Who likes roguelikes with guns and dodging?
I first laid my eyes on DodgeRolls Games “Enter the Gungeon” during PAX East 2015. At first I wasn’t sure exactly what the came was all about, however the closer I got to the booth, the more the person who was pitching the idea to me was convincing me to play it. And then it happened! I picked up the controller and lost track of time while I played the game. That is until I was knocked over the head and being told to let everyone else play, to which I turned my head and saw the line behind me. Reluctantly I relinquished the controller and asked when the game would be released. Sadly at that time, there was no determined date and I was pretty bummed.
Fast forward a year later and we finally have Enter the Gungeon in our hands.
Game Name: Enter the Gungeon
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One (April 7th, 2017)
Publisher(s): Digital Devolver
Developer(s): Dodgeroll Games
In Enter the Gungeon you play the role of one of four characters; Marine, Hunter, Convict and Pilot, who are on a quest to find the fabled weapon, insert name. As the legend goes, this gun has the power to kill the past. The perfect item for anyone who’s made more than their fair share of mistakes in the past and this sets the tale for Enter the Gungeon. Who’s to blame them, I’d definitely take the change to find any item like that, you wouldn’t have heard anything about something like that, have you?
Each of the characters have a different play style and have different traits, all of which changes how you approach the game. For example, the Marine starts with an a set of armor that allows you to take one hit before you start losing life, where the Hunter has a crossbow that can take out most enemies with one shot on the opening floors. Each of the characters act like a difficulty setting, based on their passive characterizes such as reload speed, bonuses and so forth. So be sure to play with character to see which one works for you. In addition the character you manage to beat the game with will also determine the ending you get, all of which have their own endings.
Enter the Gungeon is a bit of a departure from most conventional games since it’s consisted of not the only rogue-like game style but also from bullet-hell SHMUPs. If you aren’t sure why the SHMUP is called bullet hell, it’s basically due to the massive amount of bullets or enemy first pointed towards you that you either have to run around, find a way to block or it or in Enter the Gungeon, you can also dodge it. Yes, dodge, as every character has a nice ability to dodge out of enemy first. While it’s useful in the right situation, it can also put you at a disadvantage if you don’t use it correctly. At times you’ll be able to dodge around something at you, but if you time it wrong and there are multiple shots point at you, that dodge all of s sudden gets you smacked in the worst way. As with any situational ability, you have to plan your moves according.
Thankfully dodging isn’t the only way to get out of the line of fire as there are columns and walls to
cower hide behind, as well as a nice ability to flip a table to hide duck behind. And while the walls don’t crumble after taking too much fire, the tables only made out of wood will, so don’t hide being them for too long. Oddly enough several enemies will also utilize the tables to stop you from shooting them as well.
Speaking of enemies, the variation of bad guys in this game is plentiful, despite them being a bit off the wall. For example, the majority of enemies in the game are bullets with guns that shoot, you guessed it, bullets. That in its self is weird. There’s also others such as walking grenades, ghosts, blocks, blobs. Combined with giant birds with Gatling guns, an even bigger pair of walking bullets among others make this your non-typical game.
Graphically the game stands out pretty well. Despite its retro 16-bit pixelated look, the game is fluid when it’s in motion and watching the action on-screen is satisfying. Everything is extremely detailed and there are touches of little things that make the make the game pop, like when there’s a heavy gunfight going on, damn near everything is destroyed. I’m talking about tables being flipped, books being shredded with pages flying everywhere and so much more. Since I also played this on a beefy PC, the game ran at a constant 60 frames per second. Though I’m sure that while my PC is pretty much overkill for this game, I expect that this will run equally well on a lower end PC. However keep in mind folks that this game does run on the Unity game engine, so if you’ve encountered issues with games utilizing the Unity game engine running poorly for you in the past then you may want to take caution here.
The gun-play is handled with a unique spin as well. While each character has a different rate of fire on their default guns, everyone can get on the same playing field as they pick up new weapons that are stored away in chests, dropped from bosses or eventually being unlocked and purchased later on in the game, should you find and save a certain character. Don’t think however that just finding guns will help you do better in the game, please don’t as it will only spell your doom. You also have to reload your guns. Yes, if you run out of ammo, you will either need to manually reload your gun or wait for a second or two before the gun will automatically reload for you. That said you’ll want to get into the habit of reloading, especially if you want to get off the first floor of the game.
While finding different guns is part of the fun, everything is handled via RNG or Random Number Generator. In other words, you’ll need to the luck of the Gods’ when it comes to getting the weapon that can turn the tide in your quest. You may find one weapon that shoots snowballs, another time you may find a weapon that sounds awesome but ends up doing less damage than your default gun. I once found a gun that shot out Molotov cocktails, which made my first two boss fights damned easy, but after I finally died and 15 games later I never found it again. It’s the randomized drops that add a layer of complexity and fun that keeps you on your toes.
However, RNG isn’t the only thing stacked up again you. One of the huge selling points of this title is that every level is completely randomized. No one game you play will be the same. Bosses change, the item placement changes, the level layout changes and even the number or type of enemies you encounter. I can’t state how many times I’ve rocked the first few floors, only to barely squeak past the first boss at other times.
You’ll die over and over in this game, that’s just the nature of rogue-likes. This is also how you manage to find the different types of weapons in the game as well as progression. Every time you die an almanac opens and details how you did during that game session. It tracks everything, including how many guns you found and even shows you how you died.
This almanac is the key to the game as it serves to track your progression. Remember how I mentioned that you’ll be able to purchase weapons earlier? It all ties in with the almanac. Enter the Gungeon starts out slow, after playing it for a while you will eventually get your own groove going and the game suddenly picks up the pace.
While co-op is possible, it feels like it was tacked on instead of being part of the game from the start. To play with someone else you must have another controller connected to either your PC or PlayStation 4 and then talk to the Cultist, that fella in the purple robes in the breach. Only then can someone join your game and even then it’s all handled on the same screen.
Thankfully you’re locked in a room until you beat it, having both players on the screen at the same time is a bit chaotic. It just feels like the game was made for 2 players and the levels feel cramped, at the same time the screen is just cluttered when both players are scrambling to stay alive, which can be a disadvantage at times. This also means there is no online play, something I feel that this game would greatly benefit from.
All in All, Enter the Gungeon is a fun game that will keep you coming back. Thanks to its rogue-like nature, players will die and repeat the process until they’ve gotten through even the most different level. Combined with randomized drops and level generation, Dodgeroll Games has ensured that no one game will ever play like the other one, yet the lack of a real co-op mode really hurts this game. Overlooking that, the gun-play and the ability to collect a huge assortment of zany weapons will have most people coming back for more. However, if you’re not a fan of rogue-likes, you may get tired of this sooner than those enjoy them.
- Randomized levels always ensure a fresh game
- The joy of finding that one weapon that becomes your favorite
- The hilarious enemies that you encounter
- RNG is a pain at times
- Co-op mode could be better