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Gunbrella Preview

It’s no surprise that indie title Gunbrella comes from publisher Devolver Digital.

Devolver has a reputation for indie titles that offer games that are a little more off-the-wall and take more risks than some of the so-called AAA titles. Games like Cult of the Lamb, Trek to Yomi, Weird West, Death’s Door and Carrion.

You can now add Gunbrella to that list, a 2D side-scrolling adventure from developer Doinksoft that features a “gruff woodsman on a quest for revenge” and who soon becomes embroiled in a world terrorized by an evil cult, gangsters, ghouls and corporate exploitation.

Oh, he also has a gun that doubles as an umbrella, a Gunbrella.

Of course, central to the game’s game play is the Gunbrella, which is what it says on the tin: A gun with an umbrella attached and mastering it – and how it can be used to navigate the game world – is key to success.

The game is also visually charming if you’re a fan of games with a 16-bit pixel art style. Personally, I love games that use this art style as it reminds me of a lot of the games I played as a teenager. It pays early on to get to grips with what you can do with the gunbrella, which lets you glide, dash and swing to hidden pathways and out-of-reach places, as well as protect against enemy gunfire. It’s an ingenious mechanic. For example, pop up the umbrella while approaching a mounted turret and you’ll deflect the rounds back, eventually exploding it in a shower of orange pixelated flame and sparks.

Locations in the section of gameplay I was allowed to play in this Gunbrella preview included sewers populated by burping frogs and floating cultists, above-ground towns with world-weary and grumpy townsfolk – and a train that takes you between interconnecting towns (there are also imprisoned townsfolk to rescue).

Gunbrella also has moments that just made me smile. 

Whether it was a machine gun-wielding cultist exploding in a shower of bones and flesh, its skeleton masks rattling across the floor, or the satisfaction that comes from jumping skywards, the open umbrella propelling you towards a chandelier that you shoot, causing it to land on the unsuspecting enemy below, the game just has nuggets of game play that rewards the player handsomely. It also has a boss fight that kicked my arse several times until I mastered its sequence.

I played this Gunbrella preview on PC and started using mouse and keyboard but honestly, I struggled mastering the crucial-to-learn jump / Gunbrella combo using mouse & keyboard. I mean, I’ve played tricky platformers like Super Meat Boy so have mastered jumping combos like this before but no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t manage it using the mouse & keyboard here.

It was then that I made the decision that will horrify many a PC gamer: I switched to a controller – and immediately tasted success. 

Sure, PC purists will balk at my choice of control scheme, but I’m OK with that: For me nailing the jumping / Gunbrella combination meant using a controller and it made the game all that much better for me.

Honestly if you’re a fan of Devolver titles and games that have a pixel art style and tries things differently from cookie-cutter triple “A” titles then Gunbrella should be on your list to check out.

It’s out September this year on Nintendo Switch and Windows PC, when we will likely update this Gunbrella Preview to a Review.