In Rustler, you’re a reprobate and proud of it.
That might not sound like a big deal, but in putting a medieval twist on Grand Theft Auto, this top-down, horse-snatching, knight-murdering PC actioner has dispensed with the notion that you’re even remotely noble.
And it works – there’s none of this nonsense where the cutscenes paint you as morally conflicted. You’re a bad ‘un, and that’s all you need to know. Being developed by Jutsu Games, Rustler is currently being funded on Kickstarter – where it’s just a smidgen away from meeting its goal.
I’ve had my hands on an pre-alpha build, and while there’s not a massive amount of story to it so far, there’s already an appealing chunk of mayhem, particularly when you get your hands on a sword. There’s something disturbingly satisfying about running someone through with your sword, grabbing their coin purse, then making a break for it on your stolen horse.
Ranged weapons get a look in but, in a neat twist, your character isn’t particularly adept at wielding them. I strode into town, ready to show off my Euron Greyjoy-level one-shotting skills; twenty seconds later I was flailing around, struggling to reload, while the local constabulary laid into me.
And yes, there are police – Rustler doesn’t pretend to be historically accurate; this is a game where you get your horse resprayed to avoid trouble. Rustler’s tongue is jammed firmly in its plague-pocked cheek. But this setting allows for some daft, if a tad gruesome, side-activities such as selling corpses for fun and profit.
The chunk of Rustler’s story that I experienced mentioned a medieval tournament – which I’m hoping pays off in the full game. Not because I’m particularly fond of jousting; rather that I love the idea of Rustler’s ale-swilling scoundrel having to defend the kingdom and, in all probability, doing a really bad job of it. Pseudo-medieval walled cities are oddly charming to behold; at least they became so after I got over how (inaccurately) regular the streets were.
Yes, I had no problems with Pimp-My-Horse and knights with flashing sirens, but it was the lack of organic street growth that stuck in my throat. The other bugbear I have with Rustler is that hiding from Ye Olde Cops doesn’t make them forget about you. I’d love to be able to duck into Rustler’s foliage and watch my pursuers give up the chase. Granted, the build I’ve played is very early, so there’s every chance these things will be looked at before Rustler releases.
Rustler has a lot of promise and, even in its this early incarnation, I had a lot of fun with it. Roaming around with my own personal bard, minus the sexual tension of Netflix’s The Witcher, never got old.
Rustler is currently on Kickstarter, having nearly reached its target with 17 days still to go. And if you fancy getting your hand on the game earlier than its October 2020 release, there’s a tier which gives you access to this alpha version.
I’ll leave you with one final thought: