Genius new indie game Buckshot Roulette instantly became one of my favorites — and it only costs a DOLLAR

Buckshot Roulette
(Image credit: Windows Central)

Few things are more intense and nerve-wracking than a match of Russian roulette. If you're unfamiliar with the lethal game of chance, it involves loading a revolver with a single round, giving its cylinder a good spin, aiming the firearm at yourself or an opponent, and pulling the trigger to see what happens. If the round isn't lined up with the barrel, the target can breathe a sigh of relief. But if it is, well...things are sure to get messy.

The game's appearances in entertainment constitute some of the best scenes in film and TV history — the ending of One Eight Seven comes to mind for me — but my all-time favorite depiction of it in media might just be the variation of it that solo video game dev Mike Klubnika came up with for Buckshot Roulette. They released the brilliant little indie just before the turn of the new year, and since then, it's quickly become a hit.

Set on the top floor of a dingy underground nightclub, Buckshot Roulette pits you against a "dealer" in a version of Russian roulette that raises the stakes by featuring a 12-guage pump action shotgun instead of a revolver. At the start of each round, a random assortment of up to eight live and blank shells are loaded into the weapon in a random order, and from there, you and the dealer take turns pulling the trigger. To win, you'll need to shoot him while genuine buckshot is loaded enough times to deplete his health before he exhausts yours, with blood transfusions and defibrillators on standby to bring both of you back from the brink if necessary (it will be). 

Particularly courageous players can also opt to fire at themselves, which skips the dealer's next turn if you guess correctly and shoot a dud. I'm sure you can figure out what happens if you don't.

If you successfully fire a blank at yourself, you get to skip the dealer's next turn. But if a live round is loaded, well... (Image credit: Mike Klubnika)

Buckshot Roulette is incredibly tense with these baseline mechanics alone, but the true genius of its gameplay becomes apparent once the dealer starts throwing consumable items into the mix. Eventually, both you and your opponent will start getting these randomly selected items before each reload of the shotgun that can be used before you aim and fire, and each one has unique effects. Chugging a can of beer allows you to rack the shotgun, for example, while magnifying glasses give you a peek at the shell that's in the chamber. You can even use handcuffs to skip the dealer's next turn, or saw off the weapon's barrel to make your shot deal double damage if a live round is loaded (the shotgun comically restores it afterwards).

These consumables transform a relatively simple game of chance into a surprisingly complex game of strategy, especially in its later stages when they're given in greater numbers and can often be used in succession. The element of chance is always there, of course — the type of items given to you and the dealer are randomized, and sometimes you'll end up eating led even if you played perfectly — but it's that constant effort to give yourself the best chance that makes Buckshot Roulette so perpetually engaging. And even though you can "beat it" in as little as 20 minutes, the gameplay is so addicting that I've happily played it over and over again for hours.

The icing on the cake is the game's presentation, which amps up the tension and suspense with its grimy, dark visuals and the endless rhythm of the pulsing club music from the dance floor below. The former dips its toes in horror territory with the frightening appearance of the dealer (especially after he's taken a few shotgun blasts), and the latter, muffled by the walls of the closed room you're flirting with death in, almost sounds like a panicked heartbeat.

Naturally, the club you're in doesn't want to be liable for whatever happens. (Image credit: Mike Klubnika)

It's unquestionably one of the best PC games to come out recently, and it's also one of the top hidden gem games from 2023 you should play this year. I'd have been happy to pay $10 for it, which is why the fact it's priced at just over one dollar is absolutely fantastic. You can download it on for $1.20, which Klubnika says is the normal price, though you have the option of paying even more to support the developer if you'd like to. It's worth noting that while the game isn't available on console platforms, you should have zero problems running it on any modern Windows or Linux computer.

If you're interested in checking out other games from Mike Klubnika, make sure you check out their page and follow them on X (formerly Twitter). A free-to-play collection of five of their horror games called Unsorted Horror is also available on Steam.

Buckshot Roulette — $1.20 at (PC, Digital)

Buckshot Roulette — $1.20 at (PC, Digital)

This creative twist on Russian roulette reimagines the deadly game of chance with a shotgun and consumable items, turning it into a horror strategy game that's quickly become a fan-favorite gem.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.