Review: Colt Canyon is a rich bounty of Switch dual-stick shootin’ goodness

Western themed games have been on a roll lately, and after having an incredible time playing through Desperados III and a not so one with West of Dead, I came upon Colt Canyon, a straight to the point double stick shooter that doesn’t waste any time to get going and for that, it’s a lot of fun to play more leisurely.

As far as roguelikes go on the Switch, Colt Canyon is one of the most approachable simply due to the fact that it’s so quick to get back into a game after getting shot down. Its pixely visuals thankfully are not an indication to any form of oversimplification of gameplay, as Colt Canyon’s manages to be both easy to pick up and worthwhile to get really good at. You’re basically given full 360 degrees movement and independent aiming, each mapped to an analog stick, coupled with a quick dodge move that feels great to pull off by pressing one of the triggers.

At first, your only character choice is the gunslinger, but it won’t take long for more options to pop up, with a generous variety of archetypes to pick from. Nothing too surprising, really, but they’re all fun to experiment with until you settle with your favorite. Mine was the heavier set character with the shotgun if not only because of his bigger health pool since the game is in no way a pushover when it comes to difficulty.

Explosions are so flashy! And powerful!

The best part of Colt Canyon has got to be its approachability for sure. It didn’t take me more than a couple of minutes to get a handle on its controls, which at first glance look a little weird because of how the aiming reticle behaves, basically extending your aim in order to help you get a better lining to your shots. Don’t make the same mistake that I did in thinking that your bullets will only make it to the very tip of that reticle — that falls to what kind of weapon you’re using instead, and those are surprisingly varied, even going as far as offering melee options as well.

Melee comes particularly handy when you notice that Colt Canyon has an enemy detection system at play. You can basically make your way through its entirety without engaging in combat, until you reach the boss fight. It’s tricky, but it’s possible to be stealthy in this game and totally succeed in reaching your goal of rescuing your abducted pal. So far, though, I have utterly failed in doing so, but then again, I’m in no way a barometer of dual stick shooting goodness either.

Ambush in the woods.

Colt Canyon is best approached with an experimental, reckless mindset especially considering how fast-paced and easy to restart that it is. Given its procedurally-generated nature, no run is the same, so going in all guns blazing sometimes proves to be a viable strategy, something that’s rarely the case in this sort of game where care and slow pacing is rewarded. The proverbial excrement is likely to hit the fan really quickly at any point in Colt Canyon if you’re overly calculating I’ve found, even more so if you’re playing as one of the characters with less HP.

I’m also impressed by how much thought has gone into the way you can buff your odds up in the game. By rescuing random prisoners, you can sometimes recruit them to your side and they’ll fight with you as long as you revive them when they happen to go down. You’re not limited to a single ally either, and while I haven’t yet managed to put together a full 5 person posse — which grants an in-game achievement and must be pretty badass — for the times that I managed to grab two other AI-controlled gun totters, Colt Canyon provided some of the most fun I’ve had playing a dual stick shooter in quite a while.

Canyons like this are good for providing cover, but it works both ways.

In terms of any issues you might run into with this game, the only one I can scratch up is inherent to the Switch and its JoyCons and how bad they usually are for this sort of precision-based shooter, but if you can play it on the Pro Controller or simply have it on the TV instead of portable mode, it’s a much better experience, even if you end up using the JoyCons on the base set that comes with the Switch. For as simple and small as the graphics are, I had to problem telling things apart even when testing this portably, which was quite a surprise.

You can toss a rock into the eShop nowadays and are likely to hit a roguelike in the head, so having one that feels as good and worthwhile to play as Colt Canyon is something to behold. Developer Retrific has nailed the balance between sheer difficulty and enjoyment with this game, making it a must for anyone after a good pick up and play rootin’ tootin’ twin analog gunner on the Switch.

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