Gunfire Reborn is a co-op roguelite-FPS that’s been consistently gaining traction online. I don’t typically go in for first-person shooters, but I do go in for cute anthropomorphic animals in human clothes, so I figured I would give it a shot.
I was pretty impressed by the quality of the game – the guns, the co-op combat, the characters – but you know what really bowled me over? The fact that this game is in Early Access and yet ends up feeling more complete and complex than finished games I’ve picked up off the shelf! I mean, nani? How can this be?
Fast-paced, chaotic and ~accessible~ combat in one adorable package? Surely not.
The most important element to every action roguelite is its combat. Gunfire Reborn’s combat is fast-paced and chaotic, as any good roguelite should be, but a large part of what makes it so wonderfully addictive is how easy it is to get the hang of.
The control scheme is simple and your arsenal of weapons is nicely condensed so you don’t have to keep track of too many things at a time. You have one primary ability and one secondary ability depending on which Hero you play as – there are four at the time of writing – plus two weapons you pick up in the stage and that’s all you need.
It doesn’t really matter that the range of abilities your character can deploy is small if the variety of applications for those abilities is actually very broad and the abilities themselves are really useful. For example, Crown Prince has an energy orb ability that freezes enemies in place and I found myself using it all the freaking time for crowd control – he also has a poison grenade that’s perfect for AOE damage. These two abilities were all I needed to learn how to play well, become an asset to my group and feel like a total badass. If even I, the noobiest of FPS noobs, could feel like a badass then that’s really the highest compliment I can pay.
Besides, most of the variety in the combat comes from the guns, ascensions and scrolls you pick up in a particular run. The weapon variety in the game is more than satisfactory, with big guns, small guns, snipers, rocket launchers, mini-guns, shuriken throwing stars, Ironman hand-lasers, black hole generators and literally everything in between spawning in for you to use. Ascensions are passive powers or buffs that you pick-up throughout a run and are tailor-made for your Hero’s specific playstyle; scrolls on the other hand are more generic abilities and powers that will be useful to any Hero.
Overall, it is the ambition of every good roguelite/roguelike to offer the player sufficient variety in its gameplay that no two runs will feel alike, and I feel like Gunfire Reborn certainly achieves this.
Active and involved developers + passionate fanbase = profit.
The developers of Gunfire Reborn might be one of the most active and involved development teams I’ve ever known. It’s no exaggeration to say that since I started playing the game in August 2020, just under a year ago, there have been:
- added elite enemies,
- 3 new end-stage bosses,
- new stage layouts,
- 2 new Heroes,
- added melee weapons,
- more new guns, ascensions, enemies and scrolls than I can count.
And that’s only counting surface-level content that we, as players, can see. Imagine how many tweaks, fixes and optimisations have been implemented behind the scenes?
Too often, Early Access games are just half-baked ideas trapped in development limbo until the community quietly forgets about them. Thankfully, that most certainly isn’t the case here! It’s clear that the developers of Gunfire Reborn are 100% committed to fully realising their ambitions for the game, and won’t let it languish in Early Access purgatory like other promising games before it.
The graphics aren’t ‘good’ but they are beautifully stylised
When people say ‘good’ graphics, what they really tend to mean is ‘hyper-realistic, I-can-see-the-follicles-on-this-character’s-forehead’ graphics. If that’s the standard, then Gunfire Reborn’s graphics are far too blocky and low-res to be ‘good’ but they’re still beautiful to look at.
If Borderlands had a baby with a Marvel comic book from the 80s, the result would look a lot like Gunfire Reborn’s graphical style – colourful, cell-shaded and action-packed. It’s not the kind of graphical style that makes you want to stand back and admire the scenery, but you’ll be crashing your way through the dungeons at such a pace that you’d never get the opportunity anyway (unless you want to be riddled with bullets).
Early-game is lacking in variety
The first stage is called Longling Tomb, and you’d better get used to it because you’ll be seeing it A LOT.
Gunfire Reborn is a linear game in which each of the three stages are played in order, meaning that every time you wipe on a run, you’ll start right back up in Longling Tomb. It must have taken me least 15 runs to upgrade my Hero enough to reach the final boss of Longling Tomb, then at least 10 more to actually defeat him before making it to the second stage, Anxi Desert – and, of course, I died almost immediately to the beefed-up new enemies, only to be booted back to Longling tomb to start over again.
Yes, I know that chipping your way through the game, getting a little bit further every time, is the whole point of the roguelite/roguelike genre – but usually, there are 6-7, maybe even more stages to work through instead of 3. I like Longling Tomb, but I liked it a lot less after the 40th time of running through it for only a dozen or so attempts at Anxi Desert. Obviously, once you get a skilled group together you’ll be good enough to access all 3 stages instead of just 1 or 2, but getting to that point takes patience and perseverance.
A lot of people also complain about the lack of variety in the Heros (or should I say, hero, singular) that are accessible to you early-game, and I’m inclined to agree. Your starter Hero is Crown Prince, and although he is the most useful Hero in my opinion and the one I would pick if given the choice, it takes a long time playing with him to unlock the other Heroes. The next Hero is unlocked at level 25 – by that time, you’ve gotten so confident in playing with Crown Prince that you daren’t select another Hero because you know you’re going to suck in comparison. Why not have all the heroes available to play at the start? They all have unique skill trees after all.
Overall, Gunfire Reborn’s early to early-mid game is its weakest point, particularly if you’re playing solo or in a group of new players, as I was. Expect to grind through the same stage with the same character over and over before even laying eyes on the second stage – I’m not surprised if lots of people don’t have the patience to make it that far…
H O W E V E R…
Given how much the game has already been updated since its conception, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the early-game won’t be significantly improved at some point in the future.
If the game is this good in early access, imagine what it will be in the final stages of development?
The most exciting thing about Early Access games is that you not only get to appreciate what they are now, but also what they could be in the future. There is so, so much potential in Gunfire Reborn and it has everything going for it – a passionate fanbase, dedicated and creative developers, and a great concept.
Now, usually when reviewers say that, it’s because the game kinda sucks right now and they’re trying to reassure people that it’ll become something great in the future – but that’s not what I’m telling you.
I’m telling you that the game is really good, right now, and it will continue to get better and better, so, if you like roguelites or you like FPS, you should go buy it. Consider yourselves told.