I’m going to start this review off being completely honest – from a technical standpoint, Guts and Glory is by far one of the worst games I have ever played. But I love it. Sure, some games strive to be the prettiest, or have the biggest and best mechanics in order to drive players in droves to their local GameStop, but not this title; Guts and Glory aims much higher. The best thing about this game is that it will likely having you and your friends laughing to the point of pissing yourselves.
This is a physics based racing game, but most of the joy that it evokes comes from the death and destruction that you will cause with your racer of choice, not actually completing the game’s challenges. The game starts off small, requiring you to make it through a series of checkpoints, evading traps and hazards in the game world. Each level will get more and more challenging as you progress, with many culminating in the racer or random spectators being chopped to bits or exploding in a vicious explosion of gore and viscera. Death comes quickly and quite often, with racers being dismembered, blown up, impaled, run over, and pretty much any other dastardly means to an end you can think up.
The racers and their means of transportation are fairly robust, ranging from the standard fare such as bikes or cars to crazy contraptions like a hobo outfitted with a lawn chair that’s been converted into a jetpack, or a young kid with a Back to the Future inspired hover board. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses which are not disclosed at the character select screen, and more often than not you’ll need to select the right one to complete the specific challenge you face. Why these levels do not simply require you to use the player in question is a bit of a missed opportunity, since I found myself struggling at many points just to make progress using the trial and error method, especially when all of the racers are offered as a choice at the character select screen.
Each character has three set tools in their bag – the first is a boost ability which does what it says. The second is a slowdown ability that makes some of the more difficult groups of traps much more manageable. Both of these can be refilled by completing midair stunts or tricks, simply by moving the character around with the directional sticks. The third ability allows you to eject your character from the vehicle, as they are the only part of the character that needs to meet the checkpoint or finish line. The rag doll physics work well on a large scale, but I found outliers here and there that didn’t quite add up, one of which is what looks like a giant version of corn hole, with the player representing the bean bag. No matter which direction the player was facing or moving, they always seemed to go in the same direction once catapulted from the car or bike.
The tracks are just as varied and insane as the racers themselves, with theme parks, wilderness, and city settings covered. While some challenges require more dexterity and thought than others, much of your progress will be chalked up to dumb luck, with a few of my wins coming from cheating the game’s systems, often creating hilarious results. I kid you not, you haven’t lived until you’ve completed a race while your avatar has his head cut off, bleeding profusely from the neck all while still having full control of their bike. Another instance allowed me to avoid a cluster of traps the level included by simply flying over them with the boost feature on the hover board, when this isn’t a part of his skill set on any other course.
The bugs don’t always work out in your favor, and this game has plenty of them. On many occasions, I died upon respawning for no reason, having to sit through the loading screen multiple times. When similar games include instant respawns, this stands out more than it should, even when the load times are only ten seconds or so. The checkpoints will also cause some frustration if you’re actually trying to complete the game as you should. There are two types of checkpoints, which took me awhile to get my head around. There are yellow markers that simply designate the current goal and save no progress, as well as an orange alternative which works as a legit checkpoint in the event you die or fail miserably. On many occasions, the orange markers, which are typically placed too far apart for my liking, do not register as a legit checkpoint, resulting in some of the more tiresome challenges to be even more difficult. A few instances of this resulted in me losing progress and actually put me at a start point as far as two checkpoints behind where I had last perished.
The game feels like Goat Simulator in the way it is presented and controls. The majority of the visuals look dated, with some levels reminding me of the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater from the PS1 days, with flat textures and clipping being prevalent in almost every asset. The controls work against you almost every step of the way, in some cases feeling like you’re magnetically attracted to the traps laid out in front of you. Small bumps or non-threatening items will often send you reeling way off of the beaten path. The hit detection is also a bit off, with some razor contraptions cutting off limbs or parts on the complete opposite side of where they should be. The moans and screams that come from the racers or NPCs wandering the courses are equally generic and repetitious with the music being less than thrilling, sounding out of place one level to the next. When you add the fact that the difficulty spikes pretty early into each level’s course and progress will be an uphill battle, with many of the traps requiring pin point accuracy, it may seem like this will be a drag to play. However, the lack of polish adds to the game’s randomness, and even at its worst is pretty dang funny.
The comedy won’t be for everyone, since there are a number of children included as part of a racing team that will meet their gruesome demise at some point or another. Some borderline racist jokes are included, such as the Yang Family, who is in a small car that is destined to have multiple insurance claims by the time you complete a single track. Mild jabs can be found towards the redneck community as well, with a few of the racers being adorned with Americana or camo outfits. While I was never outright offended, I could see this being a trigger for some sensitive gamers.
Guts and Glory is destined to be a hit at a party as a great alternative for the Cards Against Humanity crowd due the dark yet downright hilarious results that come regularly. While there is no true multiplayer element (hopefully for a sequel, maybe?), the short levels are great for trading off the controller. If you’re looking for a legit physics racer, I would recommend steering clear of this title unless the uber difficult nature of the game working against you is your thing.
9 out of 10
- Downright Hilarious
- Tons of Content
- Unique Premise
- Awful Visuals
- Lackluster Controls
- Punishing Difficulty
Guts and Glory was developed by HakJak Productions and published by tinyBuild Games. It launched on PC, PS4, Switch, and X1 July 19th, 2018 for $14.99. The game was provided to us for review on X1. If you’d like to see more of Guts and Glory, check out the official site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.