Get A Grip On Gripper

Yeah, I used 'get a grip' in this preview for Gripper. Get over it and go check out this wicked demo on Steam now. After you've read this...

Yeah, yeah – lazy title, but it’s only a quickie as this write-up of Gripper is essentially based on a demo build. Is that worth your time? Come on; you can pull out a few minutes of your time to humour me and read all about it. 

I wasn’t sure what to make of Heart Core’s upcoming action game as it’s incredibly tough on my digits, and the jump cuts in it make it feel like it was devised by an epileptic squirrel tripping on its nuts. This game is a different kind of mental, but for all the right reasons.

Gripper kicks off with a boss battle against a giant hand that leaves you dead. Rebuilt by your beloved cuddly toy (don’t ask), you’re now part man, part machine. There’s a Tetsuo vibe to this, and because the game takes place entirely on a bike, similar to Kaneda’s in Akira, cyberpunk and anime fans will love this. But here’s my quick assessment: Gripper is No More Heroes meets Dark Souls.

Gripper Preview - Neon
Neon. Source: Steam

Again, a bit of a lazy comparison, but the first example is based on the super slick visuals, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, and mad setpieces. The Dark Souls part comes from the difficulty, as this game is bloody hard. The kind of hard that pushes you to your limits where you flirt with a rage quit but have that pig-headedness to try one more time. Our challenge comes from the mechanics…

First of all, Gripper features quite a bit of QTE elements. Traversing this world, you can freely move your bike left and right to avoid obstacles, but you’ll have to pair that with the left and right triggers. I played this on the Steam Deck, and apart from some early stutters and slight glitchiness of cutscenes, it worked great. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – the combat will have you raging.

As mentioned, the game takes place on your motorbike, and after the first QTE, you have to take part in a boss battle. A claw shoots out from your bike that, when aimed with the right stick, allows you to pull apart objects to either access goodies or rip apart a boss. In this case, the first boss (other than the giant hand) has its legs pulled off. It’s ok; it’s evil.

Practically a twin-stick shooter, you move with the left, power sliding with the left trigger to move away from attacks, but also to know drones into the boss, and with the right stick and trigger, latch on to objects to then throw or dismantle. In my opinion, the mechanics are pretty damn tricky to get used to, but that’s not a negative. When sourcing images for this preview, as it’s a pain to upload screenshots from the Deck, one of the keywords for the game is challenging. That’s accurate, but it should in no way be a deterrent unless you only play casual games.

Admittedly, I struggled with the combat, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing, and I’d go as far as recommend you play the demo for yourself, as it has massive potential to be a cult classic. I play a LOT of games, and in predictable honesty, I’ve never played anything like this. Sure, some elements are comparable to other games, but there’s nothing I’ve played that features combat on a bike with such unique, albeit sometimes frustrating mechanics. Give this one a look. Now. It’s out in early 2023 on Steam.