At times, separate entities combine to create something special. Like a sweet and savory bite of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, there’s a wonderful contrast of opposing elements that merge to make Gunbrella unique. The fusion of a shotgun and umbrella may sound absurd, but the multifunction device is what helps make the game find its own identity and float above its peers.
After the murder and kidnap of loved ones, revenge is at the forefront of your mind. With justice as motivation, you begin an investigation that leads you through a gritty, industrial world. From gangsters to creatures, the story ventures to unusual places which helps to keep you invested in the plot. The conversations with characters that inhabit the world are a highlight. Even with the weighty narrative lingering, the game maintains a great sense of humor. Exchanges with the townsfolk are a joy and perfectly balance the emotional aspects of the tale.
Hobo with a Shotgun
Central to the gameplay is the Gunbrella. At its core, it’s a shotgun. This means you’ll need to get up close and personal to connect with a powerful blast. Your arsenal expands as you progress and you’ll soon be able to shoot machine gun-style rounds, lob grenades and much more. While you have unlimited shotgun shells, every other form of ammunition is finite. You can collect these from the corpses of your enemies or purchase them from the number of shops within the environment. In addition, you can also collect cogs to upgrade your weapon and containers for your health. The continued progression helps to maintain a steady level of challenge throughout to keep each segment a thrill.
Your parasol is also a defensive tool. Expanding the canopy will block all incoming projectiles to keep you safe from the foes you encounter. However, with a well-timed button press, you can send bullets back from whence they came giving you more ways to attack. This adds a nice risk/reward element to combat. As the enemies you come across vary, you’ll need to read their attack patterns and decide how and when to counter. Due to the 360 aiming with the right analog, there’s a free-flowing aspect to gunplay. Whizzing through an area, taking out in a slick and stylish manner is an absolute joy and never gets old.
Another way that the multi-use device shines is with traversal. The core aspects are tight which makes leaping and wall jumping feel great, however, the Gunbrella expands on this. You can dart through the air or underwater, zip across cables and glide in the sky like a badass Mary Poppins. While there are plenty of sections where you must eliminate those on the screen, Doinksoft includes a number of platforming challenges too. You’ll need to use all of your abilities to overcome technical sections which are a welcome diversion from running and gunning. These entities also combine to create enthralling moments that test your platforming and combat prowess.
The Metroidvania structure means you’ll board a train to venture back from across distinct areas. On your journey, you’ll meet people who will give you optional side quests that tell smaller stories and additional objectives to fulfill. Although the missions are engaging, sometimes it can be difficult to remember the location of the person you spoke to. As there are no clues as to where you need to return, this means you may need to roam areas in search of people.
The pixel art style works incredibly well. Animations are smooth and personality shines through due to the excellent art direction. There is an intended dreariness within the design that links to the narrative, however, the game includes a range of backdrops that continue to impress. The audio complements the visuals to create a wonderful presentation. Performance on the Switch was perfect except for one section. During a daring escape, the game slowed down and required patience and a hard reset to resolve. This bug is due to be patched so you shouldn’t come across the issue upon release.
Gunbrella takes a ridiculous idea and creates an incredible adventure around it. The gun/umbrella combination allows you to quickly traverse and blast enemies with ease. Surprisingly, the narrative includes an emotional punch and is brimming with charm. Although some of the side missions are not as strong as the main objectives, the game is a delight from beginning to end and a must-play for fans of Metroidvanias.
***A Nintendo Switch key was provided by the publisher***
- Slick Combat
- Smooth Traversal
- Engaging Story
- No Guidance to the Location of People
- Mediocre Side Missions