Enter the Gungeon, perhaps one of the stranger games I have played recently it is a brilliant rogue like, dungeon-crawling and bullet hell experience developed by Doge Roll. Published by Devolver digital it is available for PS4, PC, Mac and Linux.
The games starting principle is fairly basic and simple to grasp – you are an adventurer trying to make your way through the Gungeon, a dungeon in habited by deadly gun toting creatures. Why would you go into a place that resembles a wrong turn in Miami? Well, this is due to the gun that can shoot time that awaits who ever manages to survive the Gungeon. By “shoot time” I am not precisely sure what this means as I was never good enough to get to the end but, it sure sounds like something I’d want in real life. The game may not seem to have a deep narrative, especially with the classes you can pick which give you just a brief summation of the characters however this is due to how it tells the story. In some ways it is similar in a way to dark souls as it tells its story through its world rather than clear sequences of narrative. By this I don’t mean the game is dark and gloomy but the interesting characters and some of the conveniently placed items combined with what is in the ammonium gives the player a great idea of the lore of the gun crazy world they are inhabiting in this adventure.
The mechanics are simple, dodge and shoot – oh and if you see any environmental objects you can use like flipping tables or shooting explosive barrels, use them. There is also a strange gun sight that appears when you die however I am embarrassed that it took me more than a couple of deaths to figure out what exactly it was. Also the game has an interesting thought on what the term “blanks” mean which is a nifty ability that can be accessible to the player when they find a blue ammunition shell. This ability allows you, when used, to knock back any enemy close to you and cancels all the bullets on the screen. This is good, as for some of the boss fights these blanks are pretty much essential to not getting turned into Swiss cheese. Oh, and talking about things that can put plenty of holes into you if you are not careful there is a plenty assortment of basic enemy types which will let you have time to figure out how that trigger aim thing works when you die. On the basics you have little bullet creatures who shoot with a various assortment of patterns consisting of a single bullet to something like eight which usually aren’t very complicated. This soon ramps up with the introduction of enemies like the wizards known as bullet shapers which cast bullets in the form of shapes and an iron maiden esk enemy known as “the daughter of slaughter” which fires large spiked bullets that hit the wall and then turn around and home into its target to finish the job. When I mean iron maiden esk- I don’t mean the awesome heavy metal group I mean the device they used to torture people during the medieval ages which is the feeling it pretty much gives you as your rolling around trying to deal with it and the various other enemies. But, these shouldn’t detract from how hard some of the boss fights are either, oh no, from a buffed up raven with a giant mini-gun that fires rockets at you to a lazy looking bullet king that fills the screen with bullets you will be kept on your toes constantly through-out the game.
Other than the basic mechanics there are some other options that will help you during your escapades in the dungeons. Each of the characters have their own set of active and passive abilities which means each character effectively works as a different class. The difference between these two abilities are in the name and entirely dependent on each class for example the marine has military training as a passive ability meaning that he has better accuracy and reloading speeds and the active “I need mags” ability which lets him drop some ammo. These can be changed or added to while you are in the Gungeon depending on what you can find and by from the shops. But, these shops do not just supply you with extra abilities they can also have extra heart pieces, armour or even guns and are completely different on every floor.
The game has a very retro kind of atmosphere which works well with its quirky design and fast paced action. From how even the ammonomicon is animated the game sure is brilliant visually. The soundtracks also match perfectly and those satisfying clanging of empty shells and futuristic buzzes that seep off your weapons to complete the symphony in this chaotically fun bullet shooter could not have been designed better.
Overall if you want a spot on impression of the game it feels just like the trailers – an incredibly fun manic game. With its really quirky world, brilliant look and sound which define it so well and its harsh and addictive gameplay it is hard to find any real issue with the game. But, there is a slight issue in that sometimes it can feel a little bit too hard and feeling like you have not actually progressed in the game at all. To get any progression it takes real work, a lot of time plus a lot of frustration and maybe a replacement keyboard. This and the Co-op that is supported is only local which means you have an extra person to get annoyed at when they accidentally hit a button and you go rolling into a stream of bullets. However if you think you can handle that then please, feel free to enter the Gungeon.