I love VR games that push boundaries and try new things to actually make VR an interesting platform. What I don’t like is when things just tack on things like VR (or 3D) for the sake of a gimmick. Sadly Gungrave falls into the latter.
Gungrave VR Loaded Coffin Edition is made up of the base game and a standalone expansion, Gungrave VR UN. Now, for reasons that will become apparent through the review, I will just treat the two games as one.
The game is made up of 3 styles of gameplay. First off, you have an over the shoulder 3rd person view that allows for free movement within a sort of arena environment, this is a sort of horde mode that will see you mowing through enemies on your way to fighting the level boss. The action is a mixture of shooting, using head targeting to aim at enemies, and the odd melee move. There is also a 1st person gameplay style where the guns are mounted to your head and gameplay is played from a stationary position but ultimately feels the same as the 3rd person levels. In the case of the UN expansion there is a 3rd gameplay style, 2D side-scrolling levels, and again the gameplay style ultimately stays the same it’s just the perspective that is changed.
Gameplay is fun and frantic and at times can feel like an arcade-style shooter, especially in the 1st person levels. Sadly, the game has a few issues for me that stop it being elevated to a must buy in what is quickly becoming a crowded VR platform with more and more games fighting for your attention.
The game doesn’t really “sing” in VR, and ⅔ of the time you will be wondering why it’s even in VR, to begin with. The 3rd person and 2D levels simply don’t benefit from it, the effects are muted, nothing really flies out at you or gives you any kind of wow factor. The game uses head tracking to shoot but it has a fixed H.U.D, so, at times you will actually have to break away from a target enemy to look at your health bar and, although it’s easy enough to snap back, it’s annoying when you are playing.
The 1st person levels are really fun to play in VR and actually feel like they should be on the platform. Things fly past you, you have a great sense of depth, and you are really pulled into the action in a way that you are not with the other playstyles. Unfortunately, there is just not enough of it with only 2 and a half levels in the base game and a tiny portion of UN taking place in 1st person.
That neatly brings me to game length, I finished the main game in under 2 hours with it being made up of 2 3rd person levels 2 1st person and 1 mixed level at the end. The UN expansion is 3 levels, it’s mainly the 2D style with a little smattering of the other 2 playstyles thrown in, which took me a little under 30 minutes to finish. The game is very short and I don’t really understand why it’s broken up into 2 titles, my only thinking behind it is possibly the developer decided the 2D was so unlike the previous gameplay they had to split the games.
I did enjoy Gungrave, I just don’t see why it was in VR. I think the experience would actually be more fun to play in a standard gameplay style. It is super short though, with the only replay value coming from taking on the game again on a harder difficulty.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*