Review | Gunnihilation

This was the tutorial. Yes, that is a lot of enemies for a training level.

You are an operative of an elite force, tasked with saving the world from an evil organisation with a secret, all-powerful weapon.  That weapon?  A butt ton of soldiers, mechs, and things that explode.  Your weapons?  Guns, more guns, all the bullets and sometimes a gigantic hammer.  Welcome to Gunnihilation.

This was the tutorial. Yes, that is a lot of enemies for a training level.

What we have here is an Early Access run-and-gun, twin-stick shooter with a pixel art style.  The gameplay is very much like that of Broforce, but with the ability to fire in any direction using the mouse or right stick depending on your control method of choice (personally I found keyboard and mouse best).  You have access to a variety of weapons, mostly fitting the usual action archetypes of shotguns and pistols alongside a gigantic hammer.  You also have a special weapon for “Frenzy” which acts as a constant, all-powerful laser death-ray, and a deploy-able shield that affords you some brief protection from the onslaught.

And onslaught is the right word to use.  At every moment the screen will be filled with hordes of enemy soldiers and vehicles of all different shapes and sizes.  At times it can seem rather overwhelming to take on countless melee soldiers, gunners, suicide bombers and death robots all at once, but the equipment you have is certainly up to the job of taking them down if your reflexes are quick enough.  Clearing out an area generally opens up the next one to continue on to the end of the act.  Each area was fairly similar in style, with constant movement between platforms and firing constantly being your ticket to survival.  In this regard, the game somewhat reminded me of the recent DOOM remake, with fast movement, accurate firing and use of your special abilities being essential.  It also has the same issue as DOOM, in that the game can become somewhat stale over time as each area boils down to the same gameplay systems.  If mowing down hordes of enemies sounds good though, then this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Your main base acts as a menu, giving you access to the different parts of the game.

Bosses change things up from time to time, with large enemies that provide a solid challenge appearing at the end of each series of levels.  These are much more difficult than the main levels (as bosses should be) and tend to turn the game into something of a bullet-hell shooter.  The game provides an option to show your character’s hit-box which makes these areas somewhat easier, as character position tends to be more important than hitting the boss in these sort of encounters.  I enjoyed these stages as they acted as a good way to break up the platforming and shooting that the main game consists of.

The graphics are nice, with bright colours that make good use of the pixel art style the game makes use of (this style also reminded me of Broforce).  The enemies and characters look varied and can be picked out from the incredibly crowded areas, which is an achievement in itself!  Each character has a distinct look, although they all seem to function in the same way (even Santa Clause), but this makes sense to keep the game balanced.  I like that the menu is essentially your team’s home base, with different areas to visit to access the various game modes.  There’s a bar to meet up with character’s you’ve rescued, a computer for the options menu and areas for the various gameplay modes.  This certainly isn’t the first game to do this, but I still appreciated it.  The sound is also good, with a nice soundtrack and sound effects for the weapons.  Whilst these were good, they didn’t really stand out hugely, and the soundtrack won’t stick in your head for days to come.

If the gameplay tickles your fancy, there’s plenty of content to get through.  Plenty of chapters in varied environments all split into different acts with 4 difficulty modes and crystals to be collected for especially skillful play (seriously, these were hard to get), alongside survival modes and seasonal levels added over the course of the year.  The difficulty levels really do up the challenge and will test even the most hardened of gamers.  There’s even plans for a level editor to be added in the future which would be an excellent addition for a game of this style.  All the content that isn’t yet included (this is Early Access right now after all) is blocked off in the base with workmen and “Under Construction” signs covering the doors, which I thought was a nice touch that added a little personality to the base area.

This is a shotgun wielding Santa, backed into a corner by soldiers and mechs. As you do.

All the content can also be played in co-op which is excellent.  At least it would be if not for one problem: only local co-op is available.  Now, I love local co-op, I think it’s a feature that is dying out and one that I will dearly miss, but it’s not a good fit for PC.  Most people’s PCs aren’t really set up to be used in a social way and this sort of feature is unlikely to be a big selling point unless online co-op is added.  When I did try it though (keyboard and mouse and a controller), it was great fun and worked well.  I just don’t see it being used by most people.

Overall though, I had a good time with Gunnihilation and I look forward to seeing what content gets added in future.  I’m especially keen to see what the community puts together once the level editor is released.  Find a way to get online co-op included and Robo Pixel will have an absolute gem on their hands that I’ll happily go back to time and time again.

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