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Sorrel’s Side Quests: ‘Buckshot Roulette’ is a great time if you love bad vibes

Every so often, I’ll stumble into a game with almost no expectations. Usually, it’s because a single screenshot caught my eye on social media. That’s exactly what happened with Mike Klubnika’s breakout indie game, Buckshot Roulette. At first glance, it looks an awful lot like Inscryption — one of my favorite games of the last few years — but it’s not an entirely unfair comparison.

Like Inscryption’s first act, Buckshot Roulette is all about being locked in a grimy room with an antagonistic force obsessed with games of chance. Where Inscryption’s antagonist, Leshy, wants you to play a fairly straightforward deck-building roguelike, Buckshot Roulette’s nameless dealer is more interested in a twisted new take on Russian roulette — with a shotgun.

From there, the comparisons to Inscryption fade into the background. There’s no epic alternate reality game to dig into, no intriguing FMV side story; it’s just you, the dealer and a shotgun.

You know how many blanks and live rounds are in the gun, and on your turn, you choose whether to shoot yourself or the dealer. If you choose yourself and wind up with a blank, you can choose again. If you choose the dealer and it’s a blank, then it’s the dealer’s turn. If it’s a live round … well, you can probably guess the outcome.

You can use a few things to improve your odds — a handcuff that prevents the dealer from moving, a magnifying glass that lets you check the current shell or other things of that nature.

They’re in limited supply and they’re doled out at random, so it’s dangerous to build your strategy around those tools. Instead, (for the most part) you’ll have to rely on basic probability and a desire to take risks.

It’s a simple game built around a simple point of tension, but it’s also relentlessly engaging. I’ve gotten hooked on its endless randomizer mode, which allows you to place your virtual life on the line over and over again, chasing a huge payout. It scratches the same part of my brain that games like Yahtzee do. Taking risks, making informed decisions and securing a victory from a lucky guess feels good.

I am also a big fan of bad vibes. I love horror games not only because they scare me, but also because the aesthetic of a neutral space perverted by horrible events is appealing to me. The obvious mechanical tension of blindly choosing between victory and loss feels that much more important when tied to a literal shotgun.

Buckshot Roulette is gross. It’s uncomfortable and unnerving. It’s also a deceptively deep and engaging board game-like experience. For someone like me, who enjoys being uncomfortable, unnerved and playing board games, it’s a hit.

Sorrel Kerr-Jung is a junior studying virtual reality game development at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Sorrel by tweeting her at @sorrelquest.

Sorrel Kerr-Jung

Opinion Writer

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