The Wild West isn’t a place for the faint hearted. Guns aplenty and bandits everywhere, you’d need a steely heart to not be overcome by the antics found in the open plains.
And whilst the Bombslinger once thought of himself as that hardened crim, when his missus was murdered and his ranch burnt to the ground, things changed. No longer was this a man who was living life for himself, he was living it in order to exact some revenge on those who had turned his world upside down. A story about revenge and bomb flinging – lots of bomb flinging in fact – Bombslinger has taken the old school bombing genre and turned it on its head, throwing in a procedurally generated, character progression fuelled solo player mode in alongside your usual multiplayer options. But is this a game that a modern day player should be taking in?
Well, that all depends on what you’re looking for, because if it is some mindless multiplayer bombing fun, then it doesn’t ever really live up to the hype. But for a pretty in-depth, super addictive, procedurally generated solo game? Well, I very much like it.
I will however start with that multiplayer scene and Bombslinger quite obviously conjures up thoughts of the likes of Bomberman from back in the day. It is still relevant today too with the local multiplayer scene growing, but the online world is a much bigger one and the exclusion of any online capabilities in favour of local action leaves this game throwing a few duds. If you can gather up four mates for some party fun once a week though, then it’s a decent option to have in your rotating playlist. Both the Deathmatch and Last Man Standing options are set over no less than 12 differing stages, and there are a whole ton of powerups that become available during the manic gameplay, but it most definitely pales into insignificance alongside the bigger, better, more exciting solo mode that is present.
And you see it is this procedurally generated bomb ‘em up that sees Bombslinger shine. However you will have to see yourself getting past a stale opening which is lacking in enjoyment first. The more you play it though, the greater the options you will unlock, the further you’ll find yourself progressing and more fun will be had.
Set in the most obvious of Wild West of settings, McMean’s Ranch, Dead Valley, Black Woods and the Frozen Creek play host to your enjoyment. These are all procedurally generated lands which see every single run you make in Bombslinger being different to your last, with explodable hedges, fires, traps and more placed completely randomly. With any one playthrough lasting somewhere between a couple of minutes – if you’re bad and suck at bomb dropping – to a good hour or so (there’s an Achievement present for anyone who can manage to complete a run through the four stages in less than 45 minutes), you’ll never find yourself bored of the same old scenery as there will always be a different route to explore.
These routes will only open up to you once you clear each ‘room’ of all enemies. As is the norm with any Bomberman style clone, dropping a bomb near to a foe is usually enough to rid them of their existence. However, Bombslinger comes with a variety of enemies in tow, some which plod slowly round the arena, others which will come hunting you down, more that will fight back with guns, explosives or melee attacks, and even some which can be found hunkered down in bunkers. This ensures you’ll need to think a little more than just placing a bomb and leaving things to chance – at least until you start gathering up guns and nitro bombs which will happily destroy vast swathes of the world. These more powerful ‘special weapons’ use up Spirit and so you won’t be able to drop them willy-nilly, however every death that you action then rewards you with cold hard loot or more spirit – unless you accidently blow it up with a poorly placed bomb – and it is this which will keep the Bombslinger happy.
To help you out, the more you play, the more you’ll unlock and whilst your early runs will probably leave you slightly frustrated, once you start getting access to more powerful bombs, faster feet, luck upgrades or all manner of other ability improvements, will start to find that Bombslinger is not just fun, and not just full of mindless bomb dropping, but is actually a hugely addictive little time destroyer that rewards those who really think about their loadout prior to each run. There will always be an element of luck involved, just due to the random nature of the game, but taking time to consider all loadout options should be something you find yourself doing.
Every single one of the room completions you make comes with the opportunity to head into another random encounter, and it is only by moving through these enemy filled arenas will you begin to stumble upon loot chests (most of which will take some of your earnt cash to open), keys to unlock other chests, ability upgrades, and shops. The latter provide you with even more goodies to help out the Bombslinger’s adventure and even though the choices in each are fairly limited, a good purchase may just help swing the tide when you come up against the bosses. That is no more true than when you head in to a shop with little health left – spending that cash on further hearts or full health refills is crucial.
Yes, Bombslinger has bosses to defeat and these come in the form of the dastardly gang that torched the good man’s house and murdered his wife. You can expect to find your bomb placing skills tested to the utter limit with these guys, as you go up against the likes of the crazy El Skullo Calavera, the fiery Ash Burnham, the sharpshooting Big Bertha or even an evil Goat Boss. Whilst they aren’t exactly clever, each of these will require a completely different strategy in order for you to overcome them and exact your revenge. You may get annoyed with the seemingly random movement that each run comes with, never allowing you to really plan the best form of attack and just hoping not to be wiped out by the randomness, but it all works out well in the end.
It is however this random nature which ultimately holds Bombslinger back. It’s all well and good heading off on a new adventure each and every time you die, but with cheap deaths a common occurrence, especially as you start to find yourself going up against enemies that will shoot back with guns (of which you can grab should you so wish), going back over McMean’s Farm time and time again gets a little repetitive. With no real difficulty increase from one world to the next, it would have perhaps been preferred if the team behind Bombslinger had also randomly generated the world order – if only so as to spend a bit more time in Black Woods and Frozen Creek.
But the slightly retro visual look that is in place and the gameplay it holds within really does draw you into this fun little world. To complement the visuals and gameplay is a proper western soundtrack that happily rolls and loops in the background. It may not seem much to start with, but it’s one of those tunes that just embeds itself into your brain at every opportunity. The sound effects that go along with it aren’t bad either, with chickens clucking, bombs blowing and screams of death filling the air.
At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with Bombslinger per se, but local 4-player deathmatches have been done to death and even with the classic experience that is found throughout Bombslinger, it fails to really ignite the multiple player enthusiasm. It is worth playing for the single player however, especially if you’re a fan of randomness and rogue-like elements. Just be aware that you’ll need to be happy looking past the slow, rather painful, first hour or so as you gather up enough loadouts choices for the fun to begin.
Because when it gets going and the Bombslinger gets slinging, this is one Wild West title you’ll want to play.