Guns, Gore & Cannoli is an interesting take on the exceedingly tired zombie genre, mixing old school, prohibition-era, zoot suited gangsters with the ravenous undead. The game is your standard side-scrolling shoot-em-up in the vein of Metal Slug, with some very light puzzling and platforming aspects to round out the gun-play. The campaign is around three hours long, which is a bit short, and features couch co-op and verses modes.
Story & Flow
The story, unfortunately, doesn’t fully take advantage of the ridiculous premise. It’s standard gangster fare, admittedly with a few twists and turns, with betrayals and the usual cliché gangster tropes on display. You assume the role of Vinnie Cannoli, and enforcer for “The Family”, residing in Thugtown. I had some high hopes for the story, especially with the absurdly named Vinnie Cannoli from Thugtown, but although the accents and setting are spot on, the game never seems to totally embrace or utilize the out-there mash up of gangsters and zombies.
You spend the duration of the game acquiring new guns, doing some light platforming and gunning down the impressive amount of enemies you come across in the game’s three hour or so runtime. You have a good number of fun, era-appropriate weapons, like Tommy guns, Molotov cocktails and flamethrowers, plus some surprises, like an electricity-throwing tesla-like rifle. The guns are all satisfying to use, especially the .45 which has infinite ammo. Reloading is a bit slow, but this forces you to play smart and cycle quickly through your weapons during the sometimes overwhelming attacks of the zombies.
You have to keep an eye on your weapons, ammo and each gun’s unique capabilities if you want to stay alive. Most of it seems obvious, like using a shotgun for crowd control, but you have to be quick, shuffling through your inventory to produce the right weapon at the right time for the ever changing challenges your enemies throw at you. Often, you’ll face multiple enemy types at once, and you can easily be overwhelmed, even with your handy kick ability to push the crowd back, giving you (and your guns) a little breathing room to lay down some fire.
The enemies themselves come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with human soldiers throwing grenades, zombie cops twichily firing random shots from the pistols clutched in their undead hands, to the more 28 Days Later-style zombies that bum-rush you, flanked by slower moving zombies that barf poisonous clouds of death. I was pleased with how many different enemy types they pack into the pretty short main campaign, but I can’t say the same for the bosses. There aren’t many, and most of them are pretty standard in terms of 2D boss battles, which is fine, but again, I wish they would have gone a bit more outlandish on some of them. Giant rats and machine-gun toting mafiosos are fine, but I feel like it was a missed opportunity to not get really crazy with the few bosses that are in the game.
The multiplayer is a lot of fun as well, with up to 4 gangsters running around, blasting away at the zombie hordes. It’s local-multiplayer only, which is odd, but the multiplayer is a lot of fun, with the game throwing just enough at you to keep you sweating as you mow down everything in your path. It would have been nice to get some online multi-player, but if you have a buddy or three over, you’re going to have fun tearing through the streets together.
Graphics & Sound
I couldn’t be happier with the art style and graphics. Vinnie looks perfect, with a jutting jaw, tipped fedora and pinstriped suit. Your enemies look great as well, with a lot of variety in their appearance and animations. The cutscenes have a great noir style to them, and it is a joy to watch simple things, like Vinnie making a quick turn or hastily reloading his ever-present .45.
The sound is great as well. The music fits right in, and the voice acting is top-notch. One knock I have against the audio is that they could have thrown in a few more variations in the in-game quips and comments. You hear the same stuff over and over, and for such a short campaign, the comments can begin to wear, if not grate on you. Some lines made me chuckle out loud, but after you hear them 30-40 times, they stop being so funny. I never did get tired of hearing Vinnie chomping his way through a cannoli, which functions as the game’s health pickup, his mouth sounding full of pastry as he exclaims “That’s a good cannoli!” Other comments and jokes don’t work as well.