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Preview: Rustler

20 Mar 2021

Grand Theft Auto V remains a very popular game long after its release. But have you ever played it and felt like it was just a bit too… modern? Well, for those of you who may have, Jutsu Games is trying to solve that problem with their latest game, Rustler, currently in Early Access. Being a fan of medieval stuff, I took up the invitation to go and commit… grand theft horse?

First off, and let’s be real about this: Rustler is a parody on GTA more than it is simply a medieval take on it. It features the adventures of a guy named Guy in an intentionally inaccurate depiction of a medieval city and countryside, full of memes, characters speaking in modern language with plenty of profanity, and pop culture references (It even includes a quest that almost completely copies that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the footman getting his arms cut off and saying “It’s just a flesh wound!”) It’s up to you whether this is part of the fun or not. I admit, I probably would have preferred a bit less of a silly sort of style, but at the same time, I was entertained, so I really can’t complain.

Just like in the GTA series, you can (and should) follow a main storyline, but at any time, you’re free to explore the city and do as you please. Caught stealing a horse from a parking lot? A quick trip to Pimp A Horse and those guards won’t recognize it. Guards getting in the way of your fun? Pull them straight off their horse “cruisers” (complete with flashing red and blue lights) and speed away. Ignore traffic, run people over, compete in MMA tournaments (Medieval Martial Arts), do illegal street racing, whatever you’d like. There’s a good amount of things you can do whilst trying to make your mark on the kingdom.

Take too much damage and you’ll be wast- err… condemned, and you’ll return to health at the hosp- err, church. With the top-down perspective, it legitimately captures a good amount of the early days of GTA in its gameplay. Just be careful though, as even brushing against someone while riding might get the poli- I mean, guards’ attention. Here’s hoping that gets tweaked a bit.

Rustler is also offering not only a crazy and fun soundtrack, but also a unique way of experiencing it. in GTA, you might listen to the radio in that stolen car. in Rustler, you can do this too! Just tune in to Bard FM by paying one of the many bards around the city, and then they will follow you everywhere you go, including riding horseback with you, playing music all the way (or maybe performing A capella percussion). Don’t like the song they’re playing? Punch them to change it. Lots of fun.

Being in early access, there will certainly be issues, as is always the case. Quests not working correctly, stuff not getting saved quite right when you quit, and so on. But the developers have released a number of updates and fixes since I first downloaded the game, which has ironed out a lot of the issues, made combat more fun (initially, people in a fight with you would almost never lower their guard, making it hard to inflict any damage), and balanced out the difficulty.

If you like games where you get to be a, well, free spirit, but you want a decidedly different setting, Rustler may just fit the bill. Keep an eye on it- it may still be a bit rough around the edges, but has seen a lot of improvement over just a span of weeks, and will certainly be a great way to get your inner medieval thug on when it reaches full release.

Screenshots taken by writer. Featured image courtesy of Jutsu Games.