Enter the Gungeon

Enter the Gungeon

I don’t usually play individual games for extended periods of time, on account of having hundreds of others that I want to play. Enter the Gungeon is a rare exception. There is so much variety here that the sense of repetition that’s normally inherent to roguelikes simply never set in. I continued discovering new content and new details of old content even as my attempt counter rolled into triple digits. The premise – an eldritch structure that twists its surroundings around a theme of munitions and contains a gun that can “kill” (i.e. change) the past – is deceptively brilliant. The first aspect forms the backbone of a sharp sense of humour and a collection of ridiculous weapons and enemies, while the second humanizes the protagonists with insight into their regrets and adds unexpected dramatic weight befitting the tough-as-nails gameplay.

Said gameplay is derived from bullet hell shooters and dungeon crawlers, and while it’s certainly hard, it’s a more stable, skill-based challenge than most roguelikes (though obviously still not to the degree of a handcrafted title). That’s the best part of Enter the Gungeon: it doesn’t just have ideas; it has the implementation to back them up. Being able to flip tables for cover sounds like a neat gimmick, but it’s actually incredibly useful and has a variety of passive items to augment it. The weapons aren’t just silly versions of ordinary guns; they often have interesting mechanical features like changing ammo types depending on the current location in the clip, or damaging enemies with their reload animation. There are also numerous hidden “synergies” that can make even joke weapons worthwhile long-term.

The amount of effort that went into keeping the player engaged is apparent right away. Rooms with junctions and special features contain teleporters to eliminate as much backtracking as possible. Secret characters, levels, and modes abound. The sound effects and procedurally layered music are excellent, and the level of graphical detail borders on unnecessary. No, seriously, there’s always a bunch of distracting crap on screen that looks like it should be important but never is. Given all this, it’s strange and disappointing that the second player in the otherwise balanced co-op mode is restricted to a single character. Nevertheless, this is one of the most purely entertaining games I’ve ever played.

9/10
9/10

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