To Hell With Guns is a niche title in a niche made for a one-week gaming jam. It’s a first-person turn- and party-based dungeon crawler for people who are really into making their own maps and enjoy getting lost in a dungeon.
I’m not sure whether it’s due to the time constraints of the gaming jam or completely intentional, but the game lacks any kind of movement feedback (even lots of older titles had wall sprites arranged in such a way that when you took a step they slightly changed to make you aware that something did change) and this makes it a bit confusing when you are moved along or spun around by barriers, fall down a hole or even just go up or down stairs. All of that is intentional, though.
The game tries to confuse you, hinder you from making a working map old-school style, which is something I really admire, but few people these days will be willing to put up with. If the game had added movement feedback or even something like a simple automap, all of its three levels would likely be mapped in a fraction of the time it took me to map all of them, but it would also have severely diminished the challenge and the fun in doing so.
And while it's only three levels, these a densely and compact levels with no slow moments or tutorial area to ease you in. Secret walls, teleporters, one-way forwarding fields, harm fields, spinner, the game has it all and often combines it in such a way to make for a highly enjoyable mapping experience that always throws something challenging your way.
The biggest flaw of the game is the combat, which isn’t as well integrated with the dungeon exploration as it should be. Combat is the usual phase-based common to Wizardry-like games, albeit with a tactical element seen in the likes of Wasteland or Dragon Wars, where your party and enemies have to move forward toward each other to engage in melee combat.
I’m not a big fan of this type of combat in dungeon crawlers, as it makes combat last longer than it should be. So instead I avoided most fights (easy to do), which meant when I reached the final boss, who was on a completely different plane of difficulty than any previous encounter, I was seriously under-leveled.
Given the combat, character development is actually quite good. Basic attributes, useful skills, this already trumps lots of AAA-games in complexity (which is insane when you think about it), and its fun to see your characters grow.
Finding treasures gives lots of EXP by the way, so even with avoiding fights, you can level up quite a bit just by looking for stuff to find, which was neat but at the same time gave me the impression that combat wasn’t all that relevant until I run into the final boss of the game.
Still, I had fun overall, despite its flaws. Most modern (western) devs seem to have forgotten how to design a nail-biting hard dungeon that makes you want to map every floor in detail and that keeps you coming back for more punishment, but here’s a short counterexample that shows its just the majority of the bigger studios that have lost the ability to design good levels.
If you still get lost, I've uploaded my maps to GameFAQs
The review was first published on my own blog here.