With the advancement in technology and storytelling, the complexity of levels in video games is soaring higher and higher. Sure, this complexity can create a new level of depth, but scrolling through endless menus and micromanaging different stats is not everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes, one wants to forget every mishap their day has thrown at them and just slaughter through endless hordes of virtual enemies. And what better way to do that than hopping on to Gungrave G.O.R.E which literally states “Kick Their Ass” at the beginning of each new level.
But a slogan doesn’t determine one’s worth, it’s the entity that carries it which begs critical evaluation. That’s exactly the purpose of our Gungrave G.O.R.E Review.
Story And Setting
Gungrave G.O.R.E is a new installment in the arcade action game series Gungrave. To grasp the full plot, players need to have a little knowledge of the lore of the previous games. If you haven’t played them, fret not, as the title offers a “History” menu to get you up to speed. Players seeking in-depth knowledge can also watch the Japanese animated series Gungrave, which is based on the game series.
You play as the protagonist “Beyond the Grave” or simply Grave. The plot revolves around Grave teaming up with the El Archangel group and traveling to Scumland to take down the Raven Clan, a crime syndicate that is a key player in the distribution of the once-thought-extinct drug SEED which grants its users super-human powers. Scumland isn’t the only place you visit though, as the game will take you to multiple locations across Asia, including Singapore, Vietnam, and more.
The main protagonist is as silent as the grave, with only a few lines throughout the entirety of the game, however, this is probably for the best. That is because the voice acting in the video game is subpar. The side characters themselves aren’t interesting enough and are just there to fill the space between action sequences with bits of the story. You also get to play as other characters throughout the course of the game, but none of them really clicked with me. The story is also mediocre and is only present to provide you with some form of direction. Your gun always takes the steering wheel.
This particular series has always focused on the gameplay over the narrative and the same is the case here as well. Like its predecessors, it has an arcadey feel to it. You shoot endless hordes of enemies, build up your combo meter, then execute them in even flashier ways. Grave has a number of weapons to choose from including dual-handed pistols, which can also be used to hit charged shots for taking down shielded enemies, and a coffin on his back to execute combos. You can also dodge, and use melee attacks which can come in handy in tough situations. Speaking of tough situations, Demolition shots can also come in handy as they are extremely powerful attacks, but the catch is that they require Demolition Points. These are represented by a bar that can be filled by dealing damage to enemies.
To spice up the combat even more, Grave also has access to a number of special abilities. Some of these can be executed by simply pressing a combination of buttons, such as the Burst Mode which exponentially increases your firepower, while others require a high Beat Count and other upgrades. The Beat Count meter increments each time you hit an enemy, and maintaining a high beat count will allow you to use even more powerful combos. However, you need to be constantly hitting something or the count disappears altogether. You also need to keep an eye out for the Art Score which builds up as you perform combos and perform more Demolition shots
At the end of each level, you are graded based on your performance. The parameters that affect this grade are the highest Beat Count, kill rate, remaining life, clear time to complete, and Art Score. Each parameter is separately graded on a scale from S to D, where S is the highest rank and D is the lowest rank. The grades of each parameter are then averaged giving you an overall grade.
These grades award you points that can be spent in the Lab, where you can purchase health, damage, and shield upgrades. You can also unlock new Demolition Shots, new combos, and more skills. Some of these upgrades can turn the tables considerably in a tight spot, and they also add a new level of depth to the combat preventing it from getting stale too quickly.
Apart from these, you cannot change the base weapons Grave possesses. As mentioned in the previous section of our Gungrave G.O.R.E Review, some levels allow you to play as other characters, and each character comes with their own sets of abilities and moveset, however, you cannot upgrade their skills and abilities.
The title has different difficulty levels to choose from, but even at lower difficulties, there are some really tough sections that break the flow of combat. The difficulty they offer is artificial and only makes the game more frustrating. For example, in many instances, a horde of overpowered enemies will flood your location, and the only thing you can do is run and shoot for minutes on end and tire yourself out.
It is clear that the game is aimed toward the loyal fanbase of the series as it possesses many characteristics of the previous titles. Some of these, however, have aged poorly and could have used some quality-of-life improvements. The enemy variety is also extremely lacking, and the first few levels show you the full breadth of all the types the title has to offer. The later levels only possess a slightly upgraded version of these enemies. There are also a couple of boss fights here and there which can be quite challenging, allowing you to explore your character’s full potential. However, they are oddly absent from the first few levels of the game.
The levels themselves, although visually appealing in their own right, give no incentive to the player to explore. It’s a waste really, they could’ve included a few collectibles or secrets to uncover which encourage exploration.
Grave also has a very slow movement speed, and one level, in particular, requires him to move on top of a moving train, all the while avoiding obstacles and enemies. The enemies come frequently forcing you to use burst mode, but this mode requires the character to be completely still, essentially inviting you to be hit by obstacles. The core gameplay loop is still fun though.
Visuals And Performance
As evident from the Gameplay section of our Gungrave G.O.R.E Review, the level designs can lead to some frustrating situations, but visually they tick all the boxes and are pleasant to look at. Each level and each location has a distinct feel to it. From metropolitan cities to Vietnamese jungles, every sight was absolutely gorgeous to look at.
The enemy variety might be limited but their designs are surely not. Each enemy type has a unique style that makes it distinguishable from the others. The enemies weren’t the only ones who received special treatment as the main character, Grave is one of the best-designed characters I’ve played as recently.
The UI resembles the old Gungrave and other arcade games and is a trip down memory lane. Even the walking animation for Grave is carried over by its predecessors. Having the Beat Counter increment takes me back quite a few years when arcade games were a regular pit stop for me and my friends.
In terms of performance, the game runs quite smoothly and I did not run into any major performance drops or crashes during its 15-hour-long campaign.
Moving towards the climax of our Gungrave G.O.R.E Review, the game is a mixed bag. The story is painfully middling, the characters are dull, and the quality of the level designs oscillates rapidly between good and barely tolerable. The developers have tried to mimic the feelings of the old games by carrying over many of the series’ mechanics, but this step has backfired in a few cases, as many of them feel dated and in severe need of revamping.
The combat though is really fun, even though the amount of enemies you have to take down at once becomes overwhelming at times. But the satisfying and action-packed gameplay mechanics make up for it, and the different abilities, demolition shots, and combos give their own flavor to the gameplay.
If I had to sum up this title in two words, it would be “mindless fun”. If you aren’t willing to delve into complex micromanagement and are just looking to kill some time in the quickest and easiest way possible, then this game will be your cup of tea. Just don’t expect a solid and overarching story or multi-dimensional characters.
This has been our Gungrave G.O.R.E review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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Gungrave G.O.R.E Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
If I had to sum up this title in two words, it would be “mindless fun”. Just don’t expect a solid and overarching story or multi-dimensional characters.
- Fun Combat
- Different Combos, Skills, And Abilities
- Decent Boss Fights
- Boring Story
- Lifeless Characters
- Bad Voice Acting
- Strange Level Designs
- Outdated Mechanics