Gun Slinging Fun: Enter the Gungeon
Arcade Twin-Stick shooters are undeniably great but notoriously hard to get right. Roguelikes are a genre of games with insane potential, but great attention is needed to perfectly flesh out mechanics that will make the game fun to play again and again. Enter the Gungeon nails the fusion of these two genres and introduces its charm to the mix. With its solid gameplay, Gungeon goes a step beyond and introduces a layer of humor to the mix, making the game even more of a treat.
The game starts with a simple cinematic. On a distant planet stood a Fortress. One day an unknown force brought ruin to this fortress. Amidst these ruins lies an artifact of great power. A gun that can change the past. It is up to you now, to change your past, and Enter the Gungeon. With that, the game sets you off. You choose a random character and meet the ghost of Sir Manuel. A clever pun on Manuals, as he soon introduces you to some of the mechanics of the game and sets you off on your journey. Besides the main story, the game introduces many side characters to the fray that you free from the Gungeon. Each of them has subplots that you can explore if you please. And, of course, there are also your characters. You start with four but may unlock more. Each of them has past wrongs that they must right.
Enter the Gungeon is a Roguelike. In simple words, whenever you die, you go back to the start of the game. This may seem brutally difficult, and it is at first. But that’s where Gungeon’s mechanics shine. As you sink more hours you get a better feel of the game. Your dodge roll is an invaluable tool that lets you dodge enemy bullets but only during the first half of the animation. You are left vulnerable in the latter half. While at first, this may seem easily spammable. It is anything but. With the almost chaotic nature of the game. Bullets can come from all angles, making you rely on a mix of dodge rolls and weaving through bullets instead of an overreliance on either. The game also features a ‘get out of jail free card’. Your blanks. These destroy all enemy bullets on screen and prevent enemies from firing bullets for a second. Though this resource is as scarce as it is useful. You only get 2 a floor, with a low chance of finding an extra one as loot. With this arsenal of movement, it may seem clunky at first, but Gungeon rewards mastery. Not only do you get better at the game, but No-Hitting bosses award extra max health, and certain weapons and items reward you for not getting hit.
But that’s only movement. What about combat? And Gungeon does not skimp out on this department. Combat is all about adapting to what's given to you. A key feature of Roguelikes is procedurally generated levels. This means all the loot you get, your guns, your passive buffs, and your activatable buffs are all random. And Gungeon has a pool of hundreds of items so no two attempts, or ‘runs’, are the same. This also makes you stronger on some runs than others. One run you could be using a slingshot, a weapon with a single shot per magazine. Then get Alpha Bullets and Omega bullets. Passive buffs increase the damage of the first and last bullet of the magazine. In another run, you could get the Makeshift Cannon with the Ancient Hero’s Bandana. The Makeshift Cannon’s downside is only having one point of ammunition. And the Ancient Hero’s Bandana Quadruples ammunition. The game also has actual synergies, getting two specific items or guns can cause an additional effect that can sometimes change the course of the run. This may make it seem like the game is primarily luck-based. But an understanding of the game’s mechanics is necessary to optimize your luck and builds, making overpowered runs increasingly rare earlier on. To further circumvent this. Almost every weapon has its ammunition counter. Overusing one weapon might leave you defenseless in your time of need. Thus Gungeon makes you use your entire arsenal to survive.
With all of this, beating the game is only the start. As you progress, you can permanently unlock multitudes of items that can appear in future runs, and beating the game unlocks many game modes. There is also a multitude of secrets hiding around every corner, some even leading to the game's secret endings.
With its solid gameplay, Gungeon already seems like a gem. But it goes a level further with its unique humor. It is apparent from the title being a play on the words Gun and Dungeon. And almost everything in the game is a joke or reference. Enemies are walking bullets known as the Gundead. These bullets shoot their bullets. You can have a weapon that's a bullet, that shoots guns that shoot bullets. And you can wield this weapon while playing a bullet. Characters you talk to often have witty quips to lighten the mood. Almost every weapon or item in the game is a reference to another game or show. The Patriot, a reference to the Metal Gear franchise. The Hyper Light Gun is a reference to Hyper Light Drifter. The Scouter, a reference to Dragon Ball, and so much more.
With solid gameplay and a unique sense of humor, Enter the Gungeon is a must-buy for anyone who enjoys difficult games, roguelikes, or just wants to sink their teeth into a new adventure. The game has even recently released a sequel, aptly Exit the Gungeon. So get Enter the Gungeon now and have a blast.
Written by Yaseen