Leave the Gun…Take The Cannoli – Indie Developer Crazy Monkey Studios Goes to the Mattresses with Prohibition Era Zombie Shooter Guns, Gore, and Cannoli.
Crazy Monkey Studios new release Guns, Gore, and Cannoli was off to a rough start. There was promise with a playable demo and a Kickstarter campaign, but sadly, the campaign went unfunded. It seemed like Guns, Gore, and Cannoli was destined to sleep with the fishes. After a few months of silence, Crazy Monkey Studios released a mysterious message telling us to watch Steam Greenlight for an update on Guns, Gore, and Cannoli. On that day we found a full release, and the results are quite impressive.
You are Vinnie Cannoli, a mafioso enforcer hired by mob boss Mr. Belluci to stake out Thugtown searching for a man named Frankie and get him to safety. Reports of rioters don’t scare Vinnie away, but it turns out a majority of the town has been turned into bloodthirsty zombies. The plot twists and turns and has a lot of surprise moments but mostly you’ll be there to blow up and decapitate everything that gets in your way. The game is appropriately titled with a wide variety of guns, all sorts of gore, and of course, Sicilian pastries.
Guns, Gore, and Cannoli plays similar to other run and guns like Metal Slug or even Contra. You’ll get amassed with hordes of enemies and are armed with an arsenal that can be used to smash your way through whatever amount of enemies and doorways you need to blast through. The major difference in Guns, Gore, and Cannoli lies in the aiming system. Rather than being able to aim up and down your only choice is left and right. You’re able to shoot while ducking down and jumping but outside that realm you’ll have to pick your aim accordingly. This takes a bit to get used to but works to the game’s advantage in the long run. The environments provide plenty of places to avoid enemy fire and creates less chaos on the screen.
Next, there are the weapons in the game. You’ll pick up everything from shotguns and revolvers to ridiculous over the top weapons like a bazooka and tesla gun. The game doesn’t force you into any specific weapon, either. You’ll get a pretty limited amount of ammunition, so spamming one gun isn’t an option, but the ammo drops are frequent enough that you’re never waiting to use each gun for an extended period of time. My favorite weapon is the tesla gun. You wait for a mass of enemies to get close and the gun creates a chain lightning effect that zaps everything around you and leaves it in a pile of bones. There is a sawed of shotgun that gives a strong blast but takes a long time to reload and even a pump shotgun that allows you to knock back enemies with a larger clip but they take less damage. Each weapon has a specific use capable of getting you through certain situations. Guns, Gore, and Cannoli works strongly from this by making you feel like there’s a level of control over what’s happening on screen. Button mashing your way through the various Metal Slug titles is great, but this gives the title a concise level of control that makes you feel responsible for your actions. Never during my playthrough did I die and consider that I had been cheated. I respawned and learned from my behavior.
The highlight of Guns, Gore, and Cannoli is the presentation. Beautifully drawn and animated graphics, there are a variety of different places to visit and thugs to kill. There are speakeasies, boats, underground sewers, and rooftops to explore. You’ll run into everything from an undead dominatrix, mutant rats, and other goodfellas looking to whack you. There’s a different animation and reaction for each character depending on how you kill them, too. If you get headshots their heads pop off. If a character, including Vinnie, gets killed by poison gas, they melt. The music for every level is a different genre but appropriate for whatever scene you’re in. If you’re listening, Crazy Monkey Studios, release this soundtrack!
There are little nitpicky things to say about Guns, Gore, and Cannoli. Sure, it’s an indie title with a limited budget, but the campaign is a bit short. You and a few buddies will be able to plow through the campaign in an extended night or weekend. There’s no online multiplayer, either, which is unfortunate, but the local multiplayer works pretty well and the game is a blast even solo. I had some trouble with the controller support when I first started the game, as well. If my controller wasn’t turned on when the game had started the game would register the controller as controller 2 or 3 so I’d have to back out of the game to fix it. The game saves based on checkpoints, which is fine, but if you or another person is looking to start a different campaign, there’s only one slot. There is a chapter select as you play through the game which alleviates this a bit. Some of the subtitles can be a little off, which wasn’t a problem, but it was funny seeing how the script either changed or wasn’t put into the subtitles. This is forgivable considering the developers are from Belgium and have translated this game into a multitude of languages.
Guns, Gore, and Cannoli is a lot of fun. It’s simple, it’s pretty, and relatively cheap considering how nice this game plays and feels. I highly recommend this game especially to fans of action and arcade games. My fingers are crossed this game does well enough we can see a Guns, Gore, and Cannoli 2.
Final Verdict: 4 / 5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Crazy Monkey Studios; Developer: Crazy Monkey Studios, Claeys Brothers; Players: 1-4; Released: April 30, 2015 ; ESRB: T ; MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review is based off of a copy of Guns, Gore, & Cannoli provided by the publisher.