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May 2024

Gungrave G.O.R.E.

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Prime Matter
Developer: Iggymob
Release Date: Nov. 22, 2022


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PS5 Review - 'Gungrave G.O.R.E.'

by Redmond Carolipio on Nov. 22, 2022 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Gungrave G.O.R.E. is a stylish third-person action shooter that has you take on the role of Grave, a gunslinger of resurrection and badass anti-hero of your dreams, mowing down tons of enemies in a gory ballet of bullets.

Buy Gungrave G.O.R.E.

I admire how Gungrave G.O.R.E. makes zero effort to hide its intentions. Right before you start a level, three heavily styled words lower onto the screen against a churning background that looks forged from metal, dragon fire and energy drinks.

Those words? "Kick their ass."

And you do. And you will … over and over again. That's the game. It's a one-note, retro, pretense-free arcade shooter that's delightful in moments, flashy to look at, but ultimately light on impact. The only real souvenir I took from hours of playtime was a very sore trigger finger and a greater appreciation for how action games have grown over the decades. This is the kind of title that would have gleefully eaten a few quarters back in the '80s and '90s.

Not familiar with the Gungrave universe? Neither was I, so I appreciated the offer of a historical recap of past games, which detailed a world shaped by vengeance, bullets and battle against a society crippled by a powerful, omnipresent drug known as SEED.

As the player, you occupy the strong, silent and overcoated form of Grave, a practically undead gunslinger who carries an obscene amount of firepower. He's a tidal wave of bullets and death, and the appeal of much of the gameplay is essentially pointing Grave at legions of bad guys and pulling the trigger repeatedly until they're gone.

I keep thinking of third-person shooter games from past eras because so much of the experience in Gungrave G.O.R.E. is mapped out that way. It's broken down into actual stages, where you see the aforementioned "kick their ass" edict, tear through waves of assorted enemies and fight a boss at the end. Between each level, you get grades and stats on your overall performance as well as the ability to purchase from a catalog of skills and upgrades. If that sounds familiar, it's because you've probably seen it in one of the great stylish-action shooter series of all time in Devil May Cry.

Unfortunately, while Gungrave G.O.R.E. occasionally tries to act like DMC with its emphasis on heavy action and stylish-looking combat, it lacks the sophistication and clever grace that adorned the combat of characters like Dante, Vergil and Nero. Grave, with his pair of massive guns and his signature Death Hauler (a coffin-like combat apparatus) chained to his arms, moves as you'd expect and relies on offensive superiority over his foes, and not so much elusiveness. He comes equipped with an auto-aim that fluidly bounces from target to target, and it's the player's job to keep hurling smoke-trailing bullets at enemies until bloody pieces remain.

Grave also has a very strong shield that recharges with inactivity as well as a pretty thick life meter. The guy was built to walk through fire to administer his own. He's got an intriguing bag of special attacks, including something called a "death barrage" where he roots himself in one spot and almost dance-shoots bullets in every possible direction. This is done by simply mashing a button once you've reached enough consecutive "beats" (hits) in a firefight. One of his most powerful attacks is where it appears he conjures up a giant bomb or missile and kicks it at the enemy. He's got the classic mega-powered super shot where you can hold down the trigger, charge up the guns, and let loose on some shield-carrying fool.

It's nice that Grave is so proficient at gunplay because his melee game leaves a little something to be desired. He can swing Death Hauler around, but his striking power seems muted and ineffective for connecting with such a big … thing. It can, however, knock small flying rockets back to their senders, but you do that so much in the gameplay (there are lots of guys with rocket launchers) that it stops feeling cool in a matter of minutes. He has the ability to execute stunned enemies with the thumbstick, but that generally consists of him grabbing someone and blasting them into paste at point-blank range. He also has a useful, rangy chain-grab, get-over-here technique that can turn someone into a human shield for a limited time. Grave has lots and lots of moves, but a lot of them feel extra and nonessential to actual combat success.

There's always going to be an initial, visceral thrill in powerfully steamrolling through wave after wave of assailants. It's a feeling that's been around for ages. However, I quickly got bored. One of the reasons is because the combat tempo of every stage stays mostly the same. It's just throngs of guys chucking ordnance at you. It's consistent enough to feel like you're "wading" through the game, and it's repetitive enough to feel stale after an hour or so. Also, there's not much variance in the enemy design. Some guys are big, some are small, some have shields, and some have rockets. The only time when the fighting carries a different energy is in the boss battles, which again, didn't end up being as layered as their creative aesthetics would have you believe.

Visually, the game looks … fine. The most impressive detail remains with Grave, with his Death Hauler rifle with techy nooks and crannies jingling along with him as he trots about the battlefield. Standing still, the levels look cool enough, but they're nothing that'll leave a lasting impression.

I don't want to close with the impression that I had a bad time with Gungrave G.O.R.E. I didn't. But I didn't have a memorable one, either. It was a nice bit of action nostalgia for a short while, but in a world where less glitzy action titles feature so much more depth, agility or even wit, Gungrave G.O.R.E. will have a tough time separating itself from all of the bullet-fare that's out there.

Score: 5.9/10

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