Gimbal was an interesting experience for me. I’ve never played a “space shoot-em-up” game, especially in the style of Gimbal. Essentially, Gimbal presents to you a 2D, top-down shooter, in space. The entirety of the game is multiplayer-based, unless you just build ships for fun with no purpose of using them in an actual match.
I started out Gimbal by joining a deathmatch server, and, being familiar with what a deathmatch entails, went right on ahead figuring out the controls whilst being blown to bits by other experienced players. I eventually got a hang of the controls, which were actually quite simple. Arrow keys to move, left-click to shoot, right-click to fire flares (for this ship, at least), and F5-F7 to switch camera angles. I preferred the “North Camera”, which is enabled by default. The stationary camera is just painful and the dogfight camera can be useful in some scenarios, but I still found the North Camera superior. You could also use a “scope”, which, to me, served no purpose and actually made the game a fair bit more difficult for me.
You start out with a set of ships already available to you. The ship that I began on was rather slow, but it allowed me to get a couple of frags (kills) in my first match. My favorite ship out of the three (that I started with) was the third one, which had a swiveling gun on top of it that did not require my ship to maneuver in order to aim the guns properly. I spent the majority of my time with this ship and did fairly well with it, although I was not able to get a positive K:D ratio during the stretch of my play session.
The gameplay itself was very exciting, especially with a large amount of players. Pressing the enter key pings the surrounding area, revealing other’s ships, but also revealing your location. Using this mechanic, players can always easily be found and the match keeps trudging along. This is an excellent addition to the gameplay, but there’s a flaw to it. The spawns in the game are considerably bad, like, spawning within a couple of meters of another ship bad. No use for the sensors on your ship if you spawn right next to players all the time. This was very annoying and I would usually die instantly after spawning because someone else was already there, waiting for me.
This brings me to the game’s greatest flaw, its unbalance. I come into this match as a complete newbie, along with my also inexperienced friend, and we were torn to shreds. There were some weapons in the game that instant-killed us that we did not have access to due to our low rank, with the laser coming to mind. We could use a “small laser’, but that is nothing compared to the power of the upgraded laser, unlocked at a higher level. Coupled with the fact that the spawns are already terrible, being fragged upon spawning is just completely unacceptable. I wonder if there’s a way to match up players with those of similar ranks, but we found no such feature.
The most fun I had in the game was building and customizing my ships. I spent a good amount of time building what I thought would be the perfect ship, equipped with eight weapons and plenty of ammo, only to realize that I could not steer the ship. I added some rudders, which helped slightly, but the turning still felt off. I spent the next 30 minutes building a few more ships, perfecting their stats and customizing them to my liking. Although I was never able to build a “successful” ship, I still had a blast doing so.
Overall, Gimbal can justify its $15 price tag with endless amounts of customization and explosive fun. It’s a rough start, with some unfair mechanics, but once you start climbing the tech tree, it becomes a completely new experience. Hope to see you all out there in the battlefield.