Review – Rustler
I love a game that is completely fine with being self aware at how silly it is and really steers into it. It doesn’t have to be the most original game in the world, but it acknowledges itself and provides an enjoyable experience. Something like Saints Row, My Friend Pedro, and Surgeon Simulator comes to mind. In comes Rustler, a game with the style reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto 1 & 2 set in medieval times. Carriage jacking, flinging horse poo, Monty Python jokes, and stealing from Knights and guards? Yes please.
In Rustler you play as Guy, a young man trying to make a name for himself. Unfortunately, he is going about it in some not so legal ways. With his goal to fight in the arena and become a noble, he realizes he needs money to pay for a fake ID. Guy and his friend start a side business under the nose of their gang leader to earn extra money. You’ll get yourself in the middle of some business you shouldn’t have gotten into.
The gameplay in Rustler is pretty standard for an top-down camera angle type game. You have your basic combat with swords, axes, shields, firebombs, and crossbows. There are other special items like horse poo that will slow characters down and a special automatic crossbow. However, the options are fairly limited when it comes to items, and even with the limit, not having a weapon wheel often made it annoying to switch through items.
You’ll also have access to various horses, whether they’re alone, pulling a carriage, pulling a cart, pulling farming equipment. You get the idea, there are horses and you can ride them. What is strange though is that I couldn’t pin point the stats or any logic to how various horses moved. Some were slow and turned sluggishly, some were very fast, while the horses with carriages had the most mobility. Typically in GTA you know how a car is going to handle because of the make and quality. Why does a horse with a carriage turn better than a Clydesdale?
Unfortunately, the biggest issue with Rustler is that I was just getting bored with it. The missions are mostly structured to move from point A to point B, and nothing really dynamic happens. The jokes for the most part don’t land like they should, and while I’d be lying if I didn’t chuckle a couple times, most came off as forced or predictable. For example, one mission has you needing to dress up as a prostitute in order to sneak into a rival group and destroy their wine barrels. However, nothing happens to really capitalize on this situation. You walk in with no one flirting or making a move, then you proceed with your mission and escape.
I also ran into some issues with bugs during certain missions. For instance, I was supposed to kill a bunch of the townsfolk for the gravedigger so he could stay in business. However, no matter how many kills I got, the mission would end in a failure. I only needed fifteen kills and before the time ran out I had over fifty. There were some other missions that took a while to update, but that was the only one that I simply couldn’t get past. Luckily it was only a side mission, but still. I also had a dashboard crash with an error report.
The other aspects of the game I actually really liked from the visuals to the sound design. The visuals had some decent environmental details, and while the characters are more simple with cel-shading, I thought that added to the humor they were going for. Animations are definitely very stiff, which is noticeable with the horses moving around, but overall I liked the aesthetics of everything.
The sound design isn’t punchy, but the general sound effects that are there are fine. Ambient noises of the bustling city or the sound of people throwing crap bucket out their windows into the street is interesting. However, characters make little noises like a Banjo game, but this is done too much and is annoying. The soundtrack is decent with some good songs, and I have to give credit to whoever had the idea to make bards be the music. You can hire bards to follow you so you have music while you play, and they even beat box.
Rustler is a game that I was really hoping for would be some stupid fun, and for the most part it nails that first part. There are some moments that made me chuckle, especially with the Monty Python stuff, but majority of it fell short. I just wish the overall gameplay had some more depth and the mission structure had more fun. There are some decent ideas here, I just feel like I was watching a comedian flop on stage and I was getting bored.
The simplified cel-shaded character designs and the bright color palette help bring out the more playful nature of the game.
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason with how the horses control, and the general combat and movement is just okay.
Sound design is fun with a decent soundtrack that features a pretty decent beat boxer. General sound effects and ambient sounds are fine.
Fun Factor: 4.0
As much as I do enjoy a ton of Monty Python jokes, a lot of these fell flat and felt forced. The general mission design also wasn’t as wacky as I was expecting and I often felt bored.
Final Verdict: 5.5
Rustler is available now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on PC with i7-9700k, RTX 2070, and 16gb RAM.
A copy of Rustler was provided by the publisher.