I don’t think an umbrella-turned-firearm would be my first choice to avenge a dead wife, but it’s a perfectly viable choice in the self-proclaimed “noir punk” world of Gunbrella, an action platformer from doinksoft, developer of Gato Roboto.
Gunbrella invokes in my mind an image of Shovel Knight, except you’re a guy with a gun…brella. There’s a few similarities–they’re both side scrolling action games with a quirky style. But Shovel Knight excelled at world building, and never let its style of humor get in the way. Gunbrella, however, forces you to embrace the quirkiness through repetition of cutscenes and constant dialogue. If it was something I could mostly avoid I wouldn’t care so much, but if you don’t talk to the NPCs in Gunbrella quests won’t proceed, and you’ll even miss the best stuff the game has to offer.
Gunbrella is at its best when you’re moving, shooting, and fighting. The eponymous gunbrella works as your trusty weapon – it’s a shotgun with a moderate spread. However, it also acts like a shield AND a way to dash or float upwards. If you open your umbrella right as a projectile hits it, you’ll shoot the projectile back. You can also use it for movement, floating up into the air like some sort of gun-toting Mary Poppins.
Combat in Gunbrella sometimes feels as fast and vicious as Hotline Miami’s–though enemies aren’t nearly as deadly. Gunbrella does eventually become a more difficult game, but I had to play it for a couple of hours before it ramped up its challenges. The hardest parts of Gunbrella are probably the boss fights–usually fights against animated piles of meat, and occasionally the extra difficult NPC.
There are some Dark Souls influences in Gunbrella, like the ability to rest at benches (and sometimes beds) to create a checkpoint and renew health. However, enemies don’t respawn like they would in a soulslike, instead rotting away with rats or crows picking over their permanently dead corpses. It’s a refreshing change from games that try so hard to get some of that soulslike magic into their own games, but it also means there’s less time to dash and shoot–which is easily the best part of Gunbrella.
Gunbrella very much wants its players to be invested in its world. Choices you make in Gunbrella have consequences – helping out certain NPCs can prove to be helpful in the long run. It’s nice that in Gunbrella it feels like I can do good deeds and not have them punished, as doing the “right” thing often gives some sort of benefit.
I would have preferred if I could take Gunbrella’s quirkiness where I wanted, and leave it where I didn’t–but being forced into long strings of dialogue after meeting endless amounts of NPCs really dragged down the pacing for me. I just wasn’t that interested in the why as much as the whole gunbrella part. Gunbrella’s not a bad game–in fact, it has moments where it was excellent–but it’s not a great game. And that’s almost worse.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review