“Happy Resurrection Day Grave!”
For the purposes of this review, I will note that this game was played on an original model PS4 running off the stock HDD with no upgrades made. The issues detailed below were problems I faced when playing and may not reflect your experience when playing on a more up to date console although in most cases you will come across more of these issues than none.
Gun Grave A History
Gungrave G.O.R.E is the direct follow up from 2019’s Gungrave VR U.N featuring Brandon Heat as Grave the Gunslinger of Resurrection rises once more the Gun-wielding anti hero returns after an extended break to lay every enemy to rest.
If you haven’t heard of Gungrave or you’ve missed the other games in the series then have no fear, G.O.R.E comes complete with a history section to cover the events of the previous games.
Given that there has been a good 20 years since the games original release be sure to stop by here in order to understand the story of the man dubbed
Beyond the Grave
Grave descends into Scumland to stop the war of desire from pushing humanity to the brink of extinction from the evil Raven Clan and SEED a drug that destroys one’s very soul.
We’ll start of with The Good, if you’re looking for a game filled with stylish abilities and sheer visceral and blood then you’ve made the right choice, Gun Grave G.O.R.E is all about that high octane action clearing rooms with Guns, Rockets, Laser Beams as well as the classic transforming weapon Hauler is truly a feast for the eyes for the most part.
So now that’s out of the way let’s cover some of the better aspects of Gun Grave G.O.R.E starting with…
Beat and ART System:
These two systems are what make Gun Grave what it is. I’ll cover both of these systems briefly here and finding unique ways to leverage these systems is entirely up to player choice.
The Beat System is similar to other games of the genre (Devil May Cry) as an example, hitting enemies, destructible items as well performing a vast array of abilities and skills that Grave can acquire will increase the Beat Gauge, the higher the gauge the better scoring is acquired upon chapter completion. However, should you miss, or spend an extended amount of time not firing your twin guns or swinging Hauler around like a mad man will cause the Beat gauge to reset entirely this is where the true game lies, being able to link all the unique rooms – enemies – items and cutscenes in such a way that you never truly lose the Beat as it where is a true art form and the best aspect the game has going for it.
ART is the second system that’s integral to gameplay and this is where the blood and visceral nature of the game ramps up to eleven. By making use of Grave’s unique weapon the Hauler he is able to morph his coffin-like appendage into various different weapons to clear rooms at frightening speed. By stunning an enemy either due to repeated melee hits or constant gunfire they’ll be unable to move or react and here Grave’s is presented with several options for dispatching his victims.
By making use of another feature the Death Hook which Grave can use to pull enemies in to use as human shields or pull himself into packs of mobs for massive AoE combos these moves become the R.I.P or Raging Immortal Punisher to use the full term, defeating an enemy using a R.I.P fills Grave’s shield gauge in the middle of combat while acquiring ART much like Beat, ART also comes with its own separate system so making the combat as visceral and bloody as possible while keeping the blood flowing from Beat will allow players to end each chapter with supremely higher ranks and thus more skill points then if you where simply to mow everything down with Graves guns.
What are these skill points used for? Well I’m glad you asked let’s head on down to…
So you’ve thoroughly cut up a whole host of scum and villainy, time to put it to work improving Grave’s extensive loadout, venturing to the lab you’ll come across three different sections that of – Skill / – Stats / Demolition Shots, now Demolition shots are incredibly important to surviving and achieving a high score so I’ll cover those a little later.
Skill: Time to put that Hauler to work, Skills augment Grave’s Hauler to some insane heights, making use of these hauler skills with also help in collecting ART which is always a bonus to make sure to invest in at least a few of these moves quite early on to really rack of the scoreboard, Much like Demolition shots that will be mentioned below some skills are locked behind certain stats, however these particular skills are also bound to your current Beat number and will thus not always be useful.
Stats: Everyone needs a boost now and then and Grave is no different, spending points in this section will augment stats such as HP, Bullet Damage, Hauler Damage as well as targeting distance and overall shield regeneration. While each of these are all equally as important as the other I can highly recommend investing in Bullet Damage and HP first over other stats and in some cases the stat gain is so minimal that it doesn’t really make an overall difference and while some skills are locked behind a set amount of bonuses in a particular stats a fair majority of these are not worth the investment in your first few ventures.
Demolition Shots: Finally Demolition Shots, the main feature of the game, take down scores of enemies with over the top flashy power moves that when used correctly can achieve some insane score boosters overall, Demolition shots are gained purely by constantly attacking, after a set amount of time you’ll get one shot, with better stats in Demolition Point Upgrade you’ll get the ability to use the shots more often as well as unlocking new and frankly beautiful ways of dispatching waves after waves of enemies
So after the good comes the bad, and while some of these issues are just pet peeves for me, there are two portions that I feel need to be briefly discussed as it really detracts from the game as a whole. Let’s get the minor things out of the way first.
Grave’s supporting cast of characters are frequently annoying, or just flat out useless. If you haven’t taken the option to turn off the radio in the options (It is quite well hidden) then you’ll have Quartz’s constantly spamming the radio link throughout the entire game and while in some cases her constant comments can be enjoyable and help out when required the majority of it becomes an laundry list of the same prompts – “Grave the upper floor” – “Grave the door” most of these prompts occur after the encounters have already happened, the player already has a map indicating where to go next so you really don’t need Quartz’s constantly going on and on about the same thing. Add onto this the sheer mess that Quartz’s logs are, while not limited to Quartz’s during each chapter beginning a member of the cast will include a log to give backstory to the chapter and Quartz’s is just a mess, riddled with grammatical errors and sentences that just don’t make sense. Story telling should be coming from the cutscenes not from a supporting character that just mentions it like an offhand comment.
To add onto this the VA regardless of language used are just terrible, towards the end of the game subtitles come completely desynced from the character as well as the voice itself which leads to confusing situations where two characters are talking out of sync while a third is trying to jump in and explain the same exact thing that the first two where already covering. I’d call it a case of stating the obvious in most cases and while annoying it can be ignored unlike some other issues covered below.
Now onto the two main issues, while the game starts out well it quickly becomes clear that the longer the game progresses that developers either forgot about it’s two main mechanics or just didn’t care overall, allow me to elaborate.
As mentioned the Beat System is the main game play carrot, achieving an S rank while keeping the chain going is an incredibly satisfying experience and while the earlier levels are filled to the brim with things to blast away and keep the gauge going the later chapters, especially the last section flat out ignore this, by removing any kind of destructible aspect from the game itself, leading the final chapters to just be a pseudo boss rush of endless mobs while no clear way of keeping the gauge afloat. No matter how much you fire you will always lose the one thing that will equate to larger skill point gains and this leads onto my next main issue.
Grave while moving at the speed of a two year old may be durable, his abilities and well as upgrades seem either extremely underpowered or flat out useless.
While chaining abilities together to increase ART and Beat can be quite enjoyable the further chapters do away with this by either filling encounters with mobs that just ignore half the mechanics you’ve been learning throughout the game. As mentioned Death Hook is an integral part of gameplay in order to clear room efficiently while keeping your shield up from the halfway mark mobs are just replaced with bigger enemies that are unable to be pulled and used as shields leaving the only option for you to dive into packs of mobs quickly annihilating your shield and health pool at this point achieving a high Beat as well as ART score becomes far more tedious than it is worth overall. Adding to this Storm Barrage as well as several other abilities such as Burst and even in most cases the Dodge Shot become pointless.
The Downright Ugly
Now we’ve reached the Downright Ugly portion of this review and oh boy do I have a lot to say about this.. While I praised the over the top stylized visceral combat earlier on, that doesn’t forgive some of the most downright poor decisions that were made during production.
I’m genuinely surprised that some of these mistakes were made and if Gun Grave once more rises from the grave that this should be looked into right away.
Let’s first start off with what I thought was the first nail in the coffin for this game.While the opening chapters were nicely designed and really brought the main focus on the game to the for-front Chapter 5.. Is where that great design went right out of the window, this is also the first time where I ended up failing a chapter and found myself at a wall that caused me to have to return to the Lab and change up my entire play style just to pass, and I still wasn’t able to make it through until a rather interesting occurrence happened.
Previously levels have been very open ended areas with a lot of space to pull off all those cool stylized combos and Demolition shots that make the game come alive, Chapter 5 decides that it’s a great idea to take place inside a train, now these levels can work however given the style of combat and the consistent need to fire your guns to keep your beat gauge going to achieve those S ranks causes quite a lot of issues within tight spaces.
Given how a majority of the scenery is destructible and frequently explodes, the extremely tight straight line Grave has to operate in will more than often lead to blowing yourself up for no reason at all and in some cases it just doesn’t make sense. – “Oh a regular wooden box on a train.” box explodes knocking Grave back and this is just the first portion of Chapter 5, the true egregious error occurs once Grave ends up on top of the train.
Now I’m perfectly fine with these styles of game making use of this trope however.. What I can’t accept is the massive difficulty spike that occurs here, this is not even due to the massive waves of enemies that turn up here, nor is it the need to move left/right and jump over signs during this, it isn’t even the fact that for some unknown reason this is also timed!
It purely comes down the control, and this will most likely lead to several fail states as it becomes impossible to not only clear the enemies ahead of you, the enemies above you but you also need to take care of floating bombs that only become active when stepping to close, you would think the easy option would be to just shoot the bombs before they start floating right? Well that would be possible if at any point you could target these, even moving into the non-auto fire mode Graves will immediately target the closest enemies, since these enemies are so frequent and far stronger than anything you’ve faced so far without investing in Damage and Target Distance chances are you don’t have enough damage to clear this chapter.
There are several chapters throughout the game that have this inflated difficulty for no reason, whether this is forced platforming sections (why would you do this with a character that’s slower than paint dripping down a wall?) or forced static sections where any measure of damage can knock you off a platform to your death or even the classic of just throwing so many enemies at you at once that unless you’ve invested in very specific skills and stats you can’t pass (the final area before the very last boss is a great example) all of which along with a host of glitches really turned me off the later portions of the game.
Here is a list of a few glitches that I came across during my time.
Take note that a lot of these are easily replicated on all modes and shouldn’t have made it into the full game.
Demolition Shot before Death will cause no further damage to occur as Demolition Shot still requires HP to be recovered
This glitch is very common and while you won’t notice this occurring in the earlier levels towards the end of the game where enemies literally pop in you’ll see this pretty much every other pack of mobs, this is caused when you cast a Demolition Shot during the spawning animation of a mob, this causes the mob to become stuck in it’s animation thus bugging out the entire AI, the interesting feature of this is you could aim this at two spawning enemies to lock them down and due to most enemies spawning at the same time it will also lock enemies in place that are spawning throughout the entire room. Further enemies that spawn in the same room after aren’t affected by this but the original enemies will remain stuck in place and sometimes just purely vanish from existence thus cutting out a large portion of the enemy encounters this easily is quite an issue when trying to achieve higher ranks.
Another glitch although not as common due to the few situations this can occur in. This was the only way I managed to pass the abysmal Chapter 5 upper train portion but it did rear its head a few times later down the line for seemingly no reason, during a knockback that would occur in a death due to falling from a great height it’s possible to dodge into the scenery leaving Grave casually floating in the air stuck, there are two variations of this, one being that of floating over the deathline and the lock up variation that completely removes the ability to use any buttons other than the camera to look around.
These three glitches alone are incredibly game breaking and aren’t something that should be occurring in a resurrection kind of game. Further testing needed to take place before this was released to the public.
In conclusion, while I did enjoy my time throughout Gun Grave G.O.R.E and it’s serial blood filled stylized combo style really fits with the time and the environment of the game the amount of issues listed above along with some utterly insane choices made during the later portion of the game means that I can’t recommend this game, even to hardcore Gun Grave fans that have been waiting years upon years for a proper main series story game.
The biggest issue I had with the game was that Grave was just a really dull character, while having a tragic backstory and a goal that he relentlessly follows can be commendable, being a complete sheep to everyone around him is not.
I had a far more enjoyable time taking control of the sub characters, while only occurring in three chapters (seriously more should have been added) out of the entire game, these were the bright sparks during the later portion of the game and while I couldn’t stand Quartz at all due to her sheer idiocy and terrible gameplay. I loved Bunji whenever I took control of Bunji even for a limited time. It just gave me the feeling that if Grave played more like Bunji the game would have been a much better experience.
In my opinion Bunji should have either been the main character, or the base model and abilities as well as damage numbers for Bunji should have created the original base for Grave, having to reset an entire character setup due to a lack of damage or missing targeting distance was infuriating when Bunji had no trouble at all handling any of this, even with maxed Bullet damage Bunji is still able to clear a room faster than Grave ever could. This made it feel like most of the moves and abilities and skills that Grave has access to were just pointless and the entire lab system as well as the Art system was just stapled on without too much thought to it.
That being said, when Gun Grave G.O.R.E gets down to just the basics it does it really well, big open areas with massive hordes of enemies and insane over the top abilities it does it so well that I can’t rank this game any lower.
A few changes here and there along with some glitch and bug clean could really polish the game off and if a sequel is ever in the work I would hope developers take more time to look over these, as it currently stands Grave should have kept to his name-sake and stayed in the ground just a little bit longer.
- Combat is amazing when in open environments
- Bunji is an excellent secondary character
- Open Environments are gorgeous and fit the game aesthetically
- Glitches upon Glitches
- Unlikeable roster of characters
- Weak and Underpowered Main Character