The zombie craze rages on, inspiring movies, television shows, and video games, and we can’t get enough. In a unique spin on a world overtaken by the rambling undead, Crazy Monkey Studios and Claeys Brothers Arts bring us an action-packed 2D platformer, Guns, Gore & Cannoli.
Vinnie Cannoli is your typical badass mobster in the 1920s. Prohibition is in full swing, and so is organized crime. Vinnie is sent out on some mob business and runs into a bigger threat than his rival mobsters: hoards of flesh-hungry zombies. Vinnie has to use a plethora of weapons to escape and complete his mission, enthusiastically eating cannolis along the way.
This shoot-em-up side scroller features basic, but not easy, combat. Vinnie picks up new types of weapons as the game progresses, including hand guns, tommy guns, shotguns, revolvers, flamethrowers, grenades, and rocket launchers. It’s up to you to manage your ammunition (more of which is available along the map for you to pick up), make sure you accommodate for reload times, and choose the right weapon for different types of enemies. To give himself a little time to line up a shot, Vinnie can kick enemies away, which stuns them briefly. There are also elements in the environment that can help you- barrels to explode, cars to blow up. It’s easy to get surrounded by hoards of zombies and intelligent mobsters, so assessing the situation and coming up with the best way to combine your weapons and items in your surroundings is vital for your survival. Many of the weapons are very satisfying to use, especially the flame thrower. I will admit to cackling in glee while I send multiple enemies to their crispy death, screaming and fleeing in agony.
The major group of enemies you will face are zombies. There are a wide variety- undead mob guys, cops, soldiers and sailors, sexy women, butchers, even leprechauns. They are all unique, whether it be some kind of protection they might have (like a helmet) or special ability (like speed or toxic belches). You will need to learn the best way to defeat each type before you become overrun by a hoard.
Other enemies include rival mob members, rats, and the environment itself. The gangsters are much smarter than zombies and can duck and hide, requiring a different strategy than you might use going after the undead. Watch out for fires all over the city, which can kill you if you get stuck in them, and be careful when blowing up barrels and cars- they will hurt you too. One of the clever aspects of this game is that the zombies will attack your rival mobsters, buying you a little bit of time where you can focus on killing the undead first while the ones you haven’t killed yet help you take out your living enemies.
You’ll see your health ticking down as zombies claw at you, mobsters shoot you, and fires burn you. You can be revived by finding and eating boxes of delicious cannoli as you proceed along the map. Health regen is full and quick, thankfully, but sometimes it just doesn’t come in time. You will inevitably die. Checkpoints are relatively fair, but even then, sometimes starting over too many times can be infuriating.
I used a controller while playing this game. The key binds are different than I’m used to, and I still make mistakes hitting the wrong buttons even after playing for quite awhile. This gets really frustrating when you’re trying to fire and instead accidentally switch your weapon. Basic controls are to switch weapon, fire, reload, throw grenads, kick, and jump. The graphics are colorful, fun, and unique, hand drawn and HD. Movement is fluid and the 1920’s detail is clever. Anyone who appreciates gratuitous animated gore will love this game. Killing fat zombies, for example, will cause them to explode their guts all over your screen, temporarily blocking your view.
To make this game even more fun, try the local multiplayer. You fight along Vinnie in your own perfectly tailored suit and wingtip shoes. Cannolis are shared, so health regen happens for each character at the same time, which is a feature I appreciated. Multiplayer allows for respawn, although you come back with very low health, so it’s important to find some more of those cannolis as soon as possible. Once everyone on your team is dead, the game restarts at the last checkpoint. I had a great time playing this way, probably more than playing alone, which gets very frustrating sometimes.
Guns, Gore, & Cannoli is available now on Windows and PC for £6.99, with Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U version to follow.
Tl;dr – Guns, Gore, & Cannoli is a fast-paced, shoot-em-up, 2D side-scroller with gorgeous hand-drawn, gratuitously gorey graphics. Help your enthusiastic prohibition-era gangster fight his way through zombie hoards and rival mobsters, and stay alive by treating yourself to “some good cannoli,” as Vinnie says with his mouth full. A great twist on the zombie fad!
Rating – 9.5/10