Roguelikes are honestly all over the damn place these days, but there’s always room for one more. Just when you think you’re over difficult games with procedurally-generated dungeons, a new title creeps out of the woodwork to hook you. That next game might just be Enter the Gungeon. How can I say this? Well, simply enough, I found it hard to leave the kiosk in the Sony booth. It was only thanks to the fact that this was an open area — and that others were waiting to get their hands on it — that I knew it was time to step away.
The basics of Enter the Gungeon are simple. There’s a team of Gungeoneers looking to reach the bottom of a deadly dungeon. What’s the reasoning behind their quest? Simple, at the bottom resides the treasured gun that can “kill the past.” No, you won’t find Suda51 at the end of your journey (I assume not, anyway), but it’s imperative that the player eventually reaches it. Obviously, this is going to be an obscenely challenging task. As with most games of the genre there is tons of exploration to be had, though my playthrough didn’t even work its way past the first boss.
Gameplay functions primarily like a twin stick shooter. Players control their chosen Gungeoneer and can shoot in all angles at enemies using a variety of guns. Enemies, of course, have equal ability to shoot their comically large bullets straight at your face. But that’s not all they’ll do. Some even go so far as to toss tables on their side in order to create a barrier. Players can do the same and throw up a temporary safe haven for themselves. It’s not going to last very long, though. Enemies get around quite quickly and are always in pursuit. As their bullets clutter the screen it becomes even harder to dodge them. Luckily, you collect skills such as ones that remove all bullets from screen when activated, but you’ve got to find (or purchase) them first.
Collecting coins is imperative to being able to make purchases on awesome new guns and abilities. Of course, you get money by either killing enemies or looting chests. Once you’ve got enough moolah, find a merchant somewhere in the dungeon and browse their wares. Players can restore a bit of health by buying a heart or even buy a map to fill out the dungeon areas they’ve not discovered on the floor just yet. This is also the place to go if you need to stock up on bullets and the like. Unfortunately, for newbie players such as myself, shop visits rarely resulted in any purchases at all. Instead, I typically window shopped and then found my character woefully under-prepared for the boss.
Speaking of bosses, most players will probably find them a challenge that requires at least a rematch or two. The one I fought against was completely ridiculous, huge, and extremely destructive. It could fly around the stage and kick my butt with ease, thanks primarily to its machine gun! If this is a sign of anything to come then Enter the Gungeon is likely full of unique, difficult bosses. With that said, the difficulty does not appear to be so much to actually turn fights into an exercise in frustration. They’re challenging, but not impossibly so.
Outside of gameplay there’s another huge highlight to Enter the Gungeon: Graphics. Yes, it is yet another pixel art action/dungeon crawler experience. But you know what? The characters are utterly adorable even when they’re pointing massive guns your way. Even the dudes with hulking muscles are cute rather than threatening. It’s also just plain funny that many of the enemies are anthropomorphized bullets themselves wielding weaponry. Beyond that, bullets/lasers/other projectiles all have gorgeous bright coloring to make them stand out. Not only does this help players visually track bullets, but it also looks immensely cool.
I, for one, am tremendously excited to pick up Enter the Gungeon once it launches. Unfortunately, we’ve got to wait until a bit later this year to get our hands on Dodge Roll Game’s title. When Enter the Gungeon does arrive, it’ll be available for PC players via Steam (on Windows/Mac/Linux) and PS4.