Gungrave Gore Review 1

Gungrave GORE review — GOREbage

Please, never rise and cause evil again.

The novel Pet Sematary is about a man who buries his cat in an ancient burial ground that causes any corpses laid to rest within it to rise, carrying an evil spirit. The protagonist is warned by an old man: “Sometimes dead is better.” This is very much the case with Gungrave GORE, which is best described as the rotten carcass of a franchise that probably needed to stay buried. Most terrible games nowadays are riddled with bugs, glitches, and other issues; Gungrave has very few of those. Instead, it’s built on a foundation of instantly monotonous gameplay and thoroughly lackluster appeal.

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The plot contrivance drug known as SEED is still wreaking havoc. The undead protagonist, Grave, is working with his companion Mika to rid the world of the scourge. In their sights is the Raven Clan which, in classic manga fashion, is headed up by four top dogs. The story, however, is a baffling mess that pivots wildly before the end, leaving you dazzled at its pointlessness.

There are quite a few cutscenes in Gungrave GORE. Characters talk at length about SEED, and villains monologue endlessly. The dialogue is a bore at best and embarrassing at worst. The English voice acting is subpar, and the character designs are hideous.

Gone is the art style that made the series look like a Nightow manga brought to life. The environments don’t look bad, but they’ve got zero personality. The same is true about the enemies, which all look like they could have come from any game on the planet. Any style or flair the series once had is dead and buried — kind of ironic, really.

Gungrave Gore Review 2

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Shoot ’em up

If you’ve played 2004’s Gungrave Overdose, you know exactly what to expect from Gungrave GORE. While there are three playable characters, the other two only get a single level each. Grave takes the center stage in the other 29. No, you can’t play as the others after beating the game — that would make too much sense. Why would someone make two more characters and then refuse to let you play as them? That’s a great question!

Grave plays just as he did 18 years ago. He’s slow, clunky, and his abilities function like you’re meant to tank damage and shoot everything to pieces. The main improvement is that the camera is thankfully no longer stuck to his back.

You can play with a mouse and keyboard or a gamepad. I would have preferred the latter, but you can’t change the default buttons on the gamepad and shooting is mapped to the right trigger. This means that you’ll spend the majority of the 10 to 12 hours the game takes mashing said trigger, which is uncomfortable and awkward — much like playing this game. Despite having mouse aim, you primarily shoot enemies via automatic targeting. Bullets don’t feel like they individually hit an enemy as much as they lower the meter tied to their health. It would have been neat to play a Gungrave game with actual bullet physics, but too bad.

Grave carries into battle two guns, his Death Hauler weapon, and that’s it. He never gets anything else, although he can add melee moves and new specials. Regardless, he plays the exact same whether you’re in your first hour or your tenth. You can buy new special attacks and Death Hauler moves, but the weapon’s hit detection feels awful; it’s always better to shoot everything. If you shoot and then hold down the button, Grave will charge a shot. If you shoot in place for a few seconds and then hold the button, Grave will rapidly fire all around him as long as you don’t move.

Gungrave Gore Review 3

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Get moving

But you’ll need to move, as enemies will absolutely tear Grave apart on the normal difficulty. Older titles were about Grave or his allies tanking damage and stylishly blasting their way through hordes. Gungrave GORE is about Grave getting constantly stunlocked by everything until he dies. Your only real option is to move around while shooting or shoot-dodge. Another briefly playable character, Bunji, can maintain his rapid-fire shooting after dodging. But you only play as him for like 10 minutes, so forget about that. There are some new moves introduced during the first level, though. Grave has a hook that he can use to grab weak foes and use as a shield, which halves his DPS.

You can buy moves to attack grabbed enemies, but they’re basically dead as soon as you grab them — these are mostly meaningless. You can use finishers on weakened enemies that refill a bit of Grave’s shield. Using specials heals one unit of Grave’s health bar. Shooting things ups your Beat counter. Once it’s at 50, Grave can use his Beatdown move, which is good for shooting rapidly in the middle of hordes but isn’t accurate enough to be of use in other circumstances.

As mentioned, shooting feels worse in GORE than its predecessors. It doesn’t help that enemies in the new game are on the spongier side. You basically just shoot them until they explode or fall over. There’s a decent variety to your foes, but they’re a chore to fight. Humanoid enemies come with shields, swords, rocket launchers, sniper rifles. There are also these scientist guys who throw flammable containers and ones filled with green gas that makes it hard to see and cancels the manual targeting. Then there are Orgmen, which are extremely generic, beefier SEED soldiers that come in a few varieties. The game loves to throw hordes of these at you simultaneously to the point that it can be impossible to move if you have no demolition points.

Gungrave Gore Review 4

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Pinned down

Enemy placement in Gungrave GORE is haphazard at best. Levels are nonstop shootouts from beginning to end with enemies attacking you from the front, above, and behind. I’d walk into an area only to get hit by 10 rockets shot by enemies I couldn’t even see. I’d get pinned by a group of enemies that were too prevalent for the space which they occupied. It’s an absolute goddamn mess. Grave gets stunlocked by enemies with shields, shotguns, rockets, containers, grenades, or any sort of melee attack. The game’s primary challenge is that it hits you with all the above at once until you die because you can’t move.

This often happens in the span of a couple of seconds, which worsens as the game continues. Enemies with sniper rifles can destroy your shield in a hit or two, so imagine how much fun it is to walk into an area with four snipers positioned in high spots that Grave can’t easily look at since he can only look up so far. All four shoot at once, and two or three more enemies shoot you with rockets, all the while you’re pelted with flamethrowers and machine guns.

It can take memorization to get through these sections, but you’ll mostly be spamming your specials to get health back whenever there are too many enemies to deal with. The root problem is that these enemies absolutely do not work with Grave’s capabilities. It feels like Grave himself is in the wrong game. Grave simply feels unbearably weak with his dinky little guns and his useless coffin thing. Playing as him felt reasonably badass in past entries, but here it’s like trying to put out a fire with a spray bottle.

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Screenshot by PC Invasion

Just why

And it gets so much worse. Despite Grave’s slow, awkward movement, some levels demand you pass some platforming sections. Early on, Grave has to walk on top of a train. Signs start rapidly showing up at the end of this level, requiring Grave to dodge and jump over them, even though nothing of the sort had appeared before. If Grave gets hit by these signs a couple of times, he just dies and you have to start the section over again. This level ends by requiring you to make it to a car before the train heads into a tunnel. If you fail to make it there in time, the tunnel hits you and you die instantly.

But you have to contend with a ton of foes with zero interest in self-preservation while getting there. They don’t dodge the signs, so they get hilariously one-shotted. Luckily, you can just drop onto an invisible edge on the side of the train and walk to the open car. I wish this was the only time this sort of thing happened, but it pops up again and again. Another level has you slowly jumping onto moving platforms, but transferring to some of them is hard to manage because Grave will keep hitting the top with his jump. You fall off, you go back to the start and do it again.

Said section is interesting because if you take too long, the doors just open and you don’t have to suffer through the platforming at all. Oh, ye of little faith. Another section requires a character to jump between a bunch of small platforms as they fall out from beneath her. One of the platforms is a trick, so you’ll just die. If you fall, you go back and do the whole thing again.

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Screenshot by PC Invasion

And the lasers

Prior to one of Gungrave GORE‘s cheapest boss fights, Grave has to walk through five sets of lasers. If a single laser hits him, you guessed it, he dies instantly. Some of these require you to wait for just the right opening before it’s even possible to get through. Just like the platforming sections, this has zero business being in the game and only serves to make players suffer. Then there are the sections where you have to walk on narrow pathways while being spammed with rockets.

The rocket spam in Gungrave GORE is worse than the rocket spam in the original version of Ninja Gaiden II. You can deflect them by using Grave’s melee attack. But only when he’s holding still, which is awkward when you’re trying to avoid gunfire from half a dozen enemies while multiple homing rockets bear down on you. Standing still is a great way to get dead fast, but all of a sudden you need to do it to survive. It ends with you tanking any non-rocket damage while you wait to stop playing rocket tennis with them. Cross your fingers and hope that you have enough health!

The locations are repetitive, too. Most of the game takes place in labs or ruined cityscapes. Occasionally, the game breaks from this pattern. There’s a green outdoor area that spans two levels, and there’s also a casino, which shows up for a single level and then transitions back to another boring lab interior by the end. At the end of each level, you’re graded and receive a certain amount of currency based on the grade tier. Astoundingly, this amount doesn’t increase as you go through the game. The upgrades keep getting more and more expensive, but you’re still going to receive the same amount of currency. You literally get the same amount from the first and last levels. It’s madness.

Gungrave Gore Review 7

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Beat down

But there are problems with that too, of course. Getting high scores is partially contingent on keeping Grave’s Beat score high. This means you’ll need to continue shooting destructible objects even without any enemies nearby, which leads to randomly shooting the environment and hoping that there are objects littered around. Oftentimes there aren’t enough, so your Beat will reset while walking to the next room. The last few levels tend to have zero objects to shoot between enemy encounters, so there’s no way to keep your Beat high, which means your score will get impacted. I longed for the destructible environments that Gungrave Overdose was able to pull off with the PS2’s limitations in 2004.

What’s more, this means that Gungrave GORE actively punishes you for it, as you’ll have less currency to spend upgrading Grave. You can improve health, shield regeneration, bullet damage, and grab the mostly useless aforementioned new specials and worthless Death Hauler moves, but buying these instead of character upgrades is basically a waste. Some of the specials are better than the default one, but many of them require multiple demolition points, which can get you extra dead since you’ll often need to fire off a special as soon as you have a single point available. In the end, despite having to go through level after level to get to even a single member of the Raven Clan, the game ends with you taking down the big bads in just a few short levels. The final boss is laughably easy, with attacks that may as well dodge themselves.

I could go on indefinitely about all the things Gungrave GORE gets wrong. Why are the enemy encounters so horribly unbalanced? Why all the insta-kill platforming sections that don’t fit? Why make two entire characters and then only have them playable for a single level each? Why didn’t the game expand Grave’s repertoire beyond pistols and a melee weapon?

Gungrave Gore Review 9

Screenshot by PC Invasion

Gungrave GORE is easily the worst game I’ve reviewed in years and my uncontested pick for worst game of 2022. It’s ugly, boring, and soulless. I don’t care how much you liked the old games; this one is poison. Sometimes dead is better.

Gungrave GORE
Gungrave GORE is one of the worst of 2022. It's functional, but supremely awful the whole way through.

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Image of Andrew Farrell
Andrew Farrell
Andrew Farrell has an extreme hearing sensitivity called hyperacusis that keeps him away from all loud noises.  Please do not throw rocks at his window.  That is rude.  He loves action and rpg games, whether they be AAA or indie.  He does not like sports games unless the sport is BASEketball. He will not respond to Journey psych-outs.