There were dozens of legends that came from the American Frontier in the mid-1800s. Tales of prison escapes, gunfights, and train robberies have created a mythological interpretation of the Wild West. The glamorization of this mythology is what Techland’s Call of Juarez: Gunslinger centers itself on. In addition to paying respect to fabled gunslingers such as Butch Cassidy and Billy the Kid, the game also serves as a mechanically sound first-person shooter. Thanks to a stellar port job with various control options, it’s one of the finest shooter experiences that you can currently play on the Nintendo Switch.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a tribute to the embellished stories of the Wild West

Many of Call of Juarez: Gunslinger's levels end with a duel

In Call of Juarez: Gunslinger you play as Silas Greaves, who tells tales in a saloon. As you play through his stories of grandeur, you go through tightly constructed levels that have you facing dozens of enemies, with the occasional duel to add some variety. Since Silas is an unreliable narrator, there are numerous instances where sections of the game dynamically change, taking away ammo or shifting environments to match Silas’ narration. In one instance, a group of Apache Native Americans vanishes as someone tells Silas that parts of his story can’t possibly be true.

Accompanying this narrative flair is an overall extravagant style. The art pops on the Switch’s smaller screen, and the score-based gameplay encourages players to think outside of the box in order to maximize combos. There are options that can be adjusted for gyro controls and aim-assist since the Switch’s Joy-Con doesn’t have enough travel in its control sticks for precise aiming. The guns themselves have weight behind every gunshot thanks to stellar sound design and brutal killing animations. Regardless of if you’re using a rifle, shotgun, or dual-wielding revolvers, shooting in Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is satisfying thanks to this style and ease of gameplay. The frame rate holds up pretty well at 30 FPS as well.

There are Nuggets of Truth to every story

Gunplay is immensely satisfying, and Techland incorporates the strengths of its setting

The incentive to getting higher combos/scores in levels is an increase in experience points. These experience points can be invested in three distinct skill trees. They’re centered around the different gun types, with abilities that allow you to dual-wield handguns, slow down time when aiming through iron sights, or provide more benefits when using bullet-time. The upgrades and progress you make in these skill trees carry over across playthroughs.

In Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, you also collect “Nuggets of Truth,” which tell the actual history behind each of the events and figures you encounter. In my review for Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection, I mentioned that the collectibles felt largely meaningless on the Switch since it didn’t have a dedicated achievement system. By comparison, I found the Nuggets of Truth to be well-written and genuinely interesting, so I made it a point to try to find them all in my playthrough. They’re a highlight of the experience and provide context to the figures from this era who were larger than life.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a blast, and there's enough here to last you past its 6-7 hour playtime

I dare to say Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is one of the best first-person shooters that’s on the Nintendo Switch. It may not be the most complete experience, (It took me around 6 hours to finish.) but it’s a fun enough experience that I instantly wanted to replay it on a harder difficulty. Should you want to fill out the various skill trees and collecting the remaining “Nuggets of Truth,” you’ll be receiving another 8-10 hours of glorious arcade shooting.

Release Date: Dec. 10, 2019
No. of Players: 1 player
Category: First-Person Shooter/Emporium of Cowboy History
Publisher: Techland
Developer: Techland

A review code was provided by the publisher.

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Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

8

Pros
  • Great use of gyro and aim-assist makes it one of the tightest first-person shooter experiences on the handheld
  • Excellent use of actual historical figures & events, overall great storytelling
  • Port performs well, albeit at locked 30 FPS
Cons
  • The game is an overall short experience (will take around 6-7 hours to complete once)
Daniel Thompson
Hey folks! I'm Daniel (Danny) Thompson and I've been writing in the games industry for quite a few years. I have a deep love for the industry that's rooted in the people behind the games that you enjoy.

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