Welcome to the Gungeon- we got fun and games!
Dodge Roll Games and Devolver Digital light up the screen (literally) with their twin stick shooter offering. Is it a masterpiece, or should it be left to rot in a deep dungeon?
Everything about Enter the Gungeon holds up. You won’t find annoying slowdown, or any negative traits that could potentially make playing a twin stick shooter a pure nightmare. The creators, Dodge Roll Games, accomplished a fantastic job with keeping visuals tight and crisp, while also not having to sacrifice the numbers of enemies on the screen, as well as the amount of bullets that can attack you at any given time.
Style and Appearance
As you would expect from many games in the indie scene, this entry adopts the pixel graphics approach that’s commonly used in games of this tier. This however, is no knock on what you get in the realm of presentation.
The characters you get to choose from each have their own look and feel that helps you to automatically distinguish each of your roster options. Enemies, specifically the bosses, also take no shortcuts in the stylistic department, giving the players a fun blend of many menacing protagonist to battle against as you try to make your way through the illusive dungeons that seem to hold many secrets of weaponry.
Even your weapons each have their own distinct look and feel. This helps make the chore of wanting to locate all the guns a fun and unique experience (more on that on the gameplay section of our review).
The separate five dungeons also have their own unique personalities.
One can say with utter confidence, each type of enemy, as well as the NPCs found across your dungeon adventure has been given much thought, and the brilliance in character and dungeon design fused together serves the gamer a fantastic visual package that helps to keep you playing for hours.
As mentioned at the top of the review, the core mechanics of Enter the Gungeon revolves around the concept of Twin Stick shooters, with a bit of a twist. Typically, the left stick is used for moving your character, while the right stick is used to aim your gun and shoot simultaneously. In this title, the right stick aims your weapon, while the assigned button (depending on your console of choice) is used to initiate the use of your equipped weapon.
Alongside of your weapons are also other supplementary items that can be used in order to further help you cause damage against your foes (for example, ice bombs, molotov, etc. ). Mixing these two offensive structures in your gameplay will be a key to your advancement, and thankfully, it all gels rather well to your favor.
And speaking of weapons, boy oh boy are there a wide array of them. Sure, it’s not Borderlands 2 wide, but what is there is a treasure trove of some of the most unique and fascinating arsenals for this genre. Each individual gun has their pros and cons, and thankfully, none seem more or less useless than the other.
Finding the weapons will require you to explore each dungeon’s square footage. While it sounds like a simple task, you should keep in mind that the dungeons generate every single time you die. This fact, along with the random placement of items you must locate and unlock with obtained keys, will keep you on your toes. You’ll never find the same weapon or item, in the same place and dungeon multiple times, making this task challenging, but also a rewarding experience. Each dungeon also has a shop, where you’ll be able to buy ammo, health, and other items that will help make your journey through the dungeons a bit more approachable.
The dodge mechanics is something that makes the defense side of the gameplay just as fun as using the guns. With this feature, you can dip and roll through the onslaught of bullets that come your way, helping you to preserve health and last as long as you could possibly hope. It’s a real simple concept that might take time to properly implement into your strategy, but eventually turns into second nature.
Since we’re on the topic of mechanics, this is a great opportunity to talk about the array of characters. While they can all wield the weapons found in the dungeons, as individuals, they all come properly stocked with default weaponry and attributes. This means that players are advised to try each option on the roster, and eventually find a play style that connects with their character option. For example, after trying out each character, I found my play style to match that of the Hunter the best in her default setting. Other characters will have certain attributes that might make them more intriguing than others, which makes the established balance found in the options a testament to how well they executed the balance of fun and individual independence across the character options.
Without spoiling too much, you might get frustrated initially with the game, as dying no matter which dungeon you reach results in starting over. Stick with it, and your fortunes will change for the better. Simply put, Enter the Gungeon eventually rewards you with intelligent progress the more faithful you are to the grind.
Enter the Gungeon offers local co-op multiplayer, which in a way is a shame, as this would have been a great game to enjoy with as many people as possible. While the decision to keep it local is one that can turn many off, in many ways it can also be a blessing in disguise. With as much happening at one time on the screen, having to deal with possible lag could potentially ruin the fun the game delivers otherwise.
Another strike against the multiplayer: not being able to choose two characters from the roster. This means that only one player gets to pick a core Gungeoneer, while the other player must choose a character known as The Cultist. This should have been a fantastic opportunity to showcase what two core characters can do with their strengths blended together, but instead we get treated to a constraint of combination.
What is there, is fun, otherwise. Disappointing, but fun.
Enter the Gungeon will ask a lot of you, which is something that’s pretty common in this genre. While the scope of the game seems short (five dungeons), you will find yourself dying many times and having to learn hard lessons in overconfidence, as well as overthinking when you’re in the tightest and cruelest of situations.
The game is difficult. It will slap you around. And you will love every minute of the frustration.
Generally speaking, the game offers you a basic yet sound structure in its overall package, and when it all comes together, it sucks you in and gets you eager to explore every section of the dungeons, and take on every enemy on screen.
The more you play, the better you’ll get. The better you get, the more you’ll want to see it to completion.
The story for Enter the Gungeon isn’t one that will floor you by any means, but there is a bit of a shallow lore that has been instilled in the package to set the premise.
In a nutshell: a band of misfits have decided to enter the Gungeon in hopes to locate the gun that has the ability to kill the past. You won’t get a deep, amazing story, but props to the developers for at least setting the premise of the game with an acceptable premise.
Content and Replay Value
Enter the Gungeon offers plenty in this department. From the amount of weapons to discover, to the random dungeons, it will keep you busy for a while. If shooters of this genre are your wheelhouse, the game will give you much enjoyment for an extreme period of time.
Crowds that do not enjoy SHMUPS, and more specifically, twin stick shooters, will still get a kick out of the game, and if commitment is exercised will at worst simply end up feeling accomplished that they managed to complete the entire game.
- Graphical Quality
- Style and Appearance
- Content and Replayability
The Final Judgement
If you're not a fan of shoot 'em ups or if you've been meaning to explore the genre, Enter the Gungeon is a fantastic place to start. It's an excellent mix of the bullet hell concept of the current crop of standard shooters, with the elements of twin stick concepts found in older titles such as Smash TV, or better yet, Dead Nation.
For the fans of the genre, it's money well spent. It's challenging, engaging, and will keep you playing and exploring as you make your attempt to find every type of weaponry possible.
Yes, the multiplayer is a bit of a let down, but what is there for the single player who seeks a challenge of reflexes will not go wrong with this title.
Go play Enter the Gungeon.