Gunfire Reborn is a first person rogue-lite shooter that originally came to Steam back in 2020. Arriving to Xbox consoles – directly on Game Pass – puts this loot ‘em and shoot ‘em game into the hands of thousands more players, brought to us from developer Duoyi Games.
The big question? Is it any good?
Starting Gunfire Reborn you will get to learn the ropes via a simplistic and short tutorial. This is pretty deceptive as there is a lot more under the surface than its easy to pick up nature would imply. The gameplay loop will however be instantly familiar to anyone who has tried a dungeon crawling roguelike before, giving various biomes that players need to fight through, collecting loot as they do so, with everything culminating in a boss fight.
Graphically the game looks quite unique, using a polygonal cel-shaded simplistic art style. It really has a Borderlands via Kung Fu Panda vibe throughout, and it works well. Gunfire Reborn is like the aforementioned Borderlands in more than just looks though and the amount of weaponry and even some of the more obscure enemies look like they are lifted from 2K’s looter shooter, dropped through a filter to make everything polygonal and furry.
The playable characters you’ll get to know and love are all anthropomorphic animals. Starting with the Puss in Boots style cat, there are various other animals that are available to unlock as you progress. Each character has different stats and abilities giving depth and longevity, all as you learn each one’s nuances. I found the designs to be very charming but most of the time you aren’t seeing your own character as Gunfire Reborn runs in a first person perspective until you reach the inn.
At the inn (between lives) you can upgrade your chosen character via a skill tree and also choose loadouts for the next run. Having this as an interactive hub world, I can’t help but feel it would have been better than the menu system we get here. It works absolutely fine all the same, but a hub world would have been preferred.
Delving in and you’ll find there are unique abilities that can be assigned to LB for each character, but the most useful is the cat’s very first one. See, this cat fires out a purple ball that locks up an enemy for a few seconds, something which is great to buy time on shielded enemies or even bosses. Assigned to RB are the grenades and again the initial one available definitely feels the best. Throwing this poison bomb chips away enemy health before they approach you, making them easier to mow down and grab their loot.
Grinding for loot is a big component of playing Gunfire Reborn, and it helps you progress and take down enemies quicker; lost at the next death if you happen to fall victim to a villain. This is where the levelling system comes into play and makes the game a rogue-lite. At each resurrection you’ll get the chance to unlock stats in the skill tree with earned currency to unlock permanent boosts.
As I found out quickly, the boosts really help in getting through early stages quickly. I focused a lot of my upgrade points on the weapon strength perk and the opening level that begins as a hide and shoot affair turns into something much more like Doom 2016; a run and gun experience. Playing through levels again and again is one of the low points of my time with Gunfire Reborn and a way to skip initial stages would have been much appreciated.
Levels are broken down into smaller rooms that must be cleared in order to progress. At the end of each room you can gather all the loot dropped by the enemies like currency, ammo and new weapons. There are also chests that provide a modifier like extra damage or boots to shields as a reward for clearing out the area.
At the end of each of the biomes a boss level is accessible, throwing you against giant creatures with all sorts of varied attacks that are determined to take you down. The problem here is that for the most part the old circle strafe and timed dodges will see you succeed time and time again with ease. As mentioned before, the first few restarts are okay, but by the fourth or fifth time, going through the opening two stages, it becomes a bit stale.
That said, stale isn’t a world to describe Gunfire Reborn as a whole; far from it. The crucial element of any decent FPS is how the movement and gunplay is. And I can happily report that both are really fun. Movement is not tournament shooter fast but it is smooth and getting around the arenas is no problem. Gunplay is satisfying arcadey and fun. I lean towards the automatic rifles but each weapon feels different and gives something to dig into and master.
Playing Gunfire Reborn can be a solo affair or one taken in with friends. The amount of loot dropped in each room suggests that playing online with a few buddies is the intended way for the game to be experienced.
All in, Gunfire Reborn is okay; not great, not bad, but okay. That may feel like sitting on the fence, but there’s nothing that truly stands out as unique, at least not outside of the low poly, cel-shaded art style. Gameplay is fine, shooting is solid, but Gunfire Reborn lacks that hook, that one thing that draws you back time and time again. And for a game that wants you to replay its levels over and over, it really needs that little something special to pull players back in.
Gunfire Reborn may not set the world on fire, but it is capable of delivering a damn good time to anyone that fancies a rogue-lite arcade experience – especially if that person is after plenty of loot or the chance to enjoy RPG elements.
A solid enough experience, with sturdy controls, Gunfire Reborn is sadly lacking the sparkle that is needed to get you hooked on its gameplay.
Gunfire Reborn is on the Xbox Store