I entered the Gungeon on PlayStation 4 and now due to the Nindie Direct shadow drop, I am exiting the Gungeon on the Nintendo Switch. I love these games, I adore roguelikes and loot-based games like The Binding of Isaac, Rogue Legacy and Dead Cells. It makes me excited just talking about them.
I love games that are different every time I boot them up and I cherish the fact they offer hundreds of hours of randomly generated content. I have played Isaac for thousands of hours and I still get surprised every time I play. There is a difference though between a good roguelike and a poor one. Persistence and the feeling of constant progression are the keys to my enjoyment.
For the people who did not play Enter The Gungeon, it was a randomly generated dungeon crawler with loads of outlandish guns, seriously, masses of weird and wonderful weaponry was lurking around every corner. This mixed with random room layouts, shops and wacky bosses added up to an enjoyable little indie gem that I genuinely adored.
As the title suggests, now you must Exit the Gungeon instead of working your way through it. That is not the only change in this wacky sequel though. Instead of being a dungeon crawler, the sequel is a 2D shooter, more along the lines of Contra or something like Cuphead. As you Exit the Gungeon you must ascend lifts, visit shops, enter small rooms, play minigames and vanquish all foes you come across.
Another change to the Gungeon formula is the gun system. Don't worry, all your favourite wacky guns are here but instead of finding them or buying them you now get them depending on your performance. This sounded strange to me at the start but it actually works really well. You gun morphs after a small amount of time and you are allocated a new, probably completely insane armament.
Which weapon you are allocated depends on your current combo modifier, or the Kaliber as it is referred to in-game. Your gun is blessed at the start of every run and the more enemies you kill without taking damage, the better gun you should get on the next refresh. It is a great little system that rewards skill and feels very original. You never quite know what you are going to get and must adjust your play style every time your gun changes.
The guns in this game, as with the first title, range from normal everyday guns you find in normal shooters to 'who the hell thought this would be a good gun?' I have had guns that shoot other guns, lasers, pistols, guns shat shoot the word 'bullet', guns that shoot turtle shells, there are so many weird and wacky guns that you always need to be on your toes ready for the next inevitable ordinance change.
As with Enter the Gungeon there is a hub you start in before every attempt to Exit the Gungeon. This hub gets filled with new NPC's you unlock while running through the game and it is also where you pick your character you would like to try and escape with. It gets more populated the more you play and fills up with crazy and uncanny characters to talk to.
The point I spoke about earlier, what makes a roguelike good, is the sense of progression and the unlockable persistent items. In Exit the Gungeon, as with the first game, you get credits to spend in the hub shop. The credits, named Hegemony, unlock more guns, powerups and items that will be available on your subsequent runs. This means you are always unlocking new things to try and keeps the game fresh as well as making it feel like your always improving your item pool.
As with every game of this ilk, your build, which more often than not depends on a bit of luck, will determine the success your jaunt out of the Gungeon. There are shops after every boss which you can spend your hard-earned casings on. Health, blanks and upgrades can be bought and will last for the rest of the current run. Wise spending of your casings is pivotal to your progress.
This currency is per run unlike the other, persistent currency mentioned above. Casings are used in each run to help you in your current game while Hegemony is used to unlock more items that will last for as long as you play Exit the Gungeon. Hegemony is quite rare and only really drops from beating bosses. You should spend it carefully on things you think you will need far into the future.
Every run is new, every run is different and the progression and advancement come from your ability improving and your pool of unlocked items getting better. All this adds up to you getting further and further towards the inevitable exit. It gives me great joy with these types of games to see my skill and understanding of the game's systems improve and my performance, in turn, also get better.
Almost everything that made Enter the Gungeon special is still here. The tight gunplay, the invincible dodge feature, the blanks that clear the screen of projectiles and uncanny characters are all still present and make the game feel familiar. This combined with the new game style and features give the game a fresh style and I really like it.
The whole game feels more dynamic and streamlined. Gone are the backtracking and wandering around dungeon floors, in their place is a set of very confined, hectic and fun interlinked stages. I like both games but they do feel different. They both have that Gungeon charm we all know and love but the games compliment each other and feel like they were meant to be played together.
Graphically, the art style is the same as the first title. A lovely bright and bold pixel-art graces the Nintendo Switch screen and it looks beautiful. The animations, characters and levels are all lovingly composed and have a very cheery feel to them. I really adore the art style in both Gungeon games, it is truly stunning, especially if you like pixel-art.
Sound-wise, again, as with the first title, Exit the Gungeon is brilliant. The great sound of the blanks going off, the awesome gun sounds and the catchy theme tune are all still there. As is the brilliantly fitting music that graces each stage or boss fight. The art style and music work in tandem to create a unique presentation style that I enjoy so much.
Performance-wise, apart from a slight hitch when a boss arrives on-stage and a bit of lag in one minigame, Exit the Gungeon performed well. No matter what was on screen at the time, everything ran smoothly. This is paramount for a game that requires pinpoint positioning and dodging, I am so glad the game performs well as this could ruin what is otherwise a brilliant game.
- Brilliant roguelike gameplay
- Great weapons
- Fun gameplay loop
- Great art style
- Nice music
- Very small, very rare performace hiccups
- Can be difficult to newcomers