At first glance, Gungrave G.O.R.E may look like a game out of time. It has the energy of a PlayStation 2 character action game, but its launching on modern consoles including Xbox Series X/S and PS5. The character action game, which revives a long-dormant PlayStation franchise, pays tribute to some of the genre’s greats — stylish hack-and-slash titles like Devil May Cry 3, God Hand, the original God of War titles, and Viewtiful Joe. Like those games, Gungrave G.O.R.E has one simple goal: letting players feel like an over-the-top badass.
That’s no accident, as the developers behind the game specifically set out to create something that could feel like a modern PS2 game. To make that work, theywould have to take a close look at what made that style of game unique and what had to be updated for our modern sensibilities.
If you’ve never heard of Gungrave before, that’s because the series has been dormant for nearly 20 years. Originally launching as a PS2 exclusive back in the early 2000s, Gungrave has since been hailed as a forgotten cult classic of the time. With its first game since 2004, Gungrave G.O.R.E. director Kay Kim looked to recapture that classic PS2 magic for modern audiences.
“The cult classic type of appeal started for us way back with the character design,” Kim tells Digital Trends. “Following that, we got a lot of ideas and inspiration from the original PlayStation 2 game. However, a long time has passed since PS2, so we had to add some new things for modern audiences.”
Gungrave G.O.R.E isn’t a simple rerelease of a PS2 title for new hardware; it’s a total relaunch of a series that was nearly lost to time. With that in mind, the developers needed to walk a careful line when bridging the gap between 2004 and 2022. Its a challenge that the Devil May Cry series faced between its fourth and fifth installments, as the developers were faced with growing the series’ gameplay without tossing out what made it unique. That’s exactly what Gungrave G.O.R.E.‘s team would need to pull off. The title adds new systems and ideas like additional weapons and melee attacks, an experience system, and a new character. It’s also set in the largest world in the series yet.
To make it work, the team would need to look to the modern gaming landscape for inspiration, examining trends like open-world structure and Soulslike action. Kim says the idea of bringing back the series was always in the back of his mind, but it became more of a priority as he realized he wanted to give players a different type of fun. He describes G.O.R.E.‘s unique approach as “something fast and fun. A cool yet not-too-complicated action game.”
It seems very simple, but we wanted to make a “fun game.”
Other inspirations came from totally different industries. The Christian Bale-starring film Equilibrium was a major inspiration thanks to its sword-wielding hero with infinite ammo. More modern movies, including superhero titles from both DC and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, guided that direction too.
“When we designed this, the American-style hero was still the current trend.” Kim said.” Those heroes always worry about peace and saving Earth, but we thought back to the Asian-style hero. Speechless, doesn’t care about peace on Earth, he only cares about one little girl — and that made us feel nostalgic. That’s why we decided to revive Gungrave.”
Simplicity, fun, nostalgia, and “cool factor” were key for the team if it wanted to call back to that PS2 era. Kim mentions how so many games nowadays feature components like in-depth and complex stories, tasks that need to be completed on top of core quests, farming, researching for information, and more.
“It’s a lot,” Kim says. “We simply wanted to make a game that has a cool character with a strong weapon that sets out to destroy his enemies in a visually cool way. It seems very simple, but we wanted to make a ‘fun game,’ and I believe that will rekindle many gaming memories from the past.”
Like Devil May Cry 5, Bayonetta 3, and The Wonderful 101, Gungrave G.O.R.E aims to bring simple, classic action back to modern gamers. While the latest entry has grown to feel more modern, its big goal is to maintain that core gameplay philosophy. Kim thanks the fans who have stuck with the series and assures them that Gungrave is stronger than ever all these years later. He even hints at a possible sequel with more destruction than ever should the title do well enough. Whether or not that happens will be a matter of whether more players have that craving for good, old-fashioned carnage.