Sombrero is a Spaghetti Western being developed by Pixel Metal game designer Nick Robalik. I was given the opportunity to try the game out at Otakon 2015, and I think players will be in for a real treat. At launch, competitors will have 17 characters and five stages to choose from along with several different game modes. While initially planned for release on computer platforms, an Xbox One version is also planned. Okay, so now you know a little bit about the game, but how did it play? Well, I’m glad you asked!
As I said, I had the chance to get my hands onto the game while at Otakon. The first thing to note is that the menu system is straightforward and easy to navigate. Players should have no problem getting where they want to go in as little time as possible. Once you have gotten to the point of selecting your gameplay mode, you will then select your character. As previously stated, the launch version will feature 17 different characters, some of which are featured from other indie games, so indie enthusiasts may find that they recognize some of the combatants. After everyone has confirmed their character selection, it is time for the match to begin. The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward: any shoulder button on your controller will make your character jump. Movement is performed with the left analog stick, and firing is controlled by simply pushing the right analog stick in the direction you wish to fire (there will also be an option to turn this off so that your character will continuously fire).
I felt the stage designs were fair in their sizing—not so small that you are constantly on top of the other players, but also not so large that you find yourself spending most of your time moving just to get close to a player. There is enough space for players to try and get away from the fray without being overwhelmed. Each character is indicated by a letter and number (P1-P4) as well as a color, so as long as you are aware of your color, you should be able to easily find yourself on the screen. When the match begins, it is every man for himself as you enter into combat. During my time with the game, I had the chance to experience the Loot! and Classic Deathmatch modes. Loot! involves players trying to grab as many bags of money in the allotted 90 seconds as possible, and Classic Deathmatch speaks for itself. The objective for winning may have changed, the core gameplay still stayed the same: players moved around the stages grabbing power ups in the form of different guns and tried to blow away the competition, either to keep them away from the precious money bags or simply to eliminate them. The different characters pretty much play the same, so the diversity of gameplay comes from the various power ups available. It is satisfying to completely wreck your opponents–and parts of the stage–with the Cannonball power up.
The stages themselves are also littered with various obstacles that can either be a help or a hindrance. TNT barrels may be blown up to kill a nearby enemy, while certain walls can deflect your own shots back at you, causing you to kill yourself with a shot meant for an opponent. Other environmental hazards are present depending on the stage; for example, one stage has a floor of spikes, meaning that if you fall off of the platforms then you are guaranteed to die. The stage threats on top of the human threats are enough to provide players plenty of challenges without being frustratingly difficult, which brings me to my next point.
Sombrero is a fun game with a very low learning curve. Of course, the more you play, the better you’ll become (as is the case with pretty much everything in life), but you don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to jump in. My wife, who is not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination–other than the occasional game of Mario–was able to pick up a controller and play at least competently within a few minutes. I even won one Loot round and two deathmatch rounds despite having never touched the game prior to Otakon. Basically, it is anyone’s game, which means that new players don’t have to worry about being steamrolled and experienced players don’t have room to get cocky. Developer Pixel Metal seems intent on also reaching the hardcore gamer crowd, based on the fact that they hosted a Sombrero tournament at the convention, so while casual gamers can have their share of fun with the game, hardcore gamers also have incentive to sharpen their skills for competitions.
The game’s matches are done on a “best of three” basis, and each round is 90 seconds long, meaning that a full match would take players no longer than five minutes to play through (this includes time between matches). These quick matches mean that you and a group of friends can play and have some fun even if you don’t have a lot of time, while those who want to have longer matches can still certainly do so. It also means that players who are waiting to drop in won’t have an exceptionally long time to wait, either. The final build will also allow players to adjust the rules for matches.
Perhaps one of the game’s most compelling features is its promise of free DLC. Yes, you read that right: free DLC. You don’t hear that much these days, so if you want a game that will continue to add new content to its repertoire without making you broke, then let this be another reason to check out Sombrero. Want to play with the kids, but worried that there might be blood? Well worry not, because there is no blood! The worst that happens when you are shot is that your character sprays a bit of whatever color you are–for example, if you are player 2 and your color is blue, then you will get a spray of blue from your character when he is shot. There is also no language to worry about, which makes this something that the family could play together, provided you don’t mind the cartoon violence.
If this preview has made you curious enough to check out Sombrero, then keep an eye on Steam Greenlight, as the game should be arriving there sometime in the near future! For more information on the game and Pixel Metal, feel free to visit the following links:
Christian, anime fan, and gamer are a few words you could use to describe me. I've been a Christian since 2012 (and thought I was one prior to that), although I'm far from having the Christian walk down pat. At one point I started thinking about how I could use various things for Christ, and eventually put my thoughts to action, resulting in Cosplay for Christ (my attempt at a cosplay ministry) and Christian Anime Review (my review blog). As you can imagine, I enjoy playing games, watching anime, and going to anime conventions. I also like to build Gundam models, fiddle with the guitar (occasionally), and listen to music (mostly Christian rock and metal).
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