Everyone remembers Happy Wheels, right? The web-based flash game in which you ride a vehicle and try to avoid death traps whilst on a bicycle with your child. Well, what would happen if you made that game 3D, added more blood and gore, and then brought it over to modern consoles? I would imagine you would have a hit on your hands! One man studio HakJak (www.HakJak.com) started a Kickstarter a couple of years ago and successfully reached his goal of $30,000 in order to create such a game. So, is Guts and Glory as much fun as Happy Wheels was back in the day or is it past its prime? Let’s find out.
Missing the main feature?!
Guts and Glory on consoles is a different kettle of fish to the PC version, which initially is a bit of a disappointment if I’m being honest. I don’t like starting off a review with negativity but I feel I have to make this part known first as I was a little surprised when I first loaded up the game. I’ve been reading through the Kickstarter page and this bit stood out to me: “A Level Editor will be a core feature of the game“. I fully agree with this statement and after seeing people play the unlimited amount of custom-levels on YouTube, and the fond memories I have of being able to play new levels every day in Happy Wheels, it backs it up.
However, the console versions don’t actually have a level editor. This means that you have eight characters and a bunch of levels to work your way through, so there isn’t a lack of content for a good few hours, but it’s missing the core feature that makes games like this a hit. Don’t get me wrong – I love the game and I’ve been having tones of fun (spoiler), but not implementing the level editor outside of the PC version greatly reduces the replayability of the game and instantly changes this from a must-buy title to a ‘pick it up later’ one.
I have asked the developer about this, as it seems like a big part of the game and the overall core functionality to omit. I was advised that it would be a lot of work for a single person to accomplish, especially if we were hoping for the ability to cross over mods and levels from other platforms. I agree and I understand it’s most likely a big task. I just hope the publisher helps out and offer support, maybe from one of the other devs they work with, so the level editor can be re-implemented into the consoles.
Guts and Glory begins!
Okay, now the negativity is out of the way, this game is a blast to play! You’re basically taking part in the ‘Guts and Glory” game show in which you must try and make it to the end of a deadly obstacle course in one piece. You must go through various checkpoints whilst avoiding flying balls, spikes, saws, logs, and more in this crazy game! If you’ve not seen or played Happy Wheels, Guts and Glory is like Goat Simulator crossed with Trials Evolution. You pick one of the characters on offer and try not to get your head, arm, legs, or torso cut off as you duck under saws, near-miss log traps, and avoid handing spikes. It’s all very intense and quite hilarious.
The game itself consists of nine ‘challenges’, each one featuring around 6-9 individual events. In some events, you can pick any of the eight characters and the majority have a set vehicle class. Each ‘vehicle’ operates differently with characters such as your standard man and woman on a bike, a family within a top-down car, a hobo on a rocket-powered chair, Marty McFly, and more! They all have their own advantages in certain situations but they all share one common feature, they die quite frequently!
There aren’t any stats given for the characters and there is no progression (which wasn’t expected tbh), but you can unlock funky new hats for them to wear if you complete certain objectives. One such objective is to die a lot (which you’ll get naturally), this unlocks the ‘Poop’ hat which you can wear proudly as you enter the next challenge! There are also some completely useless characters such as Jack & Jill – I absolutely hate these guys. Jill is useless as she just flops all over the place and usually bails out before the course has even begun and jack can’t pedal very fast, so jumps and obstacles become almost impossible when using him. As such, they are the only character I actively avoid. John & Debra are clearly the favourites though as they are perfect for most situations.
That brings me onto the courses themselves, they are brutal, sadistic and freaking hilarious. There are two types of checkpoints, yellow and orange. Yellow checkpoints are just there to either guide you in the right direction or force you to stick to the path and go through obstacles rather than going around them, but the orange ones serve as actual respawn points. That means if you… when you die, you can come back to life at the last orange one you crossed. That’s a very welcome and appreciated feature as you don’t want to do the whole thing over and over again when you keep dying.
The courses in Guts and Glory are fun to play and well put together. Sure, they have all been built to have you accidentally not seeing a blade and having your head cut off or performing a leap of faith to only come in contact with a spike – head first, but that’s the fun of it. Every course is doable and even though some of them seem impossible at first, it’s a game that requires you to keep trying until you manage to push on! Thankfully, respawning is super quick with the push of up on the D-pad and about 5 seconds later you’ll be back in the game.
The environments themselves also differ from ‘challenge’ to ‘challenge’. I’ve seen a city, a fairground type place, the countryside, a park, and more. All of them come complete with pedestrians to accidentally on purpose knock over and some even have cardboard cut-out people watching you as you ‘play the game’. So in terms of variety, the game has a decent amount but once you know how to complete a level, it’s not that hard when you try it again. That’s why I feel the omission of the level editor is a big deal, unfortunately.
In terms of the actual goal of the game though – you do have a timer on each level which records your best time in each stage, but this doesn’t really do anything. It’s a means to try and better yourself and to see if your friends can beat you, but progress isn’t constricted based on how many deaths or how long it takes you to complete a level (which is good). Even the trophies for the game aren’t very strict as they consist of simply completing all the levels and a few other random ones like don’t hurt any civilians (which is hard as I get the urge to kill them every time!). As such, the game feels more like a fun distraction for you to play every now and again when you have a few minutes to spare, rather than a game that will be played for hours at a time.
As this is a Kickstarted game, there is a ‘Halls of Glory’ option on the main menu – this appears to be a ‘hall of fame’ for all the backers. You can ride around it like you would on any other track and there are even a few hidden levels here as well.
There also appears to be a ‘hidden’ photo mode in the game. If you pause the game at any point, you can zoom in and out with the L2 and R2 triggers, look with the right stick and shift the camera with the D-pad. I’m not sure if this is a bug or intentionally though as you can spin the view all over the place and even get it stuck upside down or see the world from underneath with all the seethrough textures. This also comes into play once you complete a track or fail and the menu appears. You can alter the very sensitive camera and take some screenshots as usual. Personally, I’m not sure if it’s supposed to allow you to do this or not – it seems very buggy if it is intentional though.
Now for the elephant in the room, the graphics and the sounds. Graphically, Guts and Glory isn’t anything special. As I said, it was created by one person so you’re not going to get AAA graphics and physics here. I wasn’t annoyed or upset that the game has an ‘Early Access’ PC game vibe about it as that adds to the charm of the game. You don’t want a super realistic game where your arms and legs are being sliced off with your guts pouring out all over the place! The style of the game and the feel of it go together well for the type of game the developer was going for, a comedic and fun game to play. The sound effects are also spot-on for what they need to be, from the slicing of your body parts, the splitting of the guts onto the floor, and the screams of the innocent bystanders who got in the way – it’s great. Also, I love the fact that the whole game has a cheery and happy soundtrack playing in the background, regardless of the fact you may have just lost an arm, leg or head!
This is another game where I may have sounded like I didn’t like the game, or I gave off mixed messages and that’s because I’m on the fence. On one side, the game is super fun with hilarious courses, silly mechanics, fun characters, and very addictive gameplay. On the other side, the game feels like it may get old after a few more hours, just like Goat Simulator did, and I feel there isn’t enough content to keep people engaged due to the lack of a level editor. However, I downloaded the game on my parents PS4 and they loved it. I had them playing it for about 4 hours when I went around the other day – they love the Trials games, so this was bound to be something they enjoy. They cracked up every time the other person hit a trap or went face-first into a hanging spike!
What would I change? Well, aside from adding in the level editor – I would love to see a multiplayer added. When I saw my parents, and PlayStation Access, playing the game, I realised how much fun it is to play with a friend and either take it in turns or try and beat each other. Sure, you can just pass the controller after you’ve had your go, but why not allow two people to be signed in and it alternates the turns or has one person play to get a time, then the next starts to try and beat it? Alternatively, what about a split-screen mode where you’re both against each other? With Guts and Glory, the possibilities are endless!
Guts and Glory is completely sadistic and crazy – I love it. The console version isn’t a scratch on its big brother PC version though, as it doesn’t have access to the level creator. Regardless, you still have access to nine challenges with 6-9 missions in each, all of which will frustrate and annoy you for many hours. The graphics are very basic but the gameplay more than makes up for it and the sheer amount of WTF, OMG and LOL moments you’ll have will keep you entertained for a long time. If you grew tired of Goat simulator fast then Guts and Glory may not be for you, for everyone else, this is a great game to play solo or as you watch your mates fail over and over again!
Guts & Glory£11.99
- Lots of fun to play and to watch others try out the courses for the first time
- Very addictive
- Varied environments and methods of transport
- A 'hidden' photo mode?
- Great for playing in short bursts
- The graphics may put some people off (don't let them though)
- No Level editor/creator in the Console version
- The comedy can get old after a few hours
- Some levels feel a little unfair