Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 06.02.2020

Review for Call of Juarez: Gunslinger on Nintendo Switch

Techland has been a gradually building a name for itself with titles of increasing quality over the years. This Polish team began humbly with racing games in the mid '00s, but it was not until 2011's Dead Island where it made a huge name for itself. Somewhere between their quaint racing sims and epic zombie survival-horror, was its cult classic Call of Juarez and its sequels. At their core, these were fairly vanilla first-person shooters, but with an old western coat of paint. What made these so endearing to fans were their dedication to the old western aesthetics, Max Payne-like slow-mo, and music. Call of Juarez: Cartel was the second sequel, and was a series reboot that aimed to set things in modern times. Things changed, and most would agree for the worst. It would seem like it would be a series that would fade into obscurity until Call of Juarez: Gunslinger reminded everyone why the west won.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger has much more going on than meets the eye. At first it feels like it is going to be a very dry and serious gritty western with Call of Duty-style gameplay - that is to say it would be a series of linear stages strung together by an excuse narrative for the purposes of root'n toot'n shoot'n action. This is only barely correct, since Gunslinger has so much more going on beneath the surface.

Silas Greaves is a prototypical western antihero. He has shades of Clint Eastwoods's "The Man with No Name" and Red Harlow from Red Dead Revolver, but is voiced by the same actor as Solidus Snake. The story first introduces this protagonist slumming his way into a saloon, and telling the patrons stories about how he knew a bunch of actual historical outlaws, like Billy the Kid, and Butch Cassidy. The way how the story weaves the history of these real people into the tall tales of an increasingly more drunken Silas as the story progresses adds a lot of authenticity and flavour to it all. It is during Silas' unreliable narration where the actual gameplay takes place, and he is fully aware how he needs to spice the story up with a bit of punch to keep the saloon patrons interested. It effectively paints a picture of a washed up and old outlaw, who has wasted his life, and is really tired; who just wants another shot of tequila. At times he will sarcastically make things up, or backtrack in the story, and it is the player who will have to act out these shenanigans.

Screenshot for Call of Juarez: Gunslinger on Nintendo Switch

This genius method of telling the story, not only says so much about the failures of the protagonist, and informs about real-life historical figures, but it also enriches the gameplay and allows for so much flexibility. The action will start out seemingly grounded in reality. As things go on and as Silas drinks more, his recollections get out of hand, and the action gets more absurd. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is all too excited to indulge in pure western insanity with bullet-time, a mountainous body-count, and historically accurate weapons that cause red, delicious gobs of gore. The attention to detail may not reach the same authenticity as seen in Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2; this is from the perspective of a drunkard after all. This is more like a spaghetti western than something like Deadwood or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; it is more romanticized and exaggerated, like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The gunplay compounded with the Nintendo Switch's motion controls make the action feel very stimulating and satisfying. Even at a sub 30 frames per second, the action feels visceral and crunchy, as headshots pop with a nice chunky sound effect, as a huge score gets tallied up. There is almost an arcade-like quality to the overall presentation, since downtime is kept to a minimum, and the UI has large and slick elements that make it feel like the designers were cowboys who happened to learn how to create video game graphics. If it wasn't for the out of control frame-rate, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger's action could have been considered perfect. There is nothing wasted, and every stage is so tightly designed with hidden collectables and well-placed enemies.

The arcade-like structure makes Call of Juarez: Gunslinger highly replayable, and creates this addicting loop. This is enhanced by the upgrading system which does not waste much of the player's time with minor incremental upgrades. Prepare to dual-wield six-shooters, or be able to see enemies from far distances or from behind cover! How about dual shotguns? Why not? Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is not afraid to let players live out their most outrageous western fantasy as Silas Greaves. It is all part of the tradition of tall tales and myths of western folklore.

Screenshot for Call of Juarez: Gunslinger on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is an absolute diamond in the rough. The motion-comic cut-scenes get the job done, but are otherwise unimpressive to look at. The frame-rate can get really rocky when there are tons of lawmen about, firing rifles or revolvers from all over a town, as Silas darts from cover to cover. The overall concept and execution on the other hand is pure genius and fully takes advantage of the historical setting, flawlessly weaving it into the gameplay. John Cygan as Silas Greaves is an utter joy to listen to, as he gradually succumbs to a hilarious stupor. The arcade-like structure makes Gunslinger a natural fit for the Nintendo Switch's portable mode, so that chunks of the game are easily digested and completed while on the go.

Developer

Techland

Publisher

Techland

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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