Published by: Prime Matter
Developed by: Studio Iggymob
The glory days of the run-and-gun might be far behind us, but there are still a few outliers flying that specific flag. The frantic action of storming through a level (or world, or zone, or arena, etc) will always get your blood pumping. That is especially true when backed with a rocking musical score.
So, you would imagine that a game with those credentials, current-gen QoL, and a long-established franchise behind it would be a winner.
Well, for all its pomp and circumstances, the most recent entry into the Gungrave franchise feels a little…dead on arrival. I’m sorry. I can’t guarantee there won’t be any more puns. This is a burden we both must face together.
Quick side note; our Gungrave G.O.R.E. copy came courtesy of the publishers. It was performed on a standard, physical edition PlayStation 5.
Dead, I Am
Before we kick things off, maybe we should lay some groundwork down for anyone who isn’t quite familiar with the “Gungrave” name. Don’t worry, I was in that same boat as you when I first booted the game up.
Set in a cyberpunk-esque future city, Gungrave centres around “Grave”, a man who was killed by a former friend and colleague at the super-corporation, Millennion. Millennion, the main big bad of the series, is developing a super drug known as “seed”. And, as with any narcotic, crimes were committed.
Grave – the character – sets out on a mission to take down his former friend and bring the corrupt Millennion company down. In G.O.R.E., Grave is part of a team that looks to take down the drug cartel shipping SEED to the city; the Raven Clan. It’s all Kill Bill‘s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad levels of nicknames and different specialities.
All you need to know is, SEED is bad, Grave is good.
Bang, Bang, You’re Dead
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s tackle the main cusp of the matter; the actual gameplay. I likened G.O.R.E. to Devil May Cry…but with more guns…and set in a cyberpunk world. And…that’s perhaps the nicest way of describing the game.
In actuality, the levels are tedious at best and outright boring at worst. The levels are linear, straightforward corridors with the occasional large open room wherein you blast hundreds of faceless schmucks with your twin pistols. Granted, the action shooting sequences are okay at first, but when you realise there is little difference between killing your first or your five hundredth enemy in the same way, you can see some repetition sinking in.
There are a few other ways to defeat enemies, though. One of them is by swinging your coffin into your foes for some sweet melee damage. Yes, I said coffin. You can also do a long-reaching grab attack on a single enemy and knock the stuffing out of them. And, with enough skill points sunk into that particular power-up, you can unlock various special kills.
However, for about 95% of the level, you’ll be blasting fools away with your pistols. And that wouldn’t be a bad thing in most other games out there. But G.O.R.E. has a weird relationship with aiming – there isn’t really an “aim” mechanic. Sure, you look at an enemy and hit the fire trigger on your controller, but the AI does the rest for you. So, you’re left, basically, walking from one boring corridor to the next, looking vaguely towards an enemy, holding down the fire trigger, and reaping the rewards.
Of course, if you want to spice things up a little bit, you’ll want to try and do as many melee, special kills, and, most importantly, executions as possible. Each level ranks you on your overall style, a la Devil May Cry. The more stylish you are, the higher the grade, and the more DNA (upgrade materials) you are rewarded with. But, it’s just so…samey.
Take This to Your (Gun)Grave
One thing the game does well is its music. As you might expect from a series that should have stayed in the early naughties [side note; the original Gungrave game was released back in 2002, with the sequel, Gungrave: Overdose coming in 2004], the music is heavy metal with a thumping beat and driving basslines. And I’m all for that, honestly.
It matches the overall aesthetic of Gungrave as a series and the whole gothic-ish chíc that Grave (the character) possesses. However, the world has moved on from shock-rock and Marilyn Manson et Rob Zombie, so it does feel a little dated in comparison. Additional side note, there is nothing wrong with either Misters Manson or Zombie. I for one still adore Hellbilly Deluxe, but I am also acutely aware of my age.
Alongside the musical score, there is the game’s handling of voice acting. I am happy to report that there is some in G.O.R.E. It won’t blow you away in terms of deep narrative or powerful performances, but it is definitely something to comment on. One thing to point out is that Grave isn’t exactly known for his speaking talents – mainly because he doesn’t speak. So any and all dialogue is heard from secondary (or, God forbid, even tertiary) characters. Still, what they add to the mix certainly drives the meaningless story along.
If Looks Could Kill
In regards to the aesthetics/visuals of G.O.R.E., I must say that, aside from the level designs and the enemy models, a bit of thought was put into Grave. His overall style is basically the same as you would have found in Overdose, but it’s been modernised. He’s still a campy little emo boy with bangs and crucifixes adorning his leather jacket, but it looks modern. Still not quite as dapper as his more white ensemble from the original Gungrave, but functionality matters when you are a mute killing machine.
As for the world itself, it’s a typical cyberpunk dystopian supercity. So, yeah? It’s okay. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. It won’t take your breath away, but it does bleed into the whole dystopian viewpoint nicely.
Back From the Dead?
In terms of replayability, whilst G.O.R.E. does have some areas where you could go back and beat it to get a better score, you don’t really need to. Unless, of course, you’re somebody who just has to have an S+ ranking on every level. I ain’t about that life, but you do you.
There are no collectables to mention, no bits of lore to go out of your way and look into, and no side quests to eat up your time. It’s literally just going to this location and killing everyone in this location (or tackling the boss in that location). In terms of gameplay, it really is…bare bones! Geddit? Cause he’s dead?
The Last Rites…
Anyways, tough crowd. When I look at my time spent with G.O.R.E., there was honestly only one thing that went through my head – I am glad I didn’t buy this. And that might be harsh, especially considering some of the other games out there, but, honestly, if you’re not heavily into the lore and franchise of Gungrave already, G.O.R.E. will just bore you. Or, you’ll see it as a game to play for a few hours, get the achievements for it, uninstall it, and forget about it. And to be honest, that’s perhaps the worst thing. It’s an entirely forgettable experience. One that you can dust off in around 10 hours or so, give or take.
Overall, I’d give G.O.R.E. a 4/10. It isn’t the worst game I’ve ever played, and I’m not like certain reviewers out there who, just because they don’t like the game will give it a one out of 10. But, by the same token, I really didn’t enjoy my time with this game. If it hadn’t been given to us for free (or hadn’t also been available on Xbox Game Pass at launch), I wouldn’t have bothered. Sorry.
Cool anime backstory/intro bit to catch all non-long-time fans up with the story, however.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. is available on PlayStation 4 and 5, the Xbox family of consoles, Xbox Game Pass, and on PC through Steam.
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Gungrave G.O.R.E. Review
- Overall - 4/104/10
An okay run-and-gun callback to a bygone era, sadly Gungrave G.O.R.E. doesn’t quite do enough to establish itself as a decent game. Decent fan service, however.
- Cool aesthetics
- Fitting audio work
- Lacklustre gameplay mechanics
- Disconnected feeling between controls and in-game action
- Boring, repetitive level design
- So-so story
ABG’s Senior Editor (News), YouTube content creator/streamer.