I love anime. Or at least anime aesthetics in this case since Gungrave was originally just a video game series. The genre and its art even serves as a major inspiration for the book trilogy I’m writing. Yay shameless plug! However, I never played a Gungrave title before or watched the anime series. I have seen bits and pieces of Trigun though so I’m the best anime junkie here at Pure PlayStation you’re probably going to get for this review. Regardless, I know that no work of art should be represented like in Gungrave VR. The experience brought about feelings I rarely go through as a video game reviewer. The need to remind myself what I’m playing and judging is from a constructive standpoint and not one of insulting the creators. Energy Hook memories all over again.
The story is very loose, but of course tasks the titular hero, Grave, with defeating baddies for the good of the world or something. Seriously after a brief cutscene full of words describing a dangerous drug known as SEED, we’re put into the shoes of our hero and left to destroy things. There’s a sentence or two before every stage or mission and none of them provide any meaningful exposition. Perhaps someone with knowledge of the series will be able to connect characters to their motivations, but that’s as far as anyone will get plot wise.
Gameplay is predominantly from a third person perspective directly behind Grave’s back, a few feet away. You’ll be given a forced, first person view for a handful of minutes. You’re two methods of defeating enemies consist of firing guns and a sole melee attack. Shooting will require you to move your head in order to target with the crosshairs. Then the right trigger can be held down or fired in a burst mode to send projectiles flying. The melee is a small, area-of-effect attack that doesn’t decent damage, but it’s nearly useless when you have dual-wielding firearms. I found myself only ever using it when I purposely got close to enemies even if it could deflect shots. Grave can also slow down time for five seconds at a time, but again, found myself not needing to utilize the ability. Lastly, there’s a sluggish and slow as hell dodge roll too.
Now there’s also two “special” moves that can only be used after you get increments of one hundred hits. Yes, one bullet counts as a hit. Hitting the square button will freeze time and allow Grave to deal massive damage to enemies around him in a whirlwind of bullets. Pushing triangle will transform all weapons into a massive gun that fires like an LMG. This does not stop time though and can be interrupted. As cool as it can be to watch these flashy anime antics happen, nearly all aspects of attacking are broken. If you look to far in either direction while aiming, the crosshairs straight up disappear and don’t give you a line of sight. The turning in forty five degree angles, with the right stick, only hampers the problem because of how little you’re actually able to turn. I could not find settings anywhere. Then that melee attack will hit enemies, but they won’t always react right away and continue with their animations. Plus, just a general feel of clunkiness with everything. From moving, firing, moving while firing, dodge rolling, etc. The best part though are the bullcrap hits and deaths you’ll experience because of Gungrave VR’s hit detection.
Mission structure and level design are pretty uninspired and basic. For the most part you’re thrown into a very small area and tasked with wiping out all enemies and objects who oppose you. Then a boss shows up with higher than normal health, timed attacks, and easily exploitable weaknesses. There are a few different types of enemies, but they can all be taken out the same way even without their distinguishing sounds being made when they appear. And don’t get me started on how dumb the A.I. is. Enemies will stand completely still and not move from their position while performing whatever attack like clockwork. Combine all this with those hit detection and clunky issues and I got frustrated real quick. Oh and another thing that will frustrate are the loading screens. Some will take up to two whole minutes to load one of the five stages. Which takes less than ninety minutes to complete all of them.
If you can drag yourself through Gungrave VR then you’ll unlock additional difficulties to play on. Which is pretty much like playing Superman 64 again with additional problems. There’s also a basic training mode and the ability to play as other characters. With all these problems you must be wondering if there’s anything at all redeeming about this game? Well, the graphics are actually amazing. Some of the best detail I’ve seen yet in PSVR title. Unfortunately, playing with a sparkly piece of poop still involves you holding poop.
GunGrave VR PS4/PSVR Review
Gungrave VR is actually one of the rare virtual reality titles that fails to have anything minutely interesting to it. Like there was no reason for this to be a PSVR game other than to be a distraction on how bad the game is. The nonexistent story is one thing, but broken, uninspired, and basic gameplay is another. Don’t play this game. Even if you receive a virtual reality headset and this title for free.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.