It may not be Nottingham forest, but someone’s abusing the poor again and it’s time for another foxy thief to steal from the rich and corrupt and give to the poor. But this time, he won’t be using a bow and arrow, no, he’ll be using Gunpowder!
Developer Rogue Rocket Games
Publisher: Rogue Rocket Games
Release Date: July 2015
Played Main Story
Purchase At: Steam
Gunpowder might just have released on PC but it’s an iOS title from earlier this year. With the transition to PC you switch taps and swipes for clicks and mouse dragging. The controls feel natural and perfect and in fact, after playing a few stages with a time limit I can’t imagine how people played this game without a mouse.
You play as Incendio (not the cleverest use of Spanish, but what the hell), a Fox Robin Hood much in the vein of the 80s Disney adaptation of the story. Your task is to steal as much money from the Grimshaw Company and you do it by blowing piggy banks and safes up. There’s not really a plot, barely a premise and it’s weak at that and it’s been done before in other games of its style, particularly Angry Birds, separating the game into several loosely connected chapters where the story has no relevance in gameplay whatsoever.
But while the premise may be weak, the gameplay mechanics are very strong. On each stage your task is to blow up the safe containing Grimshaw’s hard-earned money. You do this by carefully placing explosive barrels around the map, connecting them with gunpowder and then set the thing ablaze. If you did it right, the barrels will explode in an increasingly complicated display of pyrotechnics, you’ll see a shower of money and Grimshaw’s angry frustrated expression. It’s quite satisfying to see the villain so frustrated by your victory. Early stages are extremely simple, with only basic hand-held challenges, something I’m not a fan of. I’d rather find the solutions on my own. After a while they introduce new mechanics, more complex, such as canons and TNT sticks, but still each chapter will have basic-difficulty level puzzles instead of progressively ramping up the difficulty. You can go from a brain-teasing challenge to a very simple one. It’s almost as if the developers were afraid of making their game too difficult. The physics behind the puzzles take some creative liberties as the game progresses, especially when it comes to how bouncy rocks are, but it just adds to the fun.
One element that decides how complex a level will be is your Gunpowder meter. The more you have, the easier it is to come with the convoluted solution in your mind (or maybe it’s just mine), but in some stages you get so little it’s nigh impossible to be very creative about the solution and it feels almost scripted, as if you had to solve things in that particular way. I’m all up for limits, but the amounts of powder you get are completely arbitrary and instead of enhancing the strategy they hinder it. I want to build my explosive Rube-Goldberg machine the way I like it, thank you.
Visuals are simple yet very effective. It’s easy to identify the important elements in each scene and in a physics puzzler that is much more important that powerful grahics. Explosions have a cool visual effect and the destructible environments are a nice touch. As the game progresses the environments gets more cluttered with different elements and even the destructible ones start playing a part in the puzzles. Gunpowder is a game that doesn’t waste any of its assets and almost everything is useful in a way, and I love that. Character design, as I’ve mentioned, draws from Disney’s Robin Hood feature but there a charming Looney Tunes quality to it that I think is fantastic.
There isn’t much to mention when it comes to music and sound design. The music that does play during the game is a pseudo-Mexican riff straight out of a Zorro feature, but it’s more a victory jingle than a soundtrack. Explosion sounds are good enough, though the explosion sound volume is lower than that of the piggy bank breaking, which to me was jarring to say the least.
Gunpowder isn’t a perfect game but it’s undeniably fun and with dozens of stages, piggy banks to crack open and leaderboards, there are tons of reason to come back for more. The plot is uninspired, it holds your hand way too much and there is barely any music to talk about, but you’ll still have a cracking good time playing it.
3.5/5 – Good