Indiewatch: Gunman Taco Truck - Become a Post Apocalyptic Taco Master
Welcome to Indiewatch, a series where every Friday we take a look at a good yet unknown, unappreciated and overlooked indie title. It is time to give some appreciation, attention, and love to those games that deserve it but never got it. In order for a game to be covered on Indiewatch, it must fit into the following criteria:
- It must be an indie game
- It was not covered or given minimal coverage by mainstream video game websites and YouTubers (Destructoid, Polygon, IGN, Totalbiscuit etc.)
- It must be good! Nothing below 7 out of 10 will be covered.
This week we are taking a look at the post-apocalyptic roguelike action game, Gunman Taco Truck. It is developed by Romero Games and is the concept of the Romero's 12-year old son, Donovan. After Donovan pitched the game to his parents John Romero (DOOM) and Brenda Brathwaite Romero (Wizardry) at age 9, the family worked together to turn it from an idea into a game.
It released on Steam January 28th, 2017 and later on Android and iOS mobile devices.
A journey from Mexico to Canada
One day a scientist accidentally puts his cup of coffee down on a nuclear launch button, almost destroying the entirety of the American population. All that remains are a handful of survivors in the once great cities who struggle to survive.
The lands are full of mutants from insects turned into gigantic versions of themselves, to hulk-like human beings and horrifying animal combinations.You take on the role of a Mexican Taco Truck owner who is attempting to make his way through post-apocalyptic America to reach Winnipeg Canada.
With there being no taco trucks in Canada, your family business will thrive. You must journey the American wastes feeding the survivors your delicious tacos with mutant meat fillings, eventually reaching Winnipeg where you can introduce the Canadian population to real tacos.
And that is pretty much the plot for Gunman Taco Truck. Never the less it does exactly as it is intended to. It creates the world that the game revolves around. That being the post-apocalyptic United States and you are a taco truck owner attempting to make his way to Canada.
For what plot there is, it has a whole bunch of charm and humour to it but it is the gameplay that is the focus of this game and it is there where it shines.
Why let fresh mutant meat go to waste?
As you make your way from city to city throughout your quest to reach Canada you will need to kill any mutants you come across along the way with your mounted gun. Each type mutant you kill drops meat that is exclusive them. You then use the meat to serve your customers their desired delicious mutant-filled meals.
While on the road you will also gain scrap from destroying signs, rubbish bins and explosive barrels that are used to upgrade your truck and buy new ones. You will also come across raiders too who occasionally drop extra cash upon death. Cash is used to buy more fillings for your recipes such as cheese, salsa sauce and mould. Yes, I said mould!
Overall having such a design works really well. You will need to travel between the cities often to keep up your meat stocks or feel the angry ranting of a pissed off customer you just denied. As you travel further into the American wastes, you will begin to come across tougher and more dangerous mutants, each with new meat.
This unlocks a selection of new recipes that you will then have to serve your customers. From Undead tacos to ant tacos to roadside cow tacos, there are so many different and creative recipes for customers to choose from. The humour mixed in with the addictive and fun gameplay, really make for an enjoyable experience.
Survivors can't live forever but they are bottomless pits
To keep you on your toes and ever moving along, each time you revisit a city you will have one less survivor to serve tacos to. That might not sound like such a problem but here is the thing. Without customers, you can't obtain money, without money you can't buy more ingredients or fuel.
If you don't have the ingredients for tacos, the survivor will leave the town in anger never to return. If you don't have money to refuel, you will run out on the way to your next destination, leaving you vulnerable to being attacked until the fuel truck arrives. So yes, having no customers can cause of the whole bunch of problems.
Due to the procedural nature of the game, the shops at each city also change each playthrough, so you cannot plan what each shop has in each game. Very often you will come across places that might not have one particular topping several times in a row.
This may result in you having to return to an area you previous visited that has no survivors left. Leaving you with a save the cash or get the toppings dilemma. While the cash problem can be resolved to a point due to customers being bottomless food and money pits eating as much as you serve them, they will quickly eat away your stockpile of ingredients.
If you advance to the more difficult areas too quick, you will find yourself unprepared often leading to a quick journey's end. It is a much-needed mechanic for this sort of game and it works really well. It stops you from rushing through the game while also denying you having a prolonged comfort zone. Sooner or later, you are going to have to move on whether you are prepared or not and it can lead to some intense moments.
From a standard taco truck to a taco selling armoured tank
As you journey into the more difficult areas, more powerful upgrades will become available to you at garages in varying cities. Here is where you will use your collected scrap on buying these upgrades and repairing any damage your truck has sustained.
Upgrades include metal plating for extra armour, a vacuum for the back of your truck to suck up all the meat, scrap and cash on the road without having to click on it. A flamethrower to roast your enemies, metal wheels and even a giant hammer attached to the front of your truck.
Then there are the new trucks. While you start off with a relatively standard truck, you can trade your scrap for bigger and better ones, with more powerful mounted weapons. From the standard truck with a machine gun to a western truck with a tommy gun to the armoured truck with a bazooka. There are quite a few different trucks that you gain throughout the game.
The upgrades are all quite creative and fun additions to your truck. Having a military missile launcher on the top of your truck that destroys everything in your path is always satisfying to use. The trucks are all quite different from each other in design and give you a temporary sense of power upon acquiring a new one. All in all, there is nothing but good fun to have with the upgrades.
Difficulties that cater for all players
There are three difficulties to choose from in Gunman Taco Truck, that being Easy, Normal and Hard. The difficulties affect a number of the mechanics of the game. For example, the higher the difficulty the tougher the enemies are along with ingredients becoming a lot more rare to find.
Along with that, the price of ingredients is increased with higher skill levels too, resulting in ever more challenges being presented to you. For the more casual of players, the easiest difficulty would be best suited, while for the more experienced of gamers, Normal is the best. As for Hard, that would be for those looking for a real challenge and who have mastered how the game works.
While Gunman Taco Truck isn't the easiest of games even on the lowest skill level, it still remains fair and once you have gotten the hang of it, Easy is quite a breeze to get through. It is a game that really does cater for all forms of players.
It's all good so far, is there anything wrong with the game?
Unfortunately, yes. There are a number of issues currently plaguing the game that ultimately stop it from being a 10 out of 10 title as oppose to the 8 out of 10 I am giving it. Firstly while switching between different screens, occasionally the screen will remain entirely black. This forces you to press alt and tab to go back to your desktop and having to close the game entirely.
While it takes only a matter of seconds to load back up the game, it is still a minor frustration having to do this from time to time. The second is the controls responsiveness on the map screen and when serving tacos. At times when attempting to click on your next destination on the map, when you click it simply does not respond. It can take quite a few clicks before it will register and activate.
When serving tacos it can be hard to click and drag the ingredients sometimes, especially if you make a mistake and are attempting to put ingredients back into their container. Thirdly are the achievements, they are not unlocking at all.
While they are but minor annoyances that don't hinder you from experiencing the game, they are simple issues that should be fixed by now, especially since the game released almost two months ago. Aside from those issues, however, it really is a stellar game.
A game created with heart as opposed to dollar signs
Gunman Taco Truck is clearly a title that has been made with nothing but pure and utter love as opposed to many games these days which are made for no other reason that cold hard money. It is creative, imaginative and most of all a hell of a lot of fun.
It is a tough game, to begin with, but once you understand how everything works and start to master it, you really become addicted to it. It isn't perfect and does has a few issues but other than that it is a great game that anyone who loves roguelikes or looking for something different, should definitely try out.
If there is anything I have left to say about Gunman Taco Truck it would be that it shows us that some of the best and most original games come from the heart, not the dollar signs. If a 9-year-old can create such an interesting and unique concept, then it is about time many other developers started doing the same thing. A little bit of imagination can go a hell of a long way.
Gunman Taco Truck is available on Steam for $11.99. It is also available on Android and iOS on their respective stores for free with optional in-app purchases.