Bombslinger Review: Never Forgiven
Kalvin Martinez / May 24th, 2018 No Comments
It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In gaming, there is often imitation without much innovation. Other times, a game will hit the sweet spot by putting a unique twist on the gameplay it imitates.
Bombslinger builds on instantly familiar gameplay with a lot of fun spins. The roguelite presentation goes a long way in making it feel totally different than what came before. It also helps that is wildly fun.
One of the baddest gangs around the old west belonged to McMean. They were a roguish bunch of hombres who were highly successful at heists. Lead by McMean, the gang had its choice of riches.
However, McMean fell in love and decided to leave the life behind. He and his wife left the gang and settled down on a ranch. Everything seemed fine until one day.
You never really are done with your past. It always catches up with you eventually.
McMean thought he made a clean break until his gang burns down his ranch. He loses everything in the fire: his new life, his ranch, and his wife. A man alone, he vows to take revenge on his old gang and make them pay for taking his peace away.
In order to get his vengeance, McMean has to trek across the old west. Along the way, he’ll face not only the deadly members of his former gang, but also plenty of hillbillies, old coots, gunslingers, shotgun totters, bunker hunkers with gatling guns, wolves, goats, and the reaper. If he’s got any hope of meeting his goal, he’ll have to hone his skills and rely on his arsenal of potent explosives.
McMean’s best friend is his handy set of bombs. As he heads out from his sundered ranch, he runs into trouble right away. Lucky for him, a well timed and placed bomb can make most troubles go away, so long as he doesn’t get caught up in the explosive radius.
Much of Bombslinger’s combat revolves around placing bombs around the grid map to take out enemies and obstacles. While it seems easy at first, you quickly realize there is a lot of strategy involved. At first, it’s easy to get so caught up in placing bombs along the map that you forget to leave yourself an exit. Yet, much of the learning curve comes from becoming familiar with the various enemies patterns.
The old men and pitchfork-wielding hillbillies have simple movement patterns that require you to time your placement just right or trap them between obstacles. Other enemies are not simple. Catching a goat’s line of sight results in them charging at you, but if you place a bomb in front of them, it’ll stop them and catch them in the blast.
For projectile-using enemies, you have to be more wily. For example, shotgunners are easily tricked by sound. If you set bombs off in a direction where you want them to move, you can place additional bombs in their path to kill them. However, any screw up can cause them to fire their shotguns, resulting in your bomb exploding or you getting peppered by the buckshot.
Since the game is a roguelite, you can never count on any map being the same or having a similar enemy distribution. That’s why it is important to develop strategies on how to deal with what the game throws at you.
As you make your way through the game’s four areas, enemies only become tougher and smarter. The bar to defeating them raises bit by bit, and the cost for mistakes becomes much greater. Luckily there is plenty to help you get an edge in combat outside of using bombs.
Bombslinger’s roguelite nature means you’re starting from scratch each time you play. However, there are some persistent upgrades you can unlock for achieving milestones in the game. As you complete more milestones and find more items, you unlock slots to choose from your found items before each run. It allows you to create interesting loadouts before you even get into the run. Experimenting with loadouts can give you an edge.
Not only do you have the opportunity to choose your loadout, but Bombslinger has an extensive yet randomized leveling up system. As you kill enemies and gain experience, you can choose from a randomized choice of upgrades, like additional bombs, bigger explosions, more health or more spirit. How you distribute these upgrades is important to how well you fare long-term in your run. The upgrades you select also play a hefty role in complimenting your loadout.
If the loadout and upgrade system isn’t enough, you can find and buy items during your run. By killing enemies you’ll gain gold or keys. Keys unlock chests that contain useful items, while gold can be used at bazaars (usually found before the boss) to buy new items. These items range from wildly different bombs or weapons to the ability to call down lightning or simple weapons like a six shooter or molotovs. Using items requires spirit, but they can be total gamechangers.
All the choices you make with your loadout, upgrades, and items are going to be put to the test when you finally run into some of McMean’s former gang members. These are some tough boss fights that require you to think fast and act faster — nothing is worse than making it to a boss only to die and have to start over. Each areas has a random boss, so it may take a few tries before you can nail down their patterns.
The key to most of the fights is going in with a good amount of health and focusing on evading enemies. This requires a lot of patience. Most bosses have small openings where you can wail on them with bombs, so waiting for these moments is your best option if you want to stay alive.
Bombslinger puts a unique spin on familiar gameplay. The Unforgiven story mixed with the eccentric and quirky bosses is a treat. Putting bomb-setting combat in the format of a roguelite gives new life to nostalgic Bomberman-esque mechanics, and the result is fun.
Bombslinger was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
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