There has been an extreme lack of core Kinect titles. Luckily, Twisted Pixel, the minds behind ‘Splosion Man, The Maw, and Comic Jumper, have cleverly crafted a game that utilizes Kinect: The Gunstringer.
The idea of The Gunstringer is that the player is controlling an undead puppet on stage, as an audience watches (Twisted Pixel uses FMV for this). The game will flash to the audience reacting as silly things happen within the actual game.
As you start the game, you raise yourself from the dead (using your hand). You are on a mission to eliminate those who betrayed you: The Inflatable Wavy Tube Man, The Baron, The Madame, The Master, and the Lady of the Dead. The game is separated into four chapters. There are four acts within a chapter, and after completing all four you will be confronted with a boss (one of the characters listed above).
One of the interesting things about a Kinect game is seeing how it plays. For the most part, very few developers have understood how to properly use the hardware. Twisted Pixel is one of the few talented developers that know exactly how to use it.
The Gunstringer will automatically run through a level. You move one hand left and right to guide him through the level and move your hand up and down to jump over obstacles. With your other hand, you will highlight targets and bend your arm up to fire. For most of the game, you will be running and firing through different acts. If you did this the entire game, it would be repetitive. Twisted Pixel manages to mix the game up. In one section you may be running through a level, avoiding obstacles as they chase you. Another section may turn the game into a side scrolling platformer. There are also several unique set pieces that keep the game feeling fresh. There are other unique sections of gameplay as well, especially some of the boss fights.
I do have a few complaints about the gameplay. Sometimes you will be required to stay on a narrow path, or avoid objects that are trying to hit you. During some parts, this was very challenging and it felt as if the controls weren’t quite responsive enough. Also, some things happens so fast on screen it’s hard to react fast enough to avoid death. If you jump at the last minute to avoid falling somewhere, the Kinect sensor sometimes didn’t seem to respond fast enough. Moments where the Gunstringer would auto fire with two guns felt a little strange as well. The game is advertised as one of the first Kinect games you can play while sitting down, which doesn’t work very well. Overall, the majority of the game worked fine.
I like the unique art style of The Gunstringer. How could you not like the silliness of trees being empty paper towel rolls? Within each chapter, the art style will change. You start out in the wild west, and will end in an area with the living dead. The art style changes accordingly (desert wild west colors to dark colors for the living dead). The game features modifiers where you can add a sepia filter, or change the look of the Gunstringer.
Twisted Pixel has always been known for using humor in their games. The Gunstringer follows these traditions. Whether it be the silly characters in game, such as the Gatorjack (and the making of Gatorjack), or the clever use of FMV, The Gunstringer will keep you chuckling throughout.
Although the game is short (4-5 hours), there are incentives to keep playing. You earn money for beating levels, which can be used at the bonus store. At the bonus store you can purchase themes, achievements (yes, you can buy achievements), concept art, modifiers, commentaries, music, videos, and other pictures. Just playing through the game once will not give you enough money to buy everything. There is a hardcore mode you can purchase, that makes the game a lot more difficult.
The Gunstringer is one of the best Kinect titles for the core gamer. Forty bucks may seem like a lot for a game with a five hour play through, but the unlockables and achievements will add some replay value. There is also a free DLC available, with hopefully more to come in the future. Although there are some minor control issues, it can’t stop me from recommending this game to anyone looking for a great Kinect game.