It’s not every day that you come across a puzzle game that lets you blow almost everything on the screen up, but that’s exactly what Rogue Rocket Games promised when they released Gunpowder. Puzzle games are always fun to play through, a little brain teaser every now and then is always enjoyable, and when they include giant explosions and thoroughly enjoyable gameplay, they’re surely on to a winner.
Gunpowder sees you as Incendio, an anthropomorphic coyote that wants to play the Wild West’s version of Robin Hood, taking from the rich, greedy boss Grimshaw and distributing the wealth to the poorer citizens of the world. You do so by laying gunpowder down between the starting point, which could be fire, or TNT and the exploding kegs which cause the money to rain down upon the landscape.
It didn’t really take me long to realise that they delivered so much more than just a few explosive puzzles. With over a hundred different levels and some really diverse and interesting level design, the game is stuffed with fun. There’s a surprising amount of items that, when blown up, actually assist you. It may not sound terribly exciting, but when you set a cart stuffed with hay on fire and along a pathway which then sets off a chain reaction of kegs exploding and piggy banks shattering, it’s seriously cool. As you progress through the game, you’ll have more and more of these objects to play with, which can really increase the difficulty of the game, but seeing all the chain reactions occur on-screen is something else altogether. Having cannonballs flying around, boulders falling from cliffs and even gatling guns rat-a-tat-tatting all in one go is an incredible sight to behold.
As you’d expect, if you are in control of so many variables, the levels have been expertly designed. Each one brings a new challenge and none of them ever seem too easy, especially when you are required to time things perfectly or change your layout after lighting the fuse. It’s not just the layout of the kegs and various other interactable items though, Gunpowder brings some beautiful, vibrant graphics to the table. The game looks as though it was pulled straight out of a children’s cartoon on TV, with fantastic comic-book cut scenes and reaction portraits for both characters that will always raise a smile. Every aspect of the map is fantastically drawn and animated, it all flows perfectly together and never seems laggy or overly reliant on absurd physics to help you reach your goal. It really makes for some excellent puzzle solving as you’ll need to think outside of the box for quite a few of the levels, and with such a stunning world to look over, it never gets dull.
What may be a little more surprising, especially from such a cartoony game, is the thought and effort put into the physics of the game. While you will encounter a few bouncing boulders, generally everything acts as it would in real life. If you place a powder keg next to a cactus, the cactus is going to splatter everywhere, and it really adds a certain level of charm to the game. Having walls torn down by cannonballs is also a very satisfying event, as you’ll see each brick get strewn across the map, along with all the money and windmills you’ve managed to blow up en route to completing the level.
One thing that I did feel let the game down a touch is the sound. While the various sound effects of the game are very endearing, the level music can get a little repetitive. It’s not necessarily bad music, it’s just very samey and that can grate after a little while. The only other issue I have with the sound was during the cut scenes at the start of each chapter. When you open a chapter, you’ll be treated to a little comic book page which tells a short tale about what is going on in the level, but there’s no sound, nor character noises in it, which may be a minor thing, but it is a little disappointing to be mute.
Overall, this game is definitely one of the better put together puzzle games. There are quite a few out there, but this ambitious project really hit every high note it could, with stunning graphics, brilliant outside of the box interactables and fantastic physics make this a brilliant game for all to enjoy. It may suffer from a lack of quality sound, but with the rest of the game being so phenomenal, it’s hard to argue against it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some piggy banks to blow up…