A Fistful of Gun Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

A Fistful of Gun – Review


I never really got into spaghetti westerns when I was a kid. For whatever reasons, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood never held as much sway in my tastes as say, Mark Hamill did. So, when I was assigned A Fistful of Gun for review, I was a bit apprehensive about whether my enjoyment of the game would be tied to my knowledge of the old west. Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

A Fistful of Gun, developed by FarmerGnome and published by Devolver Digital, follows the “righteous psychosis” of eleven playable characters as they try to take down Clayton Boon, a railroad tycoon who sold his soul to the devil. Your main goal is to stop him before he completes a railway to Hell. But with each character having their own play style and control scheme, you won’t get bored anytime soon.


The colorful cast of A Fistful of Guns and their various control styles.

That’s right, the main draw of this game is that each playable character has one of three control schemes and a unique combat mechanic associated with them, as well as a classic Western movie trope. From the pretty boy double wielding pistoleer to the fireworks-loving Asiatic Tao, each character has their unique cliche charm to them. But more than that, the wide cast guarantees that each person who plays will have something to meet their own standards and play styles.

Of course, not all characters are created equal. Four of the characters use 8-direction firing, four of them use directional aiming and three use mouse controls. And each control type carries its own positives and negatives associated with it, especially with the 8-direction firing mechanic. People using the eight direction firing mechanic can’t aim like the mouse or directional firing characters can, only being able to fire in directions they’re currently facing. And since you can’t tap the directional keys just to turn facing, this requires players to veer off into the swarm of enemies firing at you.

Additionally, each character has just as many cons for every pro to their designs. Tao can place a ton of missiles, for example, but the rockets can be destroyed pre-launch; and take forever to launch if you’re not firing the smaller missiles. Even if you do place the smaller rockets, which fire exponentially quicker but deal pitiful damage in comparison to every other weapon in the game. Billy, the Dual-Wielding Kid, can fire off large bullet sprays, but has to play DDR on the JKIL keys or your joypads AXYB buttons to consistently put out damage. While slightly annoying at times, it never got too in the way of the gameplay. Balancing out the play styles and encouraging experimentation.

All characters are playable in all four game modes; Arcade, Story, and the two multiplayer options of survival and vs mode. With each character bringing their personal advantages and disadvantages with them, many will find themselves trying each mode with each playable character to get the most out of the experience. Unfortunately though, most will find single-player to be this game’s most disappointing aspect.

Let me preface this by saying there’s nothing inherently wrong with the arcade or story modes. Both are extremely well made, with the games procedural generation being one of its most impressively good features. As well as the games tongue-in-cheek style of humor, the aforementioned character flaws shine through hardest in these game modes. With no other players to balance out your weaknesses, you’ll find that getting through the game will be hard for some and near impossible to others. Cutting down the impressive eleven character roster to maybe four to five characters you’ll ever touch.


This is what many of my attempts at finding a Posse looked like.

Story Mode, and the best mode in my humble opinion, runs your character through Acts. Twelve stages of running through various challenges capped off with an epic boss fight against enemies like the KKKrusher, a klansmen operating a giant tank that occupies four railroad tracks capable of launching an enormous smashing claw. Throughout the course of these acts, you navigate the map by touching the map edges, with different pictures indicating the kind of challenge you’ll be facing on the other end.

The best part about this is the freedom of choice it grants the player. While it’s nice to know where healing and weapons can be found in the game, I found myself always carefully considering the options lain before me in each situation. Sometimes I’d go for the cards depicting rivers because one of the characters overheating mechanics is completely negated by standing in water. Or sometimes a card depicting a graveyard would appear, indicating a shootout challenge that the Sniper Zeke can breeze through easily. And since each area usually allows 2-3 path choices, I never felt cornered like in similarly designed games. Where I’d spend some time in anxious dread because I knew whatever traps or enemies would be thrown my way and still couldn’t deal with them.

Story mode’s second best feature is the aforementioned bosses. Huge, epic, and always hilariously over the top, these bosses add plenty more charm and humor to a game already packed to the brim with both. Always challenging, but never overly challenging, these bosses will leave a memorable impact amongst anyone who goes up against them. Although, be warned: Some of these bosses, notably “Soul Train,” may be viewed amongst certain individuals as offensive. Even though these bosses are just playing to the clichés and tropes of Western cinema, some may not agree with that style of humor or character design.

Although it’s plenty of fun, Story mode can’t compare in the slightest to the multiplayer co-op the game features. Up to 9 people can connect to a lobby in A Fistful of Gun online mode, and go through a cooperative version of the game’s Arcade mode. In which players go through wave after wave of enemies and stages until the group’s three lives are expended.

However, to be completely honest, that’s not the reason you’d end up playing multiplayer co-op. The reason you’ll be playing multiplayer is to experience each character as they were intended to be played, balancing off each other to form a squad of unstoppable death and mayhem. Tao’s lazy and easily destroyed rockets are much easier to fire off when the enemies aren’t focused on him. The characters that use eight axis firing can careen around to their hearts content knowing that they can draw enemy fire and take a good number of enemies down at the same time. Everyone ends up feeling like an incredibly overpowered character.

Especially since with each cleared stage, surviving characters can choose an upgrade to stick with them throughout the entire game. Piercing shots, damage upgrades, explosive rounds, all turning incredibly fun and lethal characters into unstoppable monsters that none can stand against. Up until the generation seeds you with a squad of shotgunners, who cover the entire screen in unavoidable bullets. But even then you’ll still have a good time with all the other players. Probably sharing in a few laughs as someone gets mauled by a raccoon, or standing in the wrong place at the wrong time (That is to say, next to dynamite as a bullet is heading towards it). The biggest downside to this is that currently, the servers are fairly empty. It took me thirty-odd minutes to find a room of four players to play with during the weekend. With only two servers to choose from, and the pure unadulterated fun this mode is, I should have plenty more gunmen in my posse; although that’s not really a point I can put at the developer’s fault.

No matter which mode you play through though, you’ll find yourself treated to a wonderfully designed game in terms of graphics and audio too. Reminiscent of old style arcades, the audio and graphics in the intro to the game had me longing for an arcade cabinet to play this on. Each track of music, each film scratch, and each super zoomed in picture of the character talking to you struck my nostalgia chords in all the right ways. These effects create a visually appealing experience that complimented the overall niceness of the package that is A Fistful of Guns.

That’s no big surprise though. Overall, A Fistful of Gun is in an incredibly well-designed indie title that appeals to a wide variety of fan bases. If you enjoy arcade style shooters, fun multiplayer experiences, and Spaghetti Westerns, you’d be remiss in not giving A Fistful of Guns at least a look. Even if these themes don’t appeal to you, I’d still recommend at least checking the game out through Steam. It’s one of the finer titles to come out amongst the wave of 2D Indie titles in the past few years.