Reviewing Squirrel Stapler is simultaneously an easy and difficult task. On the one hand, the beauty is that the name pretty much tells you most of what you need to know about the game, but on the other hand there’s very little more left to add on top of that.

But that’s fine! Squirrel stapling is the name, and squirrel stapling is the game – and that’s Squirrel Stapler is trying to be. As such, my job is really just to give you the finer details and let you know whether not the game is fun to play.

Grab your rifles. It’s hunting season!

GOD IS COMING
Originally part of The Dread X Collection II, this version of Squirrel Stapler is the standalone release which improves and expands on the previous version. Playing as a hunter living in the middle of nowhere, you wake up distraught that your poor skinless and dismembered wife is now an attraction for the flies. Realising that what she really needs is some nice new skin, you set out into the wilderness to hunt some squirrels and staple them onto her flesh.

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With the game being made by the creator of Dusk, it’s unsurprising to see that visually Squirrel Stapler is very reminiscent of his previous title. It has that same low-poly look that makes it feel like it was made in the Quake engine, although the controls feel vastly different. Whilst Dusk was more about fast paced action, this is more of a hunting game and thus designed for you to take things a little more slowly.

With your bolt action rifle in hand, the goal is to track and kill squirrels with your limited amount of ammunition. More can be found scattered around, but you certainly aren’t able to simple spray and pray. In order to take down these wily little creatures, you’ll need to creep up on them as best you can. You have a meter showing how visible and audible you are, so once you hear the sounds of nearby squirrels you want to take care not to alert them. Doing so is quite tricky at first, as your impatience will no doubt see you reaching for the run button, but you should get used to it by the end of the first day. Of course, more seasoned FPS gamers will probably end up sprinting and popping the squirrels off as they run away, which isn’t all that hard due to their poor AI and the gyro assisted aiming, but both techniques feel quite satisfying.

Regardless of your tactics, after collecting five skins your job will be done for the day and you can go back to the cabin to warm up your dead wife. Things get more complicated later on as the game will have you hunting down a giant squirrel that needs to be tracked by whistling and seeing where the response comes from, and later days have you avoiding predators, but the central gameplay loop remains largely the same throughout. It’s a bit of a shame that the first few days have some substantial gameplay changes and then things remain the same after that, but given the short length of the game it doesn’t feel like a major issue either.

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Where the game truly shines is with all the additional lore and extra details strewn about. Ominous notes are laid about with tips and squirrel facts, which gradually become more unsettling as the days pass by; random structures lie in the wilderness and allow you to ‘commit sins’ once a day for some additional pointless points; ominous presences that seem to be watching you, even though they can never be seen. It’s these small touches that help make the game endearing and worth the small price of admission, even if you’re unlikely to return to it after the forty or so minutes it takes to get through.

VERDICT
Squirrel Stapler does a good job at parodying the hunting genre whilst also being quite unsettling and fun to play. Admittedly there’s little much beyond what it does, and even that doesn’t even last an hour, but there’s nothing else out there quite like it. So, grab your hunting rife and your stapler: it’s time to go squirrel hunting!