After receiving a tidal wave of praise from fans and supporters, Gunpowder blasted onto Valve’s Top 50 Greenlit games category and was approved for sale within just one week on the service. Following that success, all signs pointed toward the iPad hit translating nicely to PC and Mac, which is something that it’s just done with panache.
The Californian developer’s game operates with the kind of simple yet effective style that audiences will have come to expect from tablet titles. Players take on the role of Gunpowder‘s hero, Incendio – a friendly fox who becomes inspired by tales of Robin Hood as he seeks to aid his fellow villagers and townsfolk. Standing in the way of this goal, however, is a dastardly villain in the form of Boss Grimshaw. Grimshaw is a greedy thief who’s been hoarding riches and currency while the citizens starve and struggle around him.
The events take place in a wonderfully slapstick rendition of the Wild West. The setting is rich with iconic objects, characters and locales that players will recognize from decades of cowboy tales and alternative histories. All will know that the West was a dangerous place, and Gunpowder uses this to its advantage in order to help you achieve your goal of robbing the rich to help the poor.
The game’s premise is simple and, as is the case with many such indie puzzlers, its simplicity is one of its biggest strengths. Players take a bird’s eye view over sets of rich, cartoony locations as they attempt to crack open Grimshaw’s safes and piggy banks. Trailing powder between kegs and flames in early stages, you’ll lead a path of destruction between as many of the treasure caches as you can to nab Grimshaw’s gold and progress to the next stage. Points are then awarded at the end of each level, with players being able to challenge for leaderboard high scores if they solve the puzzles quickly and thoroughly enough.
As the game progresses, its stages become more and more complex and challenging. Fortunately, however, the tools at Incendio’s disposal also improve as things ramp up. Checking blast radiuses, for example, becomes necessary to ensure that flames and explosions can successfully pass over sandy gorges or rushing rivers to reach targets on the other side. Later again, timed puzzles will demand constant attention and a more flexible approach to ensure the perfect set-up is in place for when the safe finally arrives on the scene. None of Grimshaw’s tricks or strategies are unbeatable.
Gunpowder does a fantastic job of applying a simple and popular puzzle format to a gorgeous and fun Wild West, with locations that expectedly make use of classic Western settings, from ranches and deserts to mines and caverns. Each one adds a new layer to the visual appeal of the game, but more importantly, they evolve the challenge set by the gameplay. Obstacles and objects feel organic given the landscapes, and nothing jars against the game’s appeal. No challenge feels like it’s shoe-horned in for the sake of difficulty or progression, and the game flows perfectly from stage t0 stage because of this.
Unsurprisingly, given its humble tablet roots and basic point-and-click mechanics, the game never suffers from any serious performance issues and I never fond my experience spoiled by a glitch or visual error. The action moves smoothly, even in the more heavily populated stages, and the explosions and motion-heavy sections animate in a satisfactory way. The achievements are also well-populated, with a few niche challenges sending me back through certain stages in the pursuit of the more difficult ones.
That being said, not everything about Gunpowder offers much replay value. Once the more challenging achievements have been unlocked, there isn’t an awful lot to drag players back into any of the 150 current levels. The nature of the campaign’s gameplay promotes a quick, speedy approach and so the game can pass by in a matter of hours. Once the end has been reached and the bonus levels completed, there’s very little other than a fleeting pursuit of perfection to claw players back into replaying the first five chapters. Fortunately, however, there’s promise of additional levels which will surely be well-worth checking out.
For its meagre price, Gunpowder presents a ton of fun and the promise of more to come offers even more reason to check it out in its new format.
This review is based on the PC version, which was provided to us.
Gunpowder's puzzles are a blast, and the game is hampered only by a lifespan as short as a spark-adjacent powder keg.