In an age where reboots and remakes are the norm, Gungrave G.O.R.E. defiantly spits in the face of industry trends. It is hard to believe, but this latest iteration of Yasuhiro Nightow’s baby is a sequel to 2005’s Gungrave Overdose on PlayStation 2.
Plotlines established from the first Gungrave (2001) are built upon; like Bungi’s fate and the weaponizing of the orgman. The story from the first two games are given a very dry video explanation hidden in the main menu, but let’s be real… even the most hardcore Gungrave maniacs are not going to play Gungrave G.O.R.E. for its story.
For better and for worse, Gungrave G.O.R.E. is still a PlayStation 2 game at heart. After an almost 20 year-long hiatus, can this stylish run-and-gun still hold gamer’s attention? What can newcomers and veterans expect? Find out in this Gungrave G.O.R.E. review!
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the below:
Developer: IGGY MOB Co. Ltd.
Publisher: Prime Matter, Plaion
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: November 22, 2022
Price: $49.99 USD
Beyond the Grave, AKA- Brandon Heat, is a silent and merciless killing machine. He used to be a trusted, high-ranking thug for Millennion crime family, but after a lot of internal betrayals he was reborn as the not-quite-dead murder-machine.
Grave is effectively a tool for the machinations of other characters in the story. He never says anything and he barely expresses much emotion other than seething contempt for his targets. All of this is perfectly communicated through Gungrave G.O.R.E.‘s gameplay, which revolves around shooting the shit at everything.
Blasting away at moving targets is not enough for Grave – he must annihilate the world with lead since the game’s systems rely on players keeping a high combo.
Despite its appearances, Gungrave G.O.R.E is not really a shooter and has more in common with something like Devil May Cry than anything where the player needs to be accurate to score a head-shot.
Grave doesn’t need to be accurate. So long as a foe is within range; the player only needs to fire the guns in their general direction. Staying alive will demand dramatic, John Woo-style dives and grabbing foes to become human meat-shields.
Other than his twin pistols, Grave’s other weapon is his massive coffin. This thing would make Django proud; it not only is an effective bludgeon, but it also can send enemy missiles back to make the sender into a red stain.
Grave’s coffin is key to victory. Keeping a combo high is the efficient way to gain charges that unleash its demolition attacks. These can come in many varieties where they each have different power levels, range, and accuracy.
There is always a different demolition attack for every situation and they are also helpful in a pinch when Grave’s HP runs low.
Playing Gungrave G.O.R.E. like a regular third-person shooter won’t get you far. There are too many enemies to fight in small quarters and many of these thugs are equipped to make short work of complacent gamers.
The enemy variety is diverse to keep players on their toes. Some goons carry shields which require a bit of planning to dispatch. Shotgunners can interrupt Grave’s animation or cancel his charged shot. Rocket launcher equipped jerks stay afar and are best dealt with a return-to-sender.
There are many different types of melee grunts and fodder enemies. Little weasely twerps who throw fire-bombs or chemical gas grenades are especially a nuisance.
It feels all the more satisfying when performing a brutal finisher where their limbs end up splayed all over the floor. Upgrading Grave’s abilities and stats demands earning high scores in each level.
To net the highest ranks, gamers will have to get through these gauntlets quickly and brutally in order to maintain a high beat-count. This has the side effect of making the game intensely focused on only efficient play.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. is uninterested in letting players dawdle or explore. There are no key-items to find, no puzzles to solve, no switches or collectibles to grab. Outside of endlessly hailing a barrage of burning lead, the only gameplay variety is in the level design, boss fights, or stage-specific set-pieces.
Levels are very linear and outside of the odd gimmick; there is not much in terms of points of interest. Stages are a means to an end to create various connecting set-pieces, arenas and mazes to have wild and brutal shoot-outs.
No matter what, expect to always be under pressure of thugs swarming the protagonist. After long sessions, Gungrave G.O.R.E. can be grating due to the relentless pace of the action.
The soundtrack is also very loud and noisy, but most gamers won’t hear it due to the sounds of explosions, gunfire, and shrapnel shattering.
Gungrave G.O.R.E.‘s gameplay is still like its PlayStation 2 predecessors, but its visuals are on par with some of the best the industry has to offer. Yasuhiro Nightow’s vision is grossly realized to an extent never imagined before. Everything feels huge and larger than life.
Grave himself looks awesome and he has a palpable weight to his movements. When he swings that coffin around and obliterates a boy with it- the impact is monstrously violent. Character detail is not far off with the craftsmanship seen in Final Fantasy VII Remake.
The various pre-rendered cutscenes are especially impressive and look like movie-quality CGI. The action in these sequences never fail to impress and the scene direction is stylish and very atmospheric.
If the stylized character designs don’t grab your attention, then the vistas and ambiance of each stage will.
There is an impressive amount of detail in the environments, considering how brief they are and how the player is meant to run through them. Each area is festooned with lush art and dense geometry that is also destructible.
If you liked the two Gungrave games on PlayStation 2, then you’ll love Gungrave G.O.R.E. On PlayStation 5, G.O.R.E runs at a blistering 60 frames per second and its outrageous use of post-processing effects make it look like money. The series never looked or ran this good.
On top of looking incredible, Gungrave G.O.R.E. is also the longest in the series and is dense with replay value. It has a lot to unlock- including an extra playable character that will please long-time fans.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. is the ultimate guilty pleasure. It is the kind of brutal and simplistic action game that helps stressed and frustrated gamers release some steam. It is mind-numbing in excess, but is very satisfying in short bursts.
Gungrave G.O.R.E. was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Prime Matter. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Gungrave G.O.R.E is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.