Samurai Gunn Review

The quick and the dead.

Do you know who fights with honor? Dead people. Life is fragile in Samurai Gunn, too fragile to worry whether your unsavory tactics might blemish your stellar reputation. An honorable person wouldn't lie among the fallen fighters, ready to surprise enemies with a flourish of sword slashes and gunshots, nor would someone who has dignity position himself near respawn points, eager to vanquish foes with little chance for retaliation. If feigning death keeps you alive one more minute, then be as still as possible, and let your defeated friends bicker about the right way to compete. You may have played dirty, but don't be ashamed; you alone are left to enjoy the spoils of victory.

Samurai Gunn is a two-dimensional brawler with a dark heart. Four local friends take part in frantic fights to prove their quickness with a sword, deftness with a gun, and their shrewdness in the heat of combat. One screen reins everyone into a diminutive arena, and as you leap up walls and dash through bamboo paths, you're never far from bursting into a bloody mess. Because just one strike ends your life, you learn to accept your failings. Your friend may have slain you with one perfectly timed shot as he plummeted toward the bottom of the screen, but next time, you may reflect that bullet right back at him, or rush toward him before he can pepper you from afar.

Tactics are thrust to the forefront once you master the basic controls. With three other players dancing around you, death comes quickly to the unprepared, so a little bit of thought goes a long way toward ringing up the kills. If trickery is your desire, just kneel down near dead bodies or deep in spike-laden pits, hoping to blend in to the environment to surprise a distracted foe. Or maybe long-range attacks are your specialty. Slide up and down walls, and use platforms to your advantage, as you keep your distance while bringing pain. Of course, such a strategy won't last long, given that you have only three shots per life, and if you should fall into a pond, your ancient gun sprays only water. Samurai Gunn swallows anyone who lacks versatility. Rely on any one plan for too long, and your friends will catch on, and your run at the top will end.

Victory is achieved in one of two ways, depending on which option you choose--by killing the most or being the last to use up your stock of lives. With the former goal, offense is emphasized. You must continually stalk your friends or else you're left with nary a point to your name. Samurai Gunn is fast and deadly in this mode. Blood splatters as each character dies, respawns, and then dies again, and any setback must be brushed aside as you rush once more into the fray. The kinetic excitement leads to moments of pure joy--such as when the person in last place goes on a killing spree to wrest away victory--and the ending of a match only makes you eager to jump into another round on a different map. Maybe you want to test your mettle on the icy mountains, where icicles can impale you from above, or crawl upon the sticky ceiling of the graveyard to laugh in the face of gravity.

The moving platforms can be just as deadly as the hunter below.

Stock matches have an entirely different feel. Here, death matters, so rushing pell-mell into fights means you're going to end up sad and bruised. So you play with patience. Watch as two players square off, and then fire a shot into the back of your distracted friend. Or wait until that moment after one friend kills another, that second of celebration that invariably comes after a successful fight, and then show why you're the only real samurai of the bunch. Matches where living takes precedence over killing are so deliberate, so full of cunning, that your stress is on the same level as your excitement. The energy builds in your chest, ready to be released in a storm of slashes and blasts, but you must hold back. Taunt your friend, get him to rush at you or stupidly turn his back, and then release the wrath that has been building inside of you. When the match comes to a close, and the scores are tallied up, there may be just one point separating the victor from the losers. In such a situation, there's a showdown. One flat stage, one life, winner takes all. And you thought stock matches were stressful.

Are you by your lonesome? There are single-player matches as well that mirror the rhythmic conquests of multiplayer duels. You compete on the same maps with the same attacks as before, and if you forget that you're going against AI foes, you could be tricked into thinking that you're facing off against friends. But it's not the same. That triumphant yell when you best a person next to you, whom you've joked with and plotted against, can't exist when you're sitting by yourself, matching wits with a computer. It's a shame that Samurai Gunn lacks its maniacal edge when played without friends, because there's no online option to take on faraway people. Thankfully, you can take on AI enemies if you don't have three friends nearby, and trying to kill the computer samurais but not each other adds a whole new layer of strategy. And if you must slay alone, you can practice your techniques, and the volatile back and forth is so enticing that you still get lost in the bloody rhythm, but the matches can't live up to the multiplayer escapades.

Samurai Gunn revels in its own simplicity. The selectable characters are identical save for their outward appearance, and there are only a handful of moves in your repertoire. There are no unlockable skills, no stages to earn, or any other distractions. And all of that is to this game's benefit. The battles are all that matter, letting you focus entirely on the exciting conquests. When you play with a trio of like-minded friends, everything comes together in such an enticing way that you scream and laugh and taunt and growl until you have to pull away to do other life duties. Samurai Gunn makes excellent use of its simple nature to keep you invested in the bloody life born warrior.

The Good
Tight, exciting combat
Diverse strategies
Great variety of stages
The Bad
Multiplayer is limited to offline only
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Tom has been aching for an exciting offline competitive game for far too long, so was immediately taken in by Samurai Gunn. He spent the majority of his time in four-player matches and rarely had much honor.

Discussion

42 comments
wizardboyus
wizardboyus

wow i'm surprised that one of the only local multiplayer games is released on PC, oh well luckily i can connect my PC to my tv, as i know that my friends would love playing this game.

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

This game looks like it would be soooo fun multiplayer 

Jedo
Jedo

Seems to be taking the gaming community by storm. Worms formula in a new style. Looks fun

Hurvl
Hurvl

If this game is as good as the movie The Quick and the Dead (and an 8 suggests it is), then it's probably worth playing.

hippiesanta
hippiesanta

This game is soo ugly and mcshea gave it an 8??? 

dethtrain
dethtrain

Wtf? Saw the video. What's up with the AI?

StellOverdrive
StellOverdrive

Soon they'll make a game that consists in moving a single white pixel on a black background and sell it for $15. It will be so simple that this guy will give it a 10 for its simplicity.

Longini
Longini

Ok, I don't normally do this, and I don't mean to take anything away from Samurai Gunn as it looks like a rad game. But Divekick has local AND online multiplayer(this only has local, which for a PC game is a big deal). Divekick only cost $10 normal price and people bitched that it didn't have enough content, Samurai Gunn is $15 and people seem totally fine that it costs that much for a PC game that has no online multiplayer. Again SG looks awesome and it'd be cool if I had more friends that were into playing local multiplayer games, but without that it seems like this game is useless to me which is a shame. Also the upcoming Sportsfriends which looks awesome.

StHapns247
StHapns247

Nothing better than a Facebooker commenting "first"

Thyasianman
Thyasianman

Awesome review Tom. It was funny that I just seen you playing the game via Twitch just a few days ago, and it was your first time. I knew you really hit it off with the game. Only unfortunate thing about all of this is that I really want the game now to play it with my friends, but I'm broke...

zeusbark
zeusbark

So many comercials are pissing me off, specially when you've seen the same one over 10 times already.

bobjones1980
bobjones1980

Is the PS4 and Vita release date December 2014?

S0mEGuY12
S0mEGuY12

@hippiesantaYEAH! IT'S GRAPHICS ARE SO BAD THAT IT SHOULD GET A LOW SCORE! *sarcasm*


Seriously why do people like you think that its visuals that make a great game? There's a difference between a game that looks legitimately bad (Hour of Victory using Unreal Engine 3, and it looks horrible).. and a game that uses an old school retro style and looks appealing (VVVVVV is an example, and in some instances, Super Meat Boy). Sure, it may look like something made a couple decades or more ago, but that's the charm of it. These days imo, retro is a visual style. Graphics have never made the game, just look at the newest Killzone. Fantastic looking game! But imo its gameplay is that of your run of the mill generic shooter, and is mostly just a tech demo. It's multiplayer is also what you'd expect from your everyday FPS.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@StellOverdriveThomas Was Alone fits that picture somewhat and it got a 7,5 from Tom. It's funny that your sarcasm/mocking is so accurately true.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea moderator

@LonginiSportsfriends is going to be amazing. I'm glad people have slept on that.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@ShimmerMan 

Well, you can be sarcastic all you like, but to me, and perhaps some jaded others, graphics seem like a shallow aspect of a game, especially if it has nothing to do with gameplay.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea moderator

@bobjones1980Doesn't look like it. I'm curious if they're going to be straight ports or have new features (online, per chance...?)

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@S0mEGuY12 I'm going to guess by his reduced game list, that the guy is no older than 13, so have patience with him :)

StellOverdrive
StellOverdrive

@Jedo Being unfamiliar with the verb "tare", I looked it up and came up with the following results:

  1. (chiefly business and law) To take into account the weight of the container, wrapping etc. in weighting merchandise.
  2. (sciences) To set a zero value on an instrument (usually a balance) that discounts the starting point.

Which one is it? The second one seems to fit more but I can't be sure. 

StellOverdrive
StellOverdrive

@jflkdjs Pong actually deserves a 10 for a game released in 1972. If it were released today with a price tag however, only this guy would give it more than 5.

Samurai Gunn More Info

  • Coming Dec 31, 2015
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    Samurai Gunn is a two- to four-player local multiplayer game, where each player is armed with a sword and a gun, with only three bullets to a life.
    0
    Average User RatingOut of 0 User Ratings
    Samurai Gunn has not been released yet!
    Developed by:
    Beau Blyth
    Published by:
    Maxistentialism
    Genres:
    Action