Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX Review — Short, Sweet, and Shocking
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avengers iX is a fast-paced but well-designed platformer that keeps up Inti Creates' streak of awesome games.
After playing a bit of Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX at E3 2019, I said that this title had the potential to be one of Inti Creates’ best games yet, and now that I’ve played the full thing I can confirm that this is the case, at least for me. The Gunvolt series emerged in a pre-Mega Man 11 era where the Blue Bomber’s style of platformer was pretty malnourished. While titles like 20XX and Mighty No. 9 (which Inti Creates also had a hand in creating) failed to capture the magic of that classic series, the Azure Striker Gunvolt games always felt like the best successor to Mega Man as they not only provided a new coat of paint on the classic formula but built on it with an interesting world and new mechanics as well.
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX manages to continue the series’ momentum, even managing to bring it to new heights despite a short length. While its story is quite short and may not reach the heights the gameplay does, Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX feels great to play and is one of the most fast-paced, satisfying, and tightly designed platformers of 2019.
The series’ world is in dire straits during Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX, with Sumeragi hunting down any Minos without septimal powers. That being said, Copen, who players should recognize from the first two Azure Striker Gunvolt games, wanders the world as the titular Luminous Avenger. He stumbles upon a group of young Minos led by a girl named Kohaku, kicking off the series of events that will ultimately pit Copen against the inner workings of Sumeragi once more. Though the story gives Copen and Kohaku enough of a motivation to get players invested in what’s going on and occasionally touches on the poor ethics regarding how Sumeragi chooses adepts, it never amounts to much more than that.
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX’s story is quite short too, so nothing ever has time to sink in despite some interesting twists and revelations that I won’t spoil here. While getting the highest rank and all the collectibles in every level, the post-game levels with reworked boss fights, and score attack modes should inflate the playtime to about 8 to 10 hours. The story itself can be cleared in under 3 depending on how skilled you are. The fact that this is the shortest game in the series may be a bit disappointing and hurt its story, but the levels and gameplay of Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX show that Inti Creates is at the top of its game currently.
Whereas last year’s Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon delivered a methodical, retro-inspired take on the old school Castlevania style platformer, Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX is a premier example of the style of fast-paced platformer kicked off by Mega Man X. To this game’s credit, it stands entirely on its own for the most part, really only harkening back to Mega Man in the boss weapons’ and level structure. The game is structured similarly to previous Gunvolt titles, though Inti Creates has managed to expand upon Copen’s already engaging gameplay from Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 in interesting ways and have created a game where players will be dashing around stages like there’s no tomorrow.
In addition to his standard EX weapons from Lola normal gun attack, Copen can dash into enemies to lock onto them. After doing so, he can do more damage, build up Kudos, and shoot at them from anywhere. While positioning is still pretty important before engaging an enemy, this system will have players consistently ricocheting themselves off enemies and walls in order to keep up the Bullit gauge, which supplies Copen’s more powerful dashes that lock onto enemies. This gauge can also be refilled by pressing down on the d-pad twice, and while it does take a bit of getting used to, I got used to it and it can even be remapped.
Though this may sound a bit hectic on paper, Inti Creates managed to design levels in a way that compliments the gameplay. This allows Gunvolt Chronicles to hit just the right pace to be a title that fast-paced but manageable, like the good 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games or Rocket Knight Adventures. Looking back, Mighty No. 9 tried to incorporate a mechanic that encouraged players to dash into enemies, but it didn’t completely pan out there. Fortunately, Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX manages to fully realize the potential of a platformer that actually encourages players to run into enemies without killing the pacing of the game.
Though Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX is quite short, it definitely squeezes the fullest potential out of almost every minute. Even outside of everything I’ve mentioned, the soundtrack is good and the visuals, specifically the pixel art during gameplay, are steller. For those looking to find a quick game to give them a shot of adrenaline during this busy release season, you can’t do much better than Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX.
This game manages to expand on the already solid formula established by Copen’s playable appearance in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 to create one of the most exhilarating platformers on this side of Sonic Mania. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX also proves that the Gunvolt series can sustain itself via spin-offs, not only creating further parallels between it and the Mega Man franchise but cementing the fact that this is an Inti Creates series that will, hopefully, stick around for a long time to come.