Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Gunfire Reborn is a title that has long been in early access, and has recently received a full release. Maybe you’ve seen mention of it before, or heard someone talk about, after all it’s been in early access for almost two years now, I believe. Now that it has the full release though, it’s time to take a look at the final product. Was the wait worth it? Is the game ready for release? How good is it? Well, you’re about to find out.
Gunfire Reborn is a first person, 3D FPS roguelike. I think we are up to six available characters to play at the moment, but I remember back when your choices weren’t quite so robust. You know, I’ve had Gunfire Reborn basically since it entered Early Access, and I’m still not sure if it really has a plot line? I think there’s something about evil demons, and you needing to find the cause and stop it? You and up to 3 other people get to traverse through four different biomes, fighting your way to your goal.
So, gameplay. Typical shooter fare for the basic controls, with you having access to up to three weapons at a time that you can cycle through, a dash, a primary skill, a secondary skill, and a secondary fire mode if your weapon has it. Each level is split into smaller stages, with sub-zones in those stages, and each level culminates in one of two bosses, except for the final stage. I remember a time when there was only one boss available per level. Each level has a different theme with different enemies and challenges involved. The sub-zones that comprise each stage are more like checkpoints, where you pass through rooms, killing all the enemies within, in order to progress. Enemies can drop weapons that you can pick up, and clearing a room may open up a chest in the room you’re in. These chests will contain one of two items: a goblet or scrolls. The goblets unlock a character specific skill, some of which you can upgrade, and the scrolls are available globally to characters, and provide general skills.
Character skills are individual, by which I mean each character you can play as has their own skill sets and build suggestions, which the goblets use to unlock/enhance. As an example, the first character you will probably deal with is the cat, who is best geared for elemental type damage buffing. The bird, on the other hand, has a lot of melee based or focused abilities. The scrolls are more general, and can provide anything from increased movement speed, to decreased damage taken.
Now, while these upgrades and weapons will disappear once you complete, or fail, a run of the game, you will find that you’ve been earning soul points in addition to money throughout your playthrough. While the money can be spent at a peddler to restore health or purchase weapons, or a blacksmith can upgrade your weapons and increase their damage, soul points are used for something a little more permanent. After a run, you will be brought to an upgrade tree where you can spend soul points. These upgrades are permanent, and except for a few character specific, are applied across all your characters. These upgrades include: increasing peddler wares, increasing ammo capacity, hastening revive speed, amongst others. This is also where you can give a boost to the quality of the inscriptions you find on your weapons.
So, what are inscriptions you might ask? Well, weapons can have bonus effects attached to them, such as increasing damage to enemies under an elemental effect, or increasing critical damage. At this point, I’d like to talk a little bit about the combat system. Since each character has their own unique playstyles, I’m going to stick more closely to the general combat. So, if you’ve ever played Borderlands, you’ll probably have a good idea how this is going to go. You shoot at enemies, hitting weak points does extra damage, and you have a chance to make a critical. Here though, they’re called Lucky Shot and Critical, which I still have trouble differentiating between. One is for hitting an enemy in the weak point, the other is chance based. There are some melee weapons, and they work similarly, although it can be a lot harder to hit weak points with them. In addition to the bonus damage shots, there are elemental effects: corrosion, fire, and lightning. Each is good against a specific type of enemy. Corrosion is good on yellow bar armour, Lightning is good against blue bar shields, and Fire is good against Red bar health. Certain weapons have elements attached to them. The Prism for example is a kunai that you throw and ricochets off walls. It also deals corrosions damage.
So now you’re at least ready to get into a fight, but what can you expect to find in a dungeon run through Gunfire Reborn? Well, in addition to jumping puzzles, cursed chests that will generally trade health or money for weapons/scrolls/inscriptions, there are also minibosses you may fight, as well as vaults and crystals. Minibosses are simply tougher, and larger, versions of the enemies you find normally. Vaults are these glowing cracks you see on the walls, which will bring you to a new area where you have to complete a task. This could be killing waves of enemies, a miniboss battle, or a jumping puzzle or trap maze. Completing a vault will unlock a chest to help bolster your abilities for the run. The crystals I mentioned are actually something new to me, that I’ve only seen recently, and seem to drop a random scroll for you, and maybe a weapon and health restoring item.
After traipsing through a level, you will eventually come to a boss fight. While these used to be single options, you now have a chance to get one of two bosses! These bosses will test your skill, your weapons, and your patience. No, seriously, some of them are infuriatingly annoying. Yoruhime Maru, for instance, deserves special mention for being a pain. This boss fight in particular has been revamped over the early access period, and I don’t know how I feel about it. Half the fight got better, and the other half got so much worse. Either way, if you win, you get a horde of weapons, as well as a scroll and upgrade goblet! Congratulations! Have you finished a run successfully? By the way, upon beating a certain chapter boss, you can choose to either continue to the final stage, or return to the inn. After a successful completion? Congratulations! You’ve unlocked a harder difficulty! You’ll earn more money and soul points, better items seem to drop, and enemies with special abilities will spawn!
As you complete more runs, or fail trying, you’ll be unlocking new weapons and scrolls. Normally these get unlocked by “beating X enemy Y times”, and will instantly drop the first time you meet the unlock conditions. They will now be available on subsequent runs, for both you and your friends! Speaking of friends, you can snag up to three others to come with you on your journey, and there’s no need to worry about choosing the same characters either! Now, the difficulty scaling on the other hand… hoo boy. Two player is tougher, but alright. Three people is a major jump from two, but survivable. At four people? You better hope your buddies know what they’re doing, good lord. The scaling really doesn’t feel great. I understand it’s more geared towards more skilled/veteran players, but it can be frustrating when enemies take a ton of damage, and slap you for three times your max health in a single blow. Couple this with the fact that your time limit to revive gets shorter the more you go down, and I found the more people I played with, the faster we failed our runs. It’s still tons of fun though.
Now, I’m going to put a note in here about the final stage. No spoilers, I just want to say it’s freaking tough, and definitely geared for players who have purchased the majority of their permanent upgrades. The enemies are brutal, they hurt unreasonably, and the boss? Yeah, that’s a thing. Give it a try if you get to that point, you’ll see what I mean.
As a whole, I’ve had a lot of fun with Gunfire Reborn ever since it first became available in Early Access. Yeah, there are some issues here and there, the balancing could be a little better, and some of the bosses feel downright wretched at times, but the rest of the experience more than makes up for that. With a boatload of different weapons available, a number of player characters to choose from, and a myriad of scrolls, it’s certainly a fun game. Also, have I mentioned it’s a roguelike? Yeah, it is, so no two runs will go the same way, even if you’re trying to/hoping they will. While the major issues have been there for awhile now, the devs are constantly updating, so hopefully there are a few more balance patches in the future, but that doesn’t really take away from the game too much, all things told. The environments also will get a little stale after a few runs, so be prepared for that.
Overall, Gunfire Reborn is an absolute gem of a game I’m glad to have seen go through the stages up until full release. There’s tons of variety and build creation and lots of customization between scrolls, weapons, and characters. The gameplay is fast-paced and challenging, and great to play with friends. While there are some rough patches here and there, most of it is easy to either work around or ignore. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed almost every second of Gunfire Reborn since I first picked it up and don’t regret my choice in the slightest.Score: 9 / 10