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Gungrave G.O.R.E. is a bloody delightful PS2 era throwback

Heading into my Gamescom demo of Gungrave G.O.R.E., I had all but forgotten that it was a sequel to a long-forgotten PlayStation 2 series. That changed when I watched a five-minute developer introduction to the game at Gamescom, which included some charmingly archaic footage of the original 2002 action game. But if that hadn’t tipped me off, I surely would have pieced it together by playing the demo itself.

Gungrave G.O.R.E. is a loud and proud action game that feels both retro and new at the same time. It maintains the feel of a combo-heavy PS2 game like Devil May Cry without sacrificing modernity. More importantly, it does that while serving up buckets of blood.

Gungrave G.O.R.E - Bullets Beauty Badass Trailer

The big guns

Developed by Iggymob and published by Prime Matter, Gungrave G.O.R.E. is the first game in the Gungrave franchise since 2004. It’s an over-the-top third-person action game where players control a hero toting oversized guns and a casket. The demo’s opening cutscene shows him pouncing on a pack of guards, twisting one of their heads 180 degrees in the process. That should give you a sense of how gleeful Iggymob is about delivering big, dumb violence that’s totally divorced from reality.

“The only excess I want to see in a game like this is blood.”

The demo compresses a lot of tutorials into a short chapter, which means I got a lot of combat nuances thrown at me quickly. Guns are my core attack, as I can shoot them off without needing to reload or worry about ammo. The game simply doesn’t want me to stop shooting, something that’s evidenced by the fact that I can shoot while performing an evasion roll. I rack up massive triple-digit combos as I blow through enemies, eventually allowing me to mash the Y button and turn myself into a tornado of bullets.

My murderous toolset did not stop there. I could shoot out a hook that would drag an enemy towards me. As I held them, I shot at some more enemies over their shoulders and eventually chucked them aside like a projectile weapon. My trusty casket wouldn’t just allow me to smack enemies with a heavy thunk, but it would also give me access to four abilities. For instance, I could hit a button to turn it into a missile launcher that fired homing shots at my enemies.

The player shoots at enemies in Gungrave G.O.R.E.

If it’s not clear already, this is a game that basks in its ridiculousness. It’s not trying to do anything complicated here; it just wants to deliver a lot of immediately satisfying carnage. That’s where you can feel the PS2 DNA still alive in it. The level I played was a linear series of corridors presented in an old-school “Stage 1” set up culminating in a robot boss with a big green health bar. It has a story and cutscenes, but I don’t get the sense that the developers are focused on weaving an elevated modern narrative like 2018’s God of War. The goal is bombastic chaos, and the slice I played delivered that.

I’m excited to see if that level of high-octane action can sustain itself through an entire game. I’m hoping the final product clocks in at a tight runtime so as not to get repetitive and overstay its welcome. The only excess I want to see in a game like this is blood.

Gungrave G.O.R.E. launches on November 22 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.

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