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Guns, Gore & Cannoli review

GamesRadar+ Verdict

A game so middle-of-the-road it ends up as roadkill. The ideas in here are solid, but simply refuse to go anywhere over its three-hour duration.

Occasionally, Guns, Gore & Cannoli’s lead character, Vinnie Cannoli, will eat an actual cannoli. Upon doing so, you’ll hear Vinnie Cannoli, through a mouthful of cannoli, say, “mmm! That’s a good cannoli!” After the third time hearing this, I found myself wondering if the game’s title was referring to Cannoli or cannoli. After the ninth, I asked myself whether either one, the character or the pastry dessert turned health pickup, had been named after the other. Was Vinnie part of a dynasty of master bakers, the gunpowder-black sheep who became a mobster? After the twelfth, I pondered whether cannoli being the only way of upping his health was a couched metaphor, a physical manifestation of Vinnie reclaiming a sense of self in a world gone mad?

Christ, I was bored.

GGC is rarely actively bad - it’s a solid 2D run ‘n’ gun curio, built on the foundations of a thousand other games where 1-4 players run to the right - but it does so little to excite any interest that you almost wish it would be broken, or racist, or /something/. Anything. I just want to feel again.

The set-up, that you’ve been sent to Thugtown to rescue a man caught in an unexpected zombie outbreak, is engaging without being surprising. The art style inherits, of all games, Valiant Hearts’ problem of being attractive until anything moves. The gunplay is studious without being intelligent - shotguns do damage up close but take a long time to reload, tommy guns are weak but can hold back a crowd. Too often, it’s as dead as its enemy types (who, surprise-surprise act like a mixture of archetypes from far better zombie games, mostly Left 4 Dead).

There are sparks of life to be found - the story goes so far as to have a twist or two up its sleeve, but is sabotaged when you realise that Vinnie is a psychopathic turd, whose success makes you feel like you’re being punished for winning. The game’s only moments of combat intrigue come when rival humans turn up, and you can begin to engineer situations so that they’re attacked by the zombie hordes. Sadly, the AI is so simplistic (on both sides) as to make that an unexpected side-effect of where you happen to be standing than any actual cleverness on your part.

When the game is bad, however, it’s really bad. Its three major story moments each take a different leaf out of the “how to design a crappy boss battle” book - the first is far too easy, the second requires too much precision for a game with jumps as floaty as this and the third is just brain-icingly long.

Similarly, when full hordes of zombies appear, it becomes quickly apparent that it’s much easier (and, weirdly, more fun) to just ignore combat and run for the next checkpoint - a fairly damning indictment of a game that makes shooting things its only interaction.

There’s no doubt that this is better played with friends, although I’m not entirely sure whether “it helps you get through the game a bit faster” is necessarily a selling point. A functional Versus mode at least makes co-op play more appealing in the sense that you take out frustration on real live humans.

I stress: GGC is not a bad game. Not in the conventional sense. You will be able to play through in 3 hours. You will begin by enjoying it, but then you will become numb and your soul will become cold, and all you’ll have left are those moments where Vinnie talks about cannoli, an intellectual buoy in a silent, dead sea of cartoon blood.

More info

Available platformsXbox One, PC
Joe Skrebels
Joe Skrebels
Joe first fell in love with games when a copy of The Lion King on SNES became his stepfather in 1994. When the cartridge left his mother in 2001, he turned to his priest - a limited edition crystal Xbox - for guidance. And now he's here.