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Sep 18, 2023

Gunbrella Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $14.99
We Recommend: $14.99
  • Developer: doinksoft
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Genre: Action, Adventure
  • Released: Sep 13, 2023
  • Platform: Windows, Switch
  • Reviewed: Windows

Gunbrella is doinksoft’s first game as part of a Devolver, but a special mention goes out to the excellent cat-themed metroidvania of Gato Roboto . Since making a couple of games published by Devolver since then, doinksoft really branches out and sprouts new leaves of creativity here. Gunbrella is a tight experience with equally tight controls and a fun premise that doesn’t overstay its welcome. With its intriguing premise, stylish visuals, and a unique gameplay mechanic, Gunbrella is one of the better action-adventure games where traversal is king.

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Right from the start, Gunbrella impresses with its striking visual design. The game’s art direction is a masterclass in pixel art, offering a meticulously crafted world filled with vibrant colors and dynamic animations. The characters, enemies, and environments all exude a sense of personality and charm that sets Gunbrella apart from the pixelated crowd.

Players are thrust into the shoes of Reggie, an ordinary office worker who stumbles upon an otherworldly umbrella, which soon transforms into a powerful firearm. The transformation animations are fluid and visually appealing, and the attention to detail in Reggie’s expressions as he wields his newfound weapon adds a layer of depth to the character. The game’s setting is equally impressive, blending elements of noir with a touch of surrealism. The cityscape is a dark, rainy metropolis that feels straight out of a classic detective film, while the fantastical elements that creep into the game’s world make for an enticing and mysterious backdrop.

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At its core, this is a side-scrolling action-adventure game, but what truly makes it shine is its innovative gameplay mechanic. Reggie’s umbrella is not just a simple defensive tool; it’s a multi-functional weapon that can morph into various forms, each with its unique abilities. The primary form is the Umbrella Shotgun, which unleashes a hail of bullets upon Reggie’s enemies. The fluidity of the combat mechanics, combined with the responsive controls, makes each encounter feel engaging and satisfying. Players can dodge enemy attacks with a well-timed roll and counter with precision shots, adding a layer of skill to the gameplay.

As the game progresses, Reggie unlocks additional forms for his umbrella, such as the Umbrella Blade and the Umbrella Grapple. These forms introduce new gameplay dynamics and puzzle-solving opportunities, ensuring that Gunbrella remains fresh and engaging throughout its runtime. The puzzles themselves are cleverly designed, often requiring players to switch between umbrella forms to progress. This not only challenges the player’s dexterity but also their problem-solving skills. The game strikes an excellent balance between combat and puzzle-solving, ensuring that neither aspect feels tacked on or neglected.

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Gunbrella ‘s narrative is a delightful blend of dark humor, mystery, and surrealism. The plot unfolds gradually, as Reggie is drawn deeper into the enigmatic world of his umbrella and the secrets it holds. The game’s quirky cast of characters, including the enigmatic Mr. Higgs and the sassy Ms. Sloane, add depth and charm to the storytelling. It’s best if you talk to everyone you can, there’s almost always something to uncover. The game’s dialogue is sharp and witty, often punctuated with humorous one-liners that keep players entertained even during moments of exploration. The writing shines brightest during the numerous optional conversations with NPCs, which provide insight into the city’s lore and its eccentric inhabitants.

One of the game’s notable strengths is its ability to create an atmospheric and immersive world. The rain-soaked streets, neon signs, and hauntingly beautiful soundtrack by composer Synthia Carrion all contribute to the game’s unique ambiance. Gunbrella ‘s world feels alive, with every pixel meticulously placed to evoke a sense of wonder and intrigue. Maybe because of this, there’s no map; but I found myself trying to pull one up throughout the entirety of the game. You will come across benches that can be sat on to sit and save your progress and heal. Or if you manage to find a bed, can heal you for an overcharge of health on top of saving the game.

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Gunbrella doesn’t hold the player’s hand. The game’s difficulty curve is designed to be challenging but fair, requiring players to master Reggie’s abilities and adapt to different enemy patterns. Boss battles are particularly exhilarating, offering a satisfying blend of pattern recognition and skill-based combat. Unfortunately, they are hindered by often needing to cycle different kinds of ammo, which is done via the d-pad, but is clumsy to select the exact one you want. These boss battles are hectic and demanding, so you don’t have the room to fumble through this menu. Despite the game’s difficulty, it rarely feels frustrating. The responsive controls and the ability to switch between umbrella forms on the fly allow players to experiment with strategies and find their preferred playstyle. Additionally, the game’s checkpoint system is forgiving enough to prevent excessive frustration while maintaining the sense of accomplishment upon overcoming challenges.

Beyond the main story, which should last anyone from six to eight hours, Gunbrella offers plenty of opportunities for exploration and discovery. Hidden collectibles, side quests, and secret areas encourage players to revisit earlier stages and uncover the city’s many secrets. This adds replayability to the game and rewards those who take the time to fully immerse themselves in its world.

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Gunbrella is a visually stunning and mechanically innovative, and while the narrative isn’t on even footing as its counterparts, it’s a standout title. From its stylish pixel art to its engaging gameplay and intriguing world, Gunbrella is a must-play for fans of action-adventure and retro games alike. With its unique blend of humor, mystery, and action, it’s a testament to what doinksoft does best, and does so well.

A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes