Review – Rot Gut, a Prohibition-Era Platformer

Rot Gut game screenshot, bloodstained
Review – Rot Gut, a Prohibition-Era Platformer

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Rot Gut

Publisher: Shotgun Surgeon

Developer: Shotgun Surgeon

Genre: Action

Release Date: July 12th, 2016

Rot Gut – What We Think:

Rot Gut is a retro platformer with a cinematic sense of style – film noir, to be specific. Set during the era of Prohibition, you’ll be throwing lead at all sorts of hoods in a mostly-monochrome series of gin joints, docks and alleyways.

Rot Gut game screenshot staircase

All That Jazz

Rot Gut is a real looker, that’s for sure. Like another retro platformer from this year (the mostly terrible Abo Mando), it’s mostly monochromatic, with splashes of color for emphasis. This makes for a surprisingly effective mix of moody atmosphere and 8-bit-inspired pixel art. The backgrounds are particularly gorgeous and reminded me of Castlevania in their attention to detail. Who knew how well the decaying decadence of a vampire’s castle would translate to a mafia hide-out?

There’s also a great blood-splatter effect that obscures more and more of the screen as you take damage. Admittedly, this is an effect that dates back to the early days of first-person shooters, but it’s rare in a side-scroller and works well here.

The soundtrack is also a highlight. Listen to Rot Gut’s chiptune jazz, and you’ll think you’re drinking hooch in some pixelated speakeasy in no time. Gunshots are also satisfyingly thunderous.

Rot Gut game screenshot, bloodstained

A Mug’s Game?

So it looks great, and it sounds great. And it plays…good enough? It’s a solid little platformer with enough hidden secrets to make exploration worth your time. It’s pretty basic – jump up on things and shoot bad guys – and offers a couple of different weapon types to keep things interesting. You can also grab coins to purchase additional ammunition and health at vending machines.

In terms of difficulty curves, Rot Gut handles things well. Later levels are challenging enough to require multiple attempts, but never feel intentionally brutal or punishing.

Rot Gut game screenshot, coins

Horsefeathers and Applesauce

I don’t know, though. It didn’t really grab me. It just felt like a ton of style and without much substance. It’s not bad, but once you get past the “Sam Spade as a Nintendo game” vibe, there’s not much else to impress.

There’s also something a bit off about the scrolling – it felt like a slight disconnect between the motion of the background and the main character. It gave me a hint of motion sickness, which I’d never really experienced in a side-scroller, so that might have also affected my opinion.

I hate to damn with faint praise. I didn’t enjoy Rot Gut much, but it is a decent, serviceable little platformer with style to spare. Considering that it’s less than two bucks on Steam and started out as a free game on Kongregate, it’s worth picking up for the soundtrack alone.

Rot Gut is available via Steam.

[xrr rating=”2.5/5″]

Watch the trailer for Rot Gut below: