Greedy Guns

A game by Tio Atum for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2017.
Greedy Guns is an open world shooter centered around greed… and guns. The game features an evil corporation that sends mercenaries to otherwise peaceful alien worlds to destroy the inhabitants and gather up valuable relics and DNA for their nefarious research purposes, thus allowing them to destroy more alien life and keep their shareholders neck deep in cash. The company wears its nefariousness on its sleeve, cheerfully plundering alien worlds and living off the riches, while making its hired mercs pay for their own weaponry.

Players can select between one of two characters – or play together in local 2P co-op – for some alien-blasting action. Players can aim independently of movement, turning their weapons a full 360 degrees to take on foes from all directions. Players begin with a weak pistol but eventually unlock the ability to purchase a number of armaments of varying strengths and projectile types, including rapid fire machine guns, strong but slow-firing lasers, bouncing bullets, and powerful grenade launchers that overheat quickly and can cause splash damage to friend and foe alike.

Unlike the dark and gritty shooters of the modern era, the world is filled with color and populated by cartoonish enemies, and blasting them reveals a shower of golden coins. Weaker enemies drop a small amount of money, while tougher foes drop larger and more valuable coins. There are also numerous popcorn enemies that fly around in Galaga-esque patterns, filling the screen with death until you spray some hot bullet butter in their direction, but these enemies drop little or no money.

Money makes the world go ‘round, and you’ll need lots of it if you plan to buy any new guns. Throughout the game, you’ll come across weapon distribution drops which allow you to swap out your existing arsenal – you can only carry two guns at a time – or purchase new weapons. Weapons aren’t simply purchasable when you earn enough money; rather, you must find gun tokens spread around the environment, which then makes them available for purchase.

The long list of weapon slots gives the impression that you’ll be encountering new and more useful weapons frequently, but in actuality, only a few gun tokens are found along the primary route, and their impact on gameplay is minimal. When you go from a slow-firing pistol to a faster-firing machine gun or slow-but-powerful laser, you’re still killing the same sorts of enemies in almost the same way. But you need more powerful weapons because most enemies require a lot of hits to take down.

Even when you get a heavy-hitting grenade launcher, you’ll find yourself facing enemies that require four explosive blasts to take down… and the weapon overheats after three shots, leaving you to wait around until it recharges, or switch over to another weapon that does even less damage. This can drive the pace of combat to a crawl.

Aside from a few environmental puzzles involving bouncing grenades, weapons have no effect on your ability to navigate the environment, and you only need the first few weapon upgrades in order to complete the game. Furthermore, enemies don't drop health restoratives, so you’re often better off avoiding combat than risking your life slogging through heavily armored enemies. Enemy placement does prevent complete avoidance, and there are a number of areas where you are locked in a room with spawning enemies until you kill them all.

The game auto-saves upon entering each room, and at a few key points (such as weapon shops), but some rooms are very large and packed with enemies. Working your way from one side of the room to the other can take a long time, and getting killed often requires a great deal of repeated gameplay. There are also insta-death spike traps that can send you back to the start of the room due to a single mistimed jump… which is made all the more likely in levels where enemies swarm in from all directions. Some of the larger rooms feature bulbous plants that offer full health restoration, but these do not act as checkpoints, so players may still need to start the room over when killed, or backtrack to the plant when their health runs low, which adds frustration and slows the game's pace.

Foes consist of the aforementioned flying popcorn variety, stationary and slow-moving blockade creatures, some shielded enemies, and a variety of turrets. However, combat strategy doesn’t change significantly between enemy types or by gaining new weapons, so many combat situations play out very similarly with the player mowing down baddie after baddie while dodging slow-moving projectiles. That said, boss battles offer unique gameplay from one to the next as players aim for weak points, navigate platforms, dodge invulnerable obstacles and bullet hell patterns, and deal with spawning enemies and choreographed waves of flying foes.

Impacting the game's pace is the fact that your character moves slowly, which is further emphasized in areas where the screen zooms out. Additionally, lots of floating platforms can only be reached with a double jump rather than a single jump, and there are many occasions where you must work your way up through a vertical shaft with double jump after double jump. The slow speed isn’t terribly noticeable when fighting through screens full of enemies, but it makes backtracking a chore.

In traditional metroidvania fashion, new abilities are unlocked as you go, allowing you to reach new areas. Here, these upgrades come by way of extracting DNA from defeating certain bosses, eventually unlocking new abilities like a dodge roll, the ability to pull certain objects toward you, and the ability to shout and break crystals. The dodge roll lets you pass through mucky waterfalls and pass safely through enemies without being harmed. The magnetization ability lets you collect orbs (which act as keys) from a distance, and defeat some slow-moving otherwise invincible enemies by standing still and letting the ability charge up for several seconds. The "shout" ability lets you nullify projectiles and push back weak enemies, as well as break crystals that were previously indestructible.

The design of these abilities has little effect on how the player engages the environment, essentially acting in a lock-and-key fashion that allows the player to bypass specific obstacles and nothing else. There’s also a distinct lack of feedback, with sound effects missing from key actions like switching weapons or when your limited-time speedy powerup is about to run out. Even when health orbs drop from plants, the player character doesn’t actually collect them; he just stands there while his health meter refills and the orbs fade away after a while.

Side paths sometimes lead to gun tokens, and these optional weapons are some of the more interesting ones in the game, which means that players sticking to the main path are likely to miss out on some of the more enjoyable weapon types. Side paths can also lead to caches of money or stone tablets. By picking up four stone tablets, the player’s health bar is increased.

As mentioned, the world is very colorful, and the bright and cartoony enemies are animated with a mixture of traditional sprite animation and stretch-and-squish effects. Each of the game’s major zones is themed, with large outdoor areas, ancient ruins, jungles, and caves. The humorless narrative adds almost no context for the player’s actions and exists simply to direct the player from one area to the next, and there’s usually a flashing red arrow on the map pointing to the next objective.

Greedy Guns was developed by Tio Atum, a 3-person team based in Lisbon, Portugal. The studio is made up of programmer Afonso Cordeiro, designer and artist Miguel Rafael, and composer Miguel Cintra. Afonso and Miguel worked together previously, developing casual and mobile titles at Gameinvest and Miniclip. Miguel Cintra previously composed for mobile titles Super Bit Bash and Bloody Epic. The game was funded in part by a successful Kicksterter campaign in 2016.