Konami made so many great arcade games back in the day that have since become legendary in the eyes of gamers. One of these was the wild west run ‘n gun game Sunset Riders, which saw four players take on outlaws in the old West in one of the most inventive experiences made by Konami. It influenced so many other developers over the years and one of these developers was Monster Bath Games who used that influence in a unique way.

Deathwish Enforcers is a love letter to that classic Konami title, as well as action cinema of the 70s and 80s with playable characters based on famous films and works like Death Wish and Dirty Harry. It is hard to not mention Sunset Riders when this game is so deeply inspired by that earlier title. Indeed, the first level is a modernized take on the first level of Sunset Riders, albeit in a way that may surprise some people.

In addition to Sunset Riders, other arcade influences can be seen such as Crime Fighters and more, but the general game is just one that is easy to get into. You and up to three friends must take on a variety of enemies and stages to stop a villainous plot, but this is not a typical co-op game. The best way to go about things is to think of the game as a competitive co-op game with you competing against the other players and trying to trip them up at times.

There are a number of stage hazards to be aware of, including falling signs, dynamite and large gaps, and only one of the playable characters can get a promotion at the end, so your goal should be to trick your friends into taking the hit for you. Of course, this makes it much harder for those who are playing alone, but there are numerous ways to dodge the stage hazards. You just need to play a little bit to get the rhythm and understand how things work.

One thing that is very enjoyable about Deathwish Enforcers is how its art style truly feels like a callback to classic arcade games and gives the feeling of a lost classic. Bear in mind though, this game has all of the challenges of a classic arcade game but without the ability to keep adding credits. Fortunately though, if you do make it to another stage before losing all your lives, you can continue from the last stage you started on, so the pain of starting over from the start of the game is not here.

Each playable character is based on pop culture figures, such as Dirty Harry and Paul Kersey from Deathwish, but also characters based on the UK show The Avengers and the films of Pam Grier. This is a love letter to action cinema, grindhouse and police fiction and using its arcade influence, manages to bring an amazing experience. This feels like a game we definitely would have played back in the day, albeit one whose content would not have been allowed back then.

With elements of beat ’em ups as well when characters get too close to enemies, and using mechanics from modern games Deathwish Enforcers feels like a great blend of ideas. Yes, the difficulty can be a bit frustrating in single-player mode, but with an amazing soundtrack like the game has, and that X factor that so many wannabe spiritual sequels lack, this is a game you just want to keep playing. It is also neat that cinematic elements are incorporated into how the characters move, such as how they move into crouching behind a box to shoot while using cover.

I cannot say enough good about Deathwish Enforcers as it is a truly special game. The developers did some great work here and the love of the classic games and movies is evident just by playing for a few minutes. This is a can’t-miss game and one that fans of classic games and classic movies alike should definitely check out.

Disclaimer: A review key was provided