Pray to the god of ammo and load up on dagger bullets; it’s time to meet your new favourite dungeon-crawling, twin-stick, roguelike shooter.
Enter The Gungeon
Developed by Dodge Roll, a new studio made up of ex-EA Mythic devs.
You’re on a quest to find a gun that can kill time. Yep.
It’s a top-down dungeon crawler with at least 4 playable characters and god knows how many guns.
Coming to PC and PS4 in Q3 2015.
Published by Devolver, the dudes behind Hotline Miami, Not A Hero & Shadow Warrior.
I’d begun to give up on 2014 and I certainly wasn’t expecting any more surprises. As we trudge into December the games-making machine is done for the year. All the good games have been churned out and now we’re rolling through the obligatory best-of lists and pretending that playing GTA during work hours is research.
Then those tossers at Devolver Digital go and cough up another stylish indie game and I have to go and do some goddamn work. Enter The Gungeon takes our natural obsession with guns to its logical conclusion in a game where you pray at the altar of the ammo gods to refill your clip and shoot bullets at enemies who are, well, shotgun cartridges armed with double-barrelled burners.
Revealed this weekend as a PC and PS4 exclusive at The PlayStation Experience, Enter The Gungeon is a retro-looking, twin-stick, dungeon-crawling roguelike with shmup elements. It’s twin-stick in that you use one to aim and one to move although you still pull a trigger to fire. It’s roguelike in that dungeons are procedurally generated.
But it’s not as messy as that sounds. It packs the quick-fire shoot out thrill of Hotline Miami with the stripped back, duck-and-cover of Not A Hero. It’s instantly accessible and each attempt at its dungeon throws up another little discovery that helps you get that little bit further, despite it being pretty damn tough.
You essentially burst into each room ready to blaze away at multiple enemies. Some rooms are cleared in seconds, some take a minute as you negotiate the terrain, use cover and take advantage of explosions or traps. As well as shooting, you can dodge-roll giving you a split second of invulnerability, and flip tables to provide extra cover from one direction while you train your guns elsewhere. When the smoke clears bodies are littered across the floor, you grab a few coins for use later and if you’re really lucky a chest may appear with half a heart or a new gun. Then it’s on to the next room to do it all again.
It’s the guns that are the initial focus for Gungeon. Quick or slow, firing rainbows or daggers or bouncing bullets, there’s not a dud between them; pistols, shotguns, rifles, lasers, rocket launchers, nail guns – the kind of arsenal you’d find in a stiff military FPS but with the flourish of a stoned hipster. Your targets are waddling grenades, ghosts with Tommy Guns, bullet-men toting six-shooters, gelatinous cubes that divide as you shoot them.
There are a few moments of calm as you explore. Some rooms contain the altars of ammo, or a coven of witches who will demand a weapon sacrifice in order to brew up another bigger, badder gun. There’s a basic shop in each dungeon and even a quiz master who’ll grant you a free upgrade should you answer his bullet-themed question correctly.
It’s more tactical than it first appears, too. You may start with a stack of 250 bullets but they soon run low when you’re spunking them out at multiple enemies. You’ll need to spend your cash wisely in the shop, whether on a sliver of health or a new weapon. Because when it comes to the end of level boss (meet the Gatling Gull, a bird that tears its own feathers off to expose the rippling muscle underneath), you’ll need everything you’ve got.
The package so far is tempting. As well as the refined gameplay there’s so many little touches of charm and detail; the bandoleros and targets on the walls, the popopopop sound effects and tinkle of smashed pottery, the waves of bullet patterns, the glimpse of daft storytelling. It’s a game where you curse your own foolish mistakes in moments of threat and feel like a celebratory beer after winning a boss fight.
Enter The Gungeon is another confident indie game that will find a hungry audience on PC and PS4 in 2015. I’ll come back for more, because I’m a glutton for gunishment.
Matt played a Steam demo of Enter The Gungeon provided publisher Devolver Digital. He used the Xbox 360 controller and kicked all the ass.