The drip-feed of new Xbox on Windows experiences continues with the first 3D endless runner title available for the format. Following Miniclip’s hugely popular Gravity Guy was going to be no easy task for any title, but The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running gives it a good shot by changing the perspective entirely.
As opposed to the traditional 2D side-scrolling design The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running utilises a 3D camera that works in a fashion not too dissimilar to the classic 32-bit Crash Bandicoot videogames. The player can move on a 2-axis template, one of which is automatic as with the convention of the endless runner genre. The challenge, then, is to ensure that you do not collide with any on-track objects by moving left or right and jumping or rolling. It’s a simple premise, but one which is deceptively challenging given The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running’s long levels.
Breaking up the action after every four levels is a boss fight, a finale for each of the three worlds. Player use their weaponry on basic targets and to acquire hidden treasure chests within the levels but it’s not until they face a boss that the weapon they hold becomes of importance. Beginning with basic pistols more weapons are available to purchase from the in-game store along with many other items; some cosmetic, some designed to make the experience considerably easier.
All of the items available in the in-game shop can be purchased with either of the videogame’s two currencies: gold coins or diamonds. Gold coins are much more common (often collecting a few hundred in a single level) and therefore are worth significantly less. Diamonds however, are incredibly rare. In the three days Metro Gaming spent playing The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running in order to produce this review only two were acquired naturally. Gold coins and diamonds can be purchased with real money, enabling players to unlock the helpful bonuses much quicker, but everything can be bought using the in-game currency alone. Just don’t expect them to come quickly.
Of the many items available to buy in the shop the most noteworthy would be the power-ups. Once purchased, each of the three power-ups will appear at pre-determined points in each level and will off a significant aid (such as making the player invincible) for a limited time only. Each power-up can be upgraded to last longer, the cost of which is relative to their usefulness.
In addition to the Story mode is an Endless mode which takes all of the basic principles and puts them together in an increasingly difficult challenge. More of them same then, on the surface at least, but The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running’s Endless mode has an ace up it’s sleeve: Xbox LIVE. Players can initiate and receive challenges with and from members of their Xbox LIVE Friends List, creating a more compelling experience than the typical leaderboard system (which is also included).
The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running is a reasonably good looking videogame experience, on par with some of the better 3D titles available on iOS and Android tablets. Its muddled purchasing system is undoubtedly its weakest link, but ignoring the poor structuring here Other Ocean Interactive has delivered an entertaining addition to Microsoft Studios’ The Gunstringer franchise. The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running sits well as an endless runner title given the inherently limited nature of the genre, and while it’s a welcome addition to the Xbox on Windows catalogue it’s unlikely to ever reach the dizzying popularity of Miniclip’s genre leader.