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Buckshot Roulette screenshot

Buckshot Roulette review – Creepy but utterly captivating

Fancy pointing a loaded shotgun at your own face? No, us neither. But that’s what Buckshot Roulette has you doing, an unsettling take on Russian roulette from Mike Klubnika and Critical Reflex.

We couldn’t help but be reminded of Inscryption upon loading up Buckshot Roulette. It sports a very similar, equally eerie art style. And, giving your character a sense of place, you don’t begin right at the roulette table: you’ll have to make your way there first. It had us thinking: will this have similar twists and turns to Inscryption? Is the Russian roulette merele a facade?

The answer? No. Buckshot Roulette is Russian roulette, plain and simple. It’s a very basic premise, given life through the game’s sinister art style and unsettling atmosphere. All you’re doing is picking up a shotgun and choosing to point it at yourself or the dealer, your creepy-faced opponent. But somehow, it’s still utterly captivating.

Buckshot Roulette screenshot
Image: Mike Klubnika/Critical Reflex

There’s more to Buckshot Roulette than blind, dumb luck. It’s part of it, of course. Sometimes there’s simply no way of knowing whether the cartridge in the shotgun is a live round or a blank, and you have to make your best call. Don’t worry if you get shot: thanks to defibrillators on-call, you’ll quickly recover in the first two rounds. It’s only when you reach the third and final round that Buckshot Roulette is a true live-or-die battle, and that’s when it’s at its most tense.

You’ll have access to a random assortment of assists as you play. A magnifying glass will let you peek at the next round in the gun, for example. And smoking a cigarette will heal you one health point. You can also choose to unload a cartridge by drinking a beer, or inflict double damage by sawing off the end of the shotgun. Pay close attention and use your assists wisely, and it’s entirely possible to know if the next shot is going to be painful or not, giving you the upper hand on your opponent.

Buckshot Roulette screenshot
Image: Mike Klubnika/Critical Reflex

Playing a game of Buckshot Roulette takes approximately 20 minutes. This isn’t a huge time commitment, then: it’s the sort of thing you can play a quick round of while you’re waiting for something to install, or while your dinner’s cooking. Short as it may be, though, it will still get your blood pumping. The combination of the high-risk odds and the creepy atmosphere manages to make Buckshot Roulette truly thrilling. Chances are, even if you lose, you’re going to want to jump straight back in to try again.

Knowing you can turn the odds in your favour by using your available items only heightens the thrill, too. Even when it seems like the odds are stacked against you — you’ve got a loaded shotgun in your face, for crying out loud — you can always turn things around, if you’re devious enough. And we absolutely love that.

While we sort-of wish Buckshot Roulette had some more tricks up its sleeve, it doesn’t need them: this is a devilishly simple idea that works incredibly well as an unsettling, quick-paced game. It’s gritty, it’s gruesome, and it absolutely deserves your attention.

This review of Buckshot Roulette has been facilitated by a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PC via Steam.

Buckshot Roulette review - GameSpew's score

Buckshot Roulette
8 10 0 1
Its creepy art style and unsettling atmosphere will immediately draw you into Buckshot Roulette — but it's its quick-and-dirty Russian roulette gameplay that will keep you coming back. It's easy to play, but to succeed you'll need to keep your wits about you, and that makes for a really successful little game.
Its creepy art style and unsettling atmosphere will immediately draw you into Buckshot Roulette — but it's its quick-and-dirty Russian roulette gameplay that will keep you coming back. It's easy to play, but to succeed you'll need to keep your wits about you, and that makes for a really successful little game.
8/10
Total Score

We liked...

  • Alluring atmosphere
  • Easy to learn (and devilishly moreish) gameplay

We didn't like...

  • A bit of hidden narrative would have been nice

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