Reviewed on: PC. Also available on PS4, Mac and Linux.
Enter the Gungeon may look like a cutesy retro style game with a weird name, but it’s so so so much more than that. A rogue like dungeon crawler filled with gun motifs, this game is one that’s more than worth checking out, but be warned it’s addictive and you will die LOTS.
You might be wondering why my review for this is coming out so late, after all the game came out nearly a month ago on April 5. Well the reason it’s so late is because I really fucking suck at it. It took me five hours to clear the first level. “WHAT?” You might be screaming at your screen, “you must have hated it!” Well, no. Despite digging myself into a hole by stating I’d like an easier mode for Dark Souls, I do actually enjoy hard games, as long as they remain fun, which Enter the Gungeon certainly does.
Players take control of (initially) one of five Gungeoneers, The Marine, The Convict, The Pilot, The Hunter, or The Cultist (Co-op only). Each has a different set of stats, weapons and abilities, although the choice is easy because The Hunter has a dog, so of course she’s the best.
Each character is on a pilgrimage to the Gungeon, as legend has it there is a weapon in its depths that can rewrite history by killing the past. The Gungeoneers all have a different wrong they want undone, and I won’t spoil any of them because they are unique and worth fighting for (except if you’re like me and suck so you just watch them on YouTube).
To get to the end of the Gungeon players must survive levels of randomly laid out rooms, all complete with a boss at the end. Every run through is different, so constantly dying and restarting doesn’t become too tedious. Some runs you might encounter relatively simple enemies and on others they will be unforgivingly hard. In fact unforgiving is a good word for this game, because it’s just that.
In Enter the Gungeon you rely on finding good loot. On each level you will discover locked chests that contain a mystery item, and what you happen to get from it might dictate how well you’ll be doing later on. Some guns are terrible, whilst others are insanely OP, so it’s a game of luck as well as skill. You’ll often find the items scattered around this game are references to other games, movies, or TV shows, so they are fun to discover, that is if they are functional. Should you happen to get bad gear you can purchase better items from the shop that is also randomly generated, so on some days it might not even have anything worth spending your low currency supply on, in which case you’re pretty much screwed or have to be amazing at the game.
The gameplay itself is relatively simple, you need to shoot enemies and avoid being shot, to do so you can combat roll out of harm’s way or flip tables and avoid hits that way. Taking a shot is brutally cruel considering how much health it knocks off and how rare heart drops are. Sometimes the best tactic is to keep moving and weave in and out of enemy fire whilst dishing out damage. Should you be under too much fire you can shoot off a blank which neutralises all the fire in the room and stuns enemies, but you only have a finite amount, with two respawning on each level.
Enemy types are varied and all based on the gun motif, which has been done extremely well by the devs over at Dodge Roll. Every tiny detail has been considered from the types of shells enemies look like reflecting their weapons, to the health bar being crossed over bullets to make a little heart. It’s great to see and this aspect is something that you can continue to appreciate even after the game whoops your arse for a few hours straight.
Enter the Gungeon is accompanied by an amazing soundtrack, which is an element Devolver Digital games rarely lack in. It transitions between mysterious when exploring, and pumping during gun fights, keeping you vying for bullet blood.
The only real criticisms for Enter the Gungeon could be that it’s too hard. Sure there are shortcuts and plenty of ways to work around the difficulty, such as unlocking elevators to different floors, but getting to them is insanely hard and the unforgiving nature can make it seem almost impossible for some players. For a long time I’d resigned myself to never being able to beat the first level bosses, although I can now safely do so, I’m still not at a stage where I’m remotely good enough to progress past the second floor. Is this a flaw, or just me being a whinging little bitch? Well, that’s for you to decide, but all I’m saying is I’d love the game even more if I could get further into it.