Go Go Gunbrella: We Preview Doinksoft’s Quirky New Game

Games Features Gunbrella
Go Go Gunbrella: We Preview Doinksoft’s Quirky New Game

Doinksoft’s newest title Gunbrella just clicks. After Gato Roboto, a charming Metroid-style game with dashes of Blaster Master in there, the studio is now trying their hand at marrying a more involved world and story with agile and fluid movement tech a la Celeste. However, instead of superpowers or superhuman agility this time around, you have… well, you have a gunbrella: part gun, part shield, part umbrella, part dash/float. Suffice to say, it’s a killer accessory, utterly ridiculous, and yet makes for a ridiculously good-feeling game.

In Gunbrella, you play as an unnamed man who’s chanced upon the titular weapon in his home after his wife is murdered, his home is razed to the ground, and his child is taken from him. It’s a really dark way to begin a game that is primarily driven by the premise of a fucking umbrella attached to a shotgun and airdashing only to float down like Mary Poppins. Not to mention, it’s actually mostly funny and whimsical in the delivery of its dark material, often clowning on a cult (punnily called Cult-45) as they’re committing blood sacrifices to summon demonic meatballs on legs that are each called Baby. Stylistically, it blends aspects of revenge thrillers with soft noir elements, and wraps it in a (vaguely) steampunk setting with elements of dark fantasy shit. All of it should clash, but instead it works, likely due to the fact that the game just doesn’t bother explaining itself to the audience. It just is, so it’s all there. 

All the while, gameplay splits the difference between the platforming and movement of Celeste and the hostility of Katana Zero without ever feeling wholly like either one. For example, Gunbrella is not as lightning fast, but airdashing around enemies and landing well-placed shotgun blasts that blow them into chunks isn’t not akin to slice-and-dicing your way through screens and leaving behind a bloody trail in the latter game. You can also toggle between modes of fire on the gun part of the gunbrella, including a three-shot burst and a grenade launcher. The umbrella, on the other hand, can be used as a shield and well-timed deployments will deflect projectiles. Dashing with the umbrella at enemies will also stagger them, making them ripe for a shotgun to the face and adding another wrinkle to make the fairly simple combat a touch more involved. 


While platforming has certainly not been the main focus of Gunbrella in the opening two hours that I played, smaller sequences on the margins of the game do have some of the same energy as the optional challenges in Celeste. To its credit, this largely works because the gunbrella is a fantastic movement tool; My favorite bit of using it was piecing together that I could control my dash in midair, making it look like I was swimming through the air as I fluidly rounded the corners of certain obstacles and foes. It may even be too good of a movement tool and weapon, because I was flying through levels and boss encounters in absolutely no time once I realized how to properly utilize all of its various functions. On the one hand, it’s great as a player to feel like I’m powerful for learning the full range of the tool in my hands, but on the other, I was craving a bit more of a challenge. While I’m sure Gunbrella will ramp things up as the story and scales escalate, I’m left wondering how much further it will push its encounters and layout to test players.

When I wasn’t taking out cultists with laser precision though, Gunbrella’s humdrum, lo-fi world sneakily lured me into its clutches. It’s a world where there’s a police force of gun(brella)men called the Parasol Patrol and an evil country named Avalon kidnaps children because they can’t have their own. Wraiths that eat people pollute the screens of dungeons and segments of the world I’ve cleared of objectives, chasing me infinitely no matter how many times I blow holes in them. While I’ve yet to see how this pans out, the game even teases that the completion or desertion of certain side quests could have ramifications for your relationships with certain characters, like a merchant who tasked me with finding a gem for him that I absolutely never found. It also presents the fantasy of a high speed railway line that connects the entirety of Gunbrella‘s world, a far-flung dream in our own reality (at least in America). 

Like I said before, Gunbrella fits a lot of things, maybe even too many, under its roof, but it hasn’t blown its top just yet, so I’m curious how much further it can go. So far, it’s a game with a satisfying feel, a curious and quirky world, and a lot of promise, even if it all does feel a bit too easy. But I’ve played enough to know I want to dig into Gunbrella and see what else it’s got under the hood.

Moises Taveras is the assistant games editor for Paste Magazine. He was that one kid who was really excited about Google+ and is still sad about how that turned out.

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