About ten years ago, a free game came out on the Adult Swim game website. You could choose one of several characters as they barrel through numerous obstacles, with the object of surviving just a deluge of things that could kill you. It was fun. Guts & Glory has taken that, made it 3D, and set it in a game show. Sound good? Horrific? Entertaining? Well it IS that.
You are one of a variety of characters (Man and child on bike, man in cart, man in car) who has made it on a game show. The objective? Make it from checkpoint to checkpoint, swerving and dodging all the buzzsaws, blades and numerous other things that would literally tear you apart. It's simple, and honestly, you won't even know it has a game show aesthetic. It's really survive – it doesn't matter if you don't have all your limbs – just don't fall off and don't die in the course. Simple and sweet.
The controls can leave something to be desired. Turning the bike had a delay, and many times, wouldn't even turn, no matter how hard I hit the arrows. It might be better on a controller, but on a laptop keyboard turning was frustrating. Granted, it actually helped a few times – I turned so hard on some courses that I missed blades or another trap by leaning so low on one side of the bike. Other buttons, like boosting, didn't work. Plus, it threw so much at you in different levels that it became a challenge to keep track of all the controls. Again, on a controller, it be better, but I was expecting the smoothness of GTA or another camera following series, and it wasn't quite there.
Graphics were bare, but it's also the point. You don't want to see their faces, and trees and grass and things don't need to be realistic. The focus is on getting to all the checkpoints (or just careening in for creative ways to die), and it gave detailed bleedings and maimings and arrows getting fired. It's not supposed to be realistic, but it's not supposed to be a cartoon either. It's supposed to be a challenging hurty game, and the more minimal graphics are perfect for it.
I probably went into this a bit with controls, but gameplay suffered a bit. The courses are genuinely challenging, and it gets harder (as well as bloodier) as the game goes on, so it was fine there. But the delayed controls, and the sheer variety, affected gameplay. I'm usually a patient gamer to figure everything out, and yes, I did learn how to time things and use the course to my advantage many times, but when you're trying to play and a slight bump on one thing causes you to fall off while a full speed crash into another has you stay on, it's hard to tell what the rules are in the game. It's fun, but you'll need time to get used to it all.
The sounds and music are what you would expect. You get little looping themes for each course. If you take too long the theme will cut out and you bike in silence, and both with and without music has their charm. The music is pretty fun though, as it really makes you want to bike. And sound is good too – it's minimalist, basically what's going on around you, but's very accurate. The biking chains sound just like the real thing, including gear changes, and for the game it's pretty cool to hear.
I don't know if there are bugs in the game per say. I had some frame rate issues. Even with a smaller screen I had some frame problems, especially when turning. I'd start turning and find myself whipped around 180 degrees. I learned to gently nudge it to turn slightly, but even it can be a hassle. Other than that, the only other problem here was some of the environment. I said it earlier, but objects you crash into head on you stay up, but some you nudge you fall off. It's a bit all over the place, but to be fair, it gets you good fast because it's an added incentive not to hit anything to complete the course.
Guts & Glory has a sick but fun premise, cool sounds, appropriate graphics and can be a challenging game as well as plain fun to just mess about. But it's limited by the problems it has slowing down, turning and moving about. If that was bumped up, I'd have no problem ranking this higher. However, it's still a fun game, and if you like a mindless game that still offers a challenge, this can fill that need quite well.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
A copy of this game software was provided for the purpose of review.