Luckslinger on PC
I always enjoy coming across a game that tries out something new, and doubly so when it works. Luckslinger sets out with this in mind, bringing a curious and clearly-defined mechanic for a force that many games have included in a much less concrete way: luck. As the titular Luckslinger, players will fight outlaws, critters, and their own misfortune in Spaghetti Western-inspired side-scrolling action.
Centered around the bandit-riddled town of Clovercreek, indie dev Duckbridge paints a pixelated picture of life in the lawless West and backed by strangely fitting hip-hop beats and a difficulty that will challenge the most hardened of lawbringers. How does this luck mechanic really play out, though, and does it really bring anything new to the table?
The first thing you’ve got to look at with Luckslinger is, of course, that core gimmick. By collecting bits of luck from fallen foes, opened chests, and more, our hero can increase the chances of good things happening. Fall short on this precious resource, and there will be consequences. When your luck is running low, enemies may pop out of the scenery, platforms crumble under your feet, and your bullets just won’t seem to find their targets. Keep it high, though, and you’ll find gold bars a-plenty, win great powerups from the native’s gambling huts, and perhaps even watch enemy shots swirl wildly out of control to avoid you. It’s a really well-designed mechanic, and hardly a moment goes by without it affecting you one way or the other, so keeping your luck meter filled becomes almost as important as watching your health and getting to the next checkpoint.
Outside of this central gimmick, Luckslinger is a surprisingly difficult and polished game. While the advantages of high luck are many, there’s certainly still skill involved if you’re hoping to progress, and even the Luckslinger can’t get by on high hopes alone. Stopping to reload your six-shooter keeps the strategic element alive, especially in high-enemy gunfights, and the clever use of secondary weapons such as dynamite and deployable chainguns is crucial to your quest.
Each level has our appropriately-nameless protagonist chasing down another good-for-nothing bandit that’s made off with one of the town’s famed luck charms — meaning that you’ll not only have to get through tricky platforming and loads of baddies, but also overcome the force of each of these no-good varmints’ incredible fortune. While their charms are active, bosses will hit more often, deflect your attacks, and otherwise benefit in most of the same ways that players do from holding high luck; this makes the gimmick all the more interesting, and sets it above other games that focus only on the player with their core mechanics.
All in all, Luckslinger is a fantastic retro-styled game with just enough innovation to make it worthwhile. If you don’t believe me, Duckbridge has made a free demo available on the game’s official site, and once you’ve sunk your teeth into that, you can pick it up for a mere $12.99 over on Steam. If you’re a fan of old-school side-scrolling action, you owe it to yourself to give Luckslinger a shot. If you’re not? Well, pick up the demo anyway. The fresh beats, great gimmick, and pixel-heavy action may just change your mind about the genre. It may not be exactly earth-shattering in its delivery, but it’s more than you’ll get from many other indie titles in the same price range. While some of the controls, especially for throwing and retrieving your trusty knife, can be a bit clunky, it’s generally well-designed and all flows very nicely. And frankly, with luck on your side, your trusty six-shooter, and a bizarre duck companion, who needs a knife?