The man in black fled across the desert and the
gun BOMBslinger followed…
The Bombslinger, from the two-man indie team Mode 4, is a western take on the classic Bomberman gameplay, and by western, I mean that of the spaghetti variety. This isn’t just a cowboy skin slapped on the game though as the while it’s heavily inspired by Bomberman there’s enough here to help it stand out on it’s own. The Bombslinger tells the tale of a ruthless bandit turned peaceful rancher on a quest to avenge the murder of his missus and destruction of his ranch. The game has been available for some time on Steam early access and appears to have been received quite positively. For this review, I played the switch version. Anyone familiar with Bomberman’s gameplay will instantly know the basics of the game, You place bombs to kill enemies whilst avoiding getting hurt in the blast.To begin with, you start with no power-ups and set out to see how far you can get through the procedurally generated maps picking up power-ups and taking on a variety of enemies. However, once you die that’s it, back to the start you go. This may not sound appealing but because the maps and layouts change each time it manages to find that balance between frustration and “just one more go” that’s common with rogue-likes.
Progression is made by completing challenges during a run. Each challenge unlocks a perk you can start your next run with, allowing you to get further each time. It’s a fun gameplay loop and the perks available are varied enough to make your load-outs feel strategic. The power-ups are familiar to anyone who has played Bomberman, for example, you can increase the length of your flames, have multiple bombs, increase movement speed etc. You can also gain additional weapons such as shotguns and pistols which again helps keep things varied. You have health represented by the heart icons, once they’re all gone it’s back to the start, you can increase these and eat food to heal. There is also a second blue bar which dictates the amount you can use items, you can’t throw a Molotov if you have no instinct left so there is a degree of item management too. This bar can also be increased as well as being buffed so items useless. During a run you earn EXP for killing enemies and level up, each level gives three random perks to choose from so picking correctly is important especially later in the game. Of course, when you die, all that level progression is lost.
The variety continues with the enemy types, the aforementioned murderous goats are just one of many increasingly bizarre adversaries to be found here. Hillbillys with shotguns will hit you from a distance detonating any bombs in the bullet’s path whilst pitchfork wielding old men in underpants will make you religious (as in holy… hole…ly… forget it). Machine gunners in foxholes, prospectors with pickaxes, pistol-wielding cowboys, coyotes and more flesh out the campaign adding yet another layer of strategy when tackling each map. The game appears simple to begin with but that is definitely a misdirection as this game can get real tough, once your on some of the later stage maps placing a bomb at the wrong time can end it all, you need to be aware of all the different enemy types to make sure your bombs won’t blow before your clear or that your clear path isn’t actually in path of a rampaging animal… or worse.
The Art design is quite unique. It has the top-down perspective you would expect from a Bomberman type game and the retro-inspired graphics really work well, the game looks great on the Switch in handheld mode. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the sound design, Level music was a little too repetitive for me which is probably due to replaying the levels over and over. When in handheld mode on the switch I often played with the sound off and listening to a podcast but that’s more of a preference rather than a critique, it’s not terrible, just not notable either.
The game also boasts a multiplayer mode. This is more classic Bomberman style gameplay, you and 3 friends can battle it out and see who can blow who up the most. If you’ve played Multiplayer Bomberman you’ve played this but that is by no means a negative. It get’s really hectic, real fast and when all four of you are powered up the game becomes a mad frenzy of explosions with so much happening on screen it’s hard to see what is happening… which in portable mode makes multiplayer very difficult. The shenanigans appear to be perfectly suited to setting your Switch down on a stand and giving everyone a Joycon but in practice, the screen is just a bit too small and I found it difficult to follow. Also, don’t worry if you don’t have friends, you can play against bots which is always a nice option.
The Bombslinger is a fast and fun Bomberman-action-rogue-like with a lot to like. Perfectly suited to the Nintendo Switch as it can be played in short spurts, it’s definitely worth checking out for anyone who enjoys Bomberman.
The Bombslinger is available now on Steam and blasts it’s way onto the Switch, Xbox One & Ps4 on April 11th!
- Fast Paced Gameplay
- Addictive Rogue-like elements
- Enemy variety
- Great reto graphics
- Lacklustre soundtrack
- Multiplayer in portable hard to follow