Gunman Clive 2 Review
Gunman Clive 2 catches you off-guard with its wild trajectory and quiet sense of humor. It begins as an old-school shooter with a western slant, and while it never completely abandons that premise, you quickly find yourself flying through the air, riding in mine carts, and leaping from the backs of brontosauruses.
Developed almost entirely by one person (Bertil Hörberg, as the credits make abundantly and humorously clear) Gunman Clive 2 is a totally solid, sometimes silly platformer. You can choose to play as Clive or two other characters, but the decision doesn’t change much about the core mechanics. You run, jump, and attack. The jumping and shooting feels tight, each enemy is well-placed, and I only had myself to blame for my deaths.
I thought I knew what I was playing during the opening levels, and was prepared to settle in for an old-school jumping-and-gunning experience, but was surprised when the western theme was more or less tossed aside in favor of what felt like whatever Hörberg’s stream of consciousness inspired him to create; I was always eager to see what was next.
A few levels have you flying on the backs of animals, while others place you in Japan taking on ninjas and sumo wrestlers. Another stage toys with the properties of gravity. Platformers are known for playing with setting and location, but here the levels are so random and unpredictable that I never felt like I was experiencing “the lava level” or “the forest level.” Each one was novel, exciting, and worth exploring.
Gunman Clive 2 doesn’t feel particularly novel or exciting is in its platforming. The levels may mix things up tremendously, but the jumping and shooting is unremarkable. It makes no attempt to play with the established mechanics, and only two rarely seen power-ups change the bullets emerging from your weapon. Controlling Clive and the other playable characters doesn’t diminish the experience, but the lack of mechanical diversity stands out as bland when compared to the exciting backdrops framing all the other aspects of the world.
Gunman Clive 2 has an undeniable old-school sensibility missing from the glut of new-age nostalgia-fueled independent titles. It doesn’t waste energy building a consistent world – if something seems like it would be cool, it gets thrown at the wall and sticks regardless of whether cowboys really interacted with dinosaurs. I had a great time with Clive for that reason, even if controlling him paled in comparison to the bizarre universe he exists in.