Relevant information to note before reading this early impressions / review:
- I was not given a review copy.
- I have no affiliation with anyone at Devolver Digital.
- Specifications of the system used for this first impressions article can be found here.
- At the time of writing this article, I had played the game for twelve hours and have managed to get to the fourth floor once. Woo! Go me.
- I've not got a great deal of experience with bullet hell games, but I have been playing Roguelike/lite games since, well, Rogue.
- No, I haven't played Nuclear Throne.
A game that’s designed around the idea of the player having to start from scratch repeatedly lives and dies by how much fun it is to repeat content. Enter the Gungeon gets around that somewhat by offering randomly generated levels, being able to choose four different characters and having so many weapons that I’m still finding new ones every couple of runs.
That being said, there is some content that’s repeated and definitely gives me that ’here we go again’ feeling. The first floor for me is rapidly losing its element of fun. The enemies aren’t particularly hard and it takes too long to find a new gun — if you find one at all.
The issue here is that if you don’t find a nice gun by the end of the first floor, your run is going to struggle. You’ll need to spend money at the shop much sooner than you otherwise would and this gimps the ongoing quest for you, especially at the step where you have to hand over 150 coins and three keys.
What also leaves me with a disappointed feeling is the local co-op. If you haven’t played it, basically one of the players chooses one of the regular characters, while the other is stuck with the Occultist. A purple-robed support character who can pick up items and resurrect player one but that’s about it.
Of all the ways Dodge Roll could have gone about implementing co-optional play, this was probably the worst idea they could have settled on. To the point where it is simply not fun for the poor sap who has to suffer being player two. To my mind, it would have been better if they’d have decided to allow both players to control one of the regular characters and scale up the dungeon to suit — double or even triple the number of enemies and have the difficulty scale up accordingly.
Lastly, the music. When I played Enter the Gungeon for the first time, I heard that 70s/80s style intro track and thought the game was going to have a stunning soundtrack, which is a hallmark of the bullet hell genre. Sadly, the music has become dull at this point — even a little annoying.
WHAT'S STILL FUN?
The game hasn’t become too easy. Enter the Gungeon mercilessly demands your full attention and concentration, or even the first floor will leave you in a bad state, giving you no chance for the end of floor two. The game is so challenging for me that I still haven’t made it past any of the third bosses. I’ve only actually gotten to them twice despite being on my 60th run.
I love that I’m still finding new guns and power-ups. I like that the game seems to throw new things at you based on how many times you’ve Entered the Gungeon — I’m still occasionally bumping into new NPCs and characters, I’m seeing one or two new enemies appear on earlier floors and I’m getting more massive chests, too.
The humour in Enter the Gungeon still works for me. I love the flavour texts that come with gun descriptions in the wonderfully named Ammonomicon.
I’m also looking forward to finding out what happens with the ongoing quest, if I can ever manage to get 150 coins before I bite the bullet (heh, sorry!)
IS IT STILL WORTH THE MONEY?
Just about. While I do find myself getting increasingly bored with the game, to the point where I’m not sure I’ll manage to actually beat it before my patience expires, I’ve still had a great deal of fun with it. It is priced well at $15 and I’m sure it’ll be a game that goes on sale within a year for those who are tempted but not convinced by it.
Just be warned — if you don’t like hard games, you’re not going to enjoy it.
And no, there isn’t an ‘easy mode’.