Fire up the most gratuitous, violent turn-based strategy game on the block in our Showgunners review!
When I fire up a video game, I usually just want to turn my brain off after a monotonous day at work. This usually entails an FPS where I shoot, reload, repeat, or a story-heavy game I can immerse myself in. As such, I tend to avoid strategy titles as I fear I won’t be savvy enough to surmise their high level of difficulty and tons of nuanced systems. But when I saw Showgunners, I had a feeling this bloody, gritty title would be as natural an entry point as I could get.
Almost every kill in Showgunners includes slo-mo, dismemberment, and a cheesy comment from the announcer.
The premise of Showgunners sees you compete in a fight-to-the-death TV game show called Homicidal All-Stars. You’ll take turns fighting waves of enemies as you control where you move, when to shoot, when to reload, throw grenades, etc. It’s a title where absolute newcomers like me can get a handle of it, whereas seasoned strategy vets can jump in on the toughest difficulty and be properly challenged. With some twists on the genre, let’s see how Showgunners fares in comparison to its counterparts!
Showgunners Review – Gameplay
Turn-based strategy games have a considerable learning curve, but Showgunners manages to ease you into the mayhem with a strong tutorial. I was able to understand where to move and weighing risk vs. reward in being aggressive as opposed to sitting back and using overwatch.
Playing on the easiest difficulty means enemies will almost always miss and your chance of death is near zero; making the switch to Easy was still a walk in the park, so those that have experience in this genre will likely have to find their sweet spot in Normal.
At any point in Showgunners, you can upgrade along your path accordingly, unlocking new abilities that can be absolute gamechangers.
When you’re not in battle, you’ll traverse the map in Showgunners. There are a massive amount of traps and tough situations you’ll have to maneuver, proving to be just as dangerous as any fight you’re up against. It’s interesting how this navigation feels like it uses a different side of your puzzle-solving skills, but it felt rewarding finding extra loot boxes to help with the next combat scenario and it was smart to keep me on my toes when not directly killing something.
Get an edge in Showrunners with sponsorships, earned by signing autographs to highly-sociopathic, bloodthirsty fans in between brawls.
Showgunners sees you go through eight nights of live TV for Homicidal All-Stars. While eight levels sounds paltry, these can take upwards of an hour to clear – and that’s if you’re not failing. The variety between nights was enough to keep me going, as the difficulty progressed well in-line with my upgraded team.
Between baddies spawning behind me, tougher ones taking priority, and feeling like everything I learned was actually getting used, this made for a breeze of a playthrough and a campaign I felt rewarded in winning.
Showgunners Review – Story
In a hyperviolence world, the story was never going to take precedence in Showgunners. As with most action movies, it’s there to be there – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it detracts from the experience. Playing as Scarlett Martillo, you’ll get glimpses and vague background between nights with a predictable outcome from the start.
Expect some world-immersion outside of fights in Showgunners, as the bottom line is your body count.
I found the banter between teammates and autograph signings to be pretty funny, but the announcer got to be a bit too much; thankfully, there’s a slider for their frequency in the options menu.
Showgunners PC Review – Visuals
Having an intuitive user interface in a turn-based strategy game is a must. Thanks to its streamlined systems, Showgunners never once gave me trouble moving across the battlefield or making a move I didn’t intend to.
Developer Artificer really thought of everything; it’ll show you spots that are covered by enemy overwatch, let you know if you’re out of ammo at the end of your turn, etc. There’s no fuss in fighting your enemies in this game, which is a godsend on higher difficulties where every single tile counts.
Even for those intimidated by a busy screen, Showgunners displays all the information you’ll need in a way that’s easy to comprehend.
As far as its graphics go, Showgunners doesn’t need to have the sharpest pixels on Earth; it manages to nail its aesthetic instead. Across filthy, battle-torn streets and gore all over, you’ll know this universe speaks one language: violence.
You’ll get a lot of close-ups whenever you get a killshot as there’s ample slo-mo; I particularly liked how the camera locks onto bodies, as well as the touch of your character closing an eye and wincing their face while taking aim. Only needing modest hardware, it was easy to get high frames and enjoy my time with the game.
Showgunners Review – Steam Deck Performance
I started my Showgunners playthrough out on the Steam Deck; while Valve aims to make every game playable on their hardware, I couldn’t know going into this one if it would be “Verified”, “Playable”, or “Not playable”.
If you stream Showgunners to your Twitch audience, they can make your life Hell by sabotaging your playthrough – much to their own enjoyment!
While it makes the Deck sweat, I’m happy to report that Showgunners sits somewhere between playable and verified, and toggling some video settings helped the game even further. Using a controller scheme wasn’t too far a step down from a mouse, either; just be wary of its high battery usage as you’ll probably only make it through 1-2 nights on a charge.
I dove with both feet into the turn-based strategy genre with Showgunners and came out pleasantly surprised. This is a mechanically-sound, polished experience with a strong blend of challenge and gratification. It also never managed to be stale, as it introduced new enemies and upgrades at a steady rate.
This might be the best way to get into what is a bit of a niche genre, and one I certainly was sceptical of before I launched the game for the first time. Showgunners is well worth it for anyone enticed by its demo/trailers.
So, why should you play Showgunners?
- Bloody good fun with a manageable challenge across its multiple difficulties.
- A fantastic UI that will never get in the way of you achieving victory.
- Comprehensive upgrades and something new around every corner will keep your interest.
But why shouldn’t you play Showgunners?
- You have no interest in taking turns with your combat.
- If you have a weak stomach – you can toggle the gore, but that defeats the point.
A review code was kindly provided courtesy of Good Shepherd Entertainment for the purpose of our Showgunners review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out more of our strategy reviews and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about the latest releases!