In the the brutal world of banditos and gunmen, bullets do the talking and money is life’s only reward. Luckily Fuego! uses animals in sombreros, turning wild west shootouts and bank robberies into a stylish puzzle game that can be played alone or competitively. The player with the most gold wins, and you’ll get that loot even if you have to kill for it, which in most cases you do.
From the title screen there are three modes to Fuego!: Puzzle, AI and Online. Puzzle Mode places players in a desert field littered with banks to be looted by shooting them. Each level the player is given Banditos that take the form of bears, wolves, and my favorite which is a turtle and a hare stacked on top of each other. What kind of animal you get isn’t really important so much as how many guns each bandito has, typically ranging from one to four guns. Each gun points in a predetermined direction and it’s up to player to angle their shots to hit their mark and the banditos with the least guns shoot first. And you only get one bullet per gun. Aim well.
Fuego!‘s puzzle mode throws down obstacles in your path such as chickens that block bullets, other banditos out to steal your gold (or have theirs stolen by killing them) and churches that redirect bullet fire. Other banditos such as Tequila the crow are unlocked through this mode, though they are purely cosmetic and don’t have any sort of characteristics that would affect a shootout. Puzzle Mode provides dozens of brain teasing levels to give players a firm understanding of how to strategize a shootout, which will help when versing another player.
Online mode is the place to quickdraw against other players. The mechanics are the same as in puzzle mode, but now you’re fighting others for your gold. Each player gets four randomized banditos, though each player will end up with the same number of guns. These banditos are placed one at a time in alternating turns, each lasting only 10 seconds. 10 seconds sounds like a long time to place a bandito, but when you’re measuring the angle of your shots and shooting order that timer runs out real fast. Once the shooting is over, the player with the most bags of money wins. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anyone to verse online. I tried on three separate occasions at different times but couldn’t find anyone else playing, leaving me to battle the AI. In fairness, the AI is an acceptable opponent, but it doesn’t match the level of strategy a human player can dish out.
Fuego! is a solid game that has few notable faults in its mechanics, but I can’t help but feel Fuego! has a mobile game mindset. I’d compare it to something like Angry Birds, as it’s a game that’s fast paced and simple to play. It’s undeniably fun, but the simplicity of Fuego! might turn out to be a double-edged sword. While the vast majority of players should be able to grasp the basics very quickly, there isn’t really anything beyond the basics in terms of strategy. I can’t help but believe that Fuego! despite being a a colorful game with a strong style might be more at home as a mobile game, something for people to play in quick bursts between lunch breaks or on the toilet. I don’t say this to insult Fuego!, but once puzzle mode’s levels have been exhausted, it becomes difficult to find reasons to play in long spans, which is honestly a shame.
In summation, Fuego! is a fun, easily accessible game with great character designs and style that really nails that Southwestern flair. The core gameplay is easily accessible and fun, and who doesn’t want to play as funny animals robbing banks and shooting each other? It’s like playing in the world of the movie Rango. The unfortunate fact is that the game’s simplistic nature likely won’t keep players around (as evidenced by the desolate online scene) especially with a $9.99 price tag and free-to-play games like Hearthstone to contend with. It’s the lack of players that really the cripples the game, making it seem like half the game is missing and stifling the enjoyment. I recommend Fuego! if only for the puzzle mode and in the hopes that more will be around to play with.
Fuego is an fun game with two simple yet clever modes, but the empty online scene makes the game feel only half there.