Review: Call of Juarez Gunslinger
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger was originally released back in 2013 for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. It was recently ported to the Nintendo Switch for $19.99 which is where I reviewed it.
Story Call of Juarez: Gunslinger has one of the most interesting ways to tell a story. The story opens up with our main character, Silas Greaves, going into a bar and telling the bar patrons who he is. He is a famous bounty hunter that has encountered a lot of people, from Billie the Kid, The Dalton Brothers, and many more throughout his time. The bar patrons are star struck and ask for some stories. Silas then begins to tell stories and the stories he is telling us is the game we are playing.
While you are moving around and playing the game, it's fully narrated by Silas, with interjections from the people he is telling the story to, adding a lot of humor into the story. Silas will be saying how a certain interaction went down and someone will interject and say “I heard it went down this way” and then Silas will correct them as you play it out.
There were also some fun misdirections with the way he is telling the story. For example, you will go into an encounter he is describing, and he will be narrating it and then you die in an unavoidable way. Silas will then say something like “no no no that wasn’t right, oh I remember it went like this” and then the game will rewind and you start the encounter and do it the new way he remembered. All the details are great. From the dialog, to the comic book panel style, they introduce characters and all the fun puns. The story was an absolutely amazing part of this game and the greatness didn't stop there.
Gameplay The way the game plays feels great on the switch. There is the ability for gyroscope aiming, if you're into that, but for me, I prefer to just use the sticks. A lot of games on the Switch tend to struggle a little from an aiming aspect for me. I have a hard time finding a good sensitivity that feels right; this is strictly a Switch problem for me. In this game, I never had that problem. It has a very intuitive aim assist that was, to me, the perfect amount of assist.
Running into a gunfight and firing off my revolver felt great and I felt powerful going target to target and taking them down.
The game has a concentration mode you can go into that slows down time and highlights enemies in red. This was yet another tool to make me feel like a badass while going through the campaign. The game even had one more mechanic to make you feel super badass: it has a mechanic to cheat death that restores over time. When you get shot up enough that would kill you, if the skill is available, the final shot will come at you in slow motion giving you the chance to dodge it and get right back in the fight. Visually and mechanically this was a really cool addition.
One gameplay mechanic that I was not a fan of was the use of quick time events. At times you will walk into an area and the game goes to a quick time event that has you going enemy to enemy hitting a specific button prompt. In most cases, if you screw up, it was not game over it just brought you right into the action and you would have to manually shoot at them. All these quick time events did for me was make me remember that I do not know the layout of the buttons on Switch as well as I do with the other consoles.
Something else that just really frustrated me were the duels.
You would square off with someone and have to play a little mini game to get the kill. The way it worked was you have to move the left stick to bring your hand over your gun to increase your speed. The right stick you need to move and hover over the enemy to increase your focus. There are two ways to go about this: the honorable way and the dishonorable way. In the honorable route you wait for the enemy to reach for his gun before drawing your own, and if it's not obvious, dishonorable you reach for yours first. I tried to get all honorable kills but ended up not caring since trying for the honorable way often had me dying over and over.
Set pieces The game is full of action set piece moments. Huge shootouts, explosive boss fights, running on top of moving trains, and even leaping to another train car while shooting mid-air. The game was a visual treat. Although its original release was seven years ago the game does not look or feel dated at all. The graphical aesthetic that they went for aged very well.
Arcade was a fun mode to do after completing the story. It's basically just a combat arena where you run through a small level and get into many shootouts. You have to try to chain your kills to build up combos and get high scores on each level.
Duels were the weakest part of the game and this is a game mode that dueling is the only gameplay mechanic. I tried the mode to see if it was any different but just like duels in the story, this was not a fun mode for me.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is an excellent narrative first person shooter. The storytelling is unique and it has a fun story to tell. Although there are some gameplay mechanics that didn't work for me, the moment to moment shooting feels great. I give this one two thumbs up and definitely recommend you check this one out. Final Score: —8.5/10—
For more reviews, be sure to check out my thoughts on NHL 21, Simulacra, and Halo: Combat Evolved and my new podcast: Game Bites, the latest entry in The Spinchoon Podcast Network (check out Flix & a Six here). As always, check us out on Twitter @TheSpinchoon and I’m @Big_Broons.