Gaming Age


Gunbrella
By Devolver Digital
Nintendo Switch (US Version)

Gunbrella

I'm not sure that a real world application of fusing a gun with an umbrella would work all that well, but within the world of Gunbrella, it's a concept that takes on a starring role. The newest from developer doinksoft, published by Devolver Digital, Gunbrella puts you into the blood-soaked, revenge-ridden shoes of a man who loses his family, and the only clue is the murder weapon left at the scene. That weapon? You guessed it, the aforementioned Gunbrella.

Gunbrella is a 2D action-platformer that puts an emphasis on movement, deflecting bullets, and shotgun blasting foes as you make your way through multiple areas in order to uncover the secrets of a world that's in pretty rough shape. Set in a very dystopian world, Gunbrella isn't what I'd call an upbeat, vibrant sort of game, but it still manages to pepper in some humor thanks to various bits of dialogue with NPC's scattered about the multiple towns you'll visit. The structure of Gunbrella isn't easily comparable to any other game in the genre, it's not a Metroidvania, but it doesn't have a traditional level by level structure either. Instead you'll typically visit a town along a railway line, speak to various NPC's, advance your main questline, and then tackle an explorable area with enemies before moving on to the next town. There's also a twist of sorts as you advance through the story that'll see you revisiting some of those areas again down the road.

Part of what makes Gunbrella an appealing experience is how good it feels to move around the world. Using the Gunbrella, you can float through the air, boost around on the ground and in the air, deflect bullets, and wall jump throughout the environments. Everything feels nice and snappy, which helps keep the exploration exciting and brisk throughout. Combat is fairly simple, but there are a variety of enemies that get introduced throughout the game that will force you to approach gunfights in different ways. It's pretty easy to get absolutely stomped early on if you're not careful in how you approach enemies, but once you get a handle on movement and shooting, along with the timing of reloads and how enemies react to being shot, you'll likely find the difficulty starts to ease up a bit.

Gunbrella's pacing is also handled really well. The breaks in between action and exploration where you're running through a small town and interacting with NPC's helps to flesh out the story pretty well, and the overall time it takes to finish Gunbrella is just brisk enough that it doesn't wear out its welcome. My only complaints stem from some uneven checkpoints strewn about the game, which aren't too egregious but I certainly hit a couple points where I was surprised by how much progress I lost on death. Also, the need to progress certain quest lines via dialogue is fine, but it can sometimes be hard to tell when an NPC has more to say to trigger that advancement, as opposed to just repeating the same lines of dialogue over and over.

Overall, those are pretty minor complaints, I enjoyed my time with Gunbrella. The umbrella that's also a gun concept does a great job of carrying the game along, making it a joy to play and navigate across the 6ish hours or so it'll take most to complete the game. The story is weird and interesting enough to also keep you entertained, which certainly helps make Gunbrella feel fresh despite there being a number of retro-themed action-platformers on the market today. I'd highly recommend checking out Gunbrella when you get a chance, you won't be disappointed.

Dustin Chadwell

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