Win Big or Go Out With a Bang in Buckshot Roulette

Buckshot Roulette
Reviewed On
Steam (PC)
Available For

I honestly did not know what to expect when diving into Buckshot Roulette. The masked dealer, seedy environment and PlayStation 2 era graphics brought to mind old school Manhunt type vibes. However, once you actually drop into the gameplay part of the title, you will find tons of deep strategy that can be used to manipulate the probabilities and keep your character alive. For the most part in Buckshot Roulette, once you master that strategy, unless you are very unlucky or the odds are really against you, then you should win way more than you will lose at this deadly game.

There is not much story to Buckshot Roulette. You start out in the seedy bathroom of some kind of a rundown nightclub. You kick open the door (it’s the only thing you can select in the room on your first run) and walk into a hallway that is high above a nightclub. Kicking open the next door takes you to the arena where you will face off with The Dealer, a masked person who you will be trading shotgun blasts with at close range. So, don’t bother trying to make friends with The Dealer. One of you won’t be sticking around for very long anyway.

The basic premise of Buckshot Roulette is that a shotgun is randomly loaded up with a combination of live shells (which are red) and blanks (which are gray). You know how many live shells and how many blanks are included in each round but not what order the shells are loaded into the pump-action shotgun. On your turn, you can either aim and shoot at the dealer, or point the shotgun at yourself and fire away. Both your character and the dealer have a small pool of hit points, so one screwup won’t end the game, although you only get a couple hit points for some rounds, so you can’t mess up too much and still beat The Dealer.

The rules of Buckshot Roulette are very simple. If you shoot yourself with a blank shell, then The Dealer skips their next turn. So, if you suspect that the next shell is a blank but the one after it is live, then you should shoot yourself, force the dealer to skip their turn and then fire the shell you think is live at them. And if that was all that Buckshot Roulette was, then it would be an interesting experiment in mastering probabilities. However, you are also given several random items that change the rules. Employing those items are a key to almost always emerging victorious from the contest.

For example, there is a magnifying glass that you can use to see what type of shell is loaded up next. Cigarette packs give you one health point back (the only time that cigarettes are actually good for your health), drinking a beer will allow you to rack the shotgun and remove the current round, and handcuffs will force your opponent (or you if The Dealer plays them on you) to miss their turn even if a live round is fired at them. And there are quite a few more objects that can be used to provide an edge in this deadly contest. You get to draw for new objects to add to your collection at the start of each round, or they might be removed all together, forcing you to draw a whole new set of objects, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

In terms of strategy, the player is always given control of the gun for the first round, letting you play before The Dealer gets a turn. And because there are so few hit points each time (some rounds only give you two hit points), it makes sense to use all of your objects to do as much damage to The Dealer as possible, even taking him out of the game before he gets a turn. This can be pretty easy if you get the right objects. For example, if you use a magnifying glass and see that the slug in the chamber is a blank, you can then use a polarity reversal tool to make it a live round. You can then use the knife to saw off the barrel which doubles the power of the shell so that it does two points of damage. At that point, if the dealer has two hit points, then you can shoot them and win. If they have more than two hit points, you can put them in handcuffs to force them to skip their turn, take a shot and then regain control of the gun.

Given that you get new items after each round, and there are very few restrictions on how many you spend, making sure that you score some points every time you touch the gun is pretty critical. Burning all your items is fine if you hurt The Dealer. This strategy only failed me once, when a wounded dealer finally got control and started using their items to great effect too, and then I had nothing left once the gun came back to me. I still won, but it came down to a 50/50 chance where I bet that the next round was a blank as I aimed it at myself. And then I was able to take the last shot with a live round to finish off The Dealer.

For the most part the AI of The Dealer is pretty smart, although it will sometimes screw up. For example, once it shot itself when logic should have told it that the gun had a live round in the chamber. But I’ve also seen The Dealer act very smartly and try to run the table using its special items.

If you beat The Dealer, then you earn thousands of dollars in cash, stuffed into a small briefcase. The newly added Double or Nothing mechanic lets you play again, risking your life and your cash to play another full game against The Dealer for double the reward. You can do that as much as you like, although your luck will probably eventually run out if you keep going. There is also a leaderboard showing the top players in the world, with all of them earning millions of dollars while playing.

Playing Buckshot Roulette is quite an experience. My heart was pounding the whole time I was playing. It was so stressful that I almost never took the double or nothing option, preferring to escape that seedy club with my life and a briefcase full of cash at the first opportunity. Priced at just $3 on Steam, Buckshot Roulette is quite a good value for a title that can be played whenever you have just a few minutes to risk your life for a wad of dirty money.

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