Enter the Gungeon: Review
Enter the Gungeon is dungeon crawler/bullet hell hybrid developed by Dodge Roll and published by Devolver Digital waaayy back in 2016. However, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I even discovered this game existed and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have something to do with this video by YouTuber videogamedunkey. Regardless, I’m happy to have been introduced to this fantastically creative shooter that is as creative as it is challenging.
The premise is simple: you are a so called “Gungeoneer” attempting to discover a legendary gun capable of killing the past. You fight your way through the levels of the Gungeon utilizing the massive array of weapons and items that you discover along the way. In addition, you also collect currency (bullets obviously) which allows you to further expand your potentially limitless arsenal. Eventually you can even rescue other Gungeoneers who will then become a part of your roster of playable characters. There’s only one catch though, if you run out of health you die...permanently. You lose all of your weapons and items and get sent back to the beginning of the Gungeon to start from scratch. This perma-death feature is highly reminiscent of 2011’s The Binding of Issac, another dungeon crawler notorious for its unforgiving difficulty. Health is also remarkably hard to come by, you either have to buy it at a store or pick it up through the infrequent drops throughout the level. This can lead to some extremely tense and admittedly stressful encounters particularly during boss fights where every bit of health counts.
But much like The Binding of Issac before it Enter the Gungeon manages to partially solve one of the biggest issues for difficult games, at least in my opinion. The issue I’m referring to is the repetitive trial and error situations that players tend to find themselves in when they reach a particularly problematic part of the game. It can be exhausting having to replay the same segment over and over again to the point that the experience starts to feel more clinical than fun. In Gungeon every level is procedurally generated along with weapons, items, enemies and even the bosses you encounter and with the almost impossibly large number of weapons and power ups you’re pretty much guaranteed to see something new with each playthrough. That being said, because everything is procedurally generated RNG can sometimes play a huge factor in how far you’ll be able to get. In some games I’ve gotten lucky and quickly acquired powerful weapons and some extremely useful power ups, other times I’ve gone through the entire first level with maybe two weapons and one barely useful item thus leaving me ill-prepared for the next stage.
I’ve never been particularly fond of bullet hell type games (mainly because I suck at them) but this one really managed to suck me in and I attribute that heavily to the guns, arguably the main stars of the game. Gungeon has one of the most extensive and varied arsenals of any game in recent memory, with weapons ranging from the simple like the standard AK-47 to the utterly ludicrous such as a gun that is literally just a beehive. A great sense of humor is pervasive throughout many of the weapons and our very own Matt M would probably be quite fond of the ever deadly Microtransaction Gun. I also appreciate the multitude of movie and video game references littered throughout. For instance one of the weapons is a proton pack straight out of Ghostbusters while an early boss is a clear parody of a Metal Gear Solid villain. There are also plenty of homages I’ve picked up on so far referring to Judge Dredd, Dead Space, Doom, Commando and countless others.
I can foresee this game occupying much of my time in the near future; it gives you ample reason to keep returning for another go regardless of how many times you fail. The game also just recently received an update titled “Advanced Gungeons and Draguns” which dropped on July 19, 2018 featuring brand new weapons and enemies. This gives me hope that more updates may be planned for the future to even further increase Enter the Gungeon’s already substantial replay value. I highly recommend this game for fans of dungeon crawlers and anyone looking for a decent challenge but one that doesn’t feel like a chore.