Colt Canyon

Colt Canyon is a lovely little Western-themed roguelike that released in June of 2020. I missed it initially, but since it landed on PS4 in December, I finally got around to checking it out. And I have to admit, there’s a whole lot of cool stuff going on in this game.

So here are ten little things I love about Colt Canyon.

The visual style is lovely

Colt Canyon

Colt Canyon has a sepia pixel-art look that I adore. I’ve always been a sucker for pixel art, but most games that use it go for a 16-bit sort of look. Colt Canyon almost looks like it could be an Atari 2600 game.

I admit that this is an exaggeration. There are too many colors, movement is too fast, the UI is too complex, and there’s too much happening on the screen at once for this game to work on a 2600. But Atari games typically had one-color characters, which Colt Canyon does, and the monochromatic look of environmental objects is something that brings the 2600 to mind as well.

Colt Canyon would never fit on a meager 2600 cartridge, but a lot of its visual quirks call back to the earliest era of home-console gaming. And that’s pretty gol dang cool.

You can use melee or ranged weapons

Colt Canyon

When you boil down the combat mechanics of Colt Canyon, this is a twin-stick shooter at its core. Yet limited ammo means you are sometimes left without a ranged option. In these cases, you’ve got a melee weapon for hacking and stabbing.

I love that the game gives you both options and allows you to sort of problem solve on the fly to determine which one works best for you in any given situation. It brings a layer of complexity to the combat in Colt Canyon, which makes this game a lot more addictive than it would be as just a simple twin-stick shooter.

Stealth kills are extremely satisfying

Colt Canyon

Once you get into the combat rhythm of Colt Canyon, you’ll start feeling out enemy encounters. If you can approach an enemy without being seen, you can move in swiftly for a one-hit stealth kill. And it feels amazing. Seriously, this is one of those game mechanics that is indescribably satisfying to pull off.

It’s not that stealth kills are difficult — they aren’t. The thing that makes them feel so good is the squishy sound effect, the red wave of pixelated blood, and the one-hit kill. It’s glorious.

You can squeeze through fences

Colt Canyon

Another mechanic that just plain feels good is that your character can squeeze through fenceposts. If there’s a fence in your way, simply press into it. There will be a brief moment of resistance before your character squeezes through and keeps moving.

Honestly, I’m less excited about the fact that you can do this than I am about how good it feels to do so. The mechanics are handled flawlessly here, making squeezing through fences into a really fun game feature.

You can go back to previous levels

Colt Canyon

In a lot of roguelikes, once you complete a level, you can’t return to it later in your run. Binding of Isaac is an example of this — when a level is done, it’s done.

But in Colt Canyon, you can actually go back to previous levels. This is great if you’re looking to do completionist-style runs to collect all the extra loot and whatnot.

Colt Canyon is hardly the only roguelike that lets you travel backward to stages you’ve already cleared (heck, even Toejam & Earl lets you revisit previous levels), but I really appreciate this feature. It makes those “Should I pick up this weapon or not?” decisions feel so much less stressful.

The ominous Western-style soundtrack is awesome

Colt Canyon

When you haven’t been detected yet, there’s an ominous piano/banjo track that sort of plays way off in the distance. Once you’re spotted, though, the music kicks up into a fast-paced ragtime jam that really sets the mood for frantic combat encounters. (It reminds me just a little bit of this piano rendition of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins theme.)

You can throw glass bottles, and they will eventually break

Colt Canyon

There’s a whole stockpile of throwable weapons in Colt Canyon. Usually, you can pick up throwables after using them again (though not always).

Then there’s the glass bottle. The thing about the glass bottle that makes it interesting is that after you throw it a few times, you’ll pick it back up to see that it’s now broken. This means you can throw it one last time before it breaks completely and you can’t pick it up anymore. It’s a neat little touch that shows that developer Retrific put a ton of thought into Colt Canyon’s tiny details.

The revolver reload animation is really cool

Colt Canyon

Whenever you reload a revolver, you’ll do a little spin trick. There’s no benefit to the spin trick besides the fact that it looks really cool. Still, what sort of Wild West game would this be if it didn’t allow you to spin your revolver?

You leave bloody footprints when you’re injured

Colt Canyon

This is just a neat visual detail, but when your character is badly injured, they will leave behind a trail of bloody footprints. Unlike the revolver spin, this actually does have some utility, as it gives you a visual cue that your health is dangerously low. Since you’re probably looking more closely at your character than at your health bar during the more intense parts of the game, this can be really helpful.

There’s a map that shows your progress once you’ve died

Colt Canyon

A late-game addition to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a feature called Hero’s Path, which draws a path on the map that shows everywhere Link traveled. There’s a simplified version of this feature in Colt Canyon. When you die, you’ll see a drawn path of where exactly you walked in your most recent run. It doesn’t help you find things you missed (like Hero’s Path does), but it’s fun to look at regardless.

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