Blocky, low-res games have been more and more prevalent over the years. While initially beloved in the 80's and early 90's, they were soon phased out when games with better graphics ad more realistic art became available. But with the popularity of Minecraft there was a huge renaissance, and huge but graphically blocky games were back. With Gunscape they try and add a first person shooter aspect to the mix Doom style. And the results? Well...
The overall story is interesting mostly because there is barely a story here to begin with. There are a handful of “story mode” campaigns and levels, but each one is there to showcase a part of the world – the whole story is pretty much a tutorial on what you can do in multiplayer, which is sad, because the majority of people love single player games. The story, at least in multiplayer, is based on what you yourself create – you make the story. I was disappointed in having barely any campaign, but once in multiplayer, it can be fun – when all the other parts work.
Controls are fine for the PC – it's pretty standard stuff, especially when it comes to world building. It's point, click, build control responses are fine, and unlike Minecraft, it's easy to navigate and build. It's not confusing when you just want to build a simple house or cavern. It even responds super fast. Controls are definitely a big plus here. It's how Minecraft should have been for inventory and controls.
Low-res graphics can be a hit or miss. On one hand you want it to look retro, but on the other hand it can be very unappealing. Minecraft manages to pull it off, but here, with a more Doom/Wolfenstein feel, it doesn't cut it. It's not purposefully animated Lego's – it's making your own video game level, but minus the mechanics that regulate different skills. It almost felt like they were being purposefully bad, despite being purposefully low-res. Even in block form it's blocky. Texture is added, and unlike Minecraft and even 90's-era Wolfenstein, it's all a copy of all the others. There's no variance in, say a stone piece to another stone piece. In other games it's different where little imperfections will be. But here? All the same. It adds a level of cheapness to this that feels so out of place. It feels retro, but even retro games were not this retro. It goes way more 3D with obvious modern day mechanics and movement, but with obvious copy/paste art jobs.
When a game goes retro, they tend to take the style of music from the period, but also references the limitations. Hotline Miami is perfect – 32 bit sound style, but played by synthesizer. Here it does the same, but with a different rhythm. I sounds like a more modern synthesizer song on a loop. It works well for the game, but because of the techno-ish of it, some of the time music and locale doesn't mesh. Do caves really warrant a steady early-90ish action beat?
Sound is also a bit off. Sound is the same. Each sound effect is the same as last time – every gunshot is the same as the last. Each icon grab. Each injury noise. Unlike music the choice of sounds fits in perfectly, but there is no variance. Even for a retro game this doesn't fly as much, and in this game, it's distracting. In many games, action or timers keep you from noticing, but due to how the game is built, you are more relaxed and can pick that up.
On the mechanics side of things it can be jerky. Most of the time it's just graphics limitations or long load times for map elements, but those cause issues. Many times I found myself unable to move, only to see a wall of blocks appear keeping me from moving. It can be that buggy at times, but for me, it was only in lag/load situations. The game is constantly being updated to correct everyones varying issues, and for me, it was walls temporarily being invisible ones all the time.
Overall I found Gunscape to be engaging, but it was trying to be something else the entire game. Users building their own scenario turned out to be oddly laid out Doom-clone levels. If you like multiplayer and wished for a more violent Minecraft, this works. But, as constant updates attest, more should have been brought into the game to make it stand more and not capitalize on being retro. Being retro is both an easy and hard card to draw and it didn't quite make it for me. But if you are a retro/Minecraft fan who wants to challenge friends, at least try it – it's still very much worth a playthrough with friends.
Final Score: 7.6 out of 10