Ah, the 70s. An era of wobbly sci-fi, power brownouts and casual racism; none of which appear in Milanoir, Italio Games’s top-down shooter.
Instead, Milanoir has you blasting and occasionally driving your way through a pixellated city in search of vengeance. Accompanied by a mood-setting soundtrack, you dodge the bullets that your criminal enemies send your way, using whatever cover you can find to shield you. Though given that your character is a complete scumbag himself, it’s questionable whether he has the right to retribution or indeed taking a bullet to the face is all he deserves.
Regardless of your character’s questionable morality, Milanoir has a wonderfully European flavour. The game is set, as the title suggests, in the Italian city of Milan, complete with period and culture-appropriate trappings. Milanoir’s largely linear levels have you racing through the streets in a three wheeler, scrambling through trams and roaming around Italian bars, which is a refreshing change from the locales that many similar games take place in. That said, the designers do cite the films of Quentin Tarantino as one of their inspirations and your boss is clearly Marlon Brando’s Godfather, so there’s some American influence there.
Milanoir can also be rather unforgiving at times. Early on in the game, one of the characters leapt in the aforementioned three-wheeler, stating they’d drive; the other character replying that they’d shoot. Figuring I’d be doing one or the other, I braced myself for either a gunfight or a race, only to discover I was doing both, using the left stick to drive and the right to aim and fire. The pair escaped, but only after being resurrected no less than ten times. The controls do take some getting used to, using a crosshair system rather than the usual “point and shoot” mechanism of most twin-stick shooters.
But tricky as it may be, Milanoir is an entertaining little blast and if you’re looking for a shooter that doesn’t have a stateside bent, it’s worth checking out. Just don’t expect an easy ride or one with a happy ending.
Milanoir is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.