Review: Gunbrella


Posted 13 September 2023 by Zoey Handley
Gunbrella Header

Way back in 2019, I did my first game review for Destructoid. It was for Doinksoft’s Gato Roboto. I wasn’t a huge fan. I thought that it played well but was derivative and insubstantial, largely paling in comparison to the games it took inspiration from. To be fair, however, that was one of Doinksoft’s first attempts as a studio, and imitating those that inspired you is a totally fair way to start out.

With that out of the way, however, we have Gunbrella. Now, this is something I can get behind. Or get under. While there is still some obvious inspiration showing through in many places, Gunbrella makes it obvious that it’s a game that started with a simple concept and grew from there. It’s the best, most organic way to make a game.

Gunbrella Boss Battle
Screenshot by Destructoid

Gunbrella (PC [Reviewed], Switch)
Developer: Doinksoft
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Released: September 13, 2023
MSRP: $14.99

Gunbrella casts you as a simple woodsman who returns home to find his wife murdered and his daughter abducted. The only clue he has to go off of is the murder weapon, a gun that is also an umbrella. I’m not sure why the eponymous gunbrella was left behind at the murder scene. That’s pretty careless. It’s just striking me now as a plot hole. Fridge logic, as it’s often called, or an icebox scene, as Alfred Hitchcock termed it.

Anyway, the Woodsman then sets out into the world to find the one who broke up his family and get revenge, and the world sucks.

While Gunbrella depicts the whole planet as a small, interconnected sidescroller, it’s generally implied that it’s been going downhill for a long time. The super-privileged have secluded themselves in a place called Avalon, where they use technology to keep themselves in perpetual comfort at the expense of everyone else in the world. Meanwhile, their Gunmen, a private police force, set out into the wider world to kidnap children.

It’s a bit like Cave Story in its storytelling. There’s a lot of handwaving in favor of preserving a sense of whimsy. It feels like it will all fall apart if you ask a few too many questions. However, the important elements are there. You’re out for revenge, the bad guys are bad, and the world sucks. All things that are easily understood.

Gun-slash-fashion accessory

The core facet of Gunbrella is really with the titular weapon and the mobility that comes with it. While it can be used to float like Mary Poppins, simply opening it propels the protagonist in the direction it’s pointed. In this way, it acts like a double jump or a dash. It also blocks projectiles, and if you jump and point it downward, you can bounce on it.

All of this is unlocked at the beginning, and it’s only a matter of learning and internalizing it all, which wasn’t that difficult, in my experience. My biggest problem was using the right stick to aim when my thumb was trained to use the A button to jump. You can use the left trigger to jump instead, but it feels weird trying to dash and jump and shoot and aim. This might be one of those rare platformers that work better with a mouse and keyboard.

Nonetheless, the focus on mobility gives Gunbrella a Mega Man X quality. It never quite reaches that platforming perfection, but it also does a great job of building a game around its movement. There’s a lot you can do, all available from the beginning, and it’s all intuitive. The very few times that you’re separated from your fashionable firearm make you feel naked, slow, and vulnerable.

If anything, the only really disappointing part of the gunbrella is its secondary ammo system. You have an infinite number of shotgun shells, but everything else comes in limited quantities. As a result, I only switched away from the shotgun when there was very obviously a better option, which isn’t very common.

Bill's Pills
Screenshot by Destructoid

Trash Empire

Even with bosses, I got the most mileage out of the shotgun. Bosses are one of the places that Gunbrella disappoints. The first few of them are rather great, but those taking part in the climax didn’t have the same polish. The last boss, for example, I mostly stood under, absorbed its damage, and continued to fire upward with the shotgun. I only required the first attempt, I didn’t need to formulate a strategy, and I didn’t learn any of its patterns. Not the best final note to go out on.

However, most of the game is tits. The story is a tad weak overall, but it’s held up by superb pacing and great characters and dialogue. It does a great way of presenting a surreal, dream-like world weighed down by melancholy. It’s relatable and human, even while being completely fantastical.

There are also various decisions you make throughout the course of the game, but they’re never really presented as such. You’re generally given the option to be honest and caring, or a complete dick if you prefer. However, there’s no explicit good versus evil system in place. Generally, you make the decision that seems right in the moment and deal with any consequences later. There are no wrong choices, and Gunbrella won’t pull the handbrake if you act selfishly, but you will see it directly reflected in the story. On the other hand, there are some things that you don’t have any influence over. Such is the nature of video games.

The gameplay itself is equally well-paced. It’s quite a bit longer than the more bite-sized Gato Roboto, but its world isn’t overly stuffed with side activities and unnecessary detours. At the same time, there’s still a decent amount of variety in its design. The breeziness of the whole experience is quite refreshing.

Gunbrella Trash Empire
Screenshot by Destructoid

Rainy Day

There’s nothing truly revolutionary about Gunbrella, and there isn’t really one thing that it truly excels at. However, if there’s anything impressive about it, it’s in its consistency. From top to bottom, it’s an enjoyable experience. There are some weaker moments, but they’re very temporary and not at all intrusive.

For that reason, Gunbrella is a rather easy recommendation. It’s a solid platformer with a lot of charm. I’m not sure it will be at the top of my mind when I think of my favorite games, and I don’t think I’m going to be eager to scoop up a physical copy sometime in the future, but I undoubtedly enjoyed my time with it. It’s worth keeping for a rainy day.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]



Impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.

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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