Gunbrella is looking pretty waterproof so far

Gunbrella Header

I’m not crying. It’s just been raining on my face

What a blast from the past! Gunbrella comes to us from Doinksoft, who last developed Gato Roboto (if you don’t count Devolver Bootleg). That was the first game I reviewed for Destructoid, back when I was just a shy-but-plucky freelancer bugging Chris “Maximum Ups” Carter for a chance at the big time. For my first time, I did such an adequate job that I was allowed to do it again. Now here I am.

I didn’t love Gato Roboto. I didn’t hate it, either, it just didn’t really have enough substance to it. In that review, I said, “It’s hard to recommend Gato Roboto when we live in a world where games like Cave Story and Iconoclasts exist.” Doinksoft must have taken that to heart (if they read it at all) because Gunbrella has many more shades of Cave Story splashed across its much more substantial body.

Gunbrella Rat Boss
Screenshot by Destructoid

Parabellumsol

Gunbrella is the story of the eponymous firearm-slash-accessory, and also the woodsman who carries it. His wife has been murdered by the very weapon he now carries around, and he thirsts for revenge. Also, his child has been abducted. It’s a real fill-in-the-blanks introduction.

I suppose that’s aside from the fact that a gun also has an umbrella built into it. That’s a new one for me. Not only does it protect you from the rain, it also can block bullets, propel you forward, and allow you to float gently back to earth. Gunbrella’s movement system mostly centers around this one device, and it works pretty well in that role. Given that you have it from the start, and it seems to have all its abilities off the hop, you learn all its functions early and can get around easily.

Rain of bullets

The preview provided to me was a rather large slab of the game. It was certainly more than enough to see what Doinksoft is going for.

While Gunbrella is a gated exploration game where you explore larger and larger chunks of an interconnected world until you can move on to the next area, it doesn’t really fit under the Metroidvania, erm, umbrella. You’re not enabled progress by picking up new skills or items. Rather, you move forward by completing quests. This is one of the senses that it’s similar to Cave Story.

The other similarity is that it has a sense of humor that lays a veil over a general atmosphere of melancholy. There’s a whimsy to Gunbrella’s drab world that seems very human. A warmth among all the hardships that’s admirable.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Gunbrella cut a slit in the back of Cave Story and is attempting to wear it as a new set of pants. It’s just that the two games reach similar high points.

Gunbrella Floating
Screenshot by Destructoid

Puttin the ‘fun’ in functional

Unfortunately, these high points don’t really translate into boss design. They’re not bad and are visually interesting, but fighting them isn’t always satisfying. It’s the one place where your Gunbrella feels like it lacks impact, and its short range makes it something of a hindrance. There’s nothing egregious about them, they just appear weaker when stood up to the game’s overall strength.

Likewise, the story is an odd mix of strong characters and enjoyable dialogue, and a bunch of stuff we’ve otherwise seen before. If anything, the trite plot does well to give more spotlight to the worldbuilding and characters. It’s also possible that there’s a big twist coming beyond the confines of the preview provided that will make the whole thing pay off. I’m just tired of game wives existing for the sole purpose of dying and driving their men to kill people.

Sidescrolling battle
Screenshot by Destructoid

The forecast

Overall, though, I was impressed by this serving of Gunbrella. A big part of its success comes from its movement system, but beyond just that, it provides a well-paced narrative with a thoughtful mix of world-building. So, even if the story doesn’t wind up paying off with anything and the gameplay doesn’t gain further depth, it’s still fun to play and avoids being boring.

However, I have faith that Gunbrella still has more handkerchiefs jammed up its sleeve. Even though the preview was a sizeable chunk of tofu, I’d wager that the best is yet to come. For now, I’m going to be looking forward to the chance to wrap my mitts around this powerful fashion accessory again when it launches later this year.

About The Author
Zoey Handley
Staff Writer - Zoey is a gaming gadabout. She got her start blogging with the community in 2018 and hit the front page soon after. Normally found exploring indie experiments and retro libraries, she does her best to remain chronically uncool.
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