Friday, December 20, 2013

PC Spotlight #59: Samurai Gunn

Title: Samurai Gunn
Developer: Teknopants
Platforms: PC
Price: $14.99 (on sale for $11.99 through Humble)
Throw Tarantino, Hotline Miami, and 47 Ronin in a blender, and you'd get Samurai Gunn. Those three elements seem like a weird mix, but that's the kind of vibe I'm getting during my time with Samurai Gunn. Take the samurai films of old, ramp it up to eleven with Tarantino-style violence and blood, and then imbue that with the lightning-fast white-knuckle pace of Hotline Miami, and that's Samurai Gunn in a nutshell.
Choose a samurai, choose an arena, and then fight. One hit kills. Armed with only your blade, your handful of bullets, and your agility, you must survive against increasingly challenging waves of enemies in increasingly complex arenas. Like Hotline Miami, death comes fast and at a moment's notice; a single lapse in timing, in reaction and reflex, and your blood will stain the ground rather than your opponent's. There are no power-ups to equip, no special swords to unlock, or abilities to use. You and your foes are equally matched; superior skill and reflexes are your only advantages. Each battle is one of hair's-breadth dodges over swinging blades, of smart positioning, perfect timing to strike down an enemy in mid air or deflect his bullet back at him. And that's just against one opponent; it only becomes more intense once you're down to one life and three enemies are out for your blood.
It's not just this frantic dance of death that makes Samurai Gunn so compelling, but the sheer variety of arenas as well. From levels consisting of moving platforms and traps to levels with spike pits and warping tunnels, to levels made of nothing but easily breakable bamboos so that the layout changes and shrinks as you play, they are numerous and each must be learned and mastered if you wish to succeed.

It's the little details that round out this impressive package. Fall into a pond and your gun won't fire but instead misfire and discharge spurts of water. Decapitated heads roll around and a fresh kill will stain the water pink. Your sword slashes through blades of grass. Your blood and bodies stay behind, monuments and reminders of your past failures. Play dead among the corpses to confuse your enemy. Slash at your foe at the same time he does, and you'll clash swords and fly apart, leaving a dust trail in your wake.
I've only played solo Survival but in my opinion, that's impressive and substantial enough to enjoy. I can only imagine that multiplayer is even better thanks to human players instead of AI. You can play co-op against bots or fight against each other in Versus mode. As for Samurai Gunn's future, the developer has said he's "interested in experimenting with different types of enemies, modes, and other things" so there's only more frenetic bloodshed to come. You can purchase the game on here or Steam; the game is also set to release on PS4 and Vita next year.

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