. It’s been fifteen minutes, and I get the joke, but the game is completely humourless. “It also features aesthetics inspired by Sin City, Hotline Miami, and cheesy b – movies,” says the box blurb. I’m not sure the developer knows what it means to be inspired. Saying the aesthetics are inspired by Hotline Miami is an insult to Dennaton Games. It looks inspired from 2004 Newgrounds. The concept is inspired — but like I say, this is a dumb game.
What have I done to deserve this game, which was released on Midnight, April Fools? It feels like a big joke. It’s a dumb game. Not a bad one, mind you — just very, very, dumb. This is a game where you can shoot four bullets in four hallways and make four guys explode before popping it back into your hands. It’s a cool trick the developer pulls, dare I say a good trick. But the developer played their cards wrong. What was supposed to be a Penn & Teller mind – blower turns into a Chris Angel snorefest. Maybe not a boring one. But it’s very… oh, forget it.
Weapon of gun
The game starts out well, with a decent logo for a splash screen. It then trips up and puts the menu items off my screen, the developer saying the Linux version is untested. Doesn’t Unity have a way to prevent that from happening? Well, what can you expect from proprietary software? Speaking of which, this game is under copyright. I feel dirty running it. I feel dirty writing about it. Don’t gamers, like slaves, deserve freedom? The rest of the game works fine. It better, after embarassing me like that.
It then falls into a manhole, for after taking one look at these graphics, I thought: “Oh no, did I download another dud?” There’s not even a walk cycle — your player just slides! I can’t blame the developer for being on a budget, but it just looks silly. Let’s go beyond budget: why is everything bland? Why is it stark black and white, six years after the style stopped being cool? Why is the level design a mismash of dirty kitchens, showers, and hallways like I haven’t seen them a hundred times before? Even on a budget, there is no limit to your imagination. The concept of the game is a magic gun that you bounce around to make people explode. This art style takes all the fun of that concept, drives it six feet under, and makes us invent our own. It’s like biting into ice cream only to realise it’s tofu.
Calling this an “action” game is a big misnomer. I instead label it under the niche genre “puzzle games for manly men,” where even if the guys explode into piles of blood and guts, and the main feature is your gun, it is still fundamentally a puzzle game. There is no action here. If an enemy sees even a centimeter of your character, you fail. If you bounce your gun somewhere you can’t reach it, you must kill yourself. And the gun moves extremely slowly — with only seven shots, you have to play extremely conservatively to succeed. “extremely conservative” does not deserve to be in the same website as a game where you can ricochet your gun across the map, take out half the enemy, and have it bounce right back where you started. And yet that’s what the game encourages. It’s a puzzle game. And it’s only half as fun as a puzzler as it would be if it was an action game.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the meat of it. Even if the gun moves like a bowling ball and your character controls like they’re wearing new socks on hardwood, there’s some novelty to be had here. But it needs work. Even if the looks remain as “inspired by” as it does now, that wouldn’t matter if the game had some nice, you know, energy to it. With a soundtrack that isn’t minimal, a pause menu that isn’t Unity’s built – in, a gun that has some weight to it instead of sliding across the floor like a curling stone… any of these things would make a better game.
I can’t imagine wanting more of this in its current state. Indeed, the game doesn’t seem happy at all to promote its honestly rediculous idea of the ballistic boomerang. What more does it introduce beyond this idea? From what I’ve seen, nothing. Is the idea good enough to carry a game? I’ve seen worse ideas done better. Is this idea done well enough? No.
I believe the game also gave me a headache. I never get headaches, you see. Was it the monochrome style, or was it the film grain filter that did it? I bet the music. It has bass that’s both too weak and overbearing.