Where’d you get that purty little gun?
The Switch is no stranger to great roguelike games, having a great club of fantastic titles like GoNNER, Neon Chrome and The Binding of Isaac. Fortunately, Enter The Gungeon is here to join them, adding a bit of sprite-swaddled goodness to the mix. Playing as a bullet hell, dungeon crawling, twin-stick shooter, rogue like, the experience never lets up and provides a beautiful (and dang hard) adventure along the way.
The player has the option to play as 4 different characters, also known as Gungeoneers. Each Gungeoneer has a different set of skills and load outs. Playing with each of them can differ the experience and cater to your personal style of gungeoneering, whatever that may be. If you have a second set of JoyCons (Or a Pro controller) there is also a 2-Player cooperative mode to run and gun with a friend, playing with a 5th exclusive co-op character to help take down those pesky and rather ostentatious bosses. While exploring you will stumble upon man different kinds of guns and items that can also help tailor to your gunfire taste, ranging from your standard pistols and shotguns to RPGs and Rocket Launchers, and even more eclectic weapons like the Barrel gun that uses fish as projectiles. (Get it?)
In Enter The Gungeon, the player actually shoots bullets - literally. Yes, not only do you use bullets to shoot, you actually shoot at all kinds of anthropomorphic bullets. From the basic little waddling “Bullet Kin” stumbling in the players direction and firing single shots, to the flying bat-like “Bullats” that fly around, with tons of other variations including Shotgun Kin, Sniper Shell, and Veteran Bullet Kin (that have eye patches). All of these are cute and delightful and add a whimsical element to each room you wander into.
Every gungeon has a randomly generated layout filled with all sorts of differently sized and shaped hand-crafted rooms. When killing enemies they will drop bullet casings, which act as the currency to use at the shop located somewhere around the map. Most rooms have a portal that activates once all enemies are cleared, and at any time the player can fast travel to any part of the map for quick traversal. This fast-travel feature is a great complement to the dungeon-exploring gameplay, and let's the player delve into every corner of the map and immediately teleport back to either the boss's entrance, the shoppe, or any other room containing health or a locked chest that hasn't been acquired yet.
One of the big hooks included in the gameplay is the dodge roll. Pressing A in a certain direction will allow the character to jump and roll, dodging any bullets in mid-air. Strategically knowing when to dodge roll is definitely the to progressing through every dungeon to completion. The dodge roll feels really good, and immediately felt easy to control and use to my advantage. Further on in the game actual environmental hazards (spikes, pits, trap floors, etc.) pop up and require the use of the dodge roll for platforming purposes, and these parts can be as tricky as the gunning parts.
If you don’t like easy games, than you are in luck. Enter The Gungeon is totally and unquestionably difficult, and can punish the player for making the simplest of mistakes. Never once did I ever think the game cheated me though, every goof and mistep was on my own doing. Through the use of the dodge roll and using walls and tables to flip over as a barrier, there is definitely some good ol’ fashioned skill to get good at.
Although the gameplay is fantastic, my favorite part of Enter The Gungeon is absolutely the spritework. Everything simply looks amazing, from the quirky designs of the enemies and bosses to the environments of each dungeon. There's just something really great about stumbling into a beautiful library with a grand fireplace lighting the scene, where a lone ghostly bullet clutches an AK-47 to their chest - possibly waiting for true love. All sorts of humorous situations occur throughout the game, and the witty writing and dialogue help fill in the cracks to really make keep a smile on your face.
Enter The Gungeon is about as good as it gets for scratching that roguelike itch. The dungeon-craw- excuse me, “gungeon-crawling” mixed with twin-stick shooting has proven in the past to be a solid gameplay setup, and here mixed in with the smooth dodge-roll mechanic plus the great amount of customizable guns makes every run-through fun and exciting. The colorful and idiosyncratic style of the sprites and animation are absolutely delightful, and almost make you root for the cute little bullets shuffling around trying to kill you. The game runs great both docked and in handheld mode, the latter being what makes the Switch the amazing console it is. Obviously, if challenging games aren’t your thing you may want to think twice before purchasing, but if you are in market for an excellent roguelike, look no further and Enter The Gungeon.