Imagine having the ability to be able to kill the past. Ok, it sounds absurd, but imagine you could simply blast your past away with one shot from a special gun. Sound like a good idea? Of course not, it’s utterly ridiculous. But let’s face it – ridiculous ideas have a good track record of making great video games, and Enter The Gungeon is certainly a great video game.
The whole ‘shooting the past’ thing makes up the premise of Enter The Gungeon, a dungeon crawling twin-stick shooter rogue-like that sees you take one of four heroes on a perilous journey into the depths of the randomly generated ‘Gungeon’ seeking out this special gun. Starting your journey with a standard weapon and equipment, the further you progress and more enemies you defeat the better equipped you become.
The starting characters are made up of the Marine, the Pilot, the Convict and the Hunter. Each comes with their own set of equipment – the Marine for example comes with a little extra protection with a helmet, whereas the Convict comes with both a standard pistol as well as a shotgun. In honesty, it doesn’t really matter too much who you pick to begin with. You find so many different weapons and items with each attempt at conquering the Gungeon that your starting equipment quickly gets forgotten. Don’t get too attached to the new equipment you find either – with each death you suffer within the Gungeon comes a new playthrough, losing all weapons and items in the process. You’ll be dying a lot too, so you might want to get used to that.
The core gameplay of Enter The Gungeon focuses on twin-stick shoot outs with a constant array of enemies, aptly named the ‘Gundead’ (you’ll want to get used to these gun focused puns). The enemy design is fantastic, offering a wide variety of foes that are equally as deadly as they are cute. The main fodder that you’ll take out are designed around ‘bullets’, though these bullets are equipped to the teeth with the likes of machine guns, shotguns or even sniper rifles. Whilst battling bullets may seem like an odd concept, they fit in perfectly within the game world – this is the GUNgeon after all. You’ll come across the likes of the ‘Bandana Bullet Kin’ who’s essentially the Rambo of the bullet world, the ‘Hollowpoint’ who’s the ammunition equivalent of a white-sheet ghost, or even the ‘Bullats’ who are, you guessed it, bats with the body of a bullet. There are an absolute ton of different enemies to take on and they all look great.
Enemies not only look good, but they’re surprisingly smart too. At one point I was pursuing an enemy as he continually ran around cover, avoiding my line of sight. Who would’ve thought that the Gundead would be so clever? They’ll unleash hell on you with their weapons, firing shots that seek you out, slow down, speed up, bounce off walls – heck, some enemies even shoot ahead of your line of movement to get the upper hand. There’ll be times when you’d think you’re playing a bullet-hell schmup in Enter The Gungeon, though fortunately you do come with a limited supply of ‘blanks’ that have the ability to banish any shots coming your way. They’re in short supply though, so you’ll want to use them sparingly.
Of course, you come well equipped to take out the Gungeon’s inhabitants. Enter The Gungeon has one of the best arsenals I’ve ever seen in gaming. In fact, it may actually be the best – a big compliment seeing as the Ratchet and Clank series are some of my favourite games. Whilst you have your standard types of pistols, machine guns and shotguns, you also have the likes of the ‘Tear Jerker’ that shoots… well… tears at your foes, the ‘Shotgun Full of Love’ that kills with kindness and the ‘Lil’ Bomber’ that literally fires bombs. You’ll come across weapons a lot more insane than that too, it’s just a case of discovering them. I’ve spent a ton of hours with the games and I still haven’t found even half of them yet, and with hundreds of guns to discover you always seem to be blasting your opponents away with something new.
Besides the guns, there are plenty of items to find too that will help you out on your journey. They offer different boosts, be it a ‘lockpick’ that can be used to unlock any lock in the game or the ‘hidden compartment’ that offers extra space to carry more items or ammunition. There are plenty of pop-culture references in the items too – Resident Evil fans may recognise the ‘master of unlocking’, whilst film buffs will appreciate the convict’s ‘enraging photo’ that reminds her to not believe his lies, a nod at Christoper Nolan’s movie Memento.
Besides the item descriptions there’s a lot of humour to be found in the game. I mean, you didn’t expect a game that tasked you with finding a gun that could kill the past to be too serious, did you? Be it conversations with NPCs or simply the absurdity of the game’s bosses, there’s always something that’ll make you laugh in Enter The Gungeon.
Speaking about the boss battles, they are some of the zaniest creatures you’ll come across. Seriously, one of the first encounters is against a gatling gun bearing beefy man-bird hybrid named ‘Gatling Gull’. Whilst bosses look outrageous, they’re a blast to fight against with their insane weapons and deadly attacks. Take the aptly named ‘The Beholster’ for example – he’s a beholder who comes equipped with not only six guns but can also shoot a deadly laser from its eye too. I mentioned that the weapons in this game could rival Ratchet and Clanks, well the quality of the boss battles could rival Dark Souls…
The bosses certainly provide a challenge, but you’ll have one trick up your sleeve that’ll get you out of plenty of tricky situations – the dodge roll. Timing your dodge roll in Enter The Gungeon is vital, as not only is it a swift way to avoid enemy gunfire but you’ll also be temporarily invulnerable for a small time during the roll. With the amount of gunfire coming your way you’ll have to make sure to utilise the dodge roll correctly, otherwise you’ll find that your time in the Gungeon will come to an end sooner than you think.
The Gungeon itself looks fantastic, full to the brim with tiny details and objects in the environment that’ll get blasted to pieces in your destructive shoot-outs. Each time you beat a boss you progress to a new level of the Gungeon, each level featuring a different aesthetic style. I wish I could tell you more about each level, but I never actually managed to complete a run in the Gungeon and unlock the gun that can ‘kill the past’. What can I say – it’s a tough game!
You’ll find an assortment of NPCs throughout the Gungeon, some offering items to buy and others their services. There’s the traditional shopkeeper who’ll offer his wares in exchange for the game’s currency, ‘bullet casings’. He’ll offer power ups, health, ammo as well as some extra guns to take into battle. There’s other characters who you can free from the Gungeon too, each character then returning to the game’s starting hub, ‘The Breach’, to offer their services to you for your next attempt at tackling the Gungeon. These services range from giving you shortcuts to each level of the Gungeon to offering you bonus weapons in exchange for the credits you unlock for beating the game’s bosses.
There’s co-op multiplayer on offer for those who want to tackle the Gungeon with a friend, though it’s restricted to local co-op only. As is always the case with these sorts of games, they’re better played on a couch with a friend anyway, but online play would’ve been appreciated.
Enter The Gungeon is the twin-stick shooting equivalent of The Binding of Isaac – it’s a brilliant action packed adventure that feels different each time you play it. The guns are insane, the Gundead are a fantastic foe and the Gungeon itself is a treat to explore. I’ve lost a ton of hours playing Enter The Gungeon and I plan on losing a ton more – seriously, it’s that good. Buy the game, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it. If not, well, you always have the option of finding a gun that can kill the past…
– A ton of awesome weapons to use against your foes
– Enemy and boss designs are great
– The Gungeon is well designed with some fantastic pixel art
– The whole concept of the game is outright insanse
– Gamers who don’t like rogue-likes and perma-death won’t enjoy