When I first heard about Gunman Taco Truck, I immediately wanted to try it. Much of the pre-release media from Romero Games focused on the fact that the game was designed by nine-year-old Donovan Brathwaite-Romero, and on cursory examination, it shows. The game is full of bombast and silliness, and I figured it would be a silly, not-too-challenging distraction that would give me a few laughs. It was designed by a kid, right? It’s got to be targeted towards that same age group.
The aesthetics of the game are bright and campy, and the core mechanics are quite a bit of fun. There are two phases to the game. as you travel from location to location around the United States on your quest to make it to Winnipeg. In the first phase, you park your truck in whichever city you are visiting and the remaining living citizens line up to buy tacos from you. Each city has a gas pump that will fill your truck’s tank with gas, as well as either a store that will sell you various taco ingredients or a garage that will allow you to upgrade your truck. Your customers will tell you which taco they’d like, and you have to assemble it correctly in order to please them and get some cash. If you take too long, or you don’t get the order right, your customers will leave. You can continue to sell tacos to the remaining customers as long as you have ingredients, and as long as you keep getting orders right.
The second phase, once you’ve chosen your next destination, is the travel phase, in which you and your truck have to brave the terrors of the road, shooting and killing the various mutants and monsters that you meet. As you shoot, splat and smash the mutants to death, they drop key ingredients that you use as the meat in your tacos. There are also various metal objects (road signs and garbage cans) that can be destroyed in order to collect Scrap, which is the currency needed to upgrade your truck. As you travel further and further from the starting city of San Diego, the mutants get more numerous and harder to kill, but they also allow you to make more valuable tacos.
My first ten or so plays of Gunman Taco Truck ended in abject failure. I got absolutely stomped. I was expecting a colorful, cheeky explosion-fest that wouldn’t provide much challenge, and I got smashed. Even though the concepts of the game are easy to grasp and the gameplay is simplistic, I was fully unprepared for the game to actually expect me to plan and be at least semi-competent. You can’t just travel from place to place without considering how far away the next city is, whether there is a garage or a store there, and how many ingredients you have left for your tacos.
As you travel, gas prices climb, and it becomes more and more expensive to keep mobile. On top of that, the customers don’t care whether you have an ingredient in stock, they only care about the taco they want. At first, I thought that this was a bug, and I failed multiple runs because I didn’t bother to plan ahead and have ingredients available. As I continued to play I began to understand that planning is key in Gunman Taco Truck. You need to make sure that you have as many ingredients as possible at all times, and you need to get your hands on as much Scrap as you can.
Once you leave a city, all of the residents, barring the ones that run the shops, die. You can no longer sell tacos there, but it can be a smart move to travel back and forth a few times in order to stock up on ingredients and gather more Scrap. Not every store sells every ingredient, and it can be a bit frustrating when you can’t find key ingredients you need to make tacos. Also, if you don’t upgrade your truck at the right times combat can become incredibly difficult. Even when you plan, and take things slowly it can still be incredibly challenging to reach the end of the game. There are a few mini bosses that you’ll run into along the way and a very difficult final fight that you have to prepare for.
Rather than a silly kids’ game, Gunman Taco Truck is a competent action roguelike with some strategy and planning elements thrown in for good measure. Instead of a simple distraction, there is a robust game here that is going to provide quite a challenge, and you’ll see a significant amount of gameplay before you reach the end. There are also decals to collect along the way, and there are various routes that you can take across the country, so expect to spend quite a bit of time with the game if you want to see everything. It can be a bit tedious to have to replay the early parts of the game over and over as you start from scratch each time, but as you progress it feels good to get a bit further. All in all, Gunman Taco Truck is quite fun, and it surprised me with just how much game hides just behind the vibrant, silly surface.
Gunman Taco Truck was reviewed on PC via Steam with a copy provided by Romero Games.More About This Game
Gunman Taco Truck has been a pleasant surprise. It is a very good action roguelike that dishes up a heaping helping of difficulty with a smear of silly humor and a sprinkle of strategy and rolls it all up in a post-apocalyptic tortilla. Even though the game was designed by a 9-year-old, this isn't a simple kids' game, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it takes planning, reflexes and a bit of luck to successfully make it to Winnipeg.
- Great Sense of Humor
- Requires Planning and Strategy
- Hidden Depth
- Tedious Early Game
- Bad Luck Can Ruin An Entire Run