One of the most anticipated digital titles of the season arrived earlier this month. Enter the Gungeon is a feast of bullets, massive destruction, and cooperative action in procedural worlds. It's the work of Dodge Roll and published by retro-throwback pioneers Devolver Digital and, spoilers, it's a whole lot of insane fun.
In an age of AAA bloat indie games can stand out from the crowd thanks to their purity. Indeed they dodn't get much more refined than Enter the Gungeon, a pulsating, refreshing blast of a game that pushes any gamer to the limits of their capabilities. A bullet hell game at heart, players must venture into randomly generated dungeons and take on an assortment of foes based on weaponry. I'm talking anthropomorphic shotgun shells and bullets, out to take you down with their own guns.
As you can probably guess from the deliciously pun-driven title Enter the Gungeons greatest strength is its vast arsenal. Titles such as the Ratchet and Clank series or, more recently, Broforce have delighted us with quite amazing arsenals. Well, both look pale in comparison to what this dungeon crawler offers. Acquired through searching the seemingly endless dungeons, there's a veritable treasure trove of weapons up for grabs. A bewildering amount in fact (over 100), and learning how and when to use them is all part of the charm. There's your standard fare, but this quickly gives away to some crazier weaponry, including a gun that fires t-shirts, or another that fires bullets in a pattern which spells the word bullet. Some of you may be thinking that, because of all this amazing offensive power we have, the adventure is what you might call "a ride". Wrong! Being a roguelike it's completely down to chance which ones you'll find on your run through too, forcing you to mix up your strategies depending which hand your dealt.
Obviously that means you'll die, and you'll die plenty. That's part of Enter the Gungeon's learning curve, but it's still not as overwhelming punishing as some shmups out there. Runs can stretch on for upwards of 20 minutes so it's a decent session, and usually you'll find yourself pushing further onwards with each passing attempt. Be warned though Enter the Gungeon can be unforgiving to even the most skilled of players, so you'll do wise to keep your guard up. If you can train yourself not to blink, without going blind, then that's a bonus too.
Many rooms of the labyrinth's open areas are filled with waves of shots that will sometimes occupy almost the entire screen. Real scuffles of "bullet hell" from which one can escape only two ways: by some sort of miracle or by using the dodge roll technique. When you carry out a good dodge roll the character becomes invincible for a split second, Dark Souls-style, so timing becomes one of your main allies if you want to live out each ambush.
Enter the Gungeon is a wonderful, demanding yet rewarding, roguelike twin-stick shooter where the visuals marry perfectly with the gameplay to deliver one of the most addictive experiences in recent memory. Fans of Binding of Isaac, Spelunky et al sit up and take notice, Enter the Gungeon rolls with the punches and delivers an experience worth of sitting alongside these greats.