Title: Gungrave G.O.R.E
Release Date: November 22, 2022
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Prime Matter
In its 20th anniversary, fans of gothic action get a new Gungrave title. Gungrave G.O.R.E aims to reintroduce gamers to the arcadey action starring Beyond the Grave, but sadly the experience hasn’t aged too well. In retrospect, this title sticks closely to the original series but does little to innovate. There are bouts of fun to be had, but between that are many moments of frustration.
Gungrave G.O.R.E features a story of revenge. As Grave, players must stop the distribution of the street drug known as SEED. While series fans will know this lore, past knowledge of the series isn’t required. Still, context is provided to catch everyone up to speed. If you’ve played past entries, you’ll be well acquainted with the characters and overall setting, but if not, you may be curious as to why the silent and brooding Grave is even doing all this. In short, he’s one of the coolest characters in gaming. His goth appearance and overall style aren’t easy to gloss over, and I’m glad this new entry portrayed that.
Other characters become playable in later levels, which does switch up some of the gameplay elements, but most of the 15-hour runtime will be spent as Grave. Compared to its predecessors, Gungrave G.O.R.E is gorgeous. It doesn’t lean too far away from what the series was and looks almost identical in terms of walking and shooting animations. The camera and movement options have been updated, but this game packs a lot of nostalgia. Sadly, this is also its downfall.
Each mission can be played across one of three difficulties. However, there are random difficult spikes that slow progression. I wonder if the devs expect players to grind up spendable points replaying stages to upgrade Grave enough to handle the later levels. Most of this artificial difficulty stems from time-based missions and multi-wave missions.
For example, you have to get to a certain area of a train before you reach a tunnel but to get there, you need to get past waves of enemies and even mines that can push you off the train causing you to restart the level. There’s also a level where you need to ride a crate while enemies rain missiles and bullets from both sides of you. Strangely, the crate is too small to dodge, and getting hit by a missile will push you off again, causing you to restart. It’s incredibly frustrating, especially when you get to the last part and fall.
Other challenging moments have to do with the areas where waves of enemies flood the room. It’s kinda funny how popular this drug is because there seems to be no shortage of those wanting to fight for it. You will destroy so many enemies throughout this game, and as cool as that sounds, you’re plagued with having a sore finger after. Why? Oh, because you’re required to tap the trigger button to fire, there is no option for autofire, but you can stand still to initiate an autofire stance that leaves you open to enemy attack.
This game is littered with strange mechanics that can only be the result of it trying to be exactly what old fans of this series remember. I would have loved a few quality-of-life additions added. For instance, The levels can get fairly large, but there’s no reason to pay attention or explore them because there are 0 collectibles.
Also, while I’m on the topic, there’s no reason why I have to charge up a shot every time a dude with a shield is coming. I swear these enemies suck because you can’t shoot them until you destroy their shield with a charged blast or melee attack. While you can deflect missiles, you must be completely standing still to do it, leaving you open to enemy fire.
You can customize Grave with additional upgrades, but many of the skills are melee based, which I didn’t use too often. Also, while the animation is different, many attacks have the same outcome, so there’s no reason to purchase anything except health and attack upgrades.
Regardless, Gungrave G.O.R.E offers a unique experience you won’t find in any game released this generation. It’s a novelty in some ways, but it’s still capable of providing hours of fun. You may be left confused about some of the mechanics, but you’ll find that this game is hard to put down. Its random challenge spikes test your ability to adapt to the waves of enemies. Utilizing special attacks, overdrive mode, and deflecting rockets is all required to progress, and I found myself retrying over and over, if only to prove I had what it takes.
The best moments of Gungrave G.O.R.E stem from the Korean voice-over and cinematics. It seemed like a lot of budget was put into this presentation, which shows in the environment design. There are options for voice-over in English, but I left it in Korean for most of the game. In the second of the game, the experience is more positive as a clear villain is introduced, but it’s too little too late at that point.
Gungrave G.O.R.E lacks quality-of-life found in more recent games. While I’m a sucker for nostalgia, G.O.R.E tends to be more frustrating than fun. There are some exciting moments of arcadey action, but you’ll likely grow tired of the waves of enemies and artificial difficulty that stems from annoying mission objectives. I’m glad Grave is back from the dead, but I can’t help but want more.
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