Buckshot Roulette review — Bang for your buck

As you grip the shotgun in your hands, you quickly lose track of whether the pulsing beat that fills your ears is the droning of the nightclub or your rapid heartbeat swelling with anticipation. Russian roulette with a 12-gauge; there isn’t just money on the line, but your life as well. Just sign the contract, and promise not to play fair. 

The basic rules are simple: the dealer loads a few live rounds and a few blanks in a random order into a shotgun, and you then choose to either shoot yourself or shoot your opponent. The catch being if you choose to shoot your opponent and end up firing a blank, you hand the weapon over to them instead. This creates tension within your decision, as you have to consider shooting yourself with a blank to continue your turn, but there’s always the risk of the shell being live. Lucky for you one round to the head won’t kill you, as you usually have between 2-4 lives each round, but the same goes for the dealer. While this is rather simple in concept, there are a few tricks the dealer shares with you to spice things up a bit further.

After a round is finished and the shotgun reloaded, the dealer offers a box of trinkets to you. These are essentially power-ups that can be used during your turn to change certain aspects of the game. You may find a saw to shorten the barrel of the shotgun, dealing extra damage on the next shot, or a pack of cigarettes to take the edge off and give you an extra life. There are also four new items exclusive to the Steam version of the game that weren’t present in the original browser version. These include the burner phone, which allows you to get a hint about upcoming shells, expired medicine, which is a coin flip between healing or damaging yourself, the inverter, which changes a shell’s polarity (blank-to-live and vice versa), and adrenaline, which allows you to steal an item from your opponent. 

While these items are integral to the experience, they also feel like a hindrance at times. There isn’t a limit on how many items you can use each round, and they carry over between rounds if unused. This is intended to increase strategy, but ends up feeling like it adds to a one-sided steamroll more often than not. There were plenty of rounds where my items let me completely obliterate the dealer without any risk, while at other times the dealer did the same to me. At the end of the day, Buckshot Roulette will always be about luck, as clever use of your items still might not save you from a 50/50 chance at eating buckshot.

It can be a tough call when you’re down to an equal number of blanks and live rounds in the shotgun, as it is essentially left fully up to chance whether or not you live or die. It can certainly feel frustrating when you repeatedly get bad luck with the dealer rarely making a misstep, but the short nature of the game means you can quickly boot up another round and try again. 

Alongside the normal mode is Double or Nothing, which acts as an endless mode. Due to the inherently random nature of each run, I didn’t get too much enjoyment out of it. It simply doesn’t feel very rewarding to go for high scores when you can so swiftly lose to bad luck without much skill input on your end. Sure it adds replayability for those who really enjoy the game, but after a few rounds I didn’t feel myself being drawn back in.

With such a low cost to entry, Buckshot Roulette provides about a half-an-hour worth of gameplay to explore that is fun while it lasts. Beyond that though, there isn’t a whole lot to keep you coming back to the table besides chasing a high score. There are plans to add multiplayer in the future, but how much this will change things up beyond the core gameplay loop remains to be seen. Regardless, the game has an intriguing enough premise and execution to be worth the three dollars it costs to put your life on the line.

Editor | Website

Corvo is a writer who loves to explore journalism through video games. Writing and editing reviews for triple-A games and indies alike, he finds his passion within expressing his experiences in a fair and accurate manner. Some of Corvo's favorite games are Destiny 2, Mass Effect, and Disco Elysium.



Buckshot Roulette

Review Guidelines

Providing a short but semi-sweet experience, Buckshot Roulette ups the stakes and the fire power of Russian roulette. While the opportunities for deeper strategies often become muddled by the core mechanic of luck, there are still some worthwhile white-knuckled moments that will test your mettle.

Corvo Rohwer

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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