Step into the world of 1950’s America. Apple pie, cheap gas, and a gun in every hand. Probably not the world you learned about in history class. But, it is the world envisioned in Samurai Punks’ action shooter, The American Dream.
In this satirical take on a gun obsessed version of America’s past, everyday tasks are done with the aid of guns. From opening your weekend beer to delivering a baby, as long as your well-armed you will get the job done. So, join me as we take a look at how this shoot show stacks up once the dream has ended.
The American Concept
In The American Dream, you will find yourself embarking upon a factory tour. In this tour, the leading gun manufactures have set out to show you how the American life can be enriched through the everyday application of firepower. Virtually everything you do in The American Dream is done with guns.
Each stage of the tour represents a pivotal point in the American life. From first date to first child, everything is made batter with guns. Guiding you along the way is your tour guide, Buddy Washington. This delightful pooch is going to give you all the info you need to make it through the tour intact.
The concept is a funny one. From the absurdity of cracking open a beer with gunfire, to cutting hair with well-placed shots. The player is given all sorts of tasks that they must complete to progress through the game, and none of the tasks would typically call for a gun.
As the player, you are moved from one scene to the next in a little roller coaster cart. This is an “on the rails” games so you never actually get out of the cart. You simply roll into the next scene, where you are given a task to do with your guns. This could be flipping burgers, trimming your bushes, or saving the world from a tyrannical dog.
Much of the gameplay involves simply shooting at targets. While the targets are diverse, it does reduce this game down to a simple shooting gallery. After the first few areas you clear, it becomes pretty clear that this game won’t offer anything more. Worst still, you are stuck in a cart the entire time, at the mercy of a long-winded tour guide.
Half of The American Dream is spent listening to your host talk while you have virtually nothing to do. The game does do a good job at making the shooting games diverse and fun, but they lack any reward for doing good in them. You do have a score that is laid out at the end of each stage, but it’s never explained why you have this, and you never actually do anything with it. This definitely cheapens the experience.
The Right Tools
One would think that not having hands would make life hard. It is actually not so bad. The controls in The American Dream are well done. You point with your controllers and squeeze the trigger to shoot. You can manually eject your magazine with a button press, and to reload you simply slap a magazine dispenser on your cart.
Of course, you then have to catch that magazine as it flies through the air in slow motion. I really liked this at the start of the game. However, in the final level, it becomes an absolute nightmare. You are given a new gun that has a really unforgiving sweet spot that you need to guide those flying mags into. Not the best thing to have to deal with during an epic battle.
Fake In A Good Way
Graphically, The American Dream is pretty interesting. Being a sort of factory tour that involves guns, all of the actors are cardboard cutouts. All the stages look like they are filled with generic props, and everything is bright and cheery. It definitely all fit into that stereotypical view of the 50’s.
Nothing was really textured in great detail. Surprisingly, not even the guns. But, I actually thought it all came together nicely for that fake theme park ride look and feel. The audio even helped to keep this theme going with pulley sounds when the mannequins moved and great voice acting.
The only downside here was the amount of dialog you are required to sit through on every level. With no way to skip it, this almost becomes a walkaway point for me. The game provides you with very little option but to sit and endure and by the end of the game, I was just wishing I could shoot Buddy to skip to the gameplay.
Alarm Clock Buzzes
While The American Dream has some nice qualities, the game got really boring by the halfway mark. I can say that because halfway through the game, they tell you that you have reached the halfway point. I remember letting out a deep sigh, which is silent speak for “let’s get this the fuck over with”.
The mini games had unique feels, but after a few minutes you realize that you’re just doing the same thing over and over again. Only two levels deviated from the standard point and shoot, and those levels featured boss fights. They showed that this game could have been way more fun and engaging. The mechanics where there, just underutilized in most of the game.
On top of the lackluster gameplay, your strapped in a damn cart and forced to listen to dialog that goes on for far too long. Not having a way to skip this part annoyed the absolute shit out of me. It would have been one thing if the dialog took place during gameplay, or if I was given something to do during that time. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I came to this VR land looking for The American Dream, but all I found was an uncomfortable nap. If you wish to pursue the dream for yourself, you can pick it up for $19.99. It is available for the Vive, Rift, and PlayStation VR.