Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Format: PC, PS4 (reviewed)
Released: April 5, 2016
Enter the Gungeon is excellent at undermining my time management skills. It’s charming aesthetic, varied gameplay, and procedurally generated level design, kept me playing long after I’d told myself to stop. It successfully takes some of the best elements from games such as The Binding of Isaac and mashes them together to from a beautiful, if not sometimes frustrating, amalgamation of genres. With hours of exploring, shooting, and boss battles behind me, Gungeon is still showing me new and impressive sections of content. I feel as if I’ve only just scratched the surface of what Dodge Roll’s bullet hell dungeon crawler has in store and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.If there’s one thing Enter the Gungeon makes abundantly clear while you fight your way through the deadly quarters that encapsulate its manic action, is that it’s committed in every sense of its presentation. The entire ordeal comes across with a level of hilarious self-awareness, lending a unique tone to the design, one in which is apparent in all facets of Gungeon. Chief to Gungeon’s silliness is its uncompromising fetishism with guns and bullets. You can’t take a step when exploring the strongly crafted environments–ripe with intriguing enemies–without seeing some sort of display of this self diagnosed obsession. From small items and structures within the map being modeled with the aesthetic of a bullet, to enemies completely shaped and presented to reflect their own weaponry, Enter the Gungeon is always cleverly working something into its ultimately charming style. Gungeon’s biggest strengths stem from how it mixes genres, using roguelike elements, randomly generated rooms, and different playable heroes for the betterment of the gameplay loop. These traits instill a sense of unknown and longevity to the experience that shine bright on every new floor you explore.
Remaining in line with its bullet and gun crafted aesthetic, Gungeon places a huge emphasis on firefights themselves. In fact, that’s pretty much the extent of how you’ll spend your time with Gungeon. Aside from some brief conversational encounters with NPCs and light narrative uncovering, Dodge Roll’s love letter to arcade shooters of the past is all about shooting. Thankfully, gunplay is fantastic, reinforced by solid aiming, robust feedback, and a sprawling arsenal of weapons to experiment with. Blasting away foes for hours on end stood firm in its enjoyment, batting away aspects of encroaching monotony with great force. One of Gungeon’s best gameplay quirks is the dodge roll, a move that can help you out of a tough spot when your trigger finger can’t. The feature is well woven into the nature of getting past challenging adversaries alive, acting as an essential tactic when facing Enter the Gungeon’s many daunting bosses. Health isn’t generous, so playing smart and conservative is required if looking to progress forward efficiently. There are vendors to be found on each floor of the Gungeon itself, whereby offering health, armor, and additional weaponry at a cost. Most of the merchandise available for purchase is quite spendy, meaning you’ll have to manage your cash received from fallen enemies wisely.Conclusion: There are parts of Enter the Gungeon’s structure that are a bit lacking, but pound for pound, Dodge Roll has created a great game, elevated by finely-tuned shooting mechanics and immaculate attention to visual detail. The core gameplay loop can occasionally fall victim to feeling a bit unforgiving in late levels and repetitive in long bursts. However, these frustrations weren’t enough to stop me from shooting and rolling my way to the next floor. Amongst all it excels at, Gungeon’s biggest downside is its similarities with weapon drops. Most of the weapons are superb, coming with their own personality and handling, but a handful are simply unoriginal, contradicting the title’s amusing obsession with out of this world weaponry. Enter the Gungeon is easy to pick up and extraordinarily difficult to put down. The novelty and longevity laced into gameplay makes the delightful tone, stellar soundtrack, and excellent personality feel like icing on the cake – to what is one of the stronger roguelikes out there.
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