Gunbrella is a noir-punk action-adventure game that is currently in development by doinksoft and published by Devolver Digital. It’s aiming for a 2023 release on PC and Nintendo Switch, and I have been fortunate to be able to play a preview build of the first hour or so. This dark 2D side-scrolling platformer opens with a woodsman returning with what looks like a basket of fruit but in the distance, he sees a plume of smoke and his home is on fire. Rushing home, he finds blood everywhere and a female character has been slain.
Waking up on a boat, we are dropped off at a dock and informed to ask the townsfolk of Allensdale for clues as to who murdered your beloved family member. There is a lot of dry humour in the dialogue which I love, and speech is murmured by the characters, there’s no voice acting but it doesn’t need it. To get to Allensdale though, we need to take a train from Orwell. You also have the titular gunbrella – a high-calibre weapon that doubles as an umbrella and it has a strange insignia on it.
Armed with the gunbrella, your climbing boots and a doll, off you walk, jump, dash and glide across the platforming terrain. Signs along the way explain the game’s mechanics well. We can press spacebar to jump and aim the gunbrella with the mouse. Pressing E interacts with people and objects, and we can wall jump to reach higher places. Finally, pressing the right mouse button along with WSAD will dash us in the chosen direction. Holding right mouse button while in the air allows us to glide down using the gunbrella, and we can shoot up or down wires to cross distances.
It all feels smooth to play and so far, not dissimilar to other games, but with more versatility not having to switch from weapon to grapple, it is all seamless. It is cool to jump up, gliding across a gap with the gunbrella and then shooting an enemy as we land. Initially the gunbrella is a shotgun with unlimited ammo, though we can change ammunition types later through the story. Enemies we face range from creatures similar to crocodiles, to hooded humanoid characters, yet they all gib the same amount of blood and guts all over the place. Some enemies will blow bubbles that will hurt us, there are spikes on some of the walls, and other characters will fly and shoot orbs at you.
You can hold the right mouse button while aiming at oncoming fire and it will deflect the orbs back at the enemy. There are also mounted turrets that will shoot a barrage at you when you’re in line of sight. These are powerful shots and while you deflect them, they knock you back a bit. However, if you can get up close to the turret, you can deflect the fire back to the turret, blowing it up. But be warned, it will burst into flames, and you need to move out of that vicinity otherwise you’ll burn up from the flames.
We start with four health hearts and buffs can provide us temporarily with more. You will pick up bandages, fruit, and other foods that you can use to heal your health and give yourself buffs. You can also collect things such as rats, crows, and spare parts. There are glowing blue benches or couches spread throughout the world which act as save/checkpoints and will replenish your health. You will meet some interesting characters such as Sewert who lives in the sewers but will cook you up some more powerful meals, for a fee of course. Some of them will give you side quests to complete too which gives you little goals to achieve through exploring new areas.
There is also a heap of puzzles to solve. You may come to a section that is blocked by a locked door or the enemy units might raise a drawbridge, cutting off access to them (rude!). Talking to people around the area will give you clues, most involving heading down into the dark and grimy sewers and you will often find another way to get to where you were headed. It will involve killing a heap of creatures of course, but killing these along with shooting boxes nets you money to purchase items later.
After just short of 2 hours in the game, I am hungry to find out what happens next and had a great time with the game. Gunbrella has a great mix of exploration via platforming as well as decent combat with the gunbrella, and I am looking forward to seeing more from the developers as they head towards launch. If you like platformers with a good amount of challenge and an intriguing story, Gunbrella is one to keep an eye on.