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Gunbrella Is A Joyful Action Noir Title That’s Short & Sweet

Platform(s): PC (version reviewed), Nintendo Switch
Genre: 2D Search Action Game With Unique Weapon

Revenge plots in games are dime a dozen, but what if it’s one involving a man looking for his wife’s killer using nothing but his gun-slash-umbrella hybrid in a steampunk-laden oppressed world?

Enter Gunbrella, a really twitch-savvy 2D action title that feels a bit like Hotline Miami in terms of challenge, but gives you a slight chance with an innovative tool to wield. And it’s hella fun, even if it’s a bit too brief for my liking.

 

Gimme Shelter

The main character wields the title weapon, which is part shotgun, part traversal device, and part parrying tool. You explore various towns looking for your wife’s killer, with each of them having conveniently broken-down transit systems you need to solve and sort out to progress. This means going through the underbellies of society and sewers, killing mutants and cultists with your trusty boomstick. You start off with four lives, and you’ll lose them quick if you don’t know how to defend yourself while on the offensive. Your main character can not only dash, airdash, and float with the umbrella, but can also parry all manners of attacks and projectiles, with the latter being able to damage enemies in its return trajectory.

After many deaths, you’ll get the hang of it, believe me. Pretty soon you’re a gunbrella-wielding speedster with a shotgun, able to sprint and dart all over the screen while avoiding enemy fire. You’ll be able to return the favour with alternate ammo options along the way, from the straight-shooting rifle to sticky grenades that latch onto its unfortunate targets, detonating for big damage after a second or so.

A game with this much action and challenge requires precise controls, and thankfully developer Doinksoft implemented just that. If you die in Gunbrella, it’s basically your fault for not being able to master its nuances. The game’s level design is filled with crawlspace, shallow swimming, and a good amount of platforming and puzzles related to traversal to keep your mind stimulated while you have your finger on the trigger. It’s unadulterated 2D run-and-gun fun, except with parasol airdashes and bullet parrying.

Which leads me to the game’s one sore point: its tone and narrative. While the revenge tale is fine and all with the appropriate amount of kookiness with its settings and characters, the game’s VO work does break the mystique and noir attempt here. No, not actual spoken words; the kind of gibberish samples you hear from games like The Legend of Zelda. Somehow the devs thought that having some pivotal serious moments be punctuated with off-kilter grunts and sounds of acknowledgement/indifference (like “zepper reefa”) is charming, but in truth can get distracting. That, and the game’s total length of 6 hours or so are the game’s sore points.

 

Parasol Party

I was really left wanting more of Gunbrella’s levels and gameplay, to the point where I feel that 6 hours wasn’t enough. Perhaps it could benefit from more stages that mix challenge and creativity. As it stands, it is still a great indie action platformer to pick up. Gunbrella really delivers where it counts: an action-packed 2D run-and-gun search action offering with a quirky-yet-serious presentation and a badass weapon.

 

Pros

  • Spot-on controls & gameplay feel.
  • Deeply serious story with some bits of appreciated humour.
  • Lovely aesthetics.

Cons

  • Pretty short.
  • VO grunts break gravity of plot.

 

Final Score: 80/100

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  1. Gunbrella Walkthrough & Guide: How To Kick Butt With Your Umbrella Shotgun Combo | Kakuchopurei

    September 14, 2023 at 2:52 am

    […] Having said that, the game can get challenging. Here are some video guides to help you figure out your path through the game’s seedy underbelly and rich/poor divide storyline. For more about the game, check out our review of the indie title. […]

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