The concept of medieval GTA is solid, but sticking to old-school '90s top-down mechanics make Rustler a massive chore to play.

Rustler Alpha Impressions: Stealin’ Horses, Runnin’ Into Trees

The concept of medieval GTA is solid, but sticking to old-school '90s top-down mechanics make Rustler a massive chore to play.
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If you loved the medieval-meets-classic-rock mashup of A Knight’s Tale, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Rustler. It’s a similar concept, except its ye olden days colliding with the rap-infused verve of Grand Theft Auto.

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In Rustler, you get to live your medieval thug life to the fullest. You even get a hip-hop bard as your personal radio station and police-light flashing guards on horses chasing you down.

Essentially, Rustler aims to be the perfect combination of Kingdom Come Deliverance and Bully, all wrapped in old-school GTA style. It’s a hilariously awesome concept that also happens to have one of the worst control schemes in gaming history. 

Rustler Alpha Impressions: Stealin’ Horses, Runnin’ Into Trees

       Seems like we had a good night

When I say “old-school GTA,” I don’t mean Trevor’s meth-fueled shenanigans, Niko’s tale of revenge, or Claude’s Liberty-City rampages. I’m talking about the days when Grand Theft Auto was a 2D, top-down action game along the lines of Carmageddon.

The main guy (whose name is literally Guy) likes to get in trouble, but like most good criminals, he doesn’t like to suffer the consequences of his actions. That’s a terrible combo in a person, but a fantastic setup for a video game protagonist.

After a night of drunken debauchery, our erstwhile “hero” awakens to discover he’s tagged a cow with the word “horse” and then somehow put said cow on a farmer’s roof. We’ll put aside all questions of where they got the spray paint or the crane…

After that opening, it’s time to jump into an open-world where you steal horses, kill knights for gold, and try to outrun the law. The GTA references run strong throughout, like repainting your stolen cart at the local Pimp My Horse shop, only this time around Guy is using a crossbow instead of a gun.

Old-School isn’t Always Better

     OK, maybe things got a *little* out of hand…

If that sounds like a great time, well, it is. Except the nostalgia wears off once you get into the actual meat and potatoes of Rustler’s gameplay.

There’s a reason the Resident Evil 2 remake ditched the “classic” PS1 camera and controls, and why GTA 5 plays nothing like the first two titles in the series.

To make a long story short, you will want to buy a wireless controller for your PC if you plan on playing Rustler for any length of time. In its current state, Rustler is woefully unplayable with a WASD control scheme.

The horse turns sluggishly, and “forward” is whatever direction the horse’s head is facing, not whatever direction the mouse reticle is facing. The controls are bizarrely the total opposite when on foot, which makes it a massive pain to ride around on a horse.

Because of this insane reversal of movement, pressing “A” might turn your horse left, or it might turn right, depending on the direction you are facing and the current angle of the camera.

Exacerbating things, it’s very difficult to see how close you are to the edges of obstacles. Combine the two and the end result is that you will constantly get stuck on trees (or anything else) during horse chases. The top-down camera and sluggish movement means you only see the leaves of a tree, not the actual trunk.

This problem persists in towns as well as the wilderness. Trying to leave a city on horseback via the southern gate? Well, that’s going to be fun. The camera angle will ensure you can’t ever actually see where the gate is supposed to be.

Get ready to fall off and stare at the ass end of your horse — a lot.

Rustler Alpha Impressions  The Bottom Line 

        Nailed it!

Rustler is still in alpha and has a few months of development left, so hopefully, these problems can be overcome.

As it stands, though, Rustler is really only for die-hard fans of the first two GTA games. Even if you love the concept here — and I do the current state of the game’s mechanics is just a mess. Rustler needs a lot more time to iron out the kinks and smooth the interface before it will actually be fun to play.

It’s a shame, too, because there are some hilarious shenanigans on display here from launching cows in a trebuchet to a horde of pop culture references that will elicit guffaws.

You can toss a coin to your rustler at the Kickstarter here. The development crew is seeking $18,877 and currently plans to wrap up production in Q4 2020 if the goal is met. 

We’ll certainly be keeping this on our radar, so be sure to check back for more Rustler news as it gallops in. 

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Ty Arthur
Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.