Xbox gamers are often late to the party in terms of other platforms getting games before them, and Gunworld is one of those games. Having been available previously for Steam users, Gunworld has now released an Xbox One Edition. The developers themselves describe the game as a “love letter to 8-bit action games”, but does the game come across as a love letter, or does it simply fail to hit the mark?
In a world where guns literally grow on trees, you take on the role of Dwayne, as the world is being taken over by aliens. Your job is to protect the seeds in which these guns grow from, and defeat the aliens across the different locations. The game offers you six levels in which to explore and shoot, ranging from a forest to a moving train. During these levels, you will be defeating fairly simplistic enemies with guns which you must grow yourself with the quick planting of a tree. You start off with a couple of fairly basic guns, but exploration through the levels allows you to find news guns and upgrades, including dual handguns and a gun that shoots eagles. The basic shooting gameplay is definitely improved with the addition of the more interesting guns, but where as your starting guns are unlimited, you only have a certain amount of these fancy guns to play around with in a level before you run out.
Gunworld Xbox One Edition: Xbox One
Release Date: 16 September 2015
Price: $1.99 [Disclosure copy provided by Developer/Publisher]
Gunworld is trying to be reminiscent of some of the older 8bit platformers, but doesn’t manage to pay homage to them in all respects. The actual levels themselves are fairly basic and uninspired, even if the original settings are quite interesting. You won’t be meeting too many different enemies on your travels either, though those that you do come across sometimes prove a harder match than first assumed. Sometimes this is down to a genuinely tough enemy, where as other times your character ends up in the wrong place to fight them, for example you can’t hit them if you are standing to close, and you can often end up in a corner unable to escape with enemies bearing down.
This would be ok if this was the only potential end for you, but chances are most of your deaths might come from falling down a gap due to the unfortunately fairly unresponsive jump. Your character also has the ability to wall jump at certain points, but this too is fairly hit and miss, and your accuracy must be spot on in order to get to where you want to go. The problem again comes from the fact that you also can’t jump if you are stood too close to a wall, so prepare yourself for many frustrations play throughs of fairly short levels that might end up feeling a lot longer than they actually are.
The game sometimes lags when moving between areas, but for the most part seems to run fairly smooth. The loading times seem a bit long for the size of the game, and you will be waiting for your drop into the level for quite a while on a few occasions. You will often come across one checkpoint in a level, but apart from that you are left to get through most of it with 3 bars of health, each equalling to one hit. The more hardcore gamers will relish in the challenge of trying to get through the levels, but for the more everyday gamer this may prove to be too hard of a task to complete. The easy and repetitive deaths will either push you and motivate you to try again, or make you throw in the towel and give up on the game early on. Having died multiple times on the first level early on, I was ready to give up but stuck with it and managed to get used to the game a little more, but unfortunately it doesn’t get any easier. The fact that you can pick any level to start at though means if you get tired on of trying one, you can simply move onto another and then come back later.
One of the biggest plus points for the game is that it has a coop mode, and you can grab a friend for some couch coop as they take control of Scott. This largely makes things easier through the levels, especially as the second player has infinite lives and respawns. The game is definitely made more fun if you go through it with a friend, and the overall difficulty is lessened ever so slightly, especially if you send player 2 out as a scout ahead for any potential threats in a level. The bosses at the end of levels are more interesting than the ones you meet on the way, and you will have to use your brain and your quick feet to avoid an early death and return to a checkpoint, or even face a game over and be thrown back to the map screen. Your progress can be saved on this map screen after completing a level, but once you commit yourself to a level there is no way to pause or quit out unless you die or finish it, which can be annoying especially if you need to come out of the game mid level for whatever reason.
The 8 bit graphics of Gunworld are charming and definitely take you back to an older time of gaming. In the levels, the colours feel a little dull, with lots of dark blacks and greys, where some brighter colour would have been appreciated. For me in particular, I found the train level was the most uncomfortable, and even led to some eye pain after trying to complete it for such a long time. The game’s music is unfortunately too quiet in comparison to the rest of the sound effects, but what can be heard is in fitting with the rest of the 8 bit old style. For those that want even more of a challenge, the game also offers an old school mode where you only have three lives in which to complete the game. The developers have even offered up a special prize to the first person who proves they got the “Child of the 80s” achievement first, which is to finish this mode without dying at all! (somehow I don’t think this will be me).
It’s easy to see what Gunworld is trying to do, and in some parts it succeeds. The game looks like an 8bit action game, and the introduction of guns adds a unique twist to that genre. Unfortunately, the problems with the game hold it back from being as good as it could have been. For those gamers that are looking for a real challenge and love this style, Gunworld would be a perfect game to pick up for the price. For the everyday gamer, this probably isn’t for you, but if you are looking for a real testing game and/or you have a friend you want to play through a hard game with, Gunworld can be recommended, but it is a shame the game doesn’t quite hit the heights of the old 8 bit games it strives to be like.