Enter the Gungeon (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 24.01.2018

Review for Enter the Gungeon on Nintendo Switch

A good theme can elevate any videogame to new heights. Super Mario Sunshine's tropical theme gave it a refreshing ambiance, Majora's Mask's dark tone added an overwhelming atmosphere not often found in The Legend of Zelda, and Enter the Gungeon's bullet-fuelled mania lifts it above other roguelikes when it comes to sheer creativity and aesthetic. Playable characters fire bullets at enemies that look like bullets in a dungeon that is, effectively, a bullet. While it's easy to get lost in praise towards Enter the Gungeon's novel and charming premise, the gameplay is just as deserving, if not more.

Roguelikes have it hard when compared to other genres. By design, they are meant to invoke a feeling of freshness every playthrough thanks to their random nature, along with the thrill of danger around every corner. Since more roguelikes are short and meant to be replayed constantly, the difficulty is usually ramped up a bit higher than it would be otherwise. By the very nature of their existence, roguelikes are not for everybody. There comes a time in every genre, however, when a game comes around to challenge the idea that an entire genre is simply "not" for someone. Enter the Gungeon is one of those games.

It's worth mentioning Enter the Gungeon is really no different from other games within its genre. It has randomly generated stages that are all a part of one larger labyrinth, players lose everything and have to restart upon death, and death is fairly common. What separates this gun-toting roguelike from others, though, is how it presents itself. This is a game that is only one part roguelike and that part stops at the level design and how items are acquired.

Screenshot for Enter the Gungeon on Nintendo Switch

The core gameplay itself is very reminiscent of a shoot 'em up mixed with a bullet hell. Combat involves firing off at enemies from afar, while being mindful of how much ammunition any given gun has. Every starting firearm comes equipped with infinite ammo, but reloading is still necessary. Just about every other weapon found within the Gungeon will have a set amount of ammo and inevitably run out. While players might think they are smart for hoarding their guns for boss fights, they actually put themselves in more risk thanks to the bullet hell elements.

Enemies are relentless and can take a whole clip to mow down with the default guns. Too many enemies at once means that the screen will be filled with projectiles, coming from every angle. Strafing carefully can handle most one-on-one encounters, but several enemies at once will usually necessitate the dodge-roll. For one quick frame, it's possible to dodge through enemy bullets without taking damage. The downside, of course, is not being able to attack while dodging, and potentially rolling into a position where you will quickly be eliminated by other enemies in the room.

Screenshot for Enter the Gungeon on Nintendo Switch

Boss fights take the most advantage of the shoot 'em up/bullet hell hybrid by encouraging players to dodge as frequently as they attack. There are some bosses where even a small hiccup can lead to instant death. There are ways to lighten the load of a boss fight, but they are left up to chance, just like any other roguelike. Every chamber of the Gungeon tucks away guns, items, and shops for gungeoneers to discover. Thorough, and careful, exploration will always lead to new goodies, but sometimes what a player finds isn't what a player needs. When the cards fall just right, however, there's no better feeling than lugging around an armoury of guns from room to room, tearing apart everything in sight.

Each chamber has its own feel, set of enemies, and bosses that it rotates randomly from run to run. While the Gungeon's layout is always changing, it maintains a feeling of consistency each playthrough, largely thanks to the fantastic aesthetic. Just about every aspect of Enter the Gungeon is themed around bullets or guns. It's silly, but it's the kind of silliness that can lend a game an incredibly strong identity. Shooting living bullets with a gun that fires other guns is such a unique scenario that any other game trying to replicate such a situation would have to wear its homage on its sleeve, otherwise it would be accused of plagiarism.

Screenshot for Enter the Gungeon on Nintendo Switch

The Gungeon's many rooms aren't easy, but it seldom feels like the player is at fault for dying. The mechanics heavily favour skilled play, but even someone who just keeps their focus can make it through reliably. This is a title that demands one's attention in every regard, while still managing to be friendly enough to newcomers. If enemies are hitting too hard or rooms are starting to get overwhelming, finding a friend for local co-op can make the experience manageable. It is a shame that there is no online alternative, but this is clearly not a title meant to played through in multiplayer often. Its design heavily favours single-player interactivity, which, given how infrequent it's likely to be, is enough to justify local co-op but not online.

More than anything, what makes Enter the Gungeon such an enjoyable experience is the mere fact that it manages to be inviting without losing any challenge in the process. It's hard, but it's the kind of hard that anyone can be good at with enough patience. Even if someone is struggling, though, there are many guns that can save a run and ease the difficulty down considerably. The randomness can lead to some tedious rooms or chambers, but finding a floor that's a total bore is so unlikely to happen that anyone normally opposed to roguelikes should strongly consider heading into the Gungeon themselves.

Screenshot for Enter the Gungeon on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

One third bullet hell, one third shoot 'em up, and one third roguelike, Enter the Gungeon is a magnificent blend of three genres that go together impressively well. The wide variety of guns keeps each playthrough feeling fresh, regardless of the character chosen, and the diverse enemy design is sure to keep players on their toes as they force their way through the Gungeon. There are some issues that rise from the randomness of it all, par for the course for a roguelike, but the fluid gameplay, massive weapon cache, and bullet-heavy atmosphere make Enter the Gungeon one incredibly endearing experience.

Developer

Dodge Roll

Publisher

Devolver Digital

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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