Rustler Review. Grand Theft Horse in the crooked mirror

A few months ago, when the debuting studio Jutsu Games published Rustler in early access, the opinions were moderately favorable for Poles. There were no shortage of critical comments about the controls, technical errors, not all of them liked the specific humor in dialogues and tasks. After all, Jutsu Games got down to work quite well and at the end of August presented the full version of its production. Is it worth playing Rustler, which was christened GTA in the Middle Ages? Of course, we are talking about GTA from the DMA Design studio, which started this cult series of games. The times from the last century, when a car thief was observed by us from a bird’s eye view (top-down). We had the opportunity to play Rustler earlier – Konrad’s kickstarter version, and I played the Early Access one. The decision to wait until release was good, Rustler is a game that Early Access has definitely helped.

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Rustler focuses on the story of Guy, one of the progenitors of today’s gangster. He is a boy from a poor village who has to deal with the harsh times of feudal (in) justice and inquisition, and with other qualities of the Middle Ages. Guy and his friend, Buddy, spend their time stealing horses, drinking alcohol and pummeling the heads of the surrounding villages on an occasional basis. Suddenly, they have an opportunity to become famous – participation in the so-called Great Tournament. Before that, however, Guy will have to complete a series of fancy tasks and accumulate a lot of money to get there.

Rustler, as you can see, in the very intention, focuses on resembling GTA even in the smallest details. However, the Polish project is distinguished by its specific humor and many references to pop culture. There is room here for some great gags, some nice gags, and some just plain dumb. The level of humor in Rustler can be defined on the basis that each of the programmers who dab at Rustler wants to add something from himself, so not all gags will be funny for everyone. There are several references to the legendary Monty Python (screen below), there is a great mission with the accompaniment of the Queen band, but also the possibility of farting and belching was implemented in the game. I like the flavors of the guards who chase us on horses the most – they are wearing blue and red lights then. Absurd but simple and funny gag. Rustler is an open-world game. The way the game is played is also dot to dot like the one known from GTA. So we have the main storyline and many side quests, during which we will perform missions for a gravedigger, priest, rapper (don’t ask where he came from) or the Spanish inquisition. It is not a large area, but there is a place for several villages, two towns, where MMA fights and horse races take place.A small thing, but happy and also brings us back memories of the Rockstar series. How was the radio added to the game? Guy has to go to the bard and hit him, then the bard follows us and plays his instrument. Phenomenal, and some of the bards can even beatbox!

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Still, a little more in-game activity is missing. It’s 8-10 hours production, not bad for a turkey, but it just starts to be boring in the second half of the game. The game is certainly not helped by poor horse steering. When you have a very fast horse, it is difficult to maneuver. It often happens that we land on the first obstacle or, worse, run over someone and are chased by the police. This makes it difficult to complete the missions, and there are no checkpoints during them. It happens that the mission is stretched for several minutes, during which we travel the length and width of the map. Fortunately, the police can be lost – if we manage to escape, but we can also use the dye of our car, come back, the horse or tear the posters with our image hanging all over the map.

I also have a problem with the audiovisual setting, because while bards or sounds are great to listen to, the characters’ blabbering, instead of normal dialogues, is simply weak. The graphics are mediocre as well, Rustler doesn’t have much of this year’s top-down approach, I’m not just talking about some The Ascent, but in general.

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Rustler is an example of an interesting game, which on the one hand has an idea, and on the other – you can see the excess of form (this idea) over content. An interesting attempt to create a GTA in the Middle Ages, which, however, does not take off to the cult DMA Design games. Humor, sometimes better, sometimes worse, will not replace content or good control. Jutsu Games had a lot of ideas, many of them turned out to be successful, but there is still something missing here.

This may be a candidate for the Game Pass in the future. All in all, if the Polish studio had a little more resources, it would be able to squeeze something more out of Rustler. What we got is not the worst, but maybe wait until the first promotions with the purchase, check the demo – buying blind you can be disappointed. Below I leave you with the opinion of Tomek, who also approached Rustler twice.

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Some time ago I had the opportunity to play Rustler in Steam Early Access. At that time, the title definitely did not knock me to my knees and I walked away discouraged to continue playing. Poor steering, boredom and poor audiovisual setting are the bars that I was not able to overcome. After about half a year, not much has changed and the game remains a joke about GTA in the Middle Ages rather than a full-fledged title. The biggest problems could not be corrected.Unfortunately, the skeleton itself is definitely not enough to guarantee someone a good time. Well, unless we’re talking about necrophiles.

Tomek Piotrowski.