Gungrave G.O.R.E.

Not too long ago, I decided to give Gungrave G.O.R.E. a whirl. I hadn’t played any of the previous titles in the Gungrave series, but I thought I’d take a chance and see what this new entry has to offer. And it didn’t hurt that publisher Prime Matter was willing to give me access to a preview build of the game.

For the most part, my impressions were pretty positive. Sure, it’s mindless and antiquated in its design and execution, but if you just shut off your brain and mash the trigger buttons, there’s a decent amount of silly spectacle to be had.

The preview build ended with Grave boarding a train, and I was mildly curious about how the rest of the game would play out. I was on the fence about continuing, to be perfectly honest, but then a review code came across the Half-Glass Gaming desk and pushed me over that fence. And since I had a decent time with the first several levels, I was looking forward to slogging through the remaining missions.

I played the preview build on my Steam Deck (where it ran really well, by the way), but my review code was for the PS5, which meant I had to replay everything I had already played through in order to progress any deeper. Those sections were fun enough, so I really didn’t mind too much. So after wrapping that up in about half the time it took on the first go-round, I was set to continue Grave’s misadventures.

Gungrave G.O.R.E.

But then I was hit with a sense of whiplash in the very next mission. I went from giddily enjoying the game to cursing its name and the names of all those who created it. I hate this game so much.

After getting onto the top of the train — the point where my preview build ended — the next mission tasks you with moving along the top of the speeding train, dispatching enemies and avoiding obstacles along the way, all while attempting to beat a slightly artificial countdown to the instant death of getting mushed by an oncoming tunnel. I had to replay this section no less than 30 times before I finally managed to get through it. Part of the issue was that, because the game insinuated a sense of urgency, it made me feel as if I had to rush in order to reach the end before the tunnel smacked me.

But I eventually realized that, although the tunnel is an eventuality, it’s only triggered after reaching a certain point — it’s not an actual timed event. Which meant, despite the urgency in the narration, constantly screaming at me to hurry, I could instead take my time. I didn’t have to be in such a careless hurry (up until that tunnel trigger point, I mean).

This didn’t make the task at hand far easier than it had been, for the record, but it did become less of a pain and more attainable. That being said, it was still annoying and frustrating especially because Grave also moves at a glacial speed, so running simply isn’t an option. And since most enemies are bullet sponges, that only adds fuel to the dumpster fire.

I did try using the grapple finishing attack on stunned enemies — which propels me forward to kill them — in hopes that this technique would allow me to sort of warp through the barrages of enemies. But this gets muddied when the playing field in now limited to a narrow train, and if any other enemy gets in your line of sight, you will instead suck those enemies towards you to act as a human shield.

It wasn’t but by the grace of God that I managed to finally complete that tedious mission before I damn near collapsed from an aneurysm, and I’m not even a religious person.

Gungrave G.O.R.E.

Unfortunately, the very next mission decided to just toss every enemy type at me in tight corridors lined with shipping crates, only to drive home how masochistic the game’s idea of challenge is. Not only did this funnel every enemy directly toward me — some of which I couldn’t immediately locate since they were perched above me, with others popping out from every nook and cranny — but the camera was unable to function as intended as it collided with obstacles and walls. This also meant that my dodge roll was ineffective, since Grave was also colliding with those same obstacles and walls. And this is all while an actual timer this time counts down to a fail state where your boss is overrun by the forces encroaching on them elsewhere in the map.

After giving this level a couple of tries, and even bumping the difficulty down to easy (gasp!), I finally decided that skyrocketing my blood pressure and subjecting my partner to a torrent of secondhand expletives just wasn’t worth the effort. That’s when I turned it off.

So no, I didn’t finish Gungrave G.O.R.E., so I can’t really call this an official review. I don’t ever plan to return to it, but I don’t imagine that I’ll spend much time thinking about it once it’s scrubbed from my hard drive.

Gungrave: G.O.R.E.

And look, this came out in a year in which I absolutely loved Elden Ring. Was it difficult as all hell? At times, yes — almost insurmountably so. But it never felt cheap. It would sometimes get too difficult for my current character level, equipment loadout, or just simply my temperament, but it never felt outright dirty in its transgressions against my character.

Gungrave G.O.R.E. just feels dirty. It’s difficult, but it’s not nearly as well-designed or balanced as something like Elden Ring. It also doesn’t offer nearly enough personal reward or a sense of accomplishment for having overcome adversity that had only moments before felt impossible. I finished that train sequence in Gungrave not by an execution of skill; it was merely a matter of luck. And I didn’t feel poised for what lies ahead; I was merely regretful that there was yet more to endure.

If Gungrave is your cup of tea, I hope you sip it to your heart’s content and enjoy every minute of it. But I simply can’t spare another minute of my already precious time in order to endure this masochistic level of torture just to see how this wafer-thin story ends.

Disclaimer: I was given a review code for Gungrave G.O.R.E. for PS5, as well as a preview key for Steam. However, the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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Nithi Chagas
Nithi Chagas
1 year ago

I really want to play the game on Steam Deck and reading your review makes me feel more disappointed at the game. While you can run the game smoothly on Steam Deck while it’s in development. On release, it does nothing but a black screen.

1 year ago
Reply to  Nithi Chagas

Same, black screen at the start 🙁

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