Every once in a while you get to test a game where you end up thinking: what on earth was that? The action shooter Wildcat Gun Machine, the first game from the development team Chunkybox Games, falls into precisely this category. It is currently available in the Nintendo eShop for 15 euros and is distributed there by the publisher Daedalic Entertainment. Daedalic should probably look familiar to most of you, for example from great story-driven games like Deponia or Harvey’s New Eyes.
The (non-existent) story probably revolves around the rescue of large mechs.
© Daedalic Entertainment
It is all the more astonishing that Wildcat Gun Machine can get by without a story at all. Without big forewords or cutscenes you are thrown directly into the gameplay. You take control of a white-haired young woman with an eye patch who, inexplicably, can be reborn with the help of cats. The game is divided into several acts, all of which are structured like a labyrinth. In the center of each of these labyrinths is a save point where you can use bones you find to purchase improvements for your pistol or skills.
In the labyrinth itself, two mini-bosses want you to defeat them in order to finally open the gate to the final boss. But before you can get to the mini bosses, you have to walk through various chambers with enemies and traps and find several keys. You will be accompanied by your trusty pistol. This has an infinite supply of ammunition and is your standard weapon. You can also find 40 different secondary weapons, of which you can only take one with you at a time. These weapons differ greatly in their effect and ammunition capacity and unfortunately cannot be upgraded either. This is where one of the game’s weaknesses becomes apparent. The newest weapons are always the strongest and easily outperform all previous weapons. So there is no reason to resort to older weapons. I would have liked to be able to improve the weapons here as well, in order to be more strategically armed for the boss fights.
In addition to firearms, you also have hand grenades. Here, after the first mini boss of each act, a new type of hand grenade is usually unlocked, which can give you tactical advantages. For example, the first hand grenade simply does area damage, while others have a suction effect, for example, and thus drive opponents together for a short time. You have an infinite supply of hand grenades, but you have to allow some time between each throw. The last armament component is the Gunmachine. This is a special ability for which you must first fill up your power bar by killing enemies. After that, you can briefly climb into your mech suit and fire wildly around you. During this time you are invulnerable and have tremendous firepower. Different types of gunmachines can also be unlocked in the course of the game, although there is no incentive here to go back to older models.
Hope you have a good reaction speed. Your life is limited and the hail of bullets relentless.
© Daedalic Entertainment
In the fights, it is often just a matter of dodging the hail of bullets as best as possible and at the same time leaving as much damage as possible to your enemies as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there is not much tactical depth here. As the difficulty increases, the game throws more and more enemies at you, who can take more and more hits. This approach is usually more familiar from procedurally generated games and not from manually designed dungeon crawlers. Should you then die in the hail of bullets, this is not too tragic. You then have the choice of reviving at the central save point (all enemies will also be revived) or reviving right before the failed encounter at the cost of a cat. You only have one of these cats at the beginning, but you can acquire more via bones as the game progresses. Also, if you touch the save point, all consumed cats will be restored. In this way it is possible to simply be revived directly before the encounter and to run back to the storage column in case of a cat emergency.
The technical implementation looks very solid. The game offers attractive 2D graphics and different opponents in each act, who differ in their appearance and go well with the respective act. Although there is no voice output, since there is no story or cutscenes, that shouldn’t really matter. The screen texts are entirely in German.
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