Title: Enter the Gungeon
Available On: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4
Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Bullet-Hell, Roguelike
Official Site: https://dodgeroll.com/gungeon/
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Where to buy: Steam, Retail
Enter the Gungeon is, unsurprisingly, rather focused on guns. The enemies, the levels, the story and, yes, the weapons, all follow a rather consistent theme of firepower. However, while it does have certain firearm fetish, Enter the Gungeon isn’t just about the weaponry – though it definitely plays an all-encompassing role. In much the same vein as Binding of Isaac or other rogue-like quick-fire games, this title doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, compacting as much fun and excitement into as short a session as possible.
And it does it remarkably well.
Enter the Gungeon doesn’t trouble itself with a complex or convoluted story, or at least not one that is thrust down the throat of the player. There is a castle, there is a gun that can kill the past at the bottom of it, and a slew of playable characters with regrets who want it. A simple premise and all you really need to get started down the path of destruction.
Nor does the game put itself on a pedestal. For example, the most common enemies of the game are the “Gundead”, the most frequent of which take the shape of bullets of various calibres. It’s silly, as are the bosses, the levels, the gun descriptions and essentially everything else. It’s a fun, bubbly title in that regard, and quite charming in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way.
Enter the Gungeon: Simple, yet Satisfying
The story aside, the real meat of the Enter the Gungeon is the combat gameplay. You make your way through a series of levels, each with a different theme, collecting guns, health, ammo and armour on your journey. You combat a boss at the end, and each room will usually have a set of enemies in it. You then blast these enemies into oblivion, while they try to do the same to you.
How exactly you go about this will depend on how much the random-number generator has decided to bless you on this particular session. Not all guns are created equal, and finding a particularly powerful weapon early on in the game can mean rapid victory or equally fast defeat. However, every firearm has its uses, from the barrel gun that fires fish (“shooting fish in a barrel”) to classic iterations like the M1911.
Rifles, rocket launchers, alien artifacts, Megaman-style blasters, even magic. They all make an appearance in Enter the Gungeon. If it could fire a projectile, you’ll probably find it in the depths of the Gungeon.
Which leads us to the characters who wield them. As discussed before, the characters themselves all have some kind of regret, not all of which are immediately obvious, but each needs the fabled Gun That Can Kill the Past for their own reasons. However, they differ in more ways that this as well, each having some kind of bonus which can adjust the gameplay to a small extent. For example, the Marine starts each level with an additional piece of armour that the others miss out on, while the Hunter has a helpful dog companion who digs up useful items occasionally once a room has been cleared.
Of course, if you can’t make up your mind of who you’d like to play, you can also play in co-op with another player, taking the battle to the Gundead in tandem with another shoot-loot fanatic. The game could already be described as having some pretty heavy bullet-hell, action-focused elements, and the addition of another player to the mix can certainly make things even more hectic. If that’s your style, then this is the game for you.
On a graphical note, Enter the Gungeon uses the classic indie go-to, the pixelated look. To an extent, this has been done to death by now, but it has allowed the creators to have a huge variety of different enemies and they still look lovely, so I can’t quite fault them on that front. The guns, which are the main draw of the game, have smooth reload animations, explosions have helpful area-of-effect indicators, while certain enemies will telegraph their upcoming moves in a way that can’t be misinterpreted.
There’s always a lot going on onscreen, which can make the visuals of the title a little difficult to appreciate, and occasionally the bullets get hard to interpret – though you could say that is the whole point of the high difficulty inherent to Enter the Gungeon. On both an aesthetic and a gameplay level, the graphics of this title work very well – they are nothing to write home about in terms of brilliance (with the exception of the environment destruction, which has an exceptional look), but they are bright, functional and give the game enough of a point of difference to be unique.
A Driving Soundtrack
Meanwhile, for sound, the game has a solid, driving soundtrack that keeps the pace of play high, pushing you on from room to room and keeping you on your toes regardless of how well you are doing. In many ways, it’s very percussive, particular when combined with the impactful sound effects when bashing open doors, flipping tables or smashing the scenery. It’s a great feel for the title, and pairs extremely well with the high-octane gameplay.
Overall, I would say that Enter the Gungeon is a solid offering from Dodge Roll. While it can have some frustrating moments, mostly due to the difficulty curve and the randomness of gun generation (and thus randomness of success), it’s still a game that is very more-ish. You’ll keep coming back for more, whether it’s to see what boss next awaits you, to find out what new guns you have unlocked or just to take out some real-life frustration by making some anthropomorphic bullets go boom.
- Gameplay: Frantic, frenetic gun-swarms and explosions.
- Graphics: Classic pixelated indie-style.
- Sound: Driving soundtrack, solid and somewhat percussive.
- Presentation: A good offering from a solid studio.
- Lots of variety in enemies, bosses, and guns
- Rogue-like, but with some permanent progression
- Explosions galore
- Excellent soundtrack
- Can be frustrating with a high difficulty curve
- Can be repetitive at times