The Gunstringer Hands-On Preview [E3 2011]

At E3 this year we had the opportunity to drop by Microsoft’s booth and meet with developer Twisted Pixel, who gave us the chance to check out their Kinect title, The Gunstringer.

You may remember Twisted Pixel for previous arcade titles like ‘Splosion Man and Comic Jumper. Well, they’re back and bringing gamers a new Kinect game that puts players in the role of a gun-slinging, cowboy-hat-wearing, skeleton marionette bent on revenge.

To play The Gunstringer the player has to hold out both their left and right arms; the left controls the puppet and the right is used for aiming and shooting. As you dodge obstacles or drop in and out of cover by moving your arm left and right or lifting your arm to jump (all controlled with the left arm), the player tries to mark multiple enemies with their right hand. Then, by pulling their right arm up they unleash a hail of bullets on the enemies that they’ve managed to mark. The controls are actually really easy to pick up despite the fact that they may sound confusing. As someone who hasn’t used Kinect much it took almost no time at all to get adjusted to the way the game plays.

One reason that I’ve yet to invest in Kinect is that the full body Kinect titles can be difficult to play due to issues I’ve had with my knee. The Gunstringer however only requires you to use your arms which made it a lot of fun for me and the only problem I could see was maybe your arms getting tired of being held out too long if you didn’t take breaks.

Twisted Pixel manages to deliver a really entertaining game, as the story is told with cardboard-looking cutouts, and the background drops in and out while a narrator speaks in a voice that reminded me a bit of a spaghetti western. All of the background music really fits in with the game well and the story being told like a stage play was an interesting concept. The enemies didn’t really have unique designs and there didn’t seem to be many types to fight but the gunslinger himself had a great look and the marionette they had on display in their booth really looked amazing.

The game never really took a serious tone, it probably shouldn’t either, and everything from the art style to the music and even the gun fighting action all keep a fun atmosphere. It’s a great arcade-like game to either play yourself, or watch someone else play. It is also a nice touch to see the controls for the puppet as the shadow hangs above the character’s head, as well as hands that suddenly appear from the sky and drop in new scenery and obstacles.

While we did get to play through one level, it didn’t really give us too much information about the game’s story. However we did get to see and experience enough of the gameplay to know that it looks to be a genuinely fun game with addicting gameplay. You may tire your arms out from the controls but that can be said about most Kinect titles. Plus who knows, it may just buff you up with the build of a real gunslinger, not just the one you play.

The Gunstringer is a promising Kinect title that those looking for a new title to add to their library may want to look into. This is one that I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on.

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