Gunscape is a first-person shooter for the Nintendo Switch. It serves as a throwback to the heyday of ‘90s FPS titles like DOOM and Wolfenstein, complete with blocky graphics, random weapons, and weird-looking monsters. Does it work? Well, that’s going to depend on how much you enjoyed those games of yesteryear.
In Gunscape, you play the role of…someone shooting…something. There’s not a lot of back story on offer, although there are various campaigns to play through. These are all locked from the outset, apart from the first one, so there’s little choice about where to start.
Of course, there are other modes to try, including a level-building feature that aims to set this title apart. You can play levels uploaded by other players, or upload your own, which gives the game some longevity.
Unfortunately, the menu leaves a lot to be desired. Flicking through available options isn’t consistent or clear, and so much is locked by default. Even the most basic level doesn’t give clear instructions on how to play.
Not that it’s hard to work out, I suppose. Eventually you’ll figure out which button shoots and which one changes weapons. Moving is done with the control stick, of course. The gameplay itself is generally smooth, moving through corridors and rooms at a reasonable pace. Aiming your weapon is easy enough, too, with a handy on-screen crosshair to highlight where you’re pointing.
Shooting enemies is an odd experience. Even in the very first campaign, they take a lot of damage. And why is a knife more effective than a rifle? What’s even more strange is the way enemies move and react. Some are trapped in rooms behind a glass wall, yet somehow you can shoot them even though they can’t seem to get to you. Others stand idly in a room, seemingly oblivious to your presence even while you do your thing with your current weapon of choice. I have to assume this is a glitch.
Another thing that surprised me was the need for an Internet connection. If you can’t get online with your Switch, you won’t be able to play most of this game. I understand there’s a strong online component here, but the user interface makes it really difficult to find a mode that works offline, with repetitive pop ups demanding connections. This narrows the audience substantially; not everyone has Switch Online.
Graphically, the game does fine, with an amalgamation of colors and environments that seem reminiscent of those same ‘90s titles. It’s not as blocky as they used to be, but it emulates that feeling. Enemies are bland and indistinguishable. Are they army soldiers? Zombies? There’s a weird dog monster, some sort of screaming banshee. It’s actually quite creepy, so it does well on that level. The music suits this mood, with an echo-y otherworldly resonance that adds to the atmosphere. Other levels use a more retro, upbeat approach, with chimes and beats that inspire a more fun time.
Overall, Gunscape is an attempt to recreate the oft-loved world of ‘90s first-person shooters. Does it succeed? Well, it does remind me of the ‘90s. But it doesn’t make me want to keep playing. In short, while there is some nostalgic value to be had here, this one is for diehard fans only.