Personally few words go together better than bullet-hell and dungeon crawling and that is just what Wildcat Gun Machine is all about. This is the latest game from Brisbane based Chunkybox Games where you get to blast your way through hordes of nasties while grabbing new firepower and pick-ups, and whilst petting a cat or two along the way… what’s not to like. Though if you’re looking for an epic lore heavy tale, I am afraid you’re going to be left looking as you’ll find next to no story at all in Wildcat Gun Machine. No synopsis, background or even a Wiki about who you are. What you’re doing. Or why it’s all happening.
You play as a nameless protagonist and find yourself in what’s best called a hostile environment, where you have to clear your way from room to room, floor through floor until you reach and defeat that floor’s bosses… then do it all over again. So let’s say story isn’t really the selling point of the game, but luckily Wildcat Gun Machine gets much more interesting on the gameplay front.
Starting out you have a pistol and are tasked with clearing your standard room. Defeating enemies will unlock the door leading into the next room, which will ultimately lead you to the boss, which defeating them will unlock a large door to the next chapter. Along the way, you will be able to find new and more powerful toys that will offer multiple fire rates, bullet types, and secondary effects. If you want more bang for your buck you will also have the ability to buy new secondary pistols each with different abilities, including dashing and movement speed, and the amount of life you will have before you are forced to start over again. You can bag all these goodies by using bones that enemies drop as you defeat them, or you can find them from the less fortunate souls that are dotted around the floors. So exploring every corner does pay off at times.
Core gameplay comes with all the hallmarks of a good bullet-hell game – it’s challenging, has a killer soundtrack, cracking visuals, and a fun and addictive combat style. Yet it just lacks the killer blow to standout in the crowd. It all works very well, but it’s all so very pedestrian in ways, and it’s by the numbers and lacks that unique hook to pull you in, beyond there being ghost cats to pet when you return to the “hub” room. Wildcat Gun Machine is fortunately very easy on the eye with a striking art style, with neon punk cartoon being the order of the day with bright colours and hard edges all over the shop. Shooting your enemies and causing explosions delivers an entertaining light show of violence and destruction as well. As for soundtrack the electric fuelled offering frames the action really well, especially when things kick off really getting your pulse going.
Wildcat Gun Machine is an odd one as it gets a lot right. Interesting art design? Check. Fantastic soundtrack? Check… but it doesn’t do enough to make up for its by the numbers gameplay that slows progression to a crawl at times, and add to that its lack of narrative. These factors may turn some away from it that are looking for more depth in their games. That said if you’re looking for something pretty though a little bit safe, I can think of worse ways to spend your downtime between Warzone or Apex matches.
An Xbox review copy of Wildcat Machine Gun was provided by Chunkybox Games PR team, and it’s available now on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and PC for around £12 depending on platform.