An all-in-one tool of vengeance and weather protection
Ever since tripping over Gato Roboto thanks to Game Pass, Doinksoft has had my attention. A small team now part of Devolver Digital, this developer has a clear penchant for taking familiar ideas from classic games and finding compelling twists. Look no further than Demon Throttle, not only an experiment in distribution but a bizarre, raunchy take on King’s Knight of all things.
Gunbrella is Doinksoft’s fourth game, and in some ways its most ambitious.
Gunbrella is Doinksoft’s fourth game and in some ways its most ambitious. This game certainly aims higher than ever in storytelling and adds as much complexity as possible to an otherwise simple central mechanic.
Stand under my Gunbrella, ella, ella, ella
This game is also fascinating as a true “post-COVID” game; the team noted its scenario and themes were in part informed by the frustration and anxiety from living through the pandemic. And you can feel it the whole way through, as the story tackles the intersection of climate change and class division, police violence, and isolation.
This game is also fascinating as a true “post-COVID” game.
And while Gunbrella gets props for not yelling “Hey, remember COVID?” directly at the screen, I didn’t come away from the experience feeling like I had a compelling takeaway. The vibes are all here, but there isn’t a satisfying answer to the question, “So what?”
At the end of the day, Gunbrella is a revenge story, one we’ve seen a million times in games especially. Let’s do away with the whole dead wife thing already, yeah?
Fast, furious, and fashionable
Gunbrella props itself up with, well, the Gunbrella. This weapon is more like a multi-tool, not only providing firepower but utility in defense, maneuverability and even platforming.
That’s art, baby.
The umbrella part offers a surprising set of mobility tools, and the specific limitations on the weapon side force the player to constantly engage with them.
While the enemies aren’t terribly challenging, the boss fights can be memorable (and memorably gross) and often ask the player to master various aspects of the Gunbrella. It all culminates in a final challenge that takes all the pieces from the game and throws them all at you in one fight.
It’s a feel-good ramp-up to the climax in terms of the action, and while a game-breaking bug (which has been fixed ahead of release, thank goodness) threatened to ruin it for me, the pace and seven-or-so-hour runtime feel right.
I actually ended up playing Gunbrella twice during the review period on two different platforms, and the second run was proof of how well that ramp teaches you. I sailed through the second time, with my Gunbrella skills honed to a sharp point.
When Doinksoft goes Doinkhard
Doinksoft’s previous games were much sillier and more over the top, and Gunbrella’s more somber tone (despite its goofy premise) was surprising. It feels heavier, even with the ending not sticking the landing for me.
It all culminates in a final challenge that takes all the pieces from the game and throws them all at you in one fight.
It doesn’t have the score-chasing or completionist trimmings of Gato Roboto or Demon Throttle, but it does feel complete and confident in its vision. It feels like Gunbrella is fine only being played once or twice, and makes the most of that first impression. That’s art, baby.
Sure, it’s pretty obvious at this point that Gunbrella isn’t my favorite title in the Doinksoft library. But it’s yet another example of this small team’s talent, and especially its range.
Each game has been distinct in nearly every way, and Gunbrella is once again a standout among its peers. I came away with some disappointments, but those hours I spent going through the game twice melted away unnoticed. If that’s not a sign of quality, what is?
Gunbrella Review Score: 8
Intriguing setting and themes that feel relevant
Tons of gameplay nuance built into the titular Gunbrella
Awesome boss fights are gross and challenging
Story doesn’t hit the home run it swings for
Switch version sometimes hits brief patches of slowdown
Over-reliance on event flagging to move the story forward
Gunbrella is available for the Nintendo Switch and PC. Codes for both versions were provided by the publisher for review. A major bug prevented completion of both versions, but was fixed quickly, therefore having minimal impact on the review.