It's a funny name, ain't it?
I had to check Wikipedia to figure out what "Gungnir" actually is. Apparently, it's the name of a legendary spear in Norse mythology. Not just any spear… Odin's spear. The king of the gods. The champion of champions. The Big Kahuna. The Giant… Giant. And his spear was powerful, just like him. I didn't read anything that would imply that it could summon giant demons, but maybe there's a text missing or something. Because that's obviously what happens here.
Gungnir is a grid-based strategy-RPG in the vein of Disgaea with two major differences: The characters aren't as imaginative and the story is sllllooooooowwwwwww. The plot revolves around a small group of revolutionaries fighting against an oppressive upper class. Areas like castles, forests, and slums are the main battlegrounds as those in the revolutionary army fight to… ah, the hell with it. There's supposed to be racism, but it just comes off like poor people fighting rich people.
The story just isn't interesting. Pressing the right trigger to speed through the dialogue can still take at least a full minute to skip all the way through. After reading through the first few scenes and holding down the trigger, I honestly don't give a flying phooey about the story. Every character sounds the same as every other character with no discernible tone differences. The writers could've swapped around the dialogue and changed a few pronouns, and I wouldn't have noticed the difference.
Where's the humor? Where are the witty retorts? Where is there any form of emotional response beyond "we must fight them before they kill us"? I'm not saying every character has to have good running jokes, but there's
something nothing here to make players care about them. There were more than a few opportunities where character could easily be injected, but it's almost as if the writers went out of their way to keep things tedious and lifeless. I don't understand why, since there's so much dialogue and possibility to make them people instead of droning automatons. People are sarcastic, angry, hot-tempered, frightened. These are plainly not people.
Aside from the story elements, the battles woven throughout are mandatory and structured only as a way to move the story along. There aren't any side missions or special areas to explore, just the main campaign. While I'm not against that, the battles themselves feel slow and detached. Characters don't move in turns, but instead players choose their character to move at will. But if a character has just moved and you need that character to move again, they're subject to an HP penalty. It's interesting how many other elements they try to incorporate—there are tutorials in battles for hours into the campaign—but it still feels like a more bland (and yet complicated) version of Disgaea's battle plan and less like a step forward in any noticeable way.
The world is pretty, though. The main sprites all have a beauty to their design, both classical and Final Fantasy-ish (meaning: they wear some weird threads). Any characters included in the story have their own aethestic, which for people actually interested in the amazingly-dull story can be great to look at. Battlefields and story-based environments are all beautiful, with interesting architecture laced throughout like the rock formations in the forest and "secret" passages into (or out of) castles.
The visuals are the only truly interesting feature of this game: All of the effort not put into the story seems to have been focused on making sure you want to see the next battleground. It's especially good when there aren't any choices to be made on which fights come next. But still, way to trick me into buying a bland book instead of a game.
Gungnir looks nice, but it's underwhelming. Getting into the fights was easy enough when I decided to ignore the game's extra tactics, and the combat turned out to be engaging enough. But those characters… I've never actually watched paint dry before but it sounds more interesting than actually reading through these characters' plight. Let me summon the demon, let me slay some bad guys, and let me be engaged in a story… don't make me feel like I'm sitting on the sidelines.