By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
Losing your memory is tough, but being Mexican and living in America in 1873 is a whole new story, one you are about to experience. 12 is Better Than 6 isn’t released yet, but I was given the chance to play the pre-alpha Kickstarter demo client and try it out. The Kickstarter is on-going, plus the game has been Greenlit on Steam so expect 12 is Better Than 6 on Steam Early Access soon. But first, lets talk about this amazing game.
You are Juan, a Mexican escaped convict that lost his memory and somehow ended up in North America. As you can expect, back in the day both Mexicans and Americans weren’t entirely friendly with each other. Racial tension has a shoot first and ask questions later theme going in this game. That said, if you mind your own business and keep your head low, the two sides can still get along. Somehow Juan manages to get into serious trouble wherever he goes, and the locals become increasingly unhappy and gun totting as a result.
In this top down shooter you will have to play as someJuan that is better off not seen. Gameplay is brutally unforgiving, and anyone that tries barging in guns blazing likely won’t last a full minute on any mission. In the first tutorial level you are shown that using your knife is a key element to clearing levels. And even though you can switch between your knife and a gun, most of the time you are better off clearing the level with your knife and stabbing people in the backs. The moment you will use your gun, the rest of the guards will come look and check out what that loud noise was. If they find a body, well lets just say that they will not be happy to see this (obviously) and you are in for the old fashioned equivalent of a high wanted rating in GTA. Since the game takes place in the wild west, you will have to blow up the occasional sheriff or bandit while trying to get your memory back.
Everything that you find along the way, you can take to the next level. Since the levels are fairly small compared to most modern games, you will really have to play around with your arsenal making it feel partially like a puzzle game at times. The added twist is that other than your knife, you can only have one real weapon with you at a time. So if your plan is to bring dynamite in as your primary weapon, you’d best have a plan to blow everyone up before they know what happened, or you can look forward to bringing a knife to a gun fight after the gunpowder clears.
12 is Better Than 6 has a really unique art style to it; basically the game looks like it was all drawn with a pen. And this might sound a bit lackluster, but it really isn’t. The game flows amazingly well, even with the limitations of a top-down view. While playing this game I felt like I was playing a top down Assassin in the wild west rather than a Bandit. This is a great change of pace from all the twitch reliant bullet-hells saturating the indie market right now. Though being conditioned on said bullethells as I am, it can be frustrating to want to shoot up a saloon with my fancy new gun even though I know certain death awaits. Despite the high risk of utilizing your fire arm, the result typically isn’t even that good though. Every time you fire a bullet, you will have to reload a round into the chamber (authentic 1800s weaponry) and thus you cannot really handle more than one enemy at a time. When things go south, your only bet is to kite the enemy into narrow corridors to force them to come at you in a line instead of letting them surround you. If your timing is spot on, this allows you to shoot through multiple pursuers with a single shot, adding even greater tactics to the already challenging gameplay.
The game is so heavily focused on stealth, that you can actually complete the whole game without having to kill anyone. Currently the game is a six hour long story where you have to fight for your freedom, and on your way you will find multiple characters that have their own view on life. They want something from you and you need them to survive. This will get Juan into some serious situations that you will have to fight yourself out from. And as the saying goes, It is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. From revolvers, to shotguns, to dynamite, to freaking cannons, you will get to play around with a lot of tools to keep each mission fresh. Sometimes I would even die on purpose at the end of levels just because an idea struck my fancy, and I wanted to try to clear it again in a more creative method. I imagine once an achievement system gets implemented, this game’s replayability will go through the roof.
In 12 is Better Than 6 you will meet old and new friends, and every single one of the characters you will meet will have a view on the world, and their view might change depending on what happens around them. They might be your friend, but once you do something that they do not accept, well lets just say that you have Juan less friend. I didn’t get to see this in the demo I was given unfortunately, but they have a lot of promising features coming with the full game, including co-op gameplay should the stretch goal be reached.
Even though the gameplay is really basic, the story, art style, and the incredible amounts of fun I had playing this game really make up for it. You will get to know Juan, the good, the bad and the ugly. As the story develops you realize how the times were back in the wild west in 1873. Right now the game is far from reaching its goal on Kickstarter, but it truly deserves all the support it can get. Even though the demo was only showing a small part of the game, I cannot wait until I get to play the full release because the game was really enjoyable in its own unique style.