Blowfish Studios is a small independent game developer located in Australia that has made a name for itself by releasing small, innovating and fun games that appeal to the widest possible number of gamers. From games like To The Stars and Blackwind, to quirky titles like Nine Witches and Element Space, Blowfish Studios has a catalog of games that is varied enough in what they offer the player that its hard to recommend just one. However, if you are looking for something to not just play but allows you to create a game of your own, Blowfish has the something that might appeal to you.
Launching originally to Early Access on STEAM way back in 2015 as a Free-To-Play game, GUNSCAPE is not exactly a “game” in the manner that a game is usually presented as. This game is a community driven FPS Tool Kit. In other words, the player is responsible for creating the levels of the game that are then uploaded to Blowfish’s servers and anyone in the world on any platform that the game is offered on can load up that level and give it a try. Sounds like something really attractive right? Well, sometimes an idea is better on paper than in practice, but I am getting ahead of myself and a little context would help here.
Gunscape isn’t a single/multi player FPS so much as it is a game that allows you to create separate levels of the game with tools and game assets designed to resemble the old school dungeon crawlers like Doom and the original Quake. Taking advantage of the tools that are on offer, the player can design somewhat intricate and multi-layered levels complete with weapon drops, door switches, explosive barrels, and remote sentry guns, just to name a few, in order to present the player the resources necessary to face what you have in store for those willing to partake in your level creating expertise. There are also different textured blocks that you use to create the floors, walls and other dungeon features like stone, wooden planks, tiles, etc to give your level a more authentic feel. You even have the ability to choose the background music as well as being able to place different musical cues when the player walks into a certain point on your map.
In addition, there are several different types of monsters that you can have challengers face as they make their way through the level. Level boss creatures can also be placed at the end of your level to give the player one final challenging fight before they pass your test. That’s pretty much all there is to it for the building experience. It’s simple enough to understand how to design a level and the design tools are fairly robust and is a very ambitious attempt for a game from a small independent studio. Gunscape may be a good game to try on PC, however, because of how the multiplayer systems works on the Switch, you may not ever be able to play with other people.
When playing Gunscape, you’ll spend a good amount of time in the main menu area where you can Discover what the community has created, Build your own levels or Join multiplayer games already in progress in the Shoot section. The Discover section is comprised of 12 themes like “Editor’s Pick” or Popular Team” sections that offer about eight different levels for you to try out. In my time with the game, these choices here didn’t change very much so it may take time for other map creators to get their maps uploaded. Many of the maps that are available now are dated from 2015 or 2016 with very few being made within the last few weeks of the games release on Switch.
I jumped into a dozen or so of the different game types, but because I didn’t have friends that I could in good conscience recommend that they purchase this game just to try it out, I was unable to see how the game handles in a multiplayer match. In the single-player levels, gameplay was relatively smooth for an FPS Tool Kit of this nature, but this is a game that is not necessarily pushing the Switch to its technological limits. In these levels, I actually had a decent amount of fun playing the levels that the developers had designed themselves. The levels that I tried that were created by the community were unfortunately not that fun and weren’t as polished as the developer made content. This is probably to be expected at this point as the type of people that enjoy level building who would take the time to put out really polished content don’t necessarily have this particular game on their radar.
While a game that gives the player the ability to create levels and then share those same levels with players all over the world might have seemed like a great idea in 2015, it’s very old news in 2023. And the fact that on Switch, you can only play with people you know, you are limited when playing the multiplayer maps to when your friends are available to play. The Doom era of gaming oftentimes does not visually hold up to the 4K or better presentations of modern gaming, therefor I am hard pressed to imagine that the visuals of Gunscape would be the primary draw to gamers who enjoy playing games of this era. Truth be told, there are much better offerings these days for games of this type, or that at least offers a decent level editor, on just about every available platform. With that in mind, the release of this game on the Switch at this point in time definitely leaves me scratching my head.
This review is based on a downloaded version of the game from a code provided by the publisher.
This is a game from 2015...and it looks like it.
PROS + A plethora of tools and items to build great maps + Offers something different than your average game.
CONS – May take some effort on Switch to play with others – Very dated concept, visuals and gameplay.