Gunbrella floats into the best 2023 indie mix with fun-feeling, hard-hitting action adventure

Earlier today, we cited a game as one of the best indies this year. Now we’re already throwing another into the mix.

At first glance, I did not see the appeal of Gunbrella, nor did I understand how a game about the man from Balloon Fight running around with an Umbrella that’s actually a gun could be all that fun.

But within minutes of booting this one up, I was singing in the rain and flying higher than the weather.

Devolver sure know how to pick them up, because this game grips you early while feeling so fun to control. From gliding between platforms, to the smart deflections of repelling bullets, the moment to moment gunplay, its ever-weaving story and challenging, close-quarter screens. All spaced out with the world’s coziest looking benches and comfy beds to let you rest and recoup while saving progress.

From the makers of Gato Roboto, this bizarre little gem describes itself as a noir-punk and first hooks you with its story, believe it or not. You’re on a quest for vengeance after one tragic evening involving your family sees your wife is murdered and child stolen. Dramatic stuff, and you see the events play out across a series of flashbacks through the game, getting wind of what happened through passing conversations. But for now, all you need to know is that you’re full of anger, you have a target, and for some reason, a gunbrella.

But it’s the way Doinksoft have presented the dialogue choices through gritty responses and fun quips that convey personality, all set against a broken society, fractured by insecurities and uncertainty. Even the villains have a part to play as you quietly listen in to their conversations while they think no one else is listening.

And the story itself does take some surprising turns. I was actually quite swept up in its dramatic moments – impressive considering this is a game where the police force are known as the Parasol Patrol and you’ve got a cult sacrificing people to bring back their beloved God/s Baby and Nephew. No, really…

I just love the style and presentation of Gunbrella, initially depicted through a hazy filter that gives off a psuedo-retro vibe, the colour palette slowly develops and becomes less dreary, doing so gradually, steadily, and all smartly layered for dramatic effect.

Through Gunbrella, you’ll wander through broken down towns, rummage around in sewers and even find secret entrances in people’s attics or underneath their shops. And as you progress the world opens up a bit more, making you visit greenlands, junkyards and even mountain tops.

The change of scenery also manages to affect the gameplay a little bit as well – at times feeling a bit like you’re playing Celeste, other times Katana Zero. Inspirations come through clearly at times, but Gunbrella also does a magnificent job of maintaining its own identity throughout.

In Gunbrella, there are several key areas to visit and you’ll move between them via a short-hop train ride which drops you at a landmark station. At the start, not all areas will be open to you thanks to a barricade blocking the way, but once you find a way to bypass it, fulfilling certain quest criteria and figuring out a shortcut, you’ll have free roam to go where you please and when.

This is where Gunbrella also throws some optional activities into your lap outside of the main quest line. Most of these end up being on your way regardless, but it’s a nice diversion all the same and in some cases can get you to spend more time exploring an area or even go back the way you came to see what you missed.

Bosses also help break the action a bit and all of them have something a little bit different to offer. From large-eyed sludge dollops to nuclear rats lurking in the shadows and even more surprises along the way. The patterns are just the right amount of difficulty to not be overly frustrating but give you opportunities to learn, improve and adapt accordingly.

Because the combat system has enough variety to allow for that flexibility. Using your Gunbrella, if you time it correctly, you can repel bullets back at the shooter and cause them to get hurt by their own fire. This works for all things, like grenades and sawblades being lobbed at you, and even gives you a chance to defend against aerial enemies swooping down on the attack.

The Gunbrella also makes for a great counterpunch once you’ve deflected a shot so you can then unload with a shotgun blast or even other bullet types which change the nature of the attack. Of course, you can upgrade the base Gunbrella as well, adding abilities like faster reload and shot potency. It’s important to stay on top of as it sets you up for the bigger challenges ahead.

And, of course, you can use your Gunbrella to swoop between platforms, glide upwards in wind shafts, cascade up and down on zipwires and even give you a bit of an added boost to grab hard-to-reach ledges.

This is easily the most satisfying part of the game as it not only presents some tough platforming challenges, you’ve got lots of secret areas to find, but they also serve you well in battle, giving you some great options for surprise attacks and to stay competitive with your enemy, no matter where they’re coming from.

Gunbrella really is an ultimately fun little game. Despite its unorthodox concept, there’s an argument to be made it plays a little safe at times and there are certain sections which have been made purposefully more difficult than others. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop playing, wanting to find out what happens next in the story, while seeing what situations the game would thrust me in as a result of that.

Don’t let all those murky screenshots put you off, there’s a lot of visual style and finesse to this game that’s gone unseen. But also some real surprises in store as you blend a post-apocalyptic world with…well…apocalyptic abominations.

A real surprise and one of the most consistent, complete indies I’ve played in a hot minute.


Gunbrella has a wonderful chaotic energy that translates to truly satisfying combat and platforming moments, helping to facilitate an unorthodox, yet compelling story. The difficulty can trip some people up and a few sections do border on frustrating by making you re-fight through several screens to get back your progress. However, the challenge is mostly enjoyable, there’s some great writing in here, and it all comes together in a well-presented, finely tuned package that you’ll find really hard to put down.


+ Umbrella shielding and soaring is consistently satisfying
+ Some great challenging platforming moments and boss battles
+ Surprisingly compelling writing and storytelling
+ An overall good gameplay flow with nice upgrade paths and eye-catching presentation


– Some sequences are overly punishing and frustrating
– Plays a bit safely at times and doesn’t really break out of its comfort zone

Gunbrella is out now on PC and Switch

Code Kindly Provided by Devolver for review purposes

Tested on PC

About the author

Sam Diglett

Sam grew up with a PS2, spending hours howling at the moon in Okami and giving students wedgies in Bully. Fortunately, she also likes Pokemon because otherwise life could have been quite annoying for her.
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