Sunday, January 14

Review: Gunhouse [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While there aren’t many outright casual games on the Switch I would say that those on the system generally represent some diversity. Whether tile-matching, straight puzzles of some sort, or a variety of other flavors we’ve been fortunate to have a fair spread of variety and reasonable quality. The latest addition to the mix is the out-of-left-field Gunhouse which simply plays by its own rules. Combining elements of a puzzle game with a sort of tower defense it’s a refreshing take on things, can get challenging as it rolls along, and has a really funky art style to boot!

In terms of the puzzle component you’ll want to create large blocks out of matching smaller ones, and this works in a similar manner to games like Puzzle Fighter. There’s definitely some technique you’ll need to refine to move your rows left and right to let one or more of the blocks from the row above fall down and then make your matches. As you go you’ll need to keep improving your strategy and timing to survive. Once you have larger blocks, you’ll then want to move them to the left if you want to arm up your weapons or right if you want to amp up your special attacks. These will stack in power and whichever block type was last pushed into position will end up being the attack type it will use. There are 3 slots on each side and the vertical position on the screen will dictate which slot(s) your block will fill. It’s a bit overwhelming and odd at first but after a few rounds it tends to make more sense.

Adding to the strategy you’ll want to keep an eye on the top of the screen where the currently preferred blocks are shown. If you use your guns or specials for this type they’ll have some added oomph so if you’re able to prioritize specific blocks for matching that may improve your changes. In addition as you go you’ll accumulate money as you clear levels which you’ll then be able to use to purchase upgrades to your health and weapons in the shop. These improve your baseline odds for survival and you can spread them out to all components or specialize if you’d like. On top of that there are standing objectives to keep track of that reward you with some great bonuses on completion. These will require you to upgrade certain attributes like your health, fire a specific weapon a certain number of times in a round, or make a certain number of blocks with specific dimensions. In general they’re encouraging you to play more effectively anyway and the cash infusion from them, as well as the fact that then new ones take the place of ones you complete, also makes them worth keeping track of.

Once the attack begins you’ll need to use your defenses to destroy your attackers, they’re quite a strange bunch, especially before they’re able to make off with the people in your base. While a guns and power-ups blazing approach can work spacing out your attacks to maximize their damage on as many enemies as possible is a wise plan to follow. As each Day ends you’ll finally be attacked by a larger and more formidable boss so be ready to sling out some damage in order to take them down.

Overall I’ve found it difficult to score Gunhouse. One the one hand I really like its unusual art style and appreciate the fact that it is doing something very different. On the other though I do enjoy playing it I don’t personally quite find it as addictive as I would have hoped either. I’m not positive what about the game isn’t clicking for me but having spoken to other people giving it a shot it seems there’s a mix of folks who adore it and those like me who can’t find fault but also aren’t sucked in by it. All games have an element of an acquired taste to them and in this case I find myself roughly in the middle of the road. It offers a unique challenge and its implemented quite well, but at the same time the price may be a tad high and the puzzle mechanic will have to click for you to ultimately be successful. If you’re a puzzle game fan looking for something different I’d say give a variety of reviews and videos of the game a look and try to size up the situation for yourself.

Score: 7.5

  • A unique blend of puzzle game and tower defense
  • Progressively-growing challenge
  • Unique enemies and bosses that all have an unusual art style

  • Perhaps a little more than most, since it is unique, it is a hit or miss proposition
  • If the puzzle style doesn’t click for you it will likely be a disaster
  • Priced a little aggressively

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