Fans of the “Rogue-like” genre are in heaven with more and more indie developers pushing content on the market with each passing month. Enter the Gungeon aims to please aficionados with its gun based dungeon crawler which pits your character against a slew of enemies all trying to kill you before you claim your prize, the gun that can kill the past.
Players must first choose one of four characters, each of which have special weapon classes and abilities that help them adapt to what awaits them below. Everyone is unique in their own way and can accommodate any playing style. Each character can carry numerous different weapons (only your starting weapon has unlimited ammo), a special item like an ammo drop or shield of knives, and passive abilities like armor or a treasure finding dog. Thankfully there is a brief tutorial you can run through with the guidance of the ghost of Sir Manuel, just one of the many puns you’ll run into during your adventures in the Gungeon. He shows you how to dodge roll, flip tables for cover, and shoot blanks that remove all projectiles from the screen. And with a little searching during the tutorial level you can avenge Sir Manuel’s honor and encounter your first boss battle.
After honing your skills, the real adventure begins below as you descend into the Gungeon to retrieve the treasure, but beware death is permanent and one wrong move will have you starting all over again. Don’t hesitate to use all the techniques you learned because keeping your health filled can be a challenge when the screen is filled with incoming bullets. You’ll encounter an overabundance of enemies shaped like their gun-punned names, like the Bullet Kin or Gunreaper. As you work your way through the randomly generated floor of the Gungeon you’ll find treasure rooms, secret passages, and a vendor. The vendor sells a variety of goods like ammo, heart containers, special items, and new weapons. He is a bit pricey, but it is well worth the cost to stay prepared for anything that may lie ahead. Each level of the Gungeon has a boss you must beat in order to advance to the next floor below you, but don’t think with cutesy names like Gatling Gull, Trigger Twins, or Ammoconda they will be a pushover. It will take all the tricks of the gunslinger trade and a full health bar in most cases to make it out of the boss chamber alive.
There is a local co-op mode available for 2 players and even though it is functional it just isn’t very enjoyable. Player 2 doesn’t get to select one of the 4 main characters, but is instead granted a wizard like character whose only real bonus is after he dies his “ghost energy” can absorb incoming bullets headed for player 1. With the randomly generated levels there is never a dull moment or times you feel as if you’ve done this before. There is even a progress tracking journal called the Ammonomicon that shows all the different enemies, bosses, weapons, and items you’ve come across in your dungeon crawling. Although they are not accessible through this, it is a nice reminder that there is so much loot awaiting you below.
Enter the Gungeon is an interesting spin on the rogue-like genre that will keep you wanting to push on to the next level or make you want to snap your controller in half in frustration. Both emotions are typical when playing a game that only gives you one shot to complete it all, but it really brings back that old-school arcade feel where there were no continues and challenged you to see how far you could get with one quarter…damn that makes me sound old. This is a perfect indie game to change the pace from those triple A titles if you love twin stick 2D shooters or exploration type games.
Score – 7.5/10