Platforms: PSN, Steam, XBLA Developer: Techland Publisher: Ubisoft UK Price: £10 US Price: $15
Next time you’re telling a story, remember that it’s not important that you get all the facts straight, it’s more necessary you keep your audience interested. You can embellish certain events, neglect to mention unnecessary things and even throw in outright lies if it helps the pace and the scale. The truth can be boring, but a story shouldn’t.
Silas Greaves is as excellent a storyteller as he is a bounty hunter. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger opens as he enters a dusty saloon in the later years of the Old West. The patrons crowd around and ask that he shares some of his exploits as a younger man. What follows is a narration through major events in his history of apprehending famous outlaws, barely reflecting actual events.
Click to enlarge
It’s a First Person Shooter (FPS), but it’s more similar to Bastion and its reactionary narrative style, than anything else in it’s own genre. Gunslinger actually takes this idea a step further by not only having Silas offering his unreliable recollection, but other characters in the bar challenge him over it and the story adapts as a result. One character’s an older man who lived through some of the events and offers his own perspective, another is just an unrepentant sceptic of anything being mentioned and there’s also input from a young’n who’s an avid fan of spuriously historic “dime novels” and is basically channelling Dean Venture.
You can never be sure whether or not if the events of Gunslinger are true - to the best of Silas’ recollection - or if he’s just playing up to the collected audience in the attempt to continue receiving a steady refill of free beer. It’s clear throughout that he’s at least embellishing at all times and the best parts are when this allows for events to occur that are absolutely impossible.
Click to enlarge
The game makes full use of the story being contained in this malleable framework. You’ll revisit situations from different angles, enemies will suddenly blink out and be replaced with an entirely different model, the environment will become instantly spookier if the tone demands it and Silas will clear up misconceptions and gaps in his story as the drama unfolds. To say in specifics how all of this appears would rob you of some unmissable moments that genuinely aren’t available in any other game yet. Gunslinger’s developer Techland understands that it’s not bound by any rules of conventional logic and goes to town with the gimmick in so many ways you’ll push on wondering how they’ll continue to top themselves.