Enter the Gungeon PC Review: A Fistful of Bullets

You will die. Enter the Gungeon is a roguelike twinstick shooter and like all that the genre entails, death is a part of the game. Getting there is an absolute blast though.

In Enter the Gungeon, you're one of four Gungeoneers who want to delve into the Gungeon and fight the Gundead to achieve the ultimate prize: a gun that can kill the past. Enter the Gungeon keeps things simple. You can move in any direction, shoot, reload, switch between two equipped weapons, use an item, or dodge roll, which makes you temporarily invincible and acts as your jump across gaps. It never gets more complex than that, which is one of the game's strengths. Everything else is all about the word that appears repeatedly in this paragraph's opening sentence: Guns.

There's over 200 guns and items to for players to find. Each of the four Gungeoneers has a starting weapon (or two) to go along with their specific traits. The Marine's Sidearm shoots straight, has a slightly larger clip and he can take one hit before his lifebar is affected. The Pilot has his short-range Rogue Special and a lockpick that can sometimes open chests without a key. The Convict starts with two weapons - a Budget Revolver and a Sawed-Off Shotgun - and does more damage after taking a hit. Finally, the Hunter carries the slow Rusty Sidearm and the single-shot Crossbow; her faithful dog can occasionally find items and sniff out fake chests.

Beyond the starting weapons, I've found the Mega Douser, a Super-Soaker close that fires a stream of water; the Silencer, a pillow that... shoots more pillows; the Serious Cannon, which has a charge time and fires a cannonball that bounces around the screen; the Stinger, a rocket launcher whose shells explode into angry bees; and the Pitchfork, a pitchfork that shoots a stream of fireballs. That's only a few of the weapons I found, which range from mundane to absolutely crazy.

Enter the Gungeon plays out like a bullet hell Legend of Zelda. Each level of the Gungeon is procedurally-generated at random from room chunks that the developer has hand-crafted ahead of time, so you'll see the same rooms from time to time, but the configuration and the enemies you find are brand-new in each run. You'll tackle five random floors in every run, though how you do on is dependent on your bullet dodging and shooting abilities, the guns and items you find, and the enemies you run into. I find that I can usually coast through the first floor, but getting past floor two can be tough and three is challenging as hell.

Every floor is capped off by a random boss, like the Gatling Gull, the Beholster, or the Wallmonger. The bosses are chosen by the floor you're on; the first floor chooses from a list of three bosses for example. Right from the get-go, the bosses are amazing displays of the bullet hell style that Enter the Gungeon leans towards. They'll fill the rooms with various patterns of fire, forcing you to dodge and find cover to survive. It's not as hard as pure bullet hell games like Ikaruga or something like Assault Android Cactus, but it'll test the average player. As you get farther into the Gungeon, they'll add other abilities, like the Gorgun's stone gaze that prevents you from shooting or the Cannonbalrog who darkens the room, making it harder to see.

Finish a boss off and you move to the Gungeon's next floor and receive a random weapon drop, maybe an item, and some currency. Die and you go back to the game's hub area. Here's you can use the currency you gained from the boss to unlock new weapons that will drop in the Gungeon at random. While you begin the Gungeon with the same weapons each time, the pool of guns available to you grows as you play and get deeper in the Gungeon.

Enter the Gungeon can feel unfair if the roll of rooms and random drops is against you. The Random Number God can sometimes drop you into floors where there are more chests than available keys. Maybe a chest or shrine (where you offer something for a chance to get a better weapon or status effect) will offer up a crap weapon or item. Occasionally, you'll run into enemies you're not equipped to handle at that point; there's an iron maiden enemy that's particularly hard if you encounter it early on.

The game never feels punishingly hard though. Oh, you'll have situations where you think you'll squeak through and take that last hit. You'll grit your teeth when you die at the end of run with great loot drops. These situations are contrasted by the times you'll find the perfect weapon, or skate through by the skin of your teeth. There are painfully hard roguelikes, but Enter the Gungeon feels like it's tuned just right. You can handle it.

All this is before we get into things like the hidden rooms you'll find, or the ultimate weapon you're attempting to build on every floor other than the first one. There's also co-op play; if you want to tackle the Gungeon with a friend, they can jump in as the Cultist to help out.

Enter the Gungeon is a game that's very easy to get into. The concepts are simple and the tutorial will teach you everything you need to know. There's only five levels to finish. Despite that, it'll challenge you. Eventually, maybe not in your first run or your 20th, you'll break through a barrier that trapped you before. And then you'll run into a new one. Above all else, Enter the Gungeon is satisfying. It's just a great mix of fun, guns, and exploration that will keep you entertained for quite a while.

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