The absolutely ludicrous Gungrave has finally returned! This brand-new entry sticks resolutely to the script laid down by earlier efforts in the franchise, presenting exactly the same flimsy but satisfyingly flamboyant arcade action as its predecessors, just with much prettier graphics this time around. This is a hyper violent, noisy and very, very silly explosion of murder that absolutely entertains in bursts, but will likely leave many players wishing there’d been just a little more nuance added to the mix for this latest outing.
Gungrave has been around in one form or another since all the way back in 2002 and the core gameplay in Gungrave G.O.R.E sure does feel like it’s been airlifted in from a couple of decades ago in many respects. There are no branching paths, no collectibles or thoughtful narrative hooks to sink your teeth into, it’s 100% all about relentlessly killing people and blowing things up. Period. You play as Grave, the gunslinger of resurrection, a sullen and extremely violent anime hard lad who blasts through levels with a coffin on his back, shooting absolutely everything that moves as quickly as possible in order to rack up massive combos.
Yep, it’s all about the combos here, each kill adding to your overall beat count and giving you more options to toy around with as you rise through levels. It’s pure arcade silliness and it suffers from a definite lack of feedback when you take damage – it really is quite hard to tell when you’re being hit – but if you like the idea of chaining together huge kill streaks while very loud music blasts away in the background, this one is still well worth checking out, especially since it’s been launched on Xbox Game Pass.
For as seemingly simplistic and repetitive as it all is too – and it is massively repetitive – there’s actually a decent variety of moves to utilise, with screen-shaking specials constantly activated as you successfully kill your foes, meaning there’s always some big explosive attack ready to unleash as you move through the short and totally linear levels on offer. You can upgrade Grave with a bunch of new attacks as well, giving you lots of brutal assaults to unlock and perform as you march through the roughly 15-hour campaign.
If you don’t immediately gel with the style of this one you’re likely not going to be entertained for long but, if you get into the swing of things, if you fancy the idea of S-ranking every single one of the levels on offer, you may find yourself having way more fun than you initially expected. There’s genuine skill involved in keeping your beat count ticking over too, you need to think ahead, make sure you’re always shooting at something and coming up with inventive ways to keep your combo rising during transitions between waves of enemies. Things get properly crazy when you kick the difficulty up and, if you’re looking for a challenge, perfecting every level on the hardest setting here will keep you busy for a very long time.
On the downside, as we mentioned, damage feedback feels lacking and it’s hard to really know when you’re taking hits a lot of the time, so you’ll find yourself spamming your dodge shot moves without feeling as though you’re actually getting out of harm’s way. A little more attention to this aspect of proceedings would have made for a much more satisfying core experience. We also wish there was an option to hold in the trigger and continuously fire, as having to constantly pull on it millions of times as you blow through baddies can get really quite tiring on the old finger bones.
Overall though, if you can look past the highly repetitive nature of what’s on offer here, Gungrave G.O.R.E is a very loud, very silly good time. This is a resolutely old-school arcade action effort that will 100% click for players who are down with its relentless combos, rock music and non-stop murder mayhem. It may not be for everyone, but once the rhythm gets you, it’s hard not to blast through this one with a great big smile on your face.
Gungrave G.O.R.E feels like a perfect title to release on Xbox Game Pass, the kind of thing most people really will want to try before they buy. It’s absolutely not for everyone, it’s old-fashioned, obnoxiously loud and highly repetitive, but if you fall under its spell, if you get into the murder rhythm of it all, you may well find yourself thoroughly addicted. It’s a shame there’s not better feedback when you take damage, and we wish there was an option to hold in the trigger for continuous fire, but beyond these shortcomings this one absolutely nails what it sets out to do. This is a loud, silly and gratuitously violent slice of old-school arcade action.