Fashion has a way to go out of fashion, and then coming back into fashion. Clearly, we are living in an age where game genres from the 90s are coming back into fashion. Now that people have had enough of souls-like and it’s slowly going out of fashion, last year we saw a slew of card-based games come out. We clearly live in a time when boomer-shooters are in fashion again (so much so the team at Gameffine made a video about it, link below). So it was only a matter of time before the original GTA’s isometric click and point hustle gameplay became relevant again. That’s what Rustler is, and it makes no qualms about it. It’s proud to wear the “GTA clone set in Medieval times” badge on its chest with pride. But does it work? Or has it tried to rush in the fashion, before its time? Let’s find out. Also just so I don’t have to say fashion again in the entire review. Fashion.
Rustler is an open-world, top-down action game paying tribute to the good old GTA 2 style and gameplay, fusing it with a historically inaccurate medieval setting. Developed by Jutsu Games, and published by Modus Games, PlayWay. Rustler will be coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and PC on 31 August 2021.
The entire setup of Rustler is a tongue-in-cheek ridiculous over the top setting in the dark ages, think Monty Python, but the writing is bad. It’s going for “I don’t take myself seriously” and sometimes ends up “Trying too hard”. You play as the generic degenerate called Guy, who with the help of his equally generically named sidekick Buddy, trying to get a pay-day by getting into the Grand tournament and winning a princess’s hand. The story doesn’t want you to stay with it, instead, it wants to take the opportunity to tell you some jokes, that they think are really funny. Not gonna lie, some of them did give me chuckles. Most of them though are references to pop culture, but a lot of it feels derivative. Roach on a roof was funny, because it was a moment that the game created organically, now when I see a cow on the roof during the opening sequence, I think lazy. It just feels like, “Hey look at this thing that’s funny, and since I am showing you this thing, then I must be funny too.” like I said, “Tries Too Hard”.
During the main story, you will also arrive at several impasses. Which is your cue to go about exploring and try out the different side quests. These can range from helping a debt collector, to helping a corrupt priest, and all of them have their own side-quests thread (another thing that’s in….(ok I know I said that was the last time)..fas…vogue..yes in vogue these days). I highly recommend the one where a team of rogue knights starts an illegal moonshine business, but I have said too much already.
Grand Theft Horse
is what Rustler wants to call itself and for the most part it’s accurate. Pretty standard stuff if you ask me. The gameplay is all done isometrically, and on the PS5 the movement is assigned to the left stick and aiming for the right. Press Triangle to get on a horse, and it’s hilariously easy to steal one. You can carry a slew of weapons and switch between them, but the attack pattern is pretty standard too, X to dodge R2 to hit and L2 to block. L3 for showing up the map and L1 for Sprinting is the only exception to the standard control scheme. But you see there is nothing complicated happening here. An average Ghost Of Tsushima, Far Cry, or Halo fan should be able to pick up the game in his sleep, breaks in between notwithstanding.
Dark Souls fans too should feel right at home playing this game, not only for its clunky aiming and fighting. But also because of its irritating checkpoint system, which for some reason always decides to save at least 30 speech bubbles before you had died, re-spawning you in a completely different area, and without a horse. So you have to go through all the dialogues (none of them voice acted, and were funny probably the first time you heard them), traverse half the map on foot, and then die again because your shield comes up half an hour after you press the L2 button.
Thankfully, the map is not too big, and you can cheese your way through most combat with your crossbow. Most of the missions, as you might have guessed need you to go to location X, steal/kill something/someone and then run back to location Y. Thankfully, the game does not overstay its welcome. If you are up for it, the entire game should take you about 8-10 hours to finish. My recommendation is that you play the games in pockets of 1-2 hours at a time, as a warm-up or a cool-down from your main game.
Rustler tried to create a really basic game here and hoped that the writing will carry it through. It might have worked too if it wasn’t for the fact that the writing too is pretty basic. Having said that taking Rustler out for a romp every now and again is not a bad idea. It’s easy to pick up, and since it doesn’t pick a side there will always be a line that you will find funny, eventually.
FINAL RATING: NOT RECOMMENDED
However, with less time and more wisdom at my disposal, I have decided to create a whole new rating for games that I review. How many times in a week will I stay up after 11 PM, once my family has gone to sleep on a workday and spend 2 hours with it, knowing full well that I need to enter the rat race at 8 AM the next morning. Well on that scale, I give Rustler:
“Maybe On A Day When I Got A Platinum On Another Game Early”