BanHammer is an overhead, open world shooter where you go around slaughtering poachers and rescuing animals from cages. The game has moments of fun and mediocre action sprinkled on top of a lot of walking and grinding for your next level or weapon. It feels like the good start of a game that still needs more effort to make it entertaining than just grinding to that next level.
On the surface, the game looks good, it has that quirky style where you can play as a shark or literal elephant man among real characters. Purchase a shark rocket launcher among typical shotguns, assault rifles and melee weapons. Rescue pandas from cages, stop the slaughter of innocent alligators. Animals wear Christmas hats at least during the season and the game on paper feels like it evokes fun and charm. Maybe that’s all a game really needs, guns and hats.
The animation is serviceable for the price, but the glaring issue is that the menus lack refinement. They’re basic boxes with buttons. Some of the menus feel rushed or modified to push the game out the door. That can all change over time.
Your job is simple, defeat the bosses from each base. There are other quest objectives like free twenty animals from cages, kill two hundred enemies. Your home base is at the center of the map, making each enemy base easy to walk to without getting lost. Its a simple straight forward game that gets dull in a hurry.
Death will respawn you at your home base, but its the depleting meter at the bottom of the screen that will make you have a game over. Rescuing animals and killing poachers is the only way to replenish the meter.
The environment is a single exterior map that is lush and green, full of grass, trees and bamboo. There is no water or anything to hinder your path until you get into a base. This can make every walk mundane, especially if you clear out a base only to die at the boss. Enemies in bases stay dead, well that is unless you save, exit and resume the game. Then the enemies are all back and so are all the collectible icons. What makes having no enemies so boring is that each base takes a minute to walk to and then around the third or forth base, they take a minute to walk through winding paths of sandbags and tents.
Outside of bases, enemies will spawn in when you’re elsewhere. You will only encounter one or two at a time every fifteen seconds. Its a lot more efficient just to run past them. However, there is an experience and gold economy here, so if you want to get better, you’ll need to stop and kill everyone foe you encounter. Sometimes enemies helicopter in, but even then you can murder them in a flash. There needs to be more battles otherwise the boredom sets in rather quick.
Inside a base there are sentries with both machine guns and seeking rockets. The rockets are interesting, because they only detonate on living things like the player, animals, enemies and themselves. You can get a homing missile to detonate on the sentry that shot it. What’s even more quirky is they will float stuck in cages unable to get around them, but unable to explode.
Bosses begin to feel cheap. They have short range attacks that sometimes glitch where a punch can hit you quite a distance away. After the first few, they become dangerous, put you in a corner of the arena, stun you and pummel you. Your character is stiff and slow even if its still faster than other enemies. So each boss’s dash becomes dangerous. Later bosses have enemies helicopter in, but that’s the easy part. The game recycles boss sprites, but the overall pattern is the same for every boss. Melee, dash; no matter if they use a chainsaw or their fists.
BanHammer is easy to control with a keyboard or a controller. You can shoot, change weapons, reload, see a map, toggle your mini map, throw grenades, light a flare to bring you to base camp and toggle a help function. Holding a specific button will lock your direction so you can run east while shooting west.
You can only shoot west or east, which is fine. Its like an old school brawler with guns. Most enemies have the same restriction, but other enemies will shoot north when they’re facing west. It just looks awkward. The issue that I have is sometimes I’ll be shooting east, then my character will turn west. The controls seem very sensitive like there is no dead zone for an analog controller. Perhaps that’s the real reason behind having a button to lock your direction.
There are plenty weapons in the game each with their own damage and firing rate. Its easy to unlock a powerful weapon early in the game and just stick with it the whole way through. Everything you craft is waiting for you in your inventory at the shop. There’s no way to change your inventory on the fly and by inventory I mean you have five guns, but you can only carry three.
Although there’s a shop and crafting station at your base, there’s no ammunition or health. To get those you need to go out and kill things. Foes carry all sorts of ammunition, health, grenades and other bonuses.
One of the interesting parts of the game is a day and night system. You can stay awake all day and all night, but they need their sleep. So you can get the drop on them when they’re snoozing at camp or elsewhere on the ground. Your shotgun must have a silencer on it, because no one wakes up when you’re killing their comrades next to them.
If you’re playing solo, you can have a companion animal that’s downright useless. I suppose the animal provides a distraction from further enemies that are too far to shoot you, but even then you’re much faster than the companion. When you leave your dog in the dust, it respawns under your feet. Rather than moving the dog to the side, you’re the one that gets pushed to the side. It becomes tough having the puppy with you during a boss battle, because the dog gets in the way. Its just a silly frill to have.
There are plenty of invisible walls. If you try to walk beyond the overall map, you’re blocked. A wall of trees would be nice or some indication that you need to go back. Even hardcore indestructible gun turrets would be interesting. Other than an invisible map border, the bases have gaps in their walls, but they too are just invisible walls.
Other issues include occasional times when I am running and I stop, the run animation continues. Sometimes the gun refuses to reload even when I have more ammunition. If I press it a few dozen times, then it works. A chopper can land with enemies, I throw a grenade, it explodes, then the enemies get out and die from the explosion. Its interesting. Calling for a helicopter freezes the player, so make sure you’re a safe distance from hostiles.
BanHammer just still feels hollow spread out across two hours of time. It wears out its welcome past the first five or ten minutes through repetition and an empty experience devoid of challenge until the cheap boss fights. Most of the time I was grinding to level up to the point I could beat a boss. Leveling up unlocks new characters, but when the game is dull why would I want to play more of it?
Its still a good start for a good price that I would say will grow over time, but this is the BanHammer’s full release and it still has a lot of issues. As for recommending it right now, its a coin toss.