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A futuristic western fable, July 15, 2008
Mute Lawton, the tongueless sharpshootin' hero of "Gun Mute" ploughs through his post-apocalyptic hometown with the ruthless persistence of the Man With No Name. Mute is driven by the love of one man, Elias, doomed to hang at noon, and no pistol-packing, shotgun-toting, laser-eyed, mutant posse members will stop him.
"Gun Mute" offers a fantastic little glimpse at a grimly strange future world. The characters that Mute must defeat are all stereotypes from western and sci-fi pulps, but the twisted character types make for interesting targets/allies. All the enemies have names prefaced by adjectives, my favorite being Glow-in-the-Dark Earl.
None of the puzzles are too difficult, although there are a number of learn-by-dying puzzles. Some puzzles require extremely tight timing. (Spoiler - click to show)I can't imagine anyone getting past Atomic Alice without being crushed at least once. I never found this frustrating, however. Even the best gunman gets outshot sometimes. Given the situation, this serves as an effective tension builder, not as a pointless irritant. The game mechanics in general create a feeling of urgency and a need to continue on. "Gun Mute" uses only "forward" and "backward" instead of the usual compass directions. I found this inspired a powerful urge to go onward, ever onward, even when I realized that I had forgotten to do something in a previous level. Although the game itself is not timed, I could still practically feel that clock ticking towards noon.
There are one or two minor changes that, in a perfect world, I would like to see in "Gun Mute". A counter of how much ammo I had left at the top of the screen would have been quite handy (Spoiler - click to show)and would have spared Mute a couple of needless deaths. My other quibble involves the plot. Although I have no doubt that Elias is innocent and Mute's mission just, I cannot help but wonder what Elias's alleged crime is. So far as I can tell, no explanation is given for his death sentence. However, these are minor points in an otherwise wonderful and original game.