Indie developer Vlambeer has already established themselves as one of the most intriguing studios currently producing games for PC and mobile platforms. Vlambeer’s surprise mobile hit Ridiculous Fishing eschewed common ad supported and micro transaction based sales models in favor of simply charging a reasonable, one time only, price for their product. While many business minded developers might balk at the idea of treating art and consumers respectfully, Vlambeer has reinforced the notion that success is possible without exploitation.
Vlambeer’s Gun Godz, is an entirely free, no strings attached, first person shooter. Like Ridiculous Fishing, Gun Godz uses a pixelated retro art style. The game’s aesthetic is a call back to Wolfenstein 3D, complete with single-story level design and flat sprite based enemies that pre-date the Doom era. What separates Gun Godz from the re-skinned Wolfenstein mods of yesteryear is the game’s distinct embrace of modernity. Vlambeer has masked the limitations of the game’s engine with brightly colored enemies and a chip tune/reggae/hip hop mishmash of a soundtrack that drives the action in a way not seen since the release of Hotline Miami.
Similarly, gameplay in Gun Godz evokes the action found in the iD Software inspired FPS games of the early '90s boiled down to their very essence. The game provides you with a variety of weapons, and simply asks you to move through various corridors from point A to point B killing everything in your path. The difficulty escalates and locations change, but the core mechanics never stray far from expectations. Where Gun Godz truly shines is in the surprisingly deep meta-game. The levels are shockingly short, with most clocking in between one and two minutes to complete. Gun Godz could easily be beaten in under an hour, but single play through isn't the goal. Gun Godz' design encourages speed running levels and careful resource management for maximum efficiency. While it is possible to play the game at a plodding pace, the pulsing music and small rooms press the player to constantly move forward and provide the sort of exhilarating experience most modern first person shooters can only dream of delivering.
Gun Godz is not without its flaws. The customization options are limited, and by limited I mean literally non-existent. The game only plays in full screen mode and does not offer players any sort of performance or resolution tweaks. More troubling is the lack of control over mouse sensitivity, key rebinding and y-axis inversion. Additionally, long term enjoyment of Gun Godz hinges entirely on a willingness to buy into to the notion of speed running. If the idea of memorizing levels to shave a few precious seconds off of your completion time is off-putting, your time with Gun Godz will be severely limited.
Flaws aside, I can’t recommend Gun Godz enough for anyone with even a passing interest in playing a retro inspired shooter made by one of the best indie game developers out there.