Gunbrella is the latest project from Doinksoft, the team behind the bite-sized Gato Roboto. The games that publisher Devolver Digital picks to be part of its catalogue certainly have a vibe, and Gunbrella fits this vibe to a tee. Subdued colours, heavy use of film grain, a cruisy jazz/breakbeat soundtrack, and lots of gratuitous violence enacted by (and upon) a cast of kooky characters.
Gunbrella is a 2D sidescrolling action game where you play as a gruff woodsman on a quest for revenge. Arming himself with the titular Gunbrella, the only clue left at the scene of the crime, he begins to investigate those who harmed his family. On his mission, you’ll come up against useless mayors, insane cultists, invincible wraiths, and a whole lot more.
The Gunbrella can use several different ammo types, with the standard being unlimited shotgun rounds, but later on, you can get limited amounts of rapid-fire bullets, grenades, and even buzzsaw blades that ricochet off walls. While somewhat fun to experiment with, I played the vast majority of the game using the standard shotgun rounds. There were only one or two occasions where I felt the need to swap out the ammo type.
Combat is fun but simple. Leaping towards an enemy with the umbrella part of the Gunbrella, then firing off a shotgun blast at point-blank range remains satisfying throughout. The boss fights provide a little bit of challenge, with horribly mutated monstrosities filling the screen. These fights are a matter of learning attack patterns and dealing damage when safe, although there are some that require a bit more finesse.
Outside of combat, the Gunbrella is also used to move about the world, letting you surge upward and then glide down to your destination. The woodsman can use it to attach to zip lines and hooks, as well as use it as a shield to deflect bullets. The level design is perhaps a little repetitive, both from an artistic point of view as well as progression. There are a number of standouts, like the steampunk-noir city of Allendale, but overall the aforementioned subdued colours kind of make things blur together.
Overall Gunbrella tells a fairly straightforward narrative, although there is a little flexibility in the largely linear story. You can sometimes pick up little side quests that will reward you with upgrades and in some cases a payoff much later on in the story. This is by no means a pure Metroidvania in the sense that Gunbrella does not feature a wide, interconnected labyrinthine world to explore in any way you see fit.
The soundtrack is certainly a highlight. The suave, low-key jazz hits all the right notes during exploration, and the far more disruptive, industrial tracks do the same for combat. There are also some ambient tracks that are harder to describe. They are eerie and very ‘devolver’, although I am unsure how useful that descriptor might be for some.
Gunbrella isn’t going to ‘wow’ anyone. It’s a straightforward 2D action platformer with a gimmicky weapon at its core. What it does offer is interesting enough to be worth checking out, however. The strong visual style, eclectic soundtrack, and simple but satisfying gameplay all make Gunbrella worth your time. It’s quaint – nothing groundbreaking or complicated – a bite-sized experience that you can blow through in a weekend. And sometimes that’s all a game needs to be.
Gunbrella was reviewed on PC with a code provided by the PR team.