Gunnheim mashes Vikings with guns to create an old-school twin-stick shooter that feels like it has come straight out of the mid-90s. If the idea of revisiting that era’s lo-fi polygons excites you then there is something here for you - if not then it’s just a standard arcade shooter.
Down in the mud
I think I'm too old for Gunnheim. It proudly advertises its “superior low-poly graphics and intense gore” but, having been in my late teens during the era of the 90s visual style it emulates, it misses all of my nostalgia buttons.
Because of this, my first moments were shaky. Low res-images and muddy polygonal characters certainly remind me of a different age of gaming – but not in a positive way. Playing around with the settings improves this, but there is still a blur to some elements that I find off putting.
It’s a shame, because the stripped back geometry of the environments look great in isolation, with the flat colors of each surface distinctively popping from the screen. This is made all the nicer by some modern shadow effects and other minor details - revealing the true year in which Gunnheim is being made.
Between a rock and a deep place
Little stands out in terms of gameplay – which is to say everything works well, but doesn't capture your attention. Levels are built of walls and pits, each of which provides different strategic advantages. Walls add cover and funnel enemies towards you, but also provide a raised vantage point for enemies to attack from. Pits, on the other hand, allow clean shots but you can easily find yourself running off the edge in frantic moments.
Another proud boast of Gunnheim is that it has no zombies – which is misleading as, while nothing in the game is technically undead, a good number of the smaller foes do run mindlessly at you. These are offset by the larger gun-wielding foes. The challenge from these is significant, as you run across narrow bridges taking huge chunks of damage from each shot. It makes for a good push-pull between slow tactics and all-out-action, but never elevates it above the competition.
The four-player co-op mode does add to the appeal. Having your friends with you, armed with various shotgun and sniper upgrades, creates the kind of havoc that just makes you grin… until you drop of a ledge that is.
An awkward middle ground
Gunnheim is still in development, so it is only fair that I give it the benefit of the doubt for its low-res images and muddy character models. Unfortunately, the gameplay sits in an odd spot for me. Its levels lack the mania of a pure twin-stick arena shooter, while not having the complexity demanded of a dungeon crawler.