Showdown Bandit is a point n' click survival horror video game developed by the former theMeatly Games studio Kindly Beast and published via Steam on September 17, 2019 for PC. Following Chapter 1's release was the announcement of the free DLC Showdown Bandit: Death in the Wild. With the team focusing more on Bendy and the Dark Revival, both Death in the Wild and Showdown Bandit as a whole were cancelled.
Showdown Bandit pulls your strings into the Showdown Valley, a Western-like cursed puppet stage play where you as the eponymous Bandit have one milestone: Go On With The Show. Other puppets like The Banker, Doc Carver and Lorelei Undertaker aid the Bandit in certain segments of the game helping with progression, health points and advice to survive in the dangerous outskirts of the Valley and its Stringless puppets.
Why It Sucks
- Showdown Bandit and its deficient controls compliment each other's mediocrity flawlessly. The sluggish pace of the puppet's movement is by far one of the most insufferable design choices a point-and-click game could've ever brought up; there is no speed configuration at all, and since the player moves at an unimaginably slow pace for the entire duration of the game, this experience comes off as a tedious hindrance.
- Granted, Showdown Bandit is mostly just a walking simulator that believes presenting a visual marvel is redeeming enough to make up for its lack of real gameplay and horror
- Showdown Valley must be one of the most messy, needlessly long and unappealing maps with the most awful architecture in any videogame ever. You are constantly being pushed forwards and backwards from room to room to fulfill your missions, and on and on you'll be dying and going back to the horribly placed checkpoints as you glimpse at the hazards and enemies excitedly waiting to repeat the painful cycle once again. As you are not allowed to bring a map nor keep track of the places you've been before, you rely solely on memory and the interconnected shortcuts, something that eventually becomes more unfavorable considering most rooms look the same.
- An infamous example of how the Valley's design fails is the longest segment, the Mine; divided by two parts, the first portion involves a giant stringless beast and the fastest enemy. There isn't much to say about it, the first chase can be completed by walking straight from entrance to exit. No sound teasing, no hiding spots, just walking slowly from A to B. The second phase presents a slower beast, this time taking place in a poorly crafted corridor that once again is completed with the same method, despite it allowing you to sit at some God-spots where the beast, for unknown reasons, won't kill you, yet it will appear in the room from the opposite start zone.
- After completing the Happy Mine section, we get to advance further. The latter is a six-digit code that references a room with six doors and the order in which they must be opened. Even after doing the door puzzle correctly, the door room still occupies part of the map, possibly as an excuse to take more time to reach...
- The second half of the Mine, Mine Madness; a minecart sequence that changes the gameplay to a third-person shooter where we shoot targets with a "Sparkblaster" as the minecart advances. The quest itself is easy with every letter, given only eight targets must be hit to proceed. However, the controls ruin the experience again, with a sensitivity that's unbearable in likely all settings (and only permits to test changes while doing the minigame), a Bandit that covers half the screen (with no opacity configuration whatsoever), graphics, lighting and shadows that only worsen the vision and the unacceptable Checkpoint placements that only aggravate WIS #1's absolute statement. And just to decimate the scarce —better described as nonexistent— fun from the minigame, the Faceless Bandit can appear in the room before the Mine at any time and outfight Bandit.
- There's also an enemy in the same room who should teach you how to use the Bear Traps item (unlocked in the room before the minigame, for some reason), yet does a better job at blocking you off with its spawn point and movement patterns made in ways so that it takes a few more seconds to get to the minigame
- One of the game's achievements in particular, 'Bandit Deadeye' requires shooting at all the objectives from the four stages of the mine with these dreadful controls, but practising over and over in the minigame room requires beating the game to unlock the minigame's endless mode, otherwise the minigame will be blocked. Another option is succumbing to the checkpoint load
- Even after completing the chapter, Endless Mine Madness still requires you to go and pick up the Sparkblaster from the TNT case and walk all the way to the minecart for another attempt
- 4th stage adds some difficulty at the cost of your patience, as you are being followed by the Mine Beast who blocks targets if you aren't fast enough to shoot at them. What we mean by difficulty for patience are the horribly placed targets in the 4th stage, which doubtlessly cause most intentional quits
- This minigame also has some annoying bugs:
- In the 3rd stage you can take advantage of the poor map layout and shoot at far away targets that you shouldn't pay attention to, given the minecart's current location, yet the game still allows you to. Doing so softlocks the minigame requiring you to go back to the menu to play again
- Completing Endless Mine Madness leaves the game in a black screen, and even after hitting all the targets it doesn't award the achievement, forcing to reset the game as the only alternative to play again, and forcing to play in a regular run as the only way to unlock Bandit Deadeye
- Great part of the mechanics range from boring and badly planned to downright useless and disrespectful, starting with the Cork Gun; a revolver-like toy pistol that can only be operated by stepping on Cork Gun Rugs located at specific areas. If it didn't sound questionable enough, the rugs must be activated by switching levers that are found after doing some quests.
- Wonders of a game that's able to mess up such simple feature as ingame currency so badly... with Showdown Bandit this doubt is now vanished. Bandit Bucks are a completely useless feature and is just there to boost the Western ambience. You do get an outfit for collecting one-hundred cash stacks, but other than that, the total one-hundred twenty-six stacks found in the game serve no purpose but to potentially lure the player to poor deaths, especially in the Happy Mine chase.
- The aforementioned outfits that are unlocked for beating specific challenges are lazily designed and unappealing, as they are mostly recolors of the default Bandit. Plus, having skins is a stupid feature for a horror game as you rarely put your eyes on your character, needless to say this game didn't integrate them well either.
- Speaking of the outfits, going back to the first room after completing the game to unlock one of them (as well as the 'Familiar Faces' achievement) is a stupid requirement
- The main antagonist, Faceless Bandit, is nothing but a blatant plagiarism of Ink Bendy from Bendy and the Ink Machine Chapter 3; he appears out of nowhere, chases you around the Valley and disappears after some time. He also makes the average enemies pretty useless as similar to BATIM, they die out with Ink Bendy's sudden appearance.
- "Horror" that's shamelessly reliant on shock content and ugly jumpscares, as if it didn't try to innovate and possibly rise the limits of the horror genre's underwhelming standards by the time the game released.
- Almost everything must be done manually, even demanding up to three clicks to perform simple actions like saving progress or healing up, which is totally pointless.
- Showdown Bandit continues the trend of stereotyping horror games having mediocre and generic soundtracks with few exceptions, featuring a forgettable collection of bad Western-themed songs with the only memorable track being 'Off The Rails'.
- The optimization is a total mess, especially for weaker devices. Lowering the graphics' quality hardly improves upon consistent FPS droprates, not to mention it subtracts one of the game's few positive points (RQ #1).
- With the game's abrupt cancelation shortly after its launch, it's not a secret the development team clearly didn't have any appreciation or interest in refining their creation. This is believed to be in favor of expanding their more successful franchise, the Bendy series with Boris and the Dark Survival and Bendy and the Dark Revival. Before removing it from Steam, the game was given away for free with nothing to apologize to consumers who paid for it as a way to even Steam's refund system.
- One could hardly debate over this game not being a desperate attempt to cash in on the more successful franchise that is the Bendy series. An example that is visible to the naked eye is in the product's insistent use of the quote "from the creators of Bendy" as a shameless marketing strategy to attract fans, meaning that the game's fate was fully dependent on the Bendy fanbase from the beginning and was never given a chance to shine by itself. It all makes sense when taking into account the same studio would create Boris and the Dark Survival four months later, a much better version of Showdown Bandit but this time being published as a direct spin-off of BATIM, which could explain its more favorable reception and more interest by the developers to the one of Showdown Bandit.
- The setting, visuals and character designs are beautiful, employing an inspiring take outside of most horror games that derive from the "killer plushies" tropes in addition to forging appealing scenarios and prop designs. Early on do these set up a really good Horror-Western atmosphere, if it wasn't heavily ridiculed by the other horror aspects (WIS #9).
- Interesting screen transitions where the whole stage is replaced with the room that the player entered. This is doubtlessly a really impressive and fitting decision for a game taking place in a real-time show on a stage.
- The lore is original and admittedly interesting, despite being somewhat confusing and exposing very few essential information about it.
- While the arduous gameplay persists as a panoramic factor of Bandit's movement, the point-and-click pathfinding of the directions you select was at least well-developed, despite being something you should already expect from any game of this type.
- Bear Traps are possibly the only useful mechanic out of all. Specific spots in the Valley have boxes of renewable traps that come in stacks of three. These can be placed anywhere, luring any Stringless enemy (barring the Beast) to a trap will kill them immediately, with Bandit being immune to the effect.
- 'Off the Rails' is as previously mentioned a good track and fitting for the Western theme. It even makes the Mine Madness minigame slightly more tolerable.
- All the voice actors evoke excitement and unique personality in their characters, remarkable performances include The Banker and Doc Carver's.
- theMeatly and Dead Servant (coincidentally, the most time consuming to unlock) are by far the best outfits for Bandit. theMeatly imitates the adorable developer puppet with a simple and nice color combination that greatly stands out from other props in the world without looking out of place by any means. Dead Servant is a shining skeleton with lime bones and delightful skin modifiers that, again, succeed in what other outfits couldn't: making your character vanquish anything else out of the spotlight.
- Undertaker is an alright character. Her role as the unboxer of everyday Bandits, the way she invokes self-awareness of the mysterious curse in Showdown Valley, her responsibility to watch for Bandit's behavior and her deceiving yet cheerful dialogues successfully establish a potentially memorable aspect of the story; this leaves players with thrill and excitement to know more about her true intentions and why her, the most capable, athletic and wise of all characters, needs the help of Bandit.
Showdown Bandit garnered mostly negative reviews from players. Prevalence of criticism was directed towards the player character's slow movement & point-and-click style, game mechanics and horror aspects. A determining factor to the audience's bad reaction was the marketing and its failed attempt to attract fans of the Bendy series, specifically the first installment, a game with completely different gameplay & mechanics that'd never appeal to Showdown Bandit's demographic.
The Metacritic user rating of Showdown Bandit for PC is 4.3/10 based on 7 user reviews, which equals to a "Generally unfavorable reviews" rating, while the game's Steam Store Page accumulated a "Mixed" user rating of 63% based on 731 reviews.