The roguelike has become the go-to genre for many indie game developers of late. From the ever frustrating Spelunky to the absolutely gross but insanely well-balanced The Binding of Isaac, the roguelike genre is definitely in full force. Enter the Gungeon is another roguelike that has risen to popularity after spending some time in Early Access. With the full release finally upon us many a gamer is now discovering that the Gungeon is not an easy place to play. It is time that we pull back that bullet-shaped door and do what the title screen music tells us and Enter the Gungeon.
From the first moment you start up the game you know you are in for a different experience with Gungeon’s take on the roguelike genre. To begin with you are asked to pick one of four characters archetypes at the start of each run. You have a choice between the Marine, the Pilot, the Convict and the Hunter. Each character has their own gear and stats, stats that are hidden. The Hunter for example is more of a long range character; she comes with a crossbow as a secondary weapon and a pet Corgi that finds hidden treasure for her. The Pilot on the other hand is all about being quick and nimble. He also feels like the luckiest character as most of the runs with him ended up with us getting a bunch of great weapons and items. Each character feels very different and definitely has their own play style.
Once you have picked your favourite character it is finally time to throw yourself into the Gungeon. At this point you will start to quickly realise that Enter the Gungeon firmly has one foot planted in the roguelike while the other foot inhabits the unforgiving world of the bullet hell. From the very beginning Gungeon is unforgiving as it throws enemy after enemy, also known as the Gundead, at you who mercilessly fire round after round of red bullet death your way. This is where the beauty of Gungeon’s game play really starts to come into focus. Gungeon is not about going crazy and shooting up everything but, like a bullet hell, is about timing and picking your moments to return fire. To help you survive within the Gungeon you will have to master its two main mechanics, flipping tables and the dodge roll.
Have you ever wanted to be in a classic gun fight like you see in old cowboy movies where they are flipping tables and exchanging gunfire? Enter the Gungeon lets you do just that! Anytime you find a table, or a coffin or a sacrificial looking altar, you can flip it and use it as cover. This will be vital to surviving the assault of bullets that the Gundead will drop on you. The only bad thing about flipping tables is that enemies can then use them against you as they are smart enough to also use cover. The game’s other mechanic comes in the form of the dodge roll. Mastering the dodge roll is key to staying alive in the Gungeon. All you need to know is the first half of the dodge you are completely immune to damage, why is this you ask? Because the Gungeon works in mysterious ways, the second half of the roll you are once again able to get hurt. This means that when a bullet is coming your way you will have to dodge roll out of its path but it also means at the end of your roll if you are heading for an enemy bullet you are going to get hurt. It is such a great mechanic to play around with and when you get into the latter half of the game it is hard to survive without using it, especially for the boss encounters.
What would a Gungeon be without guns? Probably just a dungeon, but anyway. Enter the Gungeon comes with 130+ guns for you to find and unlock. The guns range from the basic handguns, sniper rifles and shotguns to the insane like the demon’s head, t-shirt cannon and a mail box. Each gun comes with a different typing, for example you have semiautomatic weapons that require you to pull the trigger each time you want to shoot to sniper rifles with piercing rounds that can hit multiple targets. The guns are the backbone of Gungeon and any gun that you can think of that has been in popular culture over the last 50 years will be included. That yellow gun from Fifth Element? Yep. The Proton Pack from Ghostbusters? Yep. Even things that you wouldn’t even consider a gun show up as a firearm. Like the previously mentioned mail box that has a special delivery with every last round and a personal favourite; the barrel. It shoots fish.
The Gungeon also comes with lots and lots of secrets. Over the 70+ runs, with runs ranging from 5 minutes to an hour depending on how well you are playing and how forgiving the Gungeon is feeling, played only the very top layers of the game were revealed. To begin with the breach, a gathering point for all Gungeoneers, is pretty much empty bar for the starting characters and the dodge roll teacher Ser Manuel. However after several runs into the Gungeon you will start to find many new NPCs who will help you out and give you additional weapons and skills to make each run that little bit easier.
Let’s be very clear about one thing here: Enter the Gungeon is really hard. It is after all a bullet hell and many a gamer knows that bullet hells are never easy. You will need to really focus on when you fight and when to take cover as the game is unforgiving when you get hit. A boss will rip through you in seconds if you are in the wrong place and common enemies can often give you a run for your money. Despite its unforgiving difficulty Enter the Gungeon is an absolute masterpiece. From its insanely detailed sprites to its great variety of guns and items, Enter the Gungeon is a masterclass in how to make a roguelike.