Developer: Jutsu Games
Publisher: Modus Games
Platforms: Switch, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $29.99 USD – Available Here $59.95 AUD – Available Here
The classic top down open world system has long fallen out of style despite the fact that the incredibly popular Grand Theft Auto was born out of it. The first two games in the series saw players playing in top down style and now an indie game from Jutsu Games is looking to try and use that style and put their own twist on things. Rather than being set in a crime riddled city, Rustler takes place in medieval times with plenty of knights, horses, and poop all over the streets. By taking this classic style and placing a different theme on things, is Rustler worth your time?
In Rustler players take on the role of a guy named Guy who is tired of being on the bottom rung of society and plowing the field whenever he isn’t too drunk to move. To this end his buddy named Buddy has come up with a scheme to help bring Guy into the spotlight as the kingdom is holding a knightly tournament soon that will reward the victor with not only the hand of the princess but also half of the land as their own. Of course, since Guy is everything but a knight, actually entering the tournament is going to involve some shady dealings, trickery, countless pop-culture references, and plenty of dead bodies.
If you can think of a humorous reference to a movie or show that happened to be set in the middle ages then Rustler probably has it and in spades. The writers for the title have honed in hard when it comes to trying to make the most out of the game’s medieval setting by dialing the stupidity and craziness up to the maximum. Of course, that isn’t to say that the game can’t get laughs without references as the game is filled to the brim with ridiculous missions that range from being run-of-the-mill like scaring people while dressed like the grim reaper or killing a bunch of people because a gravedigger needs business to trying to prove that the earth is flat and everything in-between.
The sheer amount of humor on offer in the game may make some missions and references miss from time to time but thankfully the comedy does pull its weight, and it certainly needs to. Despite the fact that the game takes place in a world filled with oddities for the middle ages, such as police lights on the guards’ horses, the actual core storyline is remarkably simple and relatively short as well, relying on the aforementioned comedic writing to pull it through all the way to the end. It also doesn’t help that while the humor still works great thanks to the style of the game, none of the dialogue is voiced and text boxes often appear during action sequences in story missions and end up getting in the way as a result.
Rustler has stayed true to its inspiration by being set in a nearly complete open world where players can navigate around either on foot or horseback, take on main story missions as well as the generally more entertaining side missions, side-jobs such as plowing the field or fighting in medieval MMA matches, and gathering a few different collectibles. Be careful however, despite being set in the middle ages there is still plenty of lawmen around and they will quickly come after Guy should they find him stealing a horse or killing anyone in the streets. Evading the police is a fairy simple affair as players either can hide out in a forest area and try to remain undetected, tear down wanted posters, or ride through the incredibly sparse “pimp-my-horse” building to lose a wanted level.
While Rustler has been designed to mimic the original Grand Theft Auto title, the camera isn’t entirely top-down as players do have a bit of an angle to work with when exploring the world. This camera angle allows for some easier navigation but still can be rather annoying when trying to navigate an area quickly on horseback as running into walls, trees, or other obstacles will usually result in the horse becoming stuck or difficult to navigate away from the object. This can become especially troubling during chase sequences or when trying to run from the law, especially since the game is incredibly rough when it comes to checkpoints.
Combat is also handled in a fairly straightforward manner as players can obtain a wide array of weapons including a sword and shield, halberd, scythe, crossbow, and of course poop. Flinging faeces is more than just a gag as it works well to slow opponents when they begin to gang up on Guy, something that players should try and avoid if they want to stay alive. Melee combat is aimed using the right analog stick with players being able to swing or, with a shield equipped, block and parry incoming blows while the crossbow often provides an instant kill but can only be reloaded when standing still. The variety of weapons available is nice but melee combat remains fairly basic and often a bit random at times as blows that seemingly should hit will miss wide open enemies and a rather small stamina meter at the start means fights are often hit and run affairs even in melee.
As players progress throughout the game, completing quests and gathering collectibles, Guy will earn skill points in what is presented as a rather bare bones upgrade system. These upgrades can do things like boost Guy’s health, stamina, or strength, or provide various discounts or new riding abilities. These unlocks unfortunately are rather basic in nature though necessary to stay alive in Rustler and it is nice to note that players can unlock them in any order they please as long as they have enough points to spend.
Visuals & Audio
By taking an open world game and presenting players with a top-down angled view of things, the developers were able to keep a fairy standard art style and present it in a unique manner. The character models are solid enough with the actual character portraits featuring a satisfying level of detail and one must note that having a blood slider that goes up to 5x is certainly enjoyable. It is also nice to note that Rustler features an amazingly tacky but wonderful live action opening.
As for the voice work, well there isn’t any. Anytime a character is talking players will only hear mumbling and grumbling and even when exploring the world players will find that there is no form of even ambient music outside of birds chirping in the woods. The only time music can be heard is if players are near a bard or hire one to follow them around, changing tunes by punching them. This is a nice little mechanic, especially since music changes in chases, but hurts the game overall as a result.
Rustler is a unique attempt at taking a once familiar style and gameplay elements and placing a medieval coat on things. The game’s simple story may not be that unique but it does offer more than enough humor that players will want to keep going just to see what absurd quest or reference will happen next. That being said, unsatisfying melee combat as well as a rather basic sandbox with only a few fun side activities to enjoy means that Rustler is more than a little lacking in excitement outside of when it is making the player laugh.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.