Colt Canyon is a single-player Wild West-based pixel art ‘twin stick’-style shooter developed by German company Retrific and published by Headup in 2020. You play a cowboy who must save his kidnapped partner from ruthless bandits. In fact: you can play as a variety of different characters – if you unlock them first.
You run around a variety of procedurally-generated scrolling levels, aiming and shooting with the mouse, and must find, collect and use a variety of different weapons to survive your way through three progressively more difficult stages, each with a boss battle at the end. Each stage is split into three sub-levels, so there are twelve levels in total. Each time you play, the levels are generated based on a ‘seed’ (basically a number), that defines the layout of the level, where the collectables are, and the enemies that you face. So, in essence, the game randomly generates each level (although you can play the same level again if you use a specific seed).
Movement is fast, and you use the Space bar to dodge and roll (highly recommended), and have very limited health (represented by a heart meter in the top left of the screen). You must also constantly re-load your weapons because most of them have very limited room for bullets (you can increase this as you progress, though). In each of the various sub-levels there are hostages to rescue. When you rescue one of these characters you’re then allowed to choose one upgrade from a choice of five, and these can vary from ammo, accuracy or speed upgrades, to companions that fight with you.
The weapons you can use vary from pistols, to rifles and shotguns, and you can only carry two at a time so must swap them out if you find something better. You can also find and use dynamite, which acts like a grenade (although luck, or good skill, is needed to place a throw effectively). Supply crates and barrels that are dotted around the canyon can be broken to find weapons, ammo and dynamite, and defeated enemies will sometimes also drop this kind of loot. If you’re lucky you might also find some medicine that will replenish part of your health.
Enemies vary from lower-ranked, pitchfork-wielding hostiles, to highly aggressive gun-toting characters that will chase you down relentlessly. Some even have armour that prevent you from shooting them from the front, so you either have to get behind them, or take them out with dynamite or exploding barrels. Some enemies can lasso you and pull you toward them, and others are trigger happy women that fire multiple shots at a time. You will even be attacked by dogs, which move very fast and lunge at you to bite you. Surviving in Colt Canyon is brutally difficult at times and this really isn’t a game for the faint of heart. I have to admit that I struggled with it, because if you die you have to start right back at the very beginning again. Colt Canyon is basically a test to see how far you can get with one life and no saves, which can lead to frustration.
That’s not to say that Colt Canyon isn’t a very good game. It’s actually quite excellent, with atmospheric pixel-based graphics, gory blood trails, beautiful modern-style lighting effects, responsive controls and period-style music, but it is rather challenging. Maybe even a bit too difficult for its own good.
If you manage to complete the three stages and rescue your wife, you then have to fight your way back to the beginning again, through reversed levels. These are called the ‘B Levels’. Ambush levels also occur and these are bonus levels that are randomly inserted between the ‘A Levels’.
Colt Canyon is an interesting game that will appeal to those who like a challenge. If you’re not one of those people then it’ll have seriously limited longevity.
More: Colt Canyon on fandom.com
Steam: Colt Canyon on Steam
GOG: Colt Canyon on GOG.com