My biases for all things Wild West are well documented on this website, so its no surprise a game like Sunset Devils caught my attention. Normally I make a note to try these games later and move on, but when I noticed the rather complex reloading UI element, it implied much more at work than the typical "spray-and-pray" approach to a top down indie shooter. I couldn't help but seek out answers on what to expect. I reached out to Sunset Devils lead creator and designer, Andreas Illenseer, to find out more.

Trevor: First off, I thought I’d ask how long the game has been in development.

Andreas: Actively, probably since around 2019, with lots of pauses between. I've had the idea and drawings for it a few years before that though. The first thing I designed was the protagonist, Red. Maybe around 2011.

T: Also, a question of personal intrigue — I noticed a fair amount of Guilty Gear fanart in your portfolio. Are you still out there climbing the stairway to Heaven?

A: Haha no, I haven't played in a while. Happy Chaos was the last Strive character I was really excited for, but the lobbies breaking got a bit grating. I still listen to the series' soundtrack frequently. I was really enjoying Granblue Versus: Rising when it came out though, and been meaning to get back into that. (I main Axl, by the way).

T: Do you have a team over there, or is this a solo endeavor? And if anyone on the team wants to share, where can we find their other work?

A: I'm primarily the director, writer and artist. There's a programmer, a composer, and a few other people helping out here and there. Our composer is Sigmuu, here’s their Soundcloud.

T: What were your inspirations for Sunset Devils? Any specific games or movies that helped inform the world and design elements?

A: Lots of things. Classic spaghetti western movies obviously. Anything Sergio Leone was involved in, especially The Dollars movies and Once Upon a Time in the West. The Great Silence, The Big Gundown, and Django are some of my other favorites.

A: As far as games go, it’s flattering how often people compare Sunset Devils to Boktai. I do like Boktai 2 a lot. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is another game I really enjoy the gunplay, structure, and atmosphere of. And also this game called Lonely Star. It sadly only had a demo and its Kickstarter didn't meet its funding goal. I remember playing it around 2021 and being totally enraptured, there's a ton of direction inspiration I'm taking from that.

Lonely Star is extremely wild. I feel like I've played everything like it and nothing like it simultaneously. You can check out the demo for yourself here.

A: For books, Blood Meridian [by Cormac McCarthy]. Though I read it only relatively recently (and regrettably haven't finished it yet because it's a hard read), there's a lot in it I recognized was already in Sunset Devils. I also take a lot from anime/manga like One Piece and Trigun, and more esoteric stuff, like cryptid stories, legends, folklore and theological stuff.

T: What would you say is your favorite cryptid, and what was your favorite One Piece arc so far?

A: Tough one. I'll go with wendigos or skinwalkers if those count, because I think I've seen one last year. Favorite arc is also a tough one. I should say Dressrosa since Corazon is my favorite character, but I also liked Impel Down and Thriller Bark a lot. Also another thing I recalled that inspired me I should maybe mention... Homestuck. I have a very strong sense of nostalgia and hate for it, but it inspired my art heavily as a teenager. I got into drawing with pixelated brushes purely because of that comic.

T: Wait, take me back to the Wendigo sighting. What's the full story there?

A: It was kinda mundane, honestly. I was staying in a small town in canada for a few months and went outside for a smoke one night. I saw a tall figure walk past from around the corner of the building as I was walking to the backyard. really tall, emaciated and hunched over, dark long hair covering its face with two bright eyes peering through. back maybe covered in bits of hair or scales, it might've had a spiny tail. it looked like it was walking towards the fence to the neighbors' place and was just giving me a passing glance.

A: I only saw the thing for a split second as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, when I blinked it was gone. Still went and had my cigarette. It was good.

T: Perhaps the most unique element in the UI is the detailed revolver display in the bottom right, which implies a much more involved reloading process than other games. Can you walk us through what’s going on there?

A: Every gun has to be manually operated and cycled to fire, like real guns from that time period. So there's an input for loading, unloading, cocking the hammer, pulling the trigger, etc. Cocking the revolver for instance, you have to scroll your mouse wheel down to mimic the motion. Most guns have their own mode of operation and characteristics.

A: I came up with the system because I wanted to do the opposite of what most top down shooters were doing, where every gun is just kind of a bullet hose.

T: What kind of arsenal are we looking at?

A: I myself don’t know yet lol. But definitely a good variety of guns. The player always has access to their knife, and there'll be miscellaneous items to use and carry too. Every gun keeps its own ammo count and state of operation, but draws from the ammo pool the player has. Guns use different ammo types, some are easier to handle, others shoot farther... it'll be up to the player to decide which guns they wanna carry around and prioritize.

T: What are a few firearms it’s safe to confirm in Sunset Devils?

A: Definitely want a C96 Mauser and LeMat revolver in the full game.

T: Resident Evil fans will want to know — will there be a “knife only” achievement?

A: Knife only is something I think would be cool but might not be possible in the current demo. We’ll see!

T: How would you describe the structure of the game? Are we looking at something akin to an open world, or is this a more linear adventure?

A: Something in between. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or the 2D Zeldas are good examples. There'll be a relatively linear main story, but side missions and tasks will give the player more of a reason to explore.

T: What’s the timeline on the Kickstarter launch?

A: As soon as the demo is done. We're aiming for sometime in May.

T: Can you drop us a teaser on any scenes and action sequences you’re particularly proud of so far?

A: I'm interested to see what people think of the intro and story, and I'm excited to see how much people will struggle with the controls.

A big thank you to Andreas Illenseer for their time. You can keep an eye out for the Kickstarter launch here, and you can find the Sunset Devils Steam page here.