Let me get this out of the way. Paint the Town Red is a fun game. It’s not a masterpiece. It’s not even a particularly well designed video game. But damn it all, I’ve been enjoying myself with this game. I’ve been enjoying every time a blocky character model’s arm is blasted off by a thrown ceramic plate, every time I kicked a poor mook down a flight of stairs and his buddies all toppled behind him, and every single poorly hidden secret I found. The game might be schlock, but man is it some fun schlock.
Paint the Town Red is a first person brawler in Early Access that’s all about killing people. At the start of every mission you are placed into a level, where you have time to explore and plan your eventual massacre. While this could be interesting, simply going into certain areas is enough to trigger the entire map into a frenzy. Still, it’s nice of the game to give you a quick breather and let you grab a weapon before all hell breaks loose.
And that’s the game. Kill everybody in the map and then head to the blue cone that marks the end of the level. There are only three ‘real’ levels in the game so far (The fourth being a sandbox to toy with mechanics), and the first two don’t have much going for them. However, the third level is really a whole different beast. Set in a prison, this mission allows the setup phase to actually mean something, as you can help prisoners out, getting them to ally with you to take down the prison guards and make clearing the level that much easier. It’d be nice to see other missions get this level of depth in the future.
As of a few days before the time of writing, level modifiers were added to Paint the Town Red. They’re rather simplistic at the moment, with choices like randomizing weapons, making everything a one hit kill, and making you rely on fisticuffs. They’re alright, but it’s overwhelmingly clear that the game has been designed with various deliberate weapon placements in mind. The main flaw with the game comes from these weapon placements, or rather how you pick them up. You simply press ‘E’ to pick up a weapon, but you really need to be precise when doing so. Making sure that your cursor is hovered right over the sweet spot where the game will actually recognize it takes time, time you don’t have to spare when a conga line of armed baddies are on your tail.
Paint the Town Red‘s Minecraft-esque blocky character models put me off at first, considering how lazy it seemed, but the minute I attacked an enemy I understood. This game has some insane gore. Gore that would be a nightmare with different skeletons. See, when you hit an enemy really hard in Paint the Town Red, a lot more changes about their appearance than just adding a blood splatter. Layers of skin and muscle fly off, revealing skeletal structures and crushed organs. Indeed, Paint the Town Red revels in its ludicrous amounts of violence as limbs burst into meaty chunks, leaving bleeding fountains at their stumps. All of this nonsense goes a long way towards selling the mood the game is going for.
Still, not everything in the game is aesthetically pleasing as the gore. The weapons sure look varied, but they all have the exact same animations besides a few exceptions. Expect to see the same animations for jabs and slices while wielding everything from shanks made out of toothbrushes to katanas and everything in between. Despite the sloppy animations, I am pleased by the variety on display when it comes to the weapons of Paint the Town Red. Sure, there are staples of action like baseball bats, machetes, and tire irons, but being able to make heads explode by hitting them hard enough with pimp canes and cafeteria trays are where the real fun begins.
Once you’ve racked up enough kills, the game lets you use one of three tiered special moves. I found the only useful ones to be the first and third tiers, as the second tier just makes your punches gib enemies. This would be useful if you didn’t have to target more than one foe at a time. The first super is a simple knockdown that doesn’t damage enemies, but it gives you enough time to get your wits together, and the third lets you use a finger gun of doom to make anyone you point at explode into meaty chunks. It’s as entertaining as it sounds, although it’s hard to find a practical use in most situations.
When you get down to it, playing Paint the Town Red is kind of like watching a forgotten 80s action movie or a direct to VHS slasher. It’s not going to win any awards, or going to be seen on any ‘Best Games’ list when December rolls around. But still, there’s something charming about this game that has made it my go-to time waster this past week. If you want to see voxels of blood coat bathroom stalls or slice the blocky legs out from under a biker, Paint the Town Red isn’t a bad choice at all.
Paint the Town Red was purchased in Early Access by the author and previewed using EA Version 3.