The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running

We caught wind of this a little late, but the Windows 8 Xbox game The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running from Other Ocean and Microsoft is free through Monday. Dead Man Running normally costs $1.49 despite being designed and planned as a free-to-play game, with lots of in-game purchases on offer. So why not hurry up and get it free like it’s supposed to be?

Head past the break for our full impressions of the game itself.

From Kinect to touch screen

The Gunstringer started life as a Kinect-specific Xbox 360 game in 2011. Its story revolves around an undead gunslinger who returns to the land of the living to exact revenge on those who betrayed him. The twist is he’s a puppet – a conceit designed around the imprecise nature of Kinect controls. The original Gunstringer remains one of the most substantial, non-gimmicky Kinect games around and it comes with Fruit Ninja Kinect to boot. Read my full review at Co-Optimus to learn more.

Now everyone’s favorite skeleton puppet returns in Dead Man Running, a Temple Run clone for Windows 8 and RT. Since the original game had the hero running forward endlessly (players controlled his horizontal movement and shooting), it actually adapts very well as an endless runner.

On a keyboard, players dodge, jump, and duck using the arrow keys while the spacebar fires the hero’s gun at treasure chests and the occasional pop-up targets. The simple controls work great on touch screens too. Xbox 360 controllers are not supported, unfortunately.

The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running

Dead Man Running features a story mode with four main stages each divided into four substages, for a total of 16 levels. Each of the main levels culminates in an exciting boss battle. There isn’t much of a story compared to the Xbox 360 game, but the  narration and excellent music at least sell the atmosphere very well. I do wish the stage intros could be skipped though.

Of course the game also has an Endless Running mode. With fairly good leaderboard support, competitive gamers will certainly enjoy trying to outdistance their friends. But run into an object or miss a turn in either mode and you’re forced to either start over or spend a diamond to continue.

You can earn a single diamond by playing the game for seven days in a row (very annoying), or paying actual money for a few hundred of them. Many of the Achievements basically require players to spend several diamonds in Endless Running mode, which will annoy Achievement hunters who don’t want to part with real money for virtual diamonds.

Windows Phone, where are you?

The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running

The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running is a well-made endless runner. This style of game works better with on the go play, so tablet gamers will probably enjoy it more than desktop players. Dead Man Running would actually fit perfectly on Windows Phone 8, yet a phone version hasn’t been announced. Considering the dearth of Xbox Windows Phone 8 games and the ease of porting from Windows 8 to phone, Microsoft really should reconsider. (Note that the original Temple Run itself is coming to Windows Phone 8 in the first half of the year.)

Windows 8 users, head here to get The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running from the Windows 8 Store.

Update: The game has returned to its regular price.

Thanks to Rocket Riot for the tip!