A Weapon, A Tool, A Mode of Transportation! What Can’t It Do?
A gunbrella can be all kinds of things. A gun, a shield, a method of transportation; it’s seemingly whatever the developers at doinksoft want it to be, and Gunbrella is all the better for it. This latest action platformer from the makers of Gato Roboto already feels excellent during my recent hands-on demo of the game, and I can’t wait to dive in and see what else a gunbrella can do.
Arriving in a new area by boat, your mysterious protagonist is seemingly looking for the origins of the game’s titular weapon, which has a special insignia on it but no other identifying marks. He plans to head to the nearest major city by train and ask around there, but he quickly finds himself instead in a small local village under siege from a group of local cultists. With the trains out of service, until they can be dealt with, I got to dive into action and put my gunbrella to the test.
You realize quickly that Gunbrella expects you to use this weapon for many different things. It’s first and foremost a gun, allowing you to fire an unlimited amount of the game’s basic ammo or special ammunition and weapons such as grenades at foes. The default attack isn’t the strongest, with a bit of time required between each use, but it took out early enemies in a single shot, and most of the foes I faced in no more than two if I hit them straight on. Still, firing a grenade definitely has a bigger impact.
Some foes, particularly turrets, won’t be susceptible to standard gunfire, though, and if you miss an attack, you might need to wait a bit too long to fire to get another shot before your enemy can hit you. That’s when deploying the gunbrella as a shield becomes essential. Certain enemies telegraph that this is necessary, and those were easy enough to handle, but getting used to doing it on other foes when I simply couldn’t kill them fast enough took a little more getting used to, but it was definitely satisfying. That’s especially true when you can time it right to bounce their attacks right back at them, killing them without having to fire a shot.
You’ll also use your gunbrella to get around. There’s a lot of mobility built into this piece of tech. You’ll regularly find wires you can glide across using the handle. A dash lets you fly through the air under its power. You can also deploy it fully in the air, allowing you to float slowly to the ground or move past dangerous terrain.
I’m confident the developers at doinksoft have more ideas in store for the full game, as even the demo I was able to try featured some excellent puzzles to overcome. Most didn’t get too complex, but they’re more than you see in a lot of action platformers. As you explore this world, you’ll also pick up side quests and extra goals you can choose to look into, something that makes me think the main game will present the player with at least a reasonable amount of freedom to explore.
Most of my time with Gunbrella was a joy, but I do think the demo’s sole boss was a bit of a reason for concern. While an entertaining and creative encounter, like much of the atmosphere created throughout the demo, actually fighting him was less engaging. I found his speed and movement a bit at odds with the rather slow firing time of my main weapon and the rather slow pace of the game as a whole. While I did beat him, it was only because I had mostly ignored more advanced weapons throughout much of the demo, leaving me with a surplus of grenades and advanced attacks I could use against him. I still barely survived. Most enemies up until that point felt well-paced for the speed of the game, but he seems like an exception. Perhaps various upgrades and options I’d have in the full game would help make this feel better, or perhaps I just need more time with the game to get the most of everything a gunbrella can do. My first impression, though, was that some balancing might still be needed here.
My concerns about that final encounter don’t significantly take away from the excellent time I had with Gunbrella, though. Whether it be the game’s awesome pixel art look, its interesting tone, or the freedom that the gunbrella provides both in your attacks or when it comes to navigating the game, I was very impressed by my first encounter with Gunbrella, and I’ll be looking forward to the game’s full release next year.