South Korean games have finally had a major push in the West. More and more have been shown during the more recent conferences. That push seems to be working, too, with each being received pretty well! The next one to grace us is Gungrave G.O.R.E. by developer Iggymob and publisher Plaion. I had the opportunity to check out the first four missions of the stylish third-person action shooter. Does it hold up? Does it match all that we’ve seen so far? The short answer is, currently, no. The long answer, though? Well, let’s dive into that.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. takes place in the distant techno future. You play as Grave, a gunslinger anti-hero ready to mow down anyone and everyone in his way to get the mission done. The few cutscenes I saw were action-packed and tried to set a morbid and fun tone. Specifically, the opening cutscene got me beyond excited to play this game. Grave flying in a coffin, taking out a few men, and breaking the neck of a mob member while flying out, it felt very Deadpool-esque.
At first, the gameplay looked similarly grim, grizzly, and intense. But I got severe whiplash from how the game looked to how it actually played. Gungrave G.O.R.E. takes a lot of influence from other intense action-focused games. It has combos, hit counters, flashy moves, and more! But somewhere along the way, it lost the fun.
The primary focus of Grave’s moves is his guns. He carries two pistols that can unleash a barrage of bullets. These guns are where I have my biggest issue with the game’s current state. These guns don’t feel impactful and turn long hallways into shooting galleries. Instead of being flashy and stylish, it dulls the gameplay and drags on. Even the melee, with Grave swinging his giant coffin, doesn’t feel right. If a scrawny guy gets hit with a massive metal coffin full of ammo, you’d think they’d get thrown around. But they just stand there and take it. They punch right back like they’re as inhuman as Grave comes off, even though there is no explanation that they are anything more than grunts or fodder.
As for the combos, they rarely worked. Either some of the mechanics never activated correctly, or they were, but it was never appropriately explained how to trigger them. Specifically, I was instructed that if I perform a specific combo, I will shoot indefinitely at whoever I aim at. This worked maybe a third of the time. Same for an AOE bullet barrage. I could barely pull it off unless it were by accident. Same conditions each attempt, and yet it rarely worked. These are things that can be fixed, and I hope they do, but these broken combos made a dull game feel even more boring.
The sad thing is that Gungrave G.O.R.E. is very visually impressive so far. The boss fights felt epic when going into them. The environments also seem well designed at first. But they, along with the other game elements, are missing the fun. Each area just goes on for far too long. After the exciting first couple of seconds, when getting into the groove of the boss’s patterns, the boss fights quickly become monotonous.
There are no real twists to the two bosses I fought. They each just repeat the same patterns over and over again with well-telegraphed attacks. Once I knew how to respond, they just became an enemy with more health that looked epic on the surface. There never felt like there were enough mechanics to actually consider them boss fights. In the first boss fight, I recall the boss having two, maybe three, attacks. That’s not much at all for how long it takes to defeat a boss.
Gungrave G.O.R.E, at its current stage, is beautifully stunning and tries to set up an exhilarating experience that doesn’t deliver. After playing the first four stages, my excitement for this game has dropped significantly. While there are issues, like combos not working properly, that can be fixed by its release., other issues, like the lackluster combat, just don’t feel like they can be fine-tuned in time to be the thrilling game that it wants to be at its heart.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. releases on November 22, 2022, on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.