Enter the Gungeon Review
Enter the Gungeon is a Roguelite bullet-hell shooter that provides fast-paced gameplay and randomly generated dungeon crawling. As the debut title of Dodge Roll Studios, it launched first on PC, Mac, Linux and PS4 and was later ported to Xbox One. According to a Twitter post by Dodge Roll, there are plans for it to come to Nintendo Switch this year, though the precise date is unclear.
About the game
Enter the Gungeon plays in a rather dark dystopian Science-Fiction setting in which mankind has long reached the age of intergalactic travel. Seemingly seperated from the rest of the universe exists an ominous structure central to the Game, the so-called Gungeon. This obscure fortress holds a great treasure for whoever dares to traverse into it, a gun that can kill the past. As such, it attracts gunfighters from across the galaxy who want to “Enter the Gungeon” and undo mistakes or failures of their far past.
At the beginning, the player may choose one of four distinct characters to play as. Each one of them starts with different items and has a unique playstyle. As you progress, you may even unlock more characters that vary even greater in terms of starting equipment. It‘s then up to the player to conquer the floors below the breach, one by one. That task is hindered by hordes of bullet-like enemies, the so-called „Gundead“ and a plethora of bosses that guard the passage from each floor to the next. We hope you really like bullets, as the Gundead are mostly sentient bullets holding guns that hold guns, which shoot bullets. In some cases, the shot bullets will also shoot further bullets.
In essence, the game is very much similar in terms of game design to the genre behemoth „The Binding of Isaac“. Looking on the action from a top-down perspective, the player needs to engage in 2D gunfights, where accuracy, but probably more importantly reflexes, play a key role. In contrast to 3D shooters, bullets are noticably slower and thus dodgeable, but in turn there are usually more of them filling the screen. The Gungeon is created procedurally and will almost always have a different layout than the last time. All items found will vary from run to run and so do the NPCs you encounter in your run. Furthermore, the bosses will be picked randomly from a selection of usually three. Depending on the combination of items you have and their effectiveness against the bosses you are fighting, a run may be easier or harder.
Your character has a whole arsenal of guns to use against the army of Gundead. This allows for more adaptability to the situation as some enemies may be weaker to certain firearms than others or even completely immune to some. Additionally to the guns, the player can obtain active items that may give them the edge in a gunfight, as well as passive items. For whenever you might need them, you also have consumable items called „blanks“ that clear the whole room of all enemy bullets and keep them from shooting for a whole second. And last, but probably most importantly, you get a dodge roll that allows you to jump away from or over danger, while also granting invincibility mid-air. Mastering those defensive options is key to keeping yourself from getting your bullet-shaped hearts depleted.
While healing items are rather common in the earlier floors, their rarity increases steeply as you advance into the Gungeon. To add to this, some items may be stolen if you leave them for later use, such as armor or, more importantly, ammunition.
Literally „Bullet Hell”
What’s more, the game remains challenging independent of how much luck you had with your loot. Even with the highest-tier weapons and utility items, you will need a decent amount of skill to beat the bosses or even floor rooms, especially without damage.
As a beginner, you will most likely fail within the first two floors unless you already have experience in Bullet Hell games or are a capable individual with good reflexes and coordination. In this event, the player will lose the progress he made over the floors, having to start over. Even if that happens however, any NPC you freed from a cell in the Gungeon and any weapon you unlocked will be available in future runs. That way, a lot of runs will progress your game state, even if lost.
Even if you are unable to beat that one boss, you might find one of the several secrets hidden in the Gungeon. Some of those are just some nice boni found in hidden rooms, like an extra chest or two half hearts. Others might lead you to entire hidden floors. To find all the secrets though, most players will need a walkthrough or guide to be successful, since some of those require you to experiment quite wildly. That could be a bit bothersome if you really want to find all the secrets all by yourself.
As a final note, there is also the option of running through the game with your active weapon constantly being transformed. This way, managing your ammo will hardly be a problem, but in turn you are unable to keep the best weapons for bosses. Because of this, the gameplay feels refreshingly different. There is also local multiplayer, which even features its own unique playable character with items that interact with the other player such as giving a stat boost if the main player is dead or the ability to revive them. All in all, we found these modes a great addition to the game and would wish for even more of them.
The narrative in EtG is rather straight-forward. Your goal is the same with every character, as all just want to get their hands on that one golden gun. Whenever you manage that, you can unlock their past and get to change the moment of their biggest regret to the better.
As for side characters, there are small anecdotes and little stories to be discovered when talking to them. While many have few to say about themselves or simply want to sell their wares, others have some humorous or interesting dialogue to offer. Also, quite some of them are references to classic games.
It continues on from there. Each item and enemy has its own entry in the game’s included encyclopedia, the Ammonomicon, complete with a silly mini-description and tales of how it came to appear inside the Gungeon.
This makes finding a new item more fun as you always have something new to look up. By our estimation, there‘s probably more text inside the Ammonomicon than spoken in form of dialogue in the game. All in all, the narrative is what you would expect from a more action-focused game. It certainly adds to the overall silly feel of the game and is a nice destraction from the rather stressful Gungeon-conquering.
If you‘re a seasoned Isaac veteran looking for a greater challenge or just a Bullet Hell fan on the search for a new gem, this game might just offer something interesting for you. The fact that there‘s very few game-breaking item combinations to rush through the game ensures that there‘ll always be a decent challenge even for more seasoned players. On the other side, there are some rather annoying elements like the inability to save before completing a floor or the fact that the secrets are rather trial-and-error. It might also be quite frustrating as you will probably fail more than just a few times.
Due to the random nature of the game, there is a lot of replayability. Even if you managed to beat all the bosses already and possibly found all achievements, there is still “new” content to explore. The game manages to remain decently diversified even after long playtimes due to its respectable pool of items and weapons that allow for different playstyles each run. Thus, we find that the game offers enough playtime to warrant buying it at the full price of 15$. In the end, we deemed Enter the Gungeon to be a very solid Bullet Hell-Roguelite that, while doing relatively little new gameplay-wise, combines traditional features in a rather fresh matter and underlines them with its own unique and quirky charm.
(out of 100)
Enter the Gungeon is a very solid Bullet Hell-Roguelite. While it does relatively little new things in terms of gameplay, it combines traditional features in a fresh matter and underlines them with its own unique and quirky charm.
Rate our Review: