You are the bombslinger. Once a ruthless outlaw, you have decided to turn away from your life of crime to settle down with your wife and live the rancher lifestyle. You cannot escape your past so easily though, as your former gang find your ranch, burn it to the ground, and murder your sweetheart. This has thrust you on a quest for revenge, one that will see you attempt to avenge your beloved and ending your former posse’s reign of terror.
This story is very simple, and thrown at you in a way that is hard to follow initially. I managed to piece together the plot after watching the opening cinematic a few times, as each time you start a new game the story intro will play. The story isn’t what this game is about though, and serves as a means to an end more than anything.
The sound in Bombslinger is explosive! Ok, sorry for the pun, but there is no better word to explain the sound effects used here. The sounds of the bombs explosions are as menacing and deadly as you would expect an explosive instrument of death to sound. Enemies attacks also sound on point, from a tossed Molotov cocktail, to a shotgun blast, even the simple swipe of a pitchfork or the headbutt of a goat sound great. Their death cries are a little lacklustre though which is a shame.
Musically the game is quite good, with a western styled soundtrack that fits the themes of each level perfectly. I wish I could praise the music more than I can though, but there is one minor gripe I have with it. Each level has the one track that plays, which is fine to start with, and the track loop is smooth. This is a problem though when the game is run based, as each time you start a new run, you then hear the same handful of tracks in the same order. Because of this the music grew stale a lot quicker than it should have, as it really is expertly done.
Visuals & Performance
Bombslinger has a well crafted pixel art style that is definitely on the high end in terms of quality. Character and enemy designs are great, and the environments are beautiful. They have really nailed how a pixel art version of a western would look, and the style used is carried through every part of the game. This leads to a coherent look and feel overall, something that definitely makes this game appealing.
The explosions look amazing too, which is a good thing considering that you will be seeing a lot of them. That said, there is a small drawback to how they look. The centre of the explosions can make seeing the battlefield and where your explosions are going a little difficult. It isn’t anything major as you play the game for a bit, but initially when learning the mechanics of the game it was a little off putting.
The performance is excellent. I never encountered any bugs or graphical hiccups of any kind. Even when battling with 4 players, explosions going off all over the place, the game ran smoothly.
What kind of game is Bombslinger? I went into this game completely blind, and from the moment I placed my first bomb it hit me what this game was. Bombslinger is essentially a Bomberman game at its heart. You walk around a grid based map, and try to blow up your enemies by placing bombs where they will get caught in the explosion. Some of the walls can be blown up, but there are also indestructible walls as well. Once all the enemies are destroyed, you can then proceed to the next area.
Along the way you can find upgrades in chests that will do a variety of things. Some upgrades will grant you new moves, like being able to kick bombs you place or hurdle spaces with impassable objects. Others will give you additional items, like new bombs or bandages that will replenish your health. There is also a store where you can purchase new items and upgrades if you wish. Killing enemies nets you some cash, but it can take quite a bit to get the funds necessary to pay the shop clerk, as his items tend to be quite pricey.
You might be thinking, “so this game is just a Bomberman clone then?”. Well, no. To call this game a Bomberman clone would be doing Bombslinger a major disservice. There are many smart additions this game makes that feels like a step forward for the Bomberman formula, which is a formula that frankly has needed an upgrade for quite some time.
One thing this game adds is a levelling system. Killing enemies nets you some experience, and when you fill your experience meter you will level up. Doing so lets you choose one of 3 upgrades that are given to you completely at random. Sometimes you can add an extra heart of health, up your run speed, extend your bombs blast radius, replenish your health, among many other options. Because you have to select 1 of a random selection of 3, this stops your from levelling your character up the same way each time. This may seem annoying, but I found it made me approach each run differently, as my character had different strengths each time I played.
Each level is also procedurally generated, which helps keep each play through fresh. Not only are the areas and enemy placements changed up, but occasionally you will meet different bosses at the end of each level. This means that you may not be able to get revenge on the boss you just fought next time, as you may end up facing a completely different enemy.
Bombslinger is also run based. The levelling system is great at helping you get stronger and more capable, but when you die that’s it, your character is dead. You will have to start from scratch. Because of this, the game is very run based. You attempt to complete all the levels in one go, and if you die, you start again from square one. This is a double edged sword, as the levelling system almost feels wasted on a game with no continue function, but also the perma death makes every run have much higher stakes.
It’s not all bad when you die though. The more you level up and unlock new abilities, the more items and upgrades you can unlock at the start of each game. You can have a necklace that adds an extra heart, boots that up your movement speed and other items that will help make each of your runs a little easier, at least in the beginning.
There is one flaw I feel this game has, and it was a big one for me. Bombslinger throws you in with no tutorial or explanation of its systems. You have to learn everything about how this game works on the fly. Having played Bomberman games before I was well versed in the basics, but there were many things I had no idea about. There is a levelling system? What is the spirit meter? This move lets me tumble, but what does that even do? Nothing is explained, and although that helps to invite experimentation, it also invites frustration and annoyance.
Oh, and did I mention that there is a 4 player competitive multiplayer mode? In this mode you just try to blow up all the other bombers. Last man standing wins. This is a lot of fun, and can keep you entertained for hours. Playing the multiplayer really brought back the feelings I had playing Saturn Bomberman back in the day against my friends, which is quite a compliment to Bombslinger.
Is Bombslinger worth your hard earned cash? In short yes. Oh you want a longer answer? Ok, the single player mode has a lot of replayability due to the fact that each level is procedurally generated, and you have to level up your character independently each time. Also the multiplayer mode is a hoot, and would be fun for all. Also, the game is fairly cheap, and as such I feel that it packs enough value in there to warrant the price they are asking for it.
Amazing sound effects
Smart additions to an established formula
Music gets repetitive
No tutorials or explanation of systems