Yee-haw, are you ready for some frantic twin-stick Wild West action that’ll push your shooting and survival skills to their limit? Well, Colt Canyon may be the game for you, with its brutal escapade offering a mighty tough experience for players to overcome that becomes all the more satisfying to play the better at the game you get.
Colt Canyon’s premise is pretty simple, with the player heading on a journey to save their partner from a ragtag group of bandits that are out for blood. Pretty straightforward for a Western, right? This leads you on a dangerous journey across an assortment of randomly-generated dusty locales as you shoot your way through enemies, find all new weapons to use, and save any hostages you encounter along the way. You’d best not forget that Colt Canyon features perma-death too, so if you do get gunned down you’ll be starting your journey from the beginning. Man… the Wild West is an unforgiving place.
The general gameplay of Colt Canyon will feel familiar to anyone that has played a twin-stick shooter before, with the left stick controlling your character’s movement and the right stick aiming your weapons. You’re also able to dodge roll your way out of the path of any oncoming enemies and hit quick melee attacks with a button press too – you’ve also got some dynamite handy, so a well thrown stick can cause a lot of harm if you see a group of foes ganging up together.
Stealthy play is also encouraged in Colt Canyon, with the player able to land some one-hit kills on any unsuspecting enemies that they manage to sneak up on. This is particularly useful given that ammo is limited, meaning you can’t shoot away at your foes without a care in the world but have to actually manage your resources with care if you want to survive the many enemies and hazards that are in your path. It’s worth noting that reloading takes time too, so you’ve even got to pick your moment to load up on bullets or you might find yourself vulnerable to attacks.
It isn’t just your partner that has been taken hostage by these bandits in Colt Canyon, with plenty of other captives to be found across each level. It’s definitely worth rescuing these, with each one either joining you in the battle against the bandits or giving you a welcome upgrade to help you take down your foes. Given that the game gets progressively harder across later levels, being able to move faster, carry more ammo, have increased health, or faster reloads can be the difference between life and death as you face off against tougher groups of enemies.
You should still probably expect to die though. A lot. Colt Canyon’s enemies can be pretty relentless in their pursuit of the player and you can’t sustain too much damage before you meet a grisly end. The action is very fast-paced and frantic throughout too, so one wrong move or slow reaction can also see you in an early grave if you aren’t careful. Then there are the constant hazards littered around (why do games need so many explosive barrels!?) as well as the fact that you can just find yourself out of ammunition and vulnerable at times too, with plenty of things working against your progress in the game. Want to know what will cause the majority of your deaths? The bosses, which don’t only take a lot of gunfire to kill but also come armed to the teeth and typically joined by a crew of minions. Colt Canyon isn’t for the fainthearted and you can expect to die a heck of a lot before you begin to see any form of progress.
Admittedly, it could actually get a little frustrating and I did find myself a bit bored of the cycle of dying, starting over, dying, starting over, dying, starting over, dy- you get the picture. Whilst the visuals of Colt Canyon are neat and unique, their simplicity also meant there was a lack of variety to each level you play through – regardless of the fact that they’re all procedurally generated. It just felt like I was doing a lot of the same things over and over, with a brutal (and often annoying) death simply marking the end of each attempt.
When things finally started to click with the game and I found a character that suited me though, I really begun to appreciate Colt Canyon a bit more. I started to work out the best way to approach different scenarios in the game, my aim got better, and I started to utilise stealth kills a lot more – my muscle-memory also made it easier to dodge incoming attacks, and I soon found myself taking down bosses that caused me plenty of trouble during my earlier attempts at the game with ease. Don’t get me wrong, I still died a lot, but it became a lot less annoying thanks to the fact that I was making genuine progress and actually started to feel like a Wild West badass. Sure, it didn’t offer anything that I hadn’t seen in a twin-stick shooter before, but it just became a whole lot more satisfying to play.
It also comes with local co-op multiplayer, which is probably the best way to experience Colt Canyon. Having an extra player by your side adds an extra degree of strategy to the experience where you’re able to work together to both outwit and overpower your foes, which is a BIG help when you find yourself facing a large group of enemies. It doesn’t make the game too easy though, so there’s still a challenge to be found – it’s just lot less overwhelming and certainly evens the odds when taking those dastardly bandits down. It’s good fun.
Colt Canyon offers a relentlessly challenging twin-stick shooting experience that’s both frantic and fun in design, regardless of some early frustrations as you learn how to get… well… GOOD at the game. Admittedly, the challenge can be a little overbearing at times and it doesn’t offer anything that you wouldn’t have seen in the genre before, but the Wild West setting and the satisfyingly quick-paced brutal action do make up for it – especially if you play the game in co-op with a buddy.
Publisher: Headup Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC