Procedural generation and permadeath are big these days! It’s easy to understand why – the former offers an ostensibly endless degree of replayability, while the latter makes that replayability meaningful by attaching consequences to performance. We’ve seen several great games that have put these concepts to work, and one of the latest winners is Enter the Gungeon.
If you’ve ever played The Binding of Isaac or one of the many clones that spawned after that game’s success, then you’ve got a basic idea of how Enter the Gungeon works. Essentially this is a Zelda-style dungeon crawler with procedurally generated levels and permanent death; I’d use the term “roguelite” but it makes me feel nauseous, so I’ll pass on that. You’ll proceed into the depths of the Gungeon, collecting items, keys and (of course) guns on the way in your quest to find the ultimate weapon: a gun that can kill the past.
This is the Gungeon, of course, so there’s no question about what kind of theme you’ll be running into here. I’ll spoil it regardless: guns. Guns guns guns. Everything is guns. Your enemies are bullets, your currency is spent shell casings and you can teleport from place to place with the power of a revolving chamber. Bosses include a giant snake made of shells (the “Ammoconda”) and a minigun-wielding crow. Essentially, this is NRA heaven. Combat plays out a bit like a bullet-hell shooter with a couple twists; you’ve got a dodge roll that offers a brief, blessed moment of invincibility, along with the ability to kick over obstacles and create temporary cover.
Naturally, you’re going to fight off your many gun-themed foes using, well, guns. There’s a vast and impressive selection to choose from, though you’ll start each Gungeon expedition with a paltry sidearm unique to your chosen character. You’ll want to find some new weaponry fast, as the Gungeon doesn’t know mercy, only munions. There’s your standard array of basic shooter gear like assault rifles, rocket launchers and SMGs, but the Gungeon is home to all manner of guns and gun-like objects.
Consider the letter “r” for instance, which looks somewhat like a gun and thus can be used as one. There’s a barrel that shoots fish (the Gungeon got confused), a laser rifle that can morph into a lightsaber for blocking bullets and re-loads more to choose from. You’ll be playing for awhile before you see everything and even longer before you start to settle on some favorites.
So there’s a Gungeon to explore, guns to find and baddies to blast, along with other activities like saving hostages to add to your base at the top floor. Through all this, your focus on finding the gun that can kill the past remains…but what happens when you find it? Well, suffice to say you probably won’t be done with Enter the Gungeon quite yet…there’s plenty of replay value here and you’re going to want to see everything.
Enter the Gungeon’s presentation is top notch, which suits the bizarre theme. No effort is spared in injecting that theme into every facet of the game; even your in-game database of enemies, weapons and items is called the Ammonomicon. Accompanying all this is a fantastic soundtrack and some appropriately booming sound effects; few things are more important for a game that’s all about guns than solid gun sounds, right?
Enter the Gungeon is a fantastic blend of dungeon crawler, bullet hell and (sigh) “roguelite” that’s absolutely worth a look from anyone who enjoys fun. A strong degree of dedication to assembling a cohesive experience is at the game’s core, and it shows. You won’t want to wipe the past clean after playing this one.