But it’s bloody local multiplayer only! Ahhhh! But wait; there’s a single-player Survival Mode, and it’s worth the gold doubloons you earn through menial labor by itself. It really, really is.
“…a Bushido warrior with a blade that cuts through flesh, as if it coats nothing but hot air”
Imagine a western samurai movie, with cinematic widescreen black bars top and bottom, narrowing the view to focus on the horizon. There’s epic guitar noodling over a dusty desert that’s lit by a red dusk creeping down in the background. That’s your stage.
Now for the duelists. Each armed with the acrobatic skills of an experienced circus act, a Bushido warrior with a blade that cuts through flesh, as if it coats nothing but hot air, and a gun that blasts golden bullets that melt the skin as they sear through.
These are all details imagined in my mind as I play the pixel-heavy Samurai Gunn, chopping down multiple foes at a time, trying to reach a specific kill count with the limited lives I’ve been granted. It’s not a power trip, though. It’s a measure of skill in which a single mis-timed swing of my sword can result in my gore splattered against the wall, left to stain, a permanent reminder of my earlier failing. The brutal nature and seemingly smart moves of the AI make it a challenge worthy of your time.
You only have a few bullets to play around with during each life, and they’re slower moving than you’d expect, allowing the enemy to dodge, should they have a keen sense. Not only that, but in Samurai Gunn, shooting a bullet can be more deadly to yourself than your opponent. They can hit it straight back at you with their sword if they’re on the ball. Then it’s your turn to react. You jump, swing, clash swords, shoot bullets vertically and pop through the passages to the sides of the screen to confuse your opponent with screenwrap travel.
“It’s a local multiplayer survival game that feels lush in its violence.”
Each time you get a kill, those cinematic widescreen bars invade the screen, highlighting the moment. The last kill is the best as it zooms in on the messy scene, going so slowly it’s almost paused so that you can take in glory or defeat.
There’s more arenas available to play in than I’ve deemed worth bothering to count. They come in different themes; some conceal spikes in the floor, while others let you travel upside down along a green cloud across the ceiling. Once you’ve beat the first level in each arena, you can then go on to the next one, in which you need more kills and will have multiple opponents coming at you at once. It’s a test of patience, timing and reactions.
This is just the Survival Mode, which can be played by yourself and with up to three friends. Use keyboard or controllers; it’s up to you. And if you do have people around, jump into the Versus Mode to strike down each other.
Samurai Gunn is a smoking gun, a blood-stained sword, the quick feet of a trained warrior out to kill. It’s a local multiplayer survival game that feels lush in its violence. I love it. I’m a slave to hitting replay. The single-player may sound limited, but it’s far from, especially if you’re a fan of fast swordplay and reading the moves of your opponents in order to outwit them.