A neo-retro platformer that brings the old-school gaming spirit to the wild west.
Luck is always a factor. Whether it be seeking fortune in games of chance, catching a falling object, or simply succeeding in daily life, it never hurts to have luck on your side. If luck were an object, it might even be worth more than gold. This is especially true for a lawless cowboy alone in the old west.
Luckslinger is a man who stumbles upon the ability to carry his own luck. After receiving a golden bracelet that grants good fortune, he returns to the small town of Clover Creek. Upon arrival he learns that the town’s luck has been robbed by a group of no good bandits. With the help of his avian companion Duckbridge, Luckslinger sets out to confront the bandits, and restore Clover Creek to its former glory by returning its missing luck.
This 2-D tale of a lone ranger’s redemption is told through its pixel art style, progressive lofi western music soundtrack, and side scrolling shoot ’em up action. It plays like Megaman of the old west. Full of platforms, boss fights, and a 6 shot revolver to pump lead pixels into anything standing in your way. While the game’s retro look will feel familiar to anyone who’s played Oregon Trail, there’s plenty of action, laugh-out-loud charm and innovative design that make Luckslinger a uniquely entertaining experience.
There’s more to Luckslinger’s style than its 16-bit cowboy theme. The opening cinematic is a playable treat that introduces the main characters through an opening credit montage. There are often hilarious camera zooms into the dozen or so pixels that make up a character’s facial expression during dialogue to punctuate the game’s sense of humor and mood. Some side characters include a sloppy drunk sheriff who draws wanted posters, a native American who would gamble with you in exchange for useful consumable weapons and the Russian who will play roulette. While the graphic style might be low resolution, there is a bounty of nonsensical charm and humor to enjoy.
The music that accompanies the story is a wonderfully blended selection of lofi hip hop chiptune melodies, and its fair share of banjo, guitar and cowboy whistles. The game plays heavily into vinyl culture by scribing your saves into records along with finding them in each level to unlock songs for playback in the saloon. Even the character dialogue is presented by funky vinyl scratch noises like you might find in the Katamari series. While the Luckslinger’s style is cleverly presented there is no lack of substance in its gameplay.
There are some interesting mechanics that add depth to what, at first glance, may look like a simple shoot ’em up. In addition to the expected jump button, you have a dodge roll which is useful in the crossfire of gun fights. There is also a reusable throwing knife, and who better to retrieve your knife than your feathered friend Duckbridge. Your animal companion will also attack and divert enemies attention, and if you’re smart about your luck, help you find useful power ups hidden in each level. You’ll Also need to reload your revolver after every six shots. Because unlucky events are increased if your pistol is not loaded and reloading is only possible with boots on the ground, the time spent reloading is full of tension and gets the adrenaline going during the intense gunfights.
Shortly after covering controls for movement and shooting, the game introduces it’s strange idea of luck itself. Luck is stored in Luckslinger’s golden bracelet and is used frequently throughout each level similar to cash, items, and extra lives. When luck is stored, objects in each stage will begin to mysteriously work in your favor. Without luck stored in the bracelet, unlucky events will occur and often hit you for a heart damage or make platforming more difficult. Luck can even cause bullets to stray from your path and can be spent in a pinch to save Luckslinger from fall deaths, or to unlock secret collectables.
Similar to the vintage games of its inspiration, Luckslinger plays like a one way street. If you are not at first able to master jump timing, dodge rolls, and reloading then you may find yourself in need of some practice. Platforming during gunfights and dodging projectiles is a lovely centerpiece but inertia feels somewhat unnatural when movement begins to pick up speed while on the mine carts underground in the second stage. Expending Luck from the bracelet can save you in most fall death scenarios but may not always work in your favor when acclimating early on. The game also amusingly triggers a slow motion effect on random kills, but if this is found to be distracting then there is a setting to turn this off. The challenges Luckslinger faces however, are worth overcoming and fairly rewarded.
The boss fights are paired with delightful storytelling and humor before their stress inducing waves of attacks. After which you get the option of bringing in your bounty dead or alive. The town of Clover Creek will also evolve and gain unique traits after each stage as you return luck, collectibles, prisoners or corpses, and even find records through the stages to be played back in the saloon.
Overall Luckslinger is a fun and flavorful neo-retro experience. The controls feel natural and are easy enough to enjoy learning with the exception of the innovative use of Luck. Gathering luck and using your animal companion Duckbridge helps tackle parts of the game that may seem challenging and progress does come with its rewards as you unlock new townsfolk, songs and reveal secrets of the story. The text based humor, spaghetti western flavored storytelling and soundtrack enrich the gameplay with its authentic charm. This story’s delightful humor, action and style shows that Luckslinger brings more to the table than platformers of years past, while still remaining true to its simplicity and classic influences.
-Exciting gunfights, platforming, and bosses.
– Humorous storytelling.
-Beat driven lofi country western hip hop music.
– Tangible use of Luck charms and other abilities.
-Unnatural physics during accelerated movements.
-Appealing but creatively limited graphics.
4 out of 5.
Review key provided by 2Awsesome Studio. Luckslinger is out now!