Gunbrella is a side-scrolling action/platformer developed by doinksoft and published by Devolver Digital. A stranger disembarks from a boat in search of answers. Armed with a gunbrella, he must jump, float, and battle his way past enemies and obstacles if he is to find the answers he seeks. I got to play through the first section of this journey in my preview time with Gunbrella.
Let’s answer the most obvious question first. What is a gunbrella? As it turns out, a gunbrella is an extremely useful tool that can protect, dispatch enemies, and be used to traverse numerous terrain obstacles.
The most basic function, firing, is employed by simply pulling the left trigger(my time was spent on a gamepad) and using the right analog stick to direct your fire. The default ammo type is a short-range spread shot that hits hard but fires slowly. This slow fire rate forces players to plan out attacks carefully. If you miss your first shot, you will most likely be getting shot before your gun has reloaded.
As I mentioned earlier, my preview of Gunbrella introduced me to an impressive number of uses for the game’s titular equipment. However, what is even more impressive is how smoothly the devs at doinksoft have implemented these functions. By holding the right bumper, the player opens the gunbrella. From here, simply move or point the item in the direction you want and you are off. Do you need to block gunfire coming from the right? Simply face right with your opened gunbrella to block it. A high ledge you can’t reach? Point the opened gunbrella up and jump for an added boost of height. Within minutes I was bounding off walls, deflecting shots, and returning fire with ease. The level of intuitiveness I experienced during my time with the game was impressive.
But while the gameplay was the star of my preview of Gunbrella, it was the only thing that got my attention. The world I journeyed into quickly took some turns I was not expecting.
As my time with the game began, Gunbrella instantly gives off a steampunk western vibe as the player’s character arrives in a sleepy town simply looking to pass through to the next destination on their journey. While their progress is soon halted by a bandit gang that has kidnapped the mayor and caused the town to go into lockdown, the story quickly spirals into places I wasn’t expecting. Occult sacrifices, magic powers, and copious amounts of pixel blood soon filled my time with the game’s introductory level. If this is how off the rails the story gets in the first chapter, I’m more than a little curious to learn just how wild things get by the story’s end.
The final takeaway from my preview of Gunbrella comes from the visual side of the game. While the pixel-animated characters are well delivered, what I saw never really popped for me. They are good, but this style of pixel art feels thoroughly familiar from the indie game scene at this point. Even the ample amount of pixelated gore has been seen in recent releases, dulling the novelty of that. However, the clear way it handles the weird and wild elements of the game’s early moments does make me feel confident that wherever the rest of the game’s plot ends up going, the visuals should bring the game’s challenges through in a way that allows the player to enjoy them without unhampered by the visuals.
When all is said and done, my preview time with Gunbrella has set my expectations high for the finished product. Fun traversal combined with challenging action and a plot that seems geared to surprise could have players hooked when this game lands on pc.
Gunbrella is currently slated for release on PC in 2023.