Guts & Glory has landed on Xbox One and do you know what? It’s not as glorious as it makes out to be. I don’t want to be overly critical because it’s not the worst we’ve seen, going even from recent examples, but it has to be said that this is just not as exciting as it looks. It’s a game that’s far too bare for its own good, with several challenges and uninspiring maps making up for much of its structure. That being said, if you enjoyed the general silliness of Goat Simulator, with a splash of Trials thrown in, you might pull more from this than me.
Booting up the game will take you straight to the main menu and from here, you’re able to select from a range of different tracks. The first of which is the park area and this serves as Guts & Glory’s tutorial section. Each track opens up a portion of different challenges for players to tackle, ranging from the simplistic to the outright insane. The tutorial achieves what it needs to by giving its players a brief, yet firm understanding as to how the overall experience functions, which I’ll point out, isn’t at all that hard to get to grips with at first.
Happy Valley is the first true area and it’s here where you’ll be sent once you have dipped your toes into the tutorial. The general aim of the game (each level) is to make it from one point of the map to the next, whilst avoiding a shed load of obstacles, traps and deadly hazards along the way. You’re able to choose from a handful of different character-specific vehicles; bicycle, motorbike, quad and so forth. Though, it really doesn’t matter which one you aim for as they’re all as stiff and awkward to handle as the next. Seriously, it’s not very pleasant. There’s just not enough fluidity, which is often necessary for overcoming specific hazards.
Instead, you’ll be forced to a standstill whilst you slowly maneuver around said danger. Now, I do like the general backbone of this game. I enjoy the constant push to reach your objective at the same time as avoiding projectile balls, cannons, guillotine, explosives and much, much more, but when the control-feedback behaves as poorly and as slowly as it does, it makes for a game that’s far too hard to get into. The game’s difficulty curve tries to alleviate this by presenting a steady and gradual climb in complexity and harshness, but even so, I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle to remain engaged after just a single hour of playing time.
One standout feature for me is the gore, and boy howdy is there plenty of it. On your way to your objective, be it a simple A-to-B point-marker, several checkpoints or something alike, deadly objects will constantly try to knock you to pieces. Hell, you could so much as knock into some terrain and your backseat bicycle rider will lose a foot, spitting a long trail of blood wherever you go. That, believe it or not, is one of the game’s most tame elements as far as the gore goes. I found this, weirdly enough, to be the most defined aspect within.
Physics play a role in Guts & Glory to some degree. For instance, if you take to a large ramp and don’t quite nail a landing, you’re often going to end up in a bloody puddle. Guillotine will literally separate your torso from your legs, balls fired from cannons will shred your limbs to bits and explosives, well, let’s just say you’ll have a hard time distinguishing your head from your ass as you quickly glance at the red mess left over. By and large, Guts & Glory is one hell of a mature-themed game and that’s arguably one of the game’s most alluring designs.
Upon death, and death will come frequently, a quick flick of the upper D-Pad will respawn you back in. Sadly, this is where another gripe comes into view; loading screens. Despite how frequent the game will murder you by design, you’ll need to endure a loading screen each and every time that happens. Sure, it’s a brief loading screen that lasts no more than ten seconds, but it does begin to annoy before long. There’s performance issues to contend with too, including framerate problems when there’s a lot of action onscreen, as well as the occasional crash to home.
When all is said and done, Guts & Glory would have merely been a passable title were it not for the poor optimization. With these issues in mind, on the other hand, it puts Guts & Glory below standard. I wont deny that the game has a nice selection of maps to take to, on top of a few vehicles with varying characters, but you’re still going to be doing pretty much the exact same thing level in and level out, with little reward for trekking off the beaten path to wreck havoc elsewhere. It would have been nice to see more fleshed out level missions and even sub-missions, if for anything, to bolster the replay value.
Initially it’s quite fun trying to work out the best route or which method to use to see you through to success, and a special mention has to be spared for the jetpack-chair, but still, the excitement wears thin sooner than it should. It doesn’t help that the visuals are far from impressive, ultimately looking like a dated Xbox 360 title. The same can be said about the generic audio cues, the bland AI and the overall lack of polish. I’ve no doubt that Guts & Glory will find a niche group, but if you like games that perform well and are decently structured, you wont find that here.
Guts & Glory is a game that’s far too bare for its own good, consisting of little other than a range of challenges across a variety of uninspiring maps. The game’s most defining aspect is that it’s brutally gory, and although it is indeed fun to begin with, repetition swiftly rears its head soon after. Furthermore, performance issues, dated visuals and a lack of content diversity mars this already bland experience.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.