by Preston Dozsa
previewed on PC
A confession, before I begin: I’m getting tired of rogue-likes. Yes, they can be fun and challenging. But I’ve played so many roguelikes over the past two years that it takes something completely new and unexpected to get me excited over a new game in the genre. And please, no more fantasy settings with swords and sorcery, because there is a limit to how many goblins
I can slay with a sword before I begin to hallucinate that they are crawling out of my breakfast cereal.
Unfortunately, my sanity is in peril. Enter the Gungeon has gotten me excited for a new roguelike all over again, because everything in it is a gun or gun related object. I’m not just talking about the copious amount of weapons either. The enemies are almost entirely bullet shaped or have a reference to guns in their look, such as the bats that are actually bullets with bat wings. Let me repeat that, with greater emphasis for those of you who don’t understand how much I loved typing out the previous sentence.
BULLETS WITH BAT WINGS
Isn’t that just adorable?
Armed to the teeth
Enter the Gungeon is a randomly generated loot and shoot that is set in the titular Gungeon, where you play as one of several characters who are looking to find the greatest treasure in the Gungeon: a gun that can kill the past. To do that, you must shoot up several different floors and the enemies within, uncover hidden treasure and fight bosses that are - oftentimes literally - armed to the teeth with guns.
You start off by picking one of four different characters, each of whom have their own special attributes and starting weaponry. With developer Dave Crooks from Dodge Roll games at my side, I picked The Convict in my playthrough, mostly because she looked positively unhinged in her character portrait. From there I was transported to the first level of the Gungeon via a giant bullet, where the game began proper. The controls are simple enough: aside from movement and aiming. The only notable commands to remember are the Dodge Roll button and the Use button. The simplicity betrays what is actually a rather refined combat system, one that easily provided some of the most entertaining moments I’ve had in a rogue-like for quite some time.
The two most important aspects in combat are shooting and dodging. The important thing to remember for both is that you will be able to see bullets as you and your enemies fire off your weapons. That way, you can aim ahead of the enemy and be able to deftly dodge whatever your opponents shoot at you. Dodging a wave of fire from an assault rifle, only to fire off a shotgun blast at close range to a teleporting ghost is very satisfying. What elevates the system even further are the environmental objects throughout each of the floors, which - in the demo I played - was mostly tables and explosive barrels. Tables can be pushed up and used as mobile cover to evade from enemy fire, though the enemy will do the same thing if given the opportunity. The barrels meanwhile can also be kicked out and used as a mobile bomb that activates when shot. The combination of the two - along with the dodging and smooth feel of the shooting - creates a feeling that you’re taking part in an action movie, despite its pixel art style.
Which brings me to the best feature in Enter the Gungeon: the guns themselves. I started off my journey with a simple revolver that fired as fast as I could pull the trigger. I eventually found an Uzi before settling on a simple pump action shotgun. Before I left, Crooks took a moment to show me some of the more ridiculous weapons on hand. First was a fully automatic rocket launcher that covered the screen in missiles. This was followed by a black hole gun that created exactly what it was named for, much to the sadness of every living thing in the room. Then my new all time favourite video game weapon was shown: a unicorn horn that shoots rainbows. Sold!
Enter the Gungeon is a unique, highly entertaining game. It looks great and it played perfectly. If this is how much fun I had playing a half hour demo, I cannot wait to see what the full game brings when it launches later this year.