Normally, I don’t jump into games that are still in an Early Access state. It’s not because I worry about performance issues, I’d just prefer to experience them in their intended entirety. But sometimes, there are exceptions. Duoyi Interactive Entertainment’s new Steam launch, Gunfire Reborn, is the exception in this case. After watching a few brief gameplay videos, its charming visuals and fast paced combat looked promising. An action-adventure game with RPG and rogue-lite mechanics; this alone called out to me. It was time to check it out.
If you’re looking for a lore-heavy adventure, you won’t find it here. In an arcade game-like fashion, players are immediately dropped into a character selection screen, which only presents brief descriptions of the playable heroes. Only having access to one character at the start was a bit disappointing, but you do unlock the others further into the game.
Taking an art direction similar to Sea Of Thieves and Borderlands, the colorful designs are definitely eye-catchers. From ancient tombs to open deserts, I was impressed by the comic book style visuals, as well as the layout of the levels. There are plenty of pillars, ramps, and broken rubble to use as cover during the firefights. Meanwhile, the massive selection of weapons is where I caught myself drooling. They all present a unique look and offer different elemental damage to help you blast through a variety of enemies.
Gunfire Reborn’s gameplay doesn’t differ much from other “looter shooter” titles. It’s very fluent and smooth, plus the controls were easy to learn. Upgrading weapons, increasing stats via skill trees, and practice are key to progression. Ascension; a secondary skill system that allows players to upgrade their abilities for the duration of a level, was a great addition to building your character as well. Whether choosing to upgrade elemental damage or to increase the duration of a stun ability, an impressive array of options await each run. This really added to the replay value of the game.
The levels are mapped out as a group of linked rooms, each blocked off until you fight off several waves of enemies. They don’t take very long to clear if you have little to no issues, but that seemed to be a rarity during the 10+ hours I invested into the game. The firefights are intense, and can escalate to a very overwhelming and difficult state quickly. Constantly moving and downright abusing the dash ability as much as possible will keep you alive, at least for a little while longer. One aspect I wasn’t keen on, was the fact you only really have one in-game life. It’s a similar formula to what titles like Enter The Gungeon or Binding of Issac have previously delivered. If you die, it’s back to the beginning you go. A bit of a downfall, but thankfully a successful run doesn’t take long to complete.
The damage feels very unbalanced in the game’s early state. Even though I was equipped with a health and shield bar, it only took a few landed shots to kill my character. Whether or not this was the intention of the developers, I really hope it’s reworked in the near future. In a traditional manner, the end of a level has a giant boss to defeat. Substantial amounts of health and overpowered attacks made for a tedious and frustrating encounter, especially when they can wipe you out in just one or two hits.
Gunfire Reborn has a lot going for it in its Early Access state. There’s more than enough content right now to keep players busy. I see a lot of potential with this in the days to come if the issues are addressed. Damage imbalances are in dire need of work, and until then, the risk sadly outweighs the reward. Other than that, I think Duoyi is on the right track delivering a game that I see myself going back to over the next while.