Title: 12 is Better Than 6
Genre: Arcade / Action / Adventure
Modes: Single Player
Developer: Ink Stains Games
Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Platform(s): PC, Switch (version played)
1873. The Old West. A vast, lawless land where anything goes. Where bandits run freely, looting what they want and leaving bodies in their wake. OK, that's not completely true. Truth be told, a lot of the craziness during those times was stylized by Hollywood to make it seem more glamorous than it actually was. But hey – the idea gave us amazing movies like Jonah Hex and Wild Wild West, right? Right? Well, at least there's some good western-themed video games.
12 is Better than 6 is the latest western video game to hit the market. The name is based on the old adage, “I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” In this game, you play an escaped slave, known only as “The Mexican,” as he makes his way across early America to win his freedom.
Along the way, you'll come across several colorful characters as you do everything in your power to make your way across the dangerous west. It's a top-down game, where you combine stealth with firepower to make it through each chapter. It's quite a different beast than “triple A” title Red Dead Redemption 2, and offers an experience that is a mixed back of fun and frustration. But is it worth your time and pesos?
The Tip and the Top
The first thing that struck me about 12 is Better than 6 was the art style. The game is presented in black-and-white, with the occasional red coloring when there's blood on the screen. It looks incredible; almost like sketches a really talented high-school kid drew in their notebook. It definitely has that old-west feel, and is extremely detailed – especially for a top-down game. The music fits the game very well, and builds up to a very excited, old-west throwdown beat.
I also really enjoyed the gameplay mechanic. Unlike most other top-down shooters, you aren't just running around blasting everything in sight. You have to cock your gun before you can shoot, which makes for some very intense gunfights. Add this to the fact that for both you and your enemies, its one-hit-one-kill, and you've got a real nail-biter. Luckily, if you die, you can restart immediately. That's the good thing about games like this: being able to retry the level without having to wait adds to that “just one more try” idea, and adds to the replayability. And get ready, because you will restart a lot.
The Flip and the Flop
I thoroughly enjoyed the story in 12 is Better Than 6. It was a very mature story, with a lot of different twists and some dry humor thrown in. However, there were quite a bit of grammatical errors that made the dialogue feel a bit disjointed at times. It wasn't enough to make the story unintelligible, but did distract from the overall feel.
And speaking of the dialogue, there was an odd decision to make the trigger button the “next” button during cut-scenes. In most other games, you would press “A” to move the conversation forward. I'm a fast reader, so I usually hit the button pretty fast to pop all the dialogue on the screen before moving forward. The issue with 12 is Better Than 6 is that if, like me, you pressed the “A” button due to muscle memory, it skips the conversation entirely and moves you to the next stage. I missed a pretty important part of the plot because of this. Now, we could chalk that up to user error (and to be fair, it is), but it's still worth noting.
Finally, the only other concern was with the camera. I enjoy the top-down aspect, but the camera is just a little too close to the action. Oftentimes I found myself on the receiving end of a bullet that came from somewhere off-screen, resulting in my restarting the level several times to get a good idea of enemy placement. You can use the right thumbstick to move your view a bit, and that does help, but I would have loved to be able to see more of the play area.
Final Score: B
12 is Better Than 6 is a worthy addition to the Switch's digital library, and is perfect for the system's portable, pick-up-and-play mentality. You can blaze through a few levels in a matter of minutes, or put a good hour into the story. It's a very challenging game and some cheap deaths get frustrating, but the quick restart nature doesn't make it feel that way. So if you're all “red-deaded” out and are looking for a fresh take on an old genre, you can't go wrong with this game.
Review Copy provided by HypeTrain Digital