Gungrave G.O.R.E., developed by Iggymob and published by Prime Matter, tries to raise the bar for the third-person shoot ‘em up series but ultimately drops the bar right on their big toe.
As the resurrected Grave, you’re tasked with stopping the Millennion mafia from infecting the planet. The story isn’t all that compelling. But with a coffin full of weapons, tragic backstory, and gratuitous gunplay, he remains a love letter to the unstoppable lead forces from the mid ‘90s in The Crow, Desperado, and Trigun.
The production value is turned up to 11 for the latest installment, but it’s notably lost a considerable amount of its original gritty stylized environments. Meanwhile, the 20-year-old UI and HUD have stayed relatively the same, giving the game an extremely dated and out-of-touch overview. The dynamic audio pairs amazingly with the over-the-top shooting. Sadly, playing the game never feels as badass as it looks.
The shoot ‘em up mechanics offer a variety of features from grabs to finishers, which you can purchase with in-game currency, but the core is plain and simple bullet spam. Most of the aiming relies on proximity rather than accuracy, so a majority of your play is spent slowly walking through small stages and clicking away at targets running at you — with a pause to deflect an incoming rocket every now and then. The bosses are more interesting to look at than the usual rehashed grunts, but they’re dealt with in the exact same manner.
Orienting yourself is as unwieldy as steering a boat, regardless of input device or sensitivity. Your movement speed is slow, jumping ruins your momentum, the dodge is an exaggerated dive, and being shot slows you down even more. This isn’t a problem in the earlier stages because the levels provide plenty of space to stumble around and encourage you to stop moving to make your shooting even deadlier.
By contrast, the later stages become more enclosed and have solid objects lying about, so you get stuck more often. Eventually, the walls are completely gone, more explosives are introduced, and your objectives become time-sensitive. The worst offender is a level on top of a train where I was thrown off to my death by a sign, a mine, or my own dive. It’s another example of poor design cohesion and throwing levels at a character that isn’t suited for them in the slightest.
The additional features you’d expect from this genre are there — extra lore, visual guides, a grading system, and increasing difficulty levels — but the extra trimmings don’t offer much in the way of redemption. While Gungrave G.O.R.E. began as great to watch and okay to play, its approximately 13-hour playthrough finishes off for me as a viewing pleasure unfortunately attached to a gaming displeasure. Honestly, you’re better off watching the anime.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. is available November 22 for $49.99 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and S and is also available on Xbox Game Pass.
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