Ever wanted to be immersed in a world where Steampunk fits in perfectly with the day-to-day goings on of the people within it? Bang! Heroes can do better than that: it offers a platform-based shooting adventure that has all the hallmarks of Steampunk whilst possessing the challenges of the platform and shooting genres. Get ready to embark on an adventure as assume the role of one of two protagonists that must fight against evil robotic enemies by upgrading weapons and abilities throughout.
At the game's outset you are asked to choose carefully between the game's main protagonists, each with their own unique abilities that shape your very approach to the action in the first place. On the one hand you have Trickster Raven, said to be (and I quite) a "crafty master of the air" that has superior manoeuvrability, a higher shot damage, and a lower firing rate. The alternative is Gunslinger, possessing slower movement, a lower firing rate, and lower shot damage. After skipping past the challenge mode option (this must be unlocked by completing regular mode) and choosing your difficulty between easy, medium, and hard, the game shall begin with whichever character you dared to choose.
Regardless of character choice, the game is played with controls that are quite standard for a platform/shooter. Movement is with the [A] and [D] keys or the left/right directional arrows only; jumping is performed with the [W] key, Spacebar, or Up arrow (it's a side-scrolling game and therefore doesn't require movement keys more complex than this). Long-pressing the jump key allows you to get more height on your jump whilst aiming and firing is done with the mouse and the left mouse button respectively.
Progression in Bang! Heroes is two-fold: physical progression through each level is obviously the prime mover in the symphony of entertainment that is the gameplay, but you've also got upgrades to think of as well. Unfortunately these upgrades aren't as comprehensive as in other games like Pocket Ninja, though said game doesn't have the sublime style that this one does. To purchase upgrades you need to collect gears throughout the levels. These are usually dropped by enemies but can also be found lying around occasionally. You use these gears to purchase upgrades such as new guns and abilities that give you the advantage over your enemies.
You'll encounter a variety of enemies in the game including standard living creatures like bugs and people with guns as well as machines of varying complexity such as flying shooters to ground-based artillery. Most things can be killed though some can only be destroyed if you find the weak spot, such as the artillery unit that can only be destroyed if you shoot it from the back. Players may find the game challenging initially, but this is the whole point of the gears system: after dying you visit the upgrade store where you can choose to improve your performance by applying upgrades to your character or getting better guns than your initial pistol.
You'll notice that Bang! Heroes' aesthetic style is quintessentially Steampunk in nature, with the cogs that form the initial loading screen being a dead giveaway to the Steampunk Western approach that the rest of the game takes. The artwork is actually quite stunning when you look at it: cut-scenes are illustrated/animated in a pleasant cartoon style, the enemies all have very distinctive designs that are classic Steampunk, and you've also got western-style shootouts as you progress in this side-scrolling platform shooter. For a Steampunk fan, Bang! Heroes is a dream come true; for the typical platform/shooter fan, this game is also going to please in equal amounts.
Whether you enjoy Bang! Heroes or not is a matter of taste. If you enjoy platform shooters that have a serious amount of style then this game will definitely entertain you. The physics aren't very conducive to fast-paced, high-impact and the whole thing doesn't exactly have an ultra-realistic feel - guns sound very cartoon-like for example and there's not much blood or serious violence throughout as you would find in games like EA's Bulletstorm, for example. Still, unless you absolutely require games to have extreme violence in them, Bang! Heroes isn't without its action and challenging shootouts that require a fair bit of skill to survive. Though it isn't going to be the best shooter that many have played, developer Whirled.com have certainly arranged a pleasing marriage between western-style shooting/platforming and the beautiful Steampunk style.
Bebop Rating: 8.1/10