by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Singing in the rain
As someone who lives in Melbourne, an umbrella is generally an item that someone has near at hand at most times - even when the weather looks gorgeous outside. That one light fluffy inconspicuous cloud could develop into a rainstorm without any notice and so that umbrella can be a useful commodity. However, it won't nearly be as useful as the titular Gunbrella, in the latest game developed by doinksoft.
The Gunbrella itself is a device that has multiple uses. As well as shooting evil doers, it does have some other effects when in umbrella mode. Opening the Gunbrella while jumping will enable players to reach higher locations, both vertically and diagonally. Attaching the umbrella to power lines and similar cables will enable the umbrella to act like a zip-line, zooming our hero up and down the line. As well as that, the Gunbrella can be used as protection from incoming fire, deflecting bullets like a normal umbrella would deflect the rain.
Frenetic twin stick action
The game can get quite frenetic, with your controller getting a good workout as players will be running, opening their umbrella, and shooting, some of which they'll be doing at the same time. By default. the left thumbstick controls our characters directions, whilst the right thumbstick aims the Gunbrella at enemies. For those who have trouble with twin stick shooters, this can take some getting used to, but once players get the hang of it, there is a sense of achievement as you take care of bad guys through the various locations.
To begin with, the Gunbrella uses shotgun shells, which although powerful at close range, can be slow and unwieldly against some foes. Throughout the game, several other ammunition types can be collected and switched out, but these generally have finite uses (compared to the shotgun which has an infinite amount of ammunition). The other forms of ammunition will be useful in various situations though. The grenade launcher for instance, will enable our hero to blast holes through some locations that were previously inaccessible.
Not all about the shooting
Each location has several puzzle elements that help progress the story. Players will meet various characters in each area and will often need to converse with them in order to find the solutions to the puzzles. Some of the characters will require players to collect certain items to trade, whilst others will have the key (physically and metaphorically) to opening gates. The puzzles are on the simpler side, but that helps to progress the story.
The characters you'll meet along the way will often have side-quests to complete, and although completing them is not always necessary for the story, they all take place in locations that you’ll be visiting anyway. I did find that these side quests allowed me to spend more time exploring each of the locales and thereby uncovering secrets that I may not have done elsewise. Each of the 2D towns have numerous places to visit, from stores to sewers and even swamps, and as a whole the game feels like a steampunk western right from the opening sepia toned setting.
Waiting for a rainy day
Although Gunbrella is yet to have a release date, the preview version gives a good indication of the story and the gameplay of the title. Part platform shooter, part puzzle game, the story in Gunbrella flows nicely as you travel from one location to the next completing quests for a wide range of characters. And although the game can be quite frenetic at times, requiring a level of adeptness with a controller, players will no doubt feel that they have accomplished something as they complete the levels and defeat the bosses. The retro 2D visuals and the cool background music complete the experience…one we're hoping to see more of as it nears release.
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