PLATFORM: PC, PS4/5, XBOX ONE/SERIES (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Preceded by an all-guns-blazing PSVR-exclusive prologue in 2018, Gungrave G.O.R.E. is the fourth game in the series and the first to be released on home consoles since the original’s sequel all the way back in 2004. While each game features its own unique criminal organisation for series protagonist Grave (a resurrected Brandon Heat, formerly a high-ranking member of a crime syndicate, now vengeful walking corpse) to fight against, the overarching plotline about a mysterious drug that causes all manner of problems finally reaches its conclusion here, 20 years after its began. The story stands on its own well enough, but a lengthy background video is included for those who want to catch up with the anime-style sci-fi story.
Taking a seriously old-school approach to game design, Gungrave G.O.R.E. doesn’t concern itself with anything other than shooting things, choosing to simply funnel you along corridors full of enemies and asking you to do nothing but mow them all down in whichever way you see fit. That usually means hammering away at your trigger button to unleash bullets from your gun Cerberus. This is by far your most important weapon, although you’re given a handful of other things to play with as well – the coffin-shaped Death Hauler is used for melee attacks, a Scorpion-style spear can either pull enemies towards you or vice versa, a “storm barrage” fires your gun in every direction, and melee finishing moves can be dealt to stunned enemies. At the end of each level, you earn points based on how well you performed. These points are used in “The Lab” to boost your stats and unlock additional skills. The most enticing upgrades are found in the Demolition Shots section, where Grave can learn super powerful special moves like continuous rapid fire, a flamethrower, homing missiles, double sword charging attack and a handful of others.
The game doesn’t quite hit its stride until a few of these skills have been acquired, by which time you’re likely to have got used to the slightly janky movement, unwieldy mandatory auto aim and slightly unresponsive controls. Gungrave G.O.R.E. feels like it comes from a bygone era, but whether that’s by accident or design (perhaps as a way of paying homage to the series’ roots) is open to debate. It does feel like a very barebones package, and the quirks and foibles of the early 2000s don’t always translate too well to the modern day. As a result, this is a tricky one to recommend to the masses, but if you’ve been waiting nearly two decades to find out how the story ends then you likely already know what you’re letting yourself in for!