The sixties and seventies were golden decades for police movies and series. To these eras we owe pop culture staples like Mission Impossible, The French Connection, Bullitt, The Avengers, and many more. The influence of Dirty Harry and The Anonymous Avenger is still felt today in film, television and video games. That is why despite the time that has passed since they arrived in the world, there are still tributes and parodies like Deathwish Enforcers, the indie game that we will talk about in this review.
Its characters and concept may be inspired by the world of cinema and television, but the gameplay is directly taken from an arcade classic that we remember very fondly: Sunset Riders. This makes sense because that great Konami game was directly based on the ‘spaghetti westerns’ of the sixties and this new title does exactly the same with another popular genre during the same era.
Did you see that trailer? The developers want to make the inspiration of ‘grindhouse cinema’ very clear. This 2D jumping and shooting game takes nothing seriously and because of that it can make all kinds of references – even if they don’t seem to fit the theme – and bad jokes. That works in your favor on several occasions, but also against you.
Moviegoers won’t be able to hold back a smile when they see the character selection screen. Larry Hardwood, Chuck Bronxman, Diana Bang and Cleopatra Love are clear allusions to Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry), Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson in The Anonymous Avenger), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg in The Avengers) and Cleopatra Love ( Pam Grier in Foxy Brown and Coffy).
They are not the only references to pop culture icons of the last century. The bosses are clear parodies of the porn actor Ron Jeremy and characters from movies like A Clockwork Orange, Diabolik and In the Crosshairs of Assassins. We won’t say more because part of the fun is discovering for yourself the references that this game makes.
It’s too bad the rest of Deathwish Enforcers’ parody humor is so bad.. It’s the kind of game that puts a 69 on the screen or shows a spaceship shaped like a male penis and thinks it’s the funniest thing in the universe. They can also see some female nudes and birds that attack defecating on the protagonists.
Deathwish Enforcers Game Pays Homage To Sunset Riders In An Almost Shameless Way. The introduction video, the animations of the characters, the way they shoot, the structure of the levels and even the bosses themselves are copied from the Konami game. In the first level there is even a section in which we have to race over a group of bikers in the same way as we did in the arcade classic. The levels on horseback from the original title are now on a motorcycle and use the same ideas.
In essence, it’s a way to enjoy Sunset Riders again (or for the first time), but with a fresh coat of paint that replaces the cowboys from the ’60s and ’70s movies with cops from the same era. This is not a bad idea. Sometimes we want to live an experience that we like with enough differences to make it feel new. But there are two problems in this case.
The pixel art is pretty good, but the level design—while not bad—pales in comparison to the gameplay it mimics, and there were times when we found ourselves in a bind not because of a lack of skill, but because the action wasn’t easy to understand. . Nor can we ignore the ‘bugs’. We found sections with graphical errors that obscure the action and sometimes the entire screen. The developers promised a solution for the most serious problems, but at the time of writing the review it had not yet arrived.
The other problem is that for an independent game that imitates the arcade style —which means that it can be played in less than an hour, although part of its fun is playing multiple times trying to improve the score— has a relatively high price. We can get it for $22.99 dollars (more than 100,000 Colombian pesos) on Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PS5 despite the fact that the emulated version of Sunset Riders for those same platforms costs only $7.99 (around 36,000 pesos).).
But Sunset Riders is not the only playable inspiration behind Deathwish Enforcers, as it is also It has some elements based on the Metal Slug saga. Not only do we have to do a few rescues as we go through the levels—although it involves sexy girls instead of bearded POWs—but there are sections straight out of SNK games. Without going any further, the confrontation with the final boss is directly reminiscent of the last enemy of Metal Slug 3.
We also have zombies. Why are there zombies in a police game? It’s not just because there are in Metal Slug but because the sixties B-series movies that pitted their rude detectives against demons and satanic cults were not so rare. Also because this game winks at films like The Shining and Evil Dead.
Honestly, it’s a bit mediocre. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy it. We had a lot of laughs during several games in the cooperative mode that allows up to four players locally. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for unpretentious retro-style 2D action with plenty of movie references.
Despite that, we still prefer Sunset Riders.
Deathwish Enforcers In Summary
We quite enjoyed our Deathwish Enforcers games thanks to its local multiplayer mode and references to classic TV and crime movies. It is simple action in the retro style and that can offer many hours of fun, especially without trying to play to improve our score. But we cannot say that this is a great game. Its humor is grotesque, its gameplay is nothing special —it’s an almost exact copy of Sunset Riders— and we found very serious ‘bugs’ that weren’t fixed during its first week on the market. If you enjoy arcade games like this and want something that reminds you of Konami’s cowboy game, it’s worth a look, but we recommend waiting for a drop in price.
Review made using a digital copy of Deathwish Enforcers for PS4 provided by Limited Run Games.