Gunfire Reborn Early Access Review: The Start of Something New

Gunfire Reborn is the latest FPS roguelike to hit Steam Early Access. With a solid foundation, it has the ability to be something truly special.

A quote from High School Musical isn't exactly how you'd expect a review to start, especially one for a game called Gunfire Reborn. But yet, much like High School MusicalGunfire Reborn surprised me in ways I never thought it could.

Roguelites are saturated across gaming these days. It's hard not to stumble a few pages into a storefront and come across another iteration. The genre isn't something that's particularly grabbed me before, yet Gunfire Reborn, which is currently in Steam Early Access, has sunk its claws into me.

Much like my 13-year-old self, whose friends forced him to watch Zac Efron sing from the tops of his lungs about life's problems, Gunfire Reborn wasn't something that initially appealed to me. Yet, after dozens of hours spent in its addictive gameplay loop, Gunfire Reborn has pulled me in with its desirable charm and punchy combat.

Gunfire Reborn Early Access Review: The Start of Something New

The basic premise of Gunfire Reborn is simple. Get as far as you can, collect as much experience as you can, and kill as many minions as you can. When you inevitably die, you upgrade your character and start again. 

Initially, you play as a cat hero (though you can also unlock a dog later on). The cat is completely cutesy but tooled up with badass weaponry and abilities, both of which you collect throughout each run. 

Enemy types are also presented in varied art styles, ranging from staggering goliaths that can melt you to tiny scarabs that can quickly overwhelm you. Enemy diversity makes every run different, exciting, and surprising, which is one of Gunfire Reborn's best qualities. 

Enemies frequently drop different weapons, procedurally generated arenas often present new challenges each time through, and unique environmental hazards regularly frustrate your tactics in exciting and engaging ways. 

Purple cracks found in some walls can be shot to open secret portals, which pit you against difficult enemies and challenges for extra loot. These add a risk-reward factor to each playthrough. Do you venture into the portals for the promise of more loot and better guns? Or do you save your precious health for harder encounters to come? It's a constant dilemma, but both choices have their distinctive benefits. 

The game is set up in five stages and multiple smaller sub-stages, each increasing in difficulty until they culminate in climactic boss battles that demand skill and perseverance, as well as a tiny bit of luck.

In short, these boss battles are quite hard in their current forms. Even after multiple runs and upgrades to my team's characters, these battles were strenuous to the point of grueling. Hopefully, this is something the developer can tweak in future updates to create a more balanced, yet still challenging loop.

I've Got The Power

Your feline protagonist has a fair few different abilities to utilize while powering through each area. Though you'll start each playthrough with a simple pistol, you also have grenades at your disposal, as well as a freezing ability.

As you progress, you'll find yourself scrounging the immediate areas for new weapons and perks, the latter of which may increase the power of your grenades or multiply the number of times you can freeze enemies. Guns run the gamut from devastating snipers to powerful rocket launchers that can break through crowds of enemies.

Having three combat options at your disposal proves extremely useful, especially in later stages when different enemy types, such as ranged combatants and close-quarter skirmishers, dial up the difficulty. Being in the heat of battle and juggling between the multiple options is exhilarating and pulse-pounding.

Combat feels particularly punchy, delivering satisfying hits with each bullet, rocket, and grenade. Guns are weighty and powerful, with each part of your arsenal having its own unique style. Some weapons also have a secondary ability, which can be as simple as zooming in or as unique as a corrosive attack. 

Pushing through the stages rewards you with upgrade points, and when you finally do die (which you will), you can slowly upgrade your character attributes such as health, weapon damage, and more.

A Whole New World

The world of Gunfire Reborn is stunning. The cel-shaded art style is a sight to behold, with colorful vistas straight out of a graphic novel. Part of what makes Gunfire Reborn so inviting is how charming the world looks. 

The game begins in the depths of a mystic crypt, but stages later expand into vast outdoor landscapes. These range from closed-in environments to expansive outdoor combat arenas, each with a striking visual style.

Venturing through the game with friends in online co-op is recommended. Communication and using varied weapon sets can mean the difference between life and death. Strangely, every player has the same character model with seemingly no way customize them  at least right now. Customization is something that could really give Gunfire Reborn more identity down the road.

Gunfire Reborn Early Access Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Wonderful visual art-style
  • Exhilarating combat
  • Great sense of progression
  • Varied assortment of guns to play with

Cons

  • Boss battles are overly challenging and unbalanced
  • Lack of character customization

Despite my reservations about Gunfire Reborn, it immediately displayed its strengths, showcasing the strength of its gameplay loop. Through fast-paced combat and beautiful world design, it's a game that's a pure joy to play.

As it stands, Gunfire Reborn has the framework to be something truly special. In its Early Access stage, gameplay remains fairly barebones, but the core concept is simple and engaging, forcing you to come back for more.

As future updates land and more content comes alongside balancing options, Gunfire Reborn truly has the skill set to become something special.

[Note: A copy of Gunfire Reborn was provided by Duoyi Interactive Entertainment for the purpose of this review.]

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Published Jun. 15th 2020

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