Greedy Guns wasn’t something I discovered because I’m so darn good at sniffing out quality indie games. On the contrary, we get so inundated with pitches for coverage that sometimes something really good slips past my notice. Miguel, a developer at Portuguese studio Tio Atum, knew just what to say to bring his title, Greedy Guns, roaring to the front of my mind. To paraphrase, he saw that I love Bleed 2 and, because of this, thought I should look at this game. Now, I’ve probably said this before, but the cheat code to my heart is Up Up, Down Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Bleed 2, Start (ends with “Select Start” for two players, to the confusion of my wife). The message included a GIF of gameplay showcasing a 2D bullet hell shooter laden vibrant, colorful graphics. Miguel was right. This was something I absolutely had to play.
Breaking down Greedy Guns to its basics, this is a bullet hell, side scrolling, Metroidvania shooter. Imagine equal parts Contra and Symphony of the Night. The thing is, after playing a decent chunk of the game, the mixture isn’t a slapdash exercise in throwing two genres together. This is a game that displays meticulous thought in design, from the map, art, and power ups.
Even more remarkable is the fact that this game is running on the Unity Engine. Due to the ease of use, allowing even the most inexperienced budding developer to throw together some assets to create something that fits the definition of a game, the Unity logo appearing onscreen at the start of the game is seen as a warning to the player. Greedy Guns shows that it doesn’t have to be this way. It single handedly removes the stigma attached to the Unity Engine. The developer has shown that, in the right hands, expertly crafted games cannot only exist with this engine, they can thrive on it.
There are multiple reasons that this game leaves such a great impression. The art and design are extremely well drawn, and cohesive to the world that is built. The monsters somehow manage to be both horrific and cute. Seeing the first boss, a slathering plant monster hanging from the ceiling elicits the feeling of concern and determination in the player. The fight itself is challenging, in a fair way. As this is the first major boss, the patterns are easily learned, even as it throws projectiles and basic enemies at the player, requiring some skill and reflexes to destroy.
The steady stream of new abilities are also well mixed with the world. For example, the first new ability is a dodge roll. In map exploration, this is designed to navigate through barriers. The game also forces the player to contend with enemies that require this ability to defeat them. It’s a smart piece of game design, something that even genre heavy hitters tend to skip, for the most part, in favor of just gating areas off via traversal abilities only.
Everything said here isn’t even getting into the humorous dialogue, two player co-op and weapons upgrades that build on the action mechanics. Nor does it even mention the well tuned controls. A complete review after a full playthrough of the final build still needs to be done, but based on the chunk of time spent with pre-final code, there doesn’t seem to be any way for my opinion of this game to sour, short of discovering that it was an overly clever vector to give my gaming rig computer herpes. As that is highly unlikely, rest assured that Greedy Guns is worth the time and money when it launches on September 1.