The Gunstringer Review (X360 Kinect)

The Gunstringer box
The Gunstringer box. Microsoft

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Kinect has a new killer app. The Gunstringer is the best mix of content and quality available for Kinect so far and is absolutely worth owning for anyone (well, maybe not kids) with the device. It is funny, the gameplay is fun, the Kinect controls work well, and there is a ton of content to play through that make it easily worth the $39.99 investment. We have all of the details here in our full review.

Game Details

  • Kinect Sensor Required
  • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
  • Developer: Twisted Pixel
  • ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
  • Genre: Shooter
  • Pros: Tons of content; great story and characters; voice acting; Wavy Tube Man Chronicles; Kinect controls work great; can play while sitting
  • Cons: Sore arms

The Gunstringer is actually a play where you control a marionette puppet undead skeleton cowboy out for revenge. The story is hilarious and the dialogue is really great. Similar to the recently released Bastion on XBLA, there is a narrator talking about everything you do which also leads to some laughs. There are multiple parts to the play, each with several levels and a boss fight at the end, and the main game itself offers a solid 4-6 hours of solidly replayable content. The game also offers co-op which is a blast as well.

The Gunstringer also offers two pieces of additional free content you can download.

The first is Fruit Ninja Kinect for XBLA (a Kinect fruit slicing game ... trust us, it is way more fun than it sounds). The second is an extra act for The Gunstringer called The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles. Wavy Tube Man Chronicles is an interactive FMV game where you move a cursor around the screen and can shoot enemies as they pop up by raising your hand like you just fired a pistol.

Honestly, it isn't much of a game since you don't really need to aim, but it is absolutely hilarious with some great dialogue and completely crazy storyline.

And you get all of this content for $39.99. Not a bad deal.

Gameplay

The gameplay in The Gunstringer works incredibly well with Kinect. Before I get to that though, two important notes. First, you can play The Gunstringer a little closer to the sensor than other Kinect games. I can easily play 5-6 feet away while other games (such as Rise of Nightmares, just for a recent example) don't work right and constantly make you take a couple steps back from that range. Also, you can play The Gunstringer sitting down. Not that it is all that tiring to play standing up, but having the option to sit is great. See Kinect skeptics, it can work while you're sitting.

The gameplay consists of a few different scenarios that change in and out as you play the game. Most of the time you control The Gunstringer as he automatically runs forward (or rides a horse, or drives a wagon, etc.) by moving your left hand side to side or lifting it in the air to make him dodge objects or jump. Your right hand controls his gun where you paint targets by moving a cursor around and then pull upwards like you're shooting a pistol, and then Gunstringer shoots all of the enemies you marked.

Another scenario has Gunstringer hiding behind cover and you have to mark enemies and then lean him out of cover to shoot. Other gameplay modes are things like simple side-scrolling platforming sections or occasionally picking up an extra gun and getting to shoot with both hands, just to name a couple. There is a lot of variety here, which is great, and the boss fights are also all unique and very cool.

The one complaint I have is that it will make your arms sore. Moving around with your left hand is fine, but the shooting motion with your right arm made my shoulder sore enough I had to take a break every couple of levels.

It doesn't make you tired, it just makes you sore unlike any Kinect game I've played yet.

Graphics and Sound

Visually, The Gunstringer is a nice looking game. It isn't stunning or anything, but it is clean looking and has a definite appeal thanks to a quirky art style. The environments are rather plain, but the character designs are pretty crazy and really stand out. It is sort of like a Western-themed cartoon designed by a mental patient.

The sound is very good overall. Great music. Great sound effects. And incredibly good (as good as cheesy over the top Western dialogue can be) voice acting.

Bottom Line

In the end, The Gunstringer is the best game released for Kinect yet. The controls work amazingly well, the presentation is spot-on with the theme, and the amount of content packed into the game is very impressive. This is one of those games that is a great showpiece for Kinect. Not just because it plays well, but because it is so over the top and crazy (especially The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles) that you just want to shout it from the rooftops about how amazing it is. It has to be said, though that while the content is quality, and there is lots of it, the glue that holds it all together is a twisted sense of humor and if this style of humor doesn't appeal to you, I can see The Gunstringer perhaps not being your cup of tea. You may want to try the demo on the Xbox Live Marketplace or watch a trailer of the game first to see if it tickles you. If it makes you laugh, you should buy it.

The Gunstringer is far and away our favorite Kinect game yet, and highly recommended for a purchase.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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