For as iconic as Grand Theft Auto unquestionably is, it often feels like its PS1 origins have been resigned to the past. Titles like Shakedown Hawaii have attempted to recapture Rockstar’s early isometric days, but since the developer’s very own GTA: Chinatown Wars, there’s been a real dearth of top-down open worlds. Rustler is GTA 2 set in medieval times, complete with its own porn parody FMV intro sequence and beat-boxing bards.
This is an eight or so hour adventure that has its tongue so deeply lodged in its cheek it’s in danger of coming out the other side. You play as a non-descript protagonist named Guy who alongside his equally non-descript side-kick Buddy plans to infiltrate the Grand Tournament in an attempt to impress the local damsels. Over the course of the campaign, you’ll plough fields, work as a body collector, and even aid a group of religious zealots who’ve started their own moonshine business.
The writing veers from laugh out loud funny to trying a little too hard, but it’s mostly light-hearted window dressing for the historically inaccurate setting that enjoys breaking the fourth wall. As is the case in the GTA games, you’ll spend most of your time navigating the small open world, battling baddies with everything from lutes to long swords. The game does just enough with its core set of mechanics to keep things feeling fresh, like when you assume the robes of Death and set about scaring the locals.
DualSense support is included to reflect your stamina through the adaptive triggers. Unfortunately, despite the generally simplistic presentation, performance is worryingly inconsistent on PS5, which is a shame. All in all, though, this is a fun if forgettable medieval romp: much of the appeal stems from seeing how GTA series staples have been adapted, like the Pimp-a-Horse drive-thrus which clear your Wanted level and the end of mission beats that accompany each quest you complete.