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Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Review: Enter the Gungeon

Enter the Gungeon

Shoot, Roll, Repeat! Delving into the depths of Nintendo Switch's new twin stick shooter

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Enter the Gungeon
Dodge Roll Games | Nintendo Switch | Digital Only
1-2 Players (Local Only)
Reviewed by - Curtis Chapman

Bullet hell shooter meets dungeon crawler in Dodge Roll’s roguelike, Enter the Gungeon. With more than just a small amount of inspiration from Nicalis’ The Binding of Isaac, Enter the Gungeon manages to do enough to keep the genre fresh, unique and well worth the entry fee.

Set on a planet inhabited by living bullets, four adventurers have chosen to descend into the Gungeon to find a mythical gun that allows the wielder the ability to rewind their personal demons by killing their own past. If you think that sounds crazy, wait until you boot up the game!

Enter the Gungeon is a top-down pixel art twin-stick shooter by Dodge Rolls Games. Similar in design and play to both The Binding of Isaac and Nuclear Throne, EtG see’s players hunting each floor of procedurally generated rooms in search of the boss, clearing all the enemies in each room before being able to progress.

Implementing a mechanic that gave the studio its name, the dodge roll ability see’s the character dive under incoming fire, taking no damage. This defining characteristic is what makes Gungeon shine and separates it from the rest of the pack, making gunplay less of an experiment in kiting around the room and places more focus on skill and timing.

Enemies drop currency that can be used (if you find the shop on each floor) to purchase health, ammo, new weaponry or power-ups. Keys are also available in the shop which can be used to unlock the chests scattered throughout the game, providing even more weapons and items. Much like Derek Yu's Spelunky though, aim a shot at the shopkeeper and expect to be in for a world of pain.

Enter the Gungeon Screenshot 1

Boss fights are large in scope and feature an insane amount of bullets flying around the screen at the same time. While difficult, there is always a sense of fairness to these battles due to the use of predefined attack patterns, allowing the player to familiarise themselves with attacks over several playthroughs which, in turn, helps them manage to finish each boss without losing 90% of their health in the process. Defeating a boss rewards you with credits, used to purchase the chance for more random weapons to drop in game, followed by a trip to the next floor.

EtG features four characters are selectable from the start (with a fifth if you fancy playing local co-op) with each one possessing different startup skills which range in scope from extra armour to being able to pick locks. After an initial short-lived set of training rooms, you’re left alone to begin your many attempts at conquering all of the floors.

The basic gameplay loop invites itself towards being played in short bursts, which is good considering that during your early stages of play, you’ll rarely be able to stay alive for much longer than that anyway.

Enter the Gungeon Screenshot 2

There’s no playing down the fact that this game is hard. Yes, your ability to traverse the dungeons, memorise bullet patterns and your overall pace of play will improve, but expect to die... A lot. The game itself features no difficulty selection to cater to those not so experienced or those looking for a warm-up, which is a bit of a letdown. Dodge Roll has announced that their “Gungeons and Draguns” DLC will feature an easier difficulty mode, release date on this is still pending, however.

Initially, owners of the excellent Binding of Isaac aftermath may have to double take and check the game they are playing, as death in-game will greet you with an almost identical version of BoI’s game-over screen. Details such as the time of the run, items used enemies killed and who managed to finally end you this time around are laid out in an almost identical fashion to Nicalis’ Isaac.

Enter the Gungeon Screenshot 3

Controls are tight and extremely responsive in both Docked and Handheld modes which is good considering that the fast past nature of Twin stick shooters. Depending on hand size though, playing in handheld mode comes in varying degree of comfort. Larger hands may want to opt for the pro controller in either Tabletop or Docked mode as cramped stick and button placement, coupled with the bullet hell hair trigger game play can quickly lead to cramped hands. Luckily it is possible to remap all buttons so this can be alleviated somewhat, although not entirely.

The Retro inspired pixel graphics are crisp, though like many pixel art games they tend to lend themselves to being viewed directly on the handheld, as when blown up on a 50” screen they tend to lose their fidelity somewhat. The game runs smoothly but due to the randomly generated nature of the game, certain gun/enemy/room combination have the ability to slow the game down noticeably.

The selection of guns is amazingly large and varied. This issue lies in the random nature of the game, as often you find yourself flip flopping between running around fully equipped with an array of overpowered heavy weaponry to then starting again on to find you have to brave a level or two with nothing but a gun that shoots bricks... and a shield. With no ability to select level generation “seeds” (like those in Minecraft or Binding of Isaac) you really are at the mercy of the random number generator.

When all is said and done, NintendoPlay rather loves Enter the Gungeon and looks forward to future content.


+ Engaging Dodge Roll Mechanic
+ Insane Boss Battles
+ Fun co-op Mode
+ Addictively Replayable
+ Well Drawn and Animated Pixel Art

- No Difficulty Select
- Steep Learning Curve

Verdict: FTW - Recommended Buy

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