In a sea of deep RPGs, complex multi-tiered adventures, and narrative heavy excursions, sometimes you just want a good old fashioned shooter.
Nothing too complex, nothing overly done, just a game that doesn’t really tax you but still manages to be flashy, stylish and entertaining.
I was really getting there with Gungrave G.O.R.E. The game gave some flashbacks to the incredible Vanquish, with a dash of Souls Combat, and even a hint of Time Cop weirdly. It has all the hallmarks of an arcade classic with some of that classic audible commentary as you fight waves and waves of enemies from up down left and right.
More excitingly, though it’s a continuation of a legendary PS2 franchise and links back into an all-new anime. Serving as something of a reboot and reimagination of the franchise, players will get to play as Grave once more, the gunslinger of retribution.
Grave is a murdered Mafia hitman, revived as a techno-badass so he can come at enemies with guns akimbo and powerful melee swings with a coffin. Yes, really.
He’s on a quest for vengeance now and it’s up to you to help him achieve it by blasting enemies into viscera with reckless abandon. The game at least rewards you for the artistry in which you dispatch its thugs and hoodlums, ranking your performance at the end of each stage.
You can shoot at range, deflect incoming missiles so they hit their shooter, Scorpion your enemies towards you and claim them as hostages only to throw them back. You can even perform a ballet of bullets by spinning around in a circle taking down everyone around you. Bayonetta would be impressed.
There’s also epic power moves you can use to bring down enemies which can be purchased and added to your rotation, like mini bazookas and ground shakes, as well as a Fury mode where you basically go into hyperdrive. It’s all everything you’d expect from a shooter and arcade vintage.
And to be fair, it plays really well from the outset. It has a good combat flow, racking up points and earning rankings on each level is enjoyable, and sections and bosses offer some good range and versatility. There’s even new moves you can purchase with all the points you’ve gathered from each fight, so you can keep the fighting portion interesting for yourself.
The commentary gets irksome and repetitive pretty fast, though, and the game does look pretty rough for a PS5 release. Still, most of that I’d be fine with, it’s just that Gungrave is one of those games that you really jive and get into the flow of, but ends up ruining itself when it hits the mid-portion.
After the initial levels, the difficulty curve swoops upwards and manages to get progressively worse. It starts out with a fairly irritating train sequence that will test your patience, smacking you with incoming signs and insta-killing you if you hit a tunnel, then starts throwing you into brutal, overbearing combat situations that just see projectiles and people flying at you left and right with no chance to breathe.
You’ve got a commentator screaming at you to avoid incoming obstacles after you’ve already hit several of them, not giving you forewarning but they’re also demanding you deflect incoming projectiles when you barely have a chance to stop rolling while trying to put some space between yourself and those same enemies.
And Graves moves like Zangief from Streetfighter with barely any flexibility, which makes getting around a bit of a chore. To be fair, the coffin is probably heavy but that doesn’t really help, or make the experience particularly enjoyable when you’re trying not to get boxed in or backed into a corner.
For the most part, Gungrave G.O.R.E is enjoyable enough with easy to manage, fun combat, but it does quickly become quite frustrating with overbearing numbers, one-shots that take your entire shield away and frustrating mini sections that throw up insta-deaths. Definitely a game of two halves, but fortunately one that launches on Game Pass so you can dip into it with mostly minimal risk.
Gungrave G.O.R.E does well enough with its gunplay and action, keeping itself suitably arcadey and enjoyable, and that’s when the game is at its best. But movement is annoyingly staggered, visuals are washed out and the varied mission types are usually misses, ending up frustrating pretty sharpish with unfair victory conditions.
+Well designed combat makes for enjoyable action sequences
+Arcadey vibes keep things simple and effective
– Sluggish movement makes things a lot harder in later, more intense battles
– Several missions are frustrating
Gungrave G.O.R.E releases today on PC, PS5 and Xbox Game Pass
Played on PlayStation 5
Code Kindly Provided by Plaion