It’s been two years since Gunfire Reborn initially launched from Duoyi (Hong Kong) Interactive Entertainment, but with the recent world-wide release of it’s mobile port, alongside the general under-the-radar attention it generated from its initial release, I thought it’d be worth diving back into the underappreciated Indie gem that has consumed my time over the past few weeks.
Gunfire Reborn combines a lot of what I love from a broad array of genres and games, being a first-person looter-shooter, roguelike, with class-based characters and a cell-shaded visual aesthetic. This may sound like an absolute mouthful, but once you get your hands on it, it’s remarkably straightforward and incredibly addictive, so allow me to break it down.
The gameplay loop of Gunfire Reborn revolves around ‘runs’, in which you shoot your way through procedurally generated dungeons/levels either by yourself or with a squad, as you loot countless randomized weapons (similar to the randomization you’d find in a Borderlands game) and upgrade your character, to maximise the potential of beating your run (or improving on the time it took to complete). There’s not all that much depth to the story, as the player is sent out on a mission from the spirit realm to vanquish all evil. The developers very clearly prioritized gameplay over story, and I personally have no issue with this, because the game very clearly knows what it’s trying to be, and does this exceptionally. Don’t expect much in the dialogue department either, as the only voice-lines you’ll hear throughout your gameplay experience takes the form of whatever animal noise your character makes when it takes damage.
Players can control one of six unique heroes that each have their own unique abilities and overall gameplay strengths, as you fight your way through the masses. It draws heavily on Risk of Rain 2 in the sense that you’ll initially be provided with one playable hero, and need to grind your way through multiple runs to unlock the fully expanded roster (based on a level-progressions system). The overall aesthetic of the game-world, characters and art-style is a big plus for me. Each hero also has bonuses when using specific weapons, which coincide with their unique abilities. Take the hero Qing Yan for example; as they’re best with a shotgun hand, and have two unique leap and cleave abilities that can only be used in close-quarters, so it makes sense to prioritise close-quarter style weapons to get the most out of their play-kit. Of the heroes I’ve had the chance to play so far, Ao Bai (pictured above) is my favourite due to his unique dual-wielding ability, his strengths with explosives and the simple fact that he’s a very good boy (I’m a dog-person… sue me).
The scroll system in Gunfire definitely needs it’s own praise for just how effectively it can modify the entire gameplay experience. The ‘Ocult Scrolls are items that are picked up during your runs, which you can optionally use in current and further attempts to alter everything about your playstyle, difficulty or just increase your overall damage output if that’s the path you want to go down. Scrolls can vary from a 50% damage increase if you have elemental modifiers on your weaponry, to gaining a temporary bonus shield after you health depletes past a certain point. For those seeking a difficulty spike, there’s a multitude of scrolls that can impact this, such as my personal least-favourite, which gives you a point of damage for every shot you miss (I really wish I could aim better).
Without a doubt, the most integral and enjoyable part of Gunfire Reborn revolves around its’ weapons and the gun-play. We’ll start with the former; there are a lot of weapons, and I mean A LOT of weapons available to you throughout your runs. Almost every weapon you’ll encounter while playing will come with the excitement of a randomized perk or elemental bonuses applied to it, which opens up the possibility for some really fun and creative weapon builds/combinations. This of course does leave the opportunity for fate not to be in your favour on any given run, but this is minimized by a shop-keeper and upgrade merchant available at various stages of each playthrough, just in case you need to purchase or enhance your overall arsenal. Mechanically, the gun-play and overall game mechanics play a lot like more ‘traditional’ shooters (think along the lines of Quake/DOOM), just with the added bonus of procedurally generated levels and randomized weaponry. Due to the procedural generation in each run, the variation and replayability is rather endless, and from the 20 hours I’ve played so far, I haven’t hit a boredom wall yet.
Where I personally find this game shines above some of its peers is in relation to just how damn fun it plays with other people. Don’t get me wrong, games typically are a lot more fun when you’re in the companionship of some of your closest friends, but Gunfire almost feels like this is the only way it should be played. The masses of enemies, random weapons and just chaotic energy the game radiates is just exemplified with friends. It was definitely hard adjusting to solo runs after my co-op experience, so if you have the opportunity to get this with a few of your pals, I couldn’t recommend it more.
As a final footnote to end on and keep your eyes out for in the next few months (directly from the development team): Gunfire Reborn is coming in October to Game Pass, and is also heavily discounted right now on Steam for the Steam Summer Sale.