The indie community in gaming has been throwing out great games in recent years, to which we’ve seen the resurgence of old genres and spiritual successors to old IPs. One of these great games is Enter the Gungeon – an excellent example of the modern rogue-like. Quite simply, it contains all the elements I enjoy in the genre and is a shining example of what great games can come from the indie community.
Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also Available On: PC
Release Date: Out Now
The game starts with a giant bullet destroying a fortress on a distant planet. In the ruins of this fortress lies a weapon with the ability to destroy the past. Over time the fort was rebuilt and brought people from across the galaxy who have heard of the legendary weapon that lies within.
Enter the Gungeon is a top down rogue-like shooter, that has you explore the depths of the Gungeon – a dungeon filled with giant bullets, crazed gun fanatics and massive bosses. At the start of the game, you get to pick between four different characters who all want to eradicate their past. These are the Marine, Convict, Pilot, and Hunter. The only background for these characters is offered in their name and the description of the times they hold. All of these characters start off in the Breach (a central hub for the game), here you can try out the games tutorial, interact with NPC’s you have saved from the gungeon, and of course, enter the gungeon itself.
If you have any experience with the rogue-like genre, you will know what to expect. Randomly generated rooms on each floor, a wide selection of weapons and items to work with, and a lot of trial and error. You will find yourself dying time and again when you start Enter the Gungeon. The mechanics themselves are quite easy to learn. Shoot anything that moves, dodge out of the way of incoming projectiles, and when the room gets too hectic, deploy a blank which wipes away all projectiles on screen and stops enemies from firing for a few seconds. While the game is easy to understand, mastering it is a different story.
To get far in the gungeon, you will have to learn the attack patterns of enemies, especially when it comes to bosses. No matter what your loadout, any enemy in the game can be taken it down once, you put a bit of thought into it which is great. Instead of a game of chance with item drops, Enter the Gungeon relies on your skill above all else. After playing Enter the Gungeon, I felt like I could go through the entire game with just my starting weapon. Would this be hard? Yes incredibly, but I never felt I wasn’t able to beat a boss because I got poor weapon drops. It was all down to timing my dodges, memorising their attack patterns, and waiting for the right moment to use a blank. All of this is needed when taking down any boss as well as clearing out any room in the gungeon. You might be walking in with one of the best guns in the game, but that won’t mean anything when you encounter a boss for the first time.
Going through the gungeon, there is a huge range of weapons and abilities to find. These items can be accessed by opening crates, defeating bosses, or buying them from vendors. There is a huge variety of weapons to find in the gungeon. These range from your basic pistols and rifles to the bizarre, like a decapitated demon head and a mailbox. As well of these, some iconic weapons make an appearance in the game. These include the proton pack from Ghostbusters, the pistols used in the Judge Dread series, and the mega buster from Mega Man.
With a huge selection of guns to obtain, players have to adapt their playstyle quickly. One run you could have great powered RPG, blowing up enemies left and right, the next you find a fast firing, weak machine gun, relying on hit and run tactics. The constant change of loadout between runs makes each try a new experience. This makes sure players never settle down into any particular playstyle, and will always experiment with new guns when they go into a new run.
While the story takes a back seat to the gameplay from the start, the lore of the game is fleshed out a lot though the character bios. There are little bits of information in each of the enemy character bios. Each giving info of the world in Enter the Gungeon. But there is just enough there for the player wanting more. Going through the character bios, and info on the guns, I wanted to know more about the world and understand how it all worked. For that, the guys at Dodge Roll did a fantastic job of crafting the world in Enter the Gungeon.
However, Enter the Gungeon isn’t without its faults. Invulnerability between hits is nonexistent. It is so easy to go from max health to one hit left in a matter of seconds. Most of the time this isn’t a problem, but on the lower floors, there are loads of enemies that attack in a wide area, making that much harder to get out unscathed. Plus the game is cryptic on its curse and cool mechanic. If you are unfamiliar with this, like I was for most of my time of the game, curse and coolness points are gained by holding certain items or activating certain shrines found in the gungeon. Curse increases the chance of your gun jamming and lowers the chance of getting a reward after clearing a room. Coolness, on the other hand, reduces cooldown for items and increase the chance of getting a reward for finishing a room. This mechanic is never clearly explained in the game. It was only when I went online and looked up the wiki did I learn how the curse and coolness mechanic worked.
Enter the Gungeon was a great game to play through. The gameplay is fast paced, with no two runs being the same thanks to the rogue-like elements. The enemy designs are very well made and make it easy to determine what weapons they will be using. Shotgun shells use shotguns, sniper rounds use snipers and so on. At times the game reminds me of the Souls series. Not the brutally hard difficulty, but the constant trial and error needed to beat the game. When you start Enter the Gungeon, you are going to die quickly and often. But after a while you get the hang of the game, you learn the attack patterns of the enemies, and get used to changing your playstyle fast. And before you know it, you have gotten through the five floors, fighting the final boss without a scratch on you.