Header Ads

Breaking News

Gunbrick: Reloaded review – it’s hip to be square


Gunbrick: Reloaded – strange idea, great game (pic: Nitrome)

A heavily armed brick is not the most obviously useful video game vehicle, but it has a starring role in one of the year’s best action puzzlers.

Originally released in 2012, Gunbrick started life as a free Flash game that developer Nitrome retooled for mobile three years later. In it, you control a square that can roll bumpily across the screen and which has a gun on one of its sides. As well as destroying scenery, killing enemies, and triggering switches, gunshots also boost you into the air. From that modest single button and joystick interaction came an inventive and occasionally ingenious puzzle platform game.

Gunbrick: Reloaded remasters the original’s levels with slightly shinier-looking pixel art graphics and the same chiptune score. Your bespectacled hero once again climbs into his brick with a gun on one side, ready to blast and roll his way to victory. Starting with the basics, you quickly learn that your gun is a useful way of clearing obstacles, and that rolling over enemies is in most cases just as effective as shooting them.

You also discover that things aren’t quite as straightforward as they initially seem. Manoeuvring the brick around the game’s 2D levels requires tactical planning, first to make sure that the gun ends up on the bottom face when it’s time to hop up and onto platforms, and secondly to use the shield, which is on the opposite side from the gun. That lets your brick rest comfortably on flames – if any other face comes into contact with fire you’ll instantly explode.

Early levels are pleasantly easy, with few taxing moments and a generally quick turnaround. The game soon starts layering on more complexity though, with the basic elements joined by new, more complex tests of your spatial reasoning. Switches begin appearing, which you need to toggle on or off. Some open doors, others create a temporary cessation of flaming blocks so that you can roll across them without torching yourself.

There are also electrical sparks, which move one block every time you roll or fire your gun, giving some sections of the game a turn-based feel. Those puzzles involve carefully counting to make sure your brick rolls next to rather than through the spark. They also demand careful timing and dexterity, with some areas that require boosting yourself up and over platforms, or dropping downwards, without inadvertently getting zapped along the way. Then you’ll come across magnetic walls, laser beams you redirect using mirrors, and a host of other creative ways of using your brick.

Levels are divided into small sections, with checkpoints before and after each one, so on the frequent occasions where, despite knowing what you’re trying to do, you flub it and blow yourself up, there’s absolutely no backtracking; the game’s design keeping you tightly focused on the next challenge rather than forcing you to redo tasks you’d already either figured out or fluked your way through.

And that’s just as well, because after a gentle start, things do eventually get more taxing, the techniques you learned in earlier levels needing to be applied in combination with each other to overcome far more complex tests of brick rolling, with moving obstacles and switches that trigger countdown timers rather than permanently opening doors or removing blocks. It’s very effective and makes completing parts of later levels intensely satisfying.

That feeling is enhanced by the cute, colourful 16-bit style graphics, with neat touches like the sticky wads of gum you trundle through that cling briefly to the underside of your rolling brick. There are also chunky, mechanical sound effects that accompany being sucked into a transport tube or falling down a chute to the next puzzle.

Gunbrick: Reloaded – the isometric levels are a great addition (pic: Nitrome)

Reloaded has one further trick up its sleeve in the form of bonus stages, unlocked by finding and hitting special blocks hidden around the game’s levels. Some of those are reasonably easy to grab, while others seem literally impossible, and are regularly placed in sections that on their own would be pretty taxing. Each one you find lets you access a bonus level that takes the action into isometric 3D.

Although that sounds like quite a small change, the result of having your square become a cube is transformative, with the direction your gun is facing now given a literal new dimension, requiring far more abstract thinking to work out how to position it correctly to blast obstacles or to boost yourself up onto raised platforms. The bonus levels are trickier right from the start and add a fascinating new challenge that uses the same fundamental tools as the 2D game, reapplied in 3D.

The final element of Gunbrick is the boss battles, where you take on chunkier enemies in the time-honoured tradition of learning attack patterns and trying to work out where their weak spots are. Those are moments when you’ll be glad of the tight checkpoints, which let you retry with no distractions or tedious pre-fight speeches to sit through.

The electronic music can sometimes feel a bit overly insistent, and the early levels won’t take you long to dismiss, but once it gets into its stride, Gunbrick: Reloaded is a hugely inventive and very good looking puzzle platform game, featuring genuinely thought-provoking tests of lateral thinking. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and while it lasts both the 2D and bonus 3D levels are a treat for those who like their entertainment to stir a brain cell or two.



Gunbrick: Reloaded review summary

In Short: An entertaining and agreeably clever remaster of the classic puzzle platformer, with added 3D bonus levels that give the formula a welcome and devious shake-up.

Pros: Tight game design with frequent checkpoints that obviate the need for backtracking. Cute pixel art themed levels, and puzzles that often require considerable ingenuity to solve.

Cons: If you’ve played the original recently much of this will be very familiar. Some awkward difficulty spikes and the music can become intrusive.

Score: 8/10

Formats: Nintendo Switch (reviewed) and PC
Price: £11.99
Publisher: Nitrome
Developer: Nitrome
Release Date: 9th April 2020
Age Rating: 16

Email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter

MORE: Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories review – technical disaster

MORE: Below PS4 review – explore at leisure

MORE: In Other Waters Nintendo Switch review – the soothing terrors of the deep

Follow Metro Gaming on Twitter and email us at gamecentral@metro.co.uk

For more stories like this, check our Gaming page.



Source Link

No comments