Gungrave G.O.R.E is probably the finest example that certain franchises are better off staying dead.
What you need to know
- What is it? An action-packed third-person shoot em' up.
- Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
- Developer: Iggymob Studio
- Publisher: Prime Matter
- Release date: November 22, 2022
- Available on: Game Pass, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
Gungrave G.O.R.E review copy provided by the publisher.
Gungrave G.O.R.E is a third-person shoot em' up where players mow down hundreds and thousands of enemies using various combos and special attacks. The game is a sequel to the original Gungrave games and aims to bring players back to the early 2000s with its gameplay, visual style and story.
Gungrave G.O.R.E isn't trying to innovate, instead, it takes everything this franchise is known for - simple, no-nonsense design and over-the-top action - and adds a bit of modern spice to it. Essentially, it feels like a love letter to the hardcore fans of the Gungrave, rather than a title that aims to attract new audiences.
If you're a Gungrave fan, you will probably appreciate this one more, but if you're someone like myself, who was never, particularly into this universe, Gungrave G.O.R.E will probably feel too outdated and specific to be enjoyable.
Gungrave G.O.R.E doesn't care much about its story and neither should you. This is a game focused on its action and combat so don't go in expecting world-class narrative, characters and voice acting.
That doesn't mean that there is no story here, there is, it's just in the backseat behind as the combat takes the wheel right from the get-go until the end. Gungrave G.O.R.E story starts off slowly as our anti-hero Grave is trying to hunt down the members of the mafia group Raven Clan.
I did like the stunning cinematics, which are probably one of the highlights of Gungrave G.O.R.E and it's a darn shame the rest of the game won't give you a feeling of such a high-quality production.
At the forefront of Gungrave G.O.R.E. is its simple, explosive and sometimes absurd action, which never stops. The game will throw all sorts of enemy types at you the moment you start the first level and won't stop until you beat the final boss.
It's literally that, a non-stop action that awaits you at every corner, leaving no room for rest. You'll mow down enemies using dual-wielding guns or the enormous Death Hauler melee weapon, which is a combination of a chainsaw and a coffin chained to Grave's arms - as absurd as anime gets.
The guns will auto-lock to targets and each press of the R2 button will unleash four bullets at the target. Your job is to spam the R2 button as fast as you can, dodge the incoming rockets, bullets and other projectiles that the enemies will bombard you with and unleash combos and attacks once you have built enough Beats.
Gungrave G.O.R.E's gameplay certainly is what should be the star of the show. Its no-nonsense approach delivers an engaging, simple and most importantly fun gameplay loop but that won't last long. I found it to become repetitive fairly quickly, despite all the skills and combos you can unlock.
The game does throw in a couple of different segments here and there to make things fresh, like the one where you're stuck on a slowly moving platform while enemies rain down everything they have on you or the extremely linear train mission where you have to brutalise hundreds of enemies as you battle your way through train wagons.
However, these platforming segments are incredibly frustrating since the chance of you dying significantly increases as falling down from the platforms means instant death. Overall, the level design is disappointing and drags down the gunplay which might have more to offer if the environments offered more interactivity for the player.
VISUALS AND SOUND
In terms of visuals, Gungrave G.O.R.E is a mixed bag. Generally, the game looks bland, monotonous and outdated for a 2022 release, reminding me more of a mobile game than a PlayStation 5 one.
Some of the effects like certain particles and smoke effects at times look quite pretty, though, which shows that the dev team had a clear idea of having a spectacle on-screen during encounters to pump up the feeling of combat rather than stunning vistas that only look sweet but serve no other purpose.
Interestingly, the game looks much better during opening-level cutscenes, which are clearly in-engine, but as soon as the gameplay kicks in, we're back to environments with little to no detail. I did dig the look of some levels like the Neon lit Hong Kong level, but overall, I feel Gungrave G.O.R.E's presentation leaves a lot to be desired.
The game's UI is another visual aspect that looks like it's been ripped off straight from a random mobile game. The health bar, skill slots and the other UI elements are necessarily oversized and ugly. Again, it's due to the old-school feeling the devs are trying to pull off, but it's hard to appreciate it without a much-needed modern twist.
Gungrave G.O.R.E has two graphics modes on PlayStation 5 - Performance and Quality. The performance graphics mode offers smooth 60 FPS gameplay most of the time. I didn't notice any major hiccups during my playthrough, even during the heaviest action sequences with dozens of enemies on screen, Gungrave G.O.R.E run great, which is a big plus.
The quality mode comes with ray-traced reflections but you'll have to settle for 30 FPS which is not how you want to play this game. Simply put, Gungrave G.O.R.E became unplayable once I switched to try the quality mode given that its action-packed gameplay becomes a choppy mess to the point where I simply couldn't play the game anymore.
As someone who enjoys aggressive electronic music, such as Neurofunk, Gungrave G.O.R.E's soundtrack stuck with me. Songs are fast, aggressive and akin to the classic soundtracks that serve to give you that badass feel as you're smashing every enemy in your path with cool combos.
I would say the soundtrack does its job, although again, I wouldn't mind if the songs had a more modern sound while staying true to the original games.
Simply put, Gungrave G.O.R.E should've stayed in 2000s. Its simplistic design doesn't work in the modern day of video games where similar action titles offer much more than just brutal combat. G.O.R.E lacks depth in almost every single way. Its level design is stuck in the past, visuals are outdated and gameplay just doesn't do enough to make this a title worth your time.
While the hardcore fans might appreciate it more than I have, I'm sure they would prefer to play the old ones, instead of G.O.R.E.