Gunborg: Dark Matters is an arcade-style, action-packed platformer in space, with smooth gameplay and a slick 80’s synth-wave soundtrack, and is quite good.
You play as a bounty huntress, armed with a saber, a powerful shield, and a jetpack, and your job is simple, just fight your way through an alien spaceship filled with deadly creatures and capture the fearsome bosses defending it. Easy, right?
Gunborg: Dark Matters has skill-based arcade-style gameplay. You have to be quick and careful when you platform your way around each level, dodge or reflect all incoming bullets and kill everything that stands in your way either with your saber or with one of the enemy weapons that can be picked up. After each couple of levels, there's a boss fight and I must say that these encounters can be quite challenging even in the Normal difficulty settings.
The controls and responsiveness of your character are quite good. However, the hitbox of your character feels a little bit bigger than it should. See, you have a jetpack you can use to consecutively jump three times before you need to land somewhere to replenish the charges. But you can only use this jetpack to jump up, there's no sideways dashing. While this is not a big problem as the levels are designed in a way that you can clear them without the need to dash, some of the "hidden" collectibles are found in some challenging places, usually surrounded by some sort of an environmental hazard like spikes or lasers that hurt you even though you didn't really touch them. That's why I believe a dash would have been a nice addition, but again, on the other hand, that would defeat the whole challenging part of grabbing these collectibles.
When killed enemies drop their weapons and you can pick up all of them. There's some nice variety in here with slow-firing guns, shotguns, automatic and laser beams. Killing aliens in succession fills up your combo meter which then triggers a Dark Matter buff where all weapons, saber included, deal more damage to the enemies. Harnessing this buff becomes really important in the Hardcore difficulty setting and later levels which are usually filled with a lot of enemies that are trying to murder you. The shield helps a lot in these instances as it can reflect all incoming projectiles back to the enemies. Additionally, you can use the shield to protect yourself from spikes or any of the other hazards in all of the levels.
The pace is great and every two levels or so, the game introduces some new mechanics like spikes on walls or lasers that block your way or cubes that you can move around etc. These slight tweaks keep the game fresh for its short runtime. I casually beat the game on stream in around an hour and a half to do so on Normal difficulty. You can beat it way faster than this so keep in mind that is a relatively short experience.
The presentation is great too, with a really vibrant futuristic art style, gorgeous animations, a 120hz buttery smooth mode, and a killer 80's synth-wave soundtrack that I absolutely adored.
Gunborg: Dark Matters is a really good action platformer. It's beautiful to look at, sounds amazing, and can be quite challenging on Hardcore difficulty. Yeah, I recommend giving this game a try. Thanks for reading.
The game was reviewed on a PS5 using a promo code provided by the developer. Gunborg: Dark Matters is available now on Playstation, PC, Switch and Xbox.