by Marjolein Verheij
previewed on PC
One of a kind
We see so many games at Gamescom that it can be hard to keep a clear picture of them for long enough to write about them when we get home. This was not the case with GoNNER. This platform shooter with its randomly generated content, frantic funky music and cartoony main character, stood out as one of a kind. While designer and coder Ditto did the talking, Raw Fury’s Head of Marketing David Martinez button-smashed his way through the levels so we could take notes.
You play as Ikk. A blobby looking character on a journey to find out why his friend, the giant land-bound whale Sally, is sick. It is not an easy journey but one fraught with danger. Fortunately you can defend yourself with your gun so you can shoot at the myriad of blob-like monsters of all sizes that fill each of the levels. Bigger ones need more shots - or jumps on their heads - to shrink to the size of the smallest before you can kill them. The levels are so loaded with monsters and everything is so filled with movement that the game feels very chaotic. To make the levels a little less hectic, the walls and floors are only ‘put together’ dynamically, forming new parts of the environment as you approach.
When you’re hit, parts of you go flying: mainly your body, head, gun and rucksack. You would think that losing your head pretty much means death. But in GoNNER it does not. Or rather, it’s not a certainty. When you’re running around without a head, your death is only one more monster hit away but if you are lucky, and I’ve seen it happen, you can collect your head, weapon and rucksack again and play on to finish the level. You can even finish without your head if you can outrun the monsters and make it to the giant tubeworms that reside at both ends of the level and that will swallow you up to transport you to the next level.
When you die (not if - you WILL die… a lot) before exiting the level, the next one will start with the necessary items for you to collect. A new head (full of health), weapon and rucksack are waiting to be put to use, courtesy of Death - your friend and mentor who is the supplier of both your new life and the accompanying items. There are different heads and weapons with special abilities. There’s a head that won’t fall off when you’re hit, and another that makes sure you don’t lose your weapon. Yet another gives you more health points. These special ability items can be bought in the merchant level, which pops up before a boss level.
The currency to pay for these items are runes which can be collected during your playtime. You’ll have to work for it though - when you manage to kill 5 enemies in close succession a rune will appear. We’ve seen different runes, but their values is the same for all.
While the graphics might not look high-end, they suit GoNNER’s style really well. The dynamically built walls and floors, the whole level shaking and rattling along with your actions… It all adds to the frantic feel.
Hard as hell
Marketed as ‘hard as hell’ GoNNER is targeted at people who love a challenge. Because it’s so hard, you’ll only play for a couple of minutes before dying, perfect for quickly blowing off some steam. An overview screen after death will tell you how many minutes you managed to stay alive, what your score was, which level you’re at and how many enemies you killed. And then it’s a quick press to either restart or die to start all over again.