GT-Hay Plague City
Throwing poo at authority figures is something I can only dream of doing. I’m too pretty to go to prison, though, so my poo-flinging fantasies are destined to live on as mid-afternoon daydreams. Or, I can boot up Rustler and throw as much poo at as many people as I like.
That’s just one of the barmy off-beat activities that you can do in Rustler, a new open-world action game that takes inspiration from the old GTA games. And if your idea of old GTA games is GTA IV, go away and look up GTA 2 or GTA London. They’re classics.
You play as Guy, a lowlife skinhead thug who wakes up battered and bruised in a field. His life is in the gutter but he decides to make some changes. He’s going to enter The Tournament and win the hand (and more…) of the princess.
To enter The Tournament, Guy needs to get himself some funds to pay the entrance fee, so he and his lazy mate, Buddy, set out to scratch together the coins needed. This epic quest takes the duo across the kingdom, flinging poo at anybody who gets in their way. You can also stab, shoot, punch, and run over people with horses. It’s not all about poo.
Obviously, the comparisons between Rustler and GTA are obvious. In fact, it’s part of the marketing spiel for the game – they’re trading on the fact that they’re bringing back that old school GTA gameplay, but with knights and nobles instead of crackheads and cops.
The bulk of the missions are standard GTA-style jobs. Go to this place, do this thing. Go to another place, kill a person, as well as some more unique objectives fitting for the period. You can take on the Medieval Martial Arts championship and beat your way to the top. You can earn some side coin by bullying people into attending church. And of course, you can also race horses, among other things.
Rustler isn’t getting any points for originality, then. It takes the familiar and puts a medieval spin on it, though not everything translates so well.
The Wanted system, for example, is very poor. To escape the guards you can either rip down posters to reduce your wanted level or ride a horse through a Pimp a Horse garage to give your mount new colours and send the guards away. It’s far too simplistic and, much to my annoyance, there are only two such medieval Pay ‘n’ Spray locations across the entire map. I got the attention of the guards while selling weed on a mission, and I had to go back and forth half a dozen times to lose the wanted level and finish the mission. It was annoying and there just wasn’t any thrill in the chases when I knew it was going to be as easy as trotting into a barn, even if the filth watched me do it.
Combat is another stumbling block in Rustler. It’s just not very fun. Whether it’s using the automatic crossbow, the scythe, or any of the weapons in the game, it just doesn’t feel great. It’s awkward and the game could have done with a lock-on system to help you swing your sword in the right direction. It’s serviceable, but it’s not good enough, and whenever I was forced into combat, I’d try to run around and pick the enemies off with the ranged weapons rather than struggle through the melee brawling.
What keeps Rustler fresh is the dialogue, though, sadly, it’s all text. There’s no voice acting here which is a real shame. I laughed out loud plenty of times just reading the character’s lines, so I’m sure I would have busted a rib had they been voiced. Plus, it would have been easier to follow the dialogue; trying to read the on-screen text and not plough into people with my horse was a tough time.
Rustler has no radio. Instead, you have to hire a bard if you want a soundtrack to your thuggery. The idea is good and I love that you have to punch the bard to change the song, but in reality, it’s a bit of a misstep.
As there are no character voices, you don’t hear any chit chat on the streets, just sneezes and coughs, which I’m 100% sure are in there as a jokey poke at our diseased world. Lovely.
So, if you don’t have a bard with you, it’s a bit boring on the ear lugs. There were large stretches of the game where I only had the triggering coughs and sneezes to fill in the background, or if I was out in the wilds, the uber-realistic chirping of the birds. The game could have done with some ambient music and kept the bard beating in as a fun extra.
From flinging poop to cross-drossing, Rustler has the ingredients for a very funny game, but sadly, with some poor combat, a lifeless world, and a lack of variety, it’s just not a very fun game to play.
Rustler PS5, PS4 Review
Overall - Not Bad - 5/10
The biggest crime in Rustler is that the game is very funny but not very fun. The writing is a highlight but with tacked-on RPG elements, poor combat, and a world that’s just a little bit boring, Rustler is hard to recommend.
- Very funny character dialogue and mission objectives
- Lots of fun references to pop culture and other video games
- Looks good enough and runs at a nice 60fps on PS5 (30fps on PS4)
- The world is lifeless
- Combat is poor and not much fun
- The lack of ambient or contextual music is deafening
- The horseback chases aren’t much fun with an overly simple wanted system
- Tacked-on RPG levelling up stuff was not necessary
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS5. Reviewed using PS5.