Two of the most hardcore genres in gaming are twin-stick shooters and roguelikes. Enter the Gungeon combines these in one over-the-top arcade-like experience, so grab your favourite firearm and let's explore the Gungeon.
Enter the Gungeon is played by controlling your desired character (from a selection of four) just like you would in your average twin-stick shooter. However, a few basics deviate from the established formula that come in handy when avoiding enemy fire. Tapping a shoulder button allows you to dodge roll out of harm's way while knocking over tables creates a suitable shield that you can take cover behind. Also, you can press in both sticks to unleash a blank that clears the screen of all projectiles. Be careful, though, because I accidentally triggered this move many times and wasted my stock in the process. Anyway, considering the high volume of projectiles onscreen at any given time, these mechanics are necessary if you want to survive. This is especially the case when you face the incredibly powerful bosses such as The Gorgun and Ammoconda. Overall, exploring the randomly generated Gungeon with solid twin-stick shooter gameplay while occasionally encountering satisfying boss battles makes for one exciting game.
Although Enter the Gungeon is bullet-themed, it's ironically rather charming. Enemies are mostly various cute little bullets who bounce around back and forth. You'll come across others such as blobs, bats, and even iron maidens but none of them are as memorable as the bullets. The four characters (a marine, a pilot, a convict, and a hunter) are well animated yet they don't really have unique traits besides their default equipment. When it comes to audio, the theme song that plays on the title screen is great and makes a fantastic first impression. The music in the game is more generic but it does a decent job of providing a sense of urgency. Effects as you and your foes exchange fire are subdued as they match the cutesy visuals but I would have preferred if enemies met their demise with a boom.
As you explore the Gungeon, you'll discover countless guns that are a ton of fun to experiment with. You'll find everything from basic pistols to water guns. I even came across Mega Man's Buster and a NES Zapper. Additionally, there's a wealth of both active and passive items to uncover that'll provide you with bonuses such as increasing your speed, maximum health, and item capacity. As you reach further depths of the Gungeon, you'll find prisoners that you can free and will in turn populate the main hub area. Some of them sell items that'll show up in the Gungeon while others allow you to create shortcuts to floors. Besides this, there are a few completely hidden areas that are very tricky to reach. Overall, the amount of content to unlock and discover will keep you exploring for hours.
Enter the Gungeon is great fun, but it does have limitations that'll test your patience. You'll realise after a few attempts that every inch of progress takes far too long. Not only that, you need a lot of luck, too. For example, unlocking the shortcut to the second floor requires certain items. Most of the time, it's literally impossible to collect them even after fully exploring the first two floors which means you'll have to try again and hope for the best. One time, I needed 120 bullets (the game's currency) and 3 keys. I had the keys and 111 bullets but I couldn't turn in just the keys. Why the heck not? That made me mad. Anyway, after about a dozen attempts, I was frankly getting bored as I began to familiarize myself with every room, situation, and boss to the point where it didn't seem random anymore. In other words, tedium set in before significant progress could be made. Finally, there are only a handful of floors to master so if you take the high degree of difficulty out of the equation, you could probably finish the whole thing in well under an hour.
In the end, Enter the Gungeon boasts gameplay that hardcore gamers will flip their lids over. Although it gets repetitive long before you'd want it to, there's enough content to discover that I recommend taking a trip to the Gungeon if you're up for a challenge.
- + Solid roguelike twin-stick gameplay with plenty of awesome boss battles
- + Charming bullet-themed presentation
- + Tons of items and secrets to uncover
- - Every little bit of progress requires way too much time and luck
- - Entering the Gungeon gets tedious fast
- - Difficulty aside, it's a very short game