Enter the Gungeon (Switch) Review
Things are dire when you have no option but to get your hands on a gun that is said to be able to kill the past. The only thing that stands between you and that chronologically-altering weapon is bullets, lots and lots of bullets. Whether they’re coming out of guns, or the ones holding the guns. Enter the Gungeon. True to its name, it has you descending into the depths of the dungeon filled with guns, bullets, bullets wielding guns and shooting you with more bullets. If there’s a game the NRA would be gushing over, it would be this.
Enter the Gungeon, in short, is a roguelike, or a procedurally generated, dungeon crawl. If you’re killed, you lose all your progress. There are also elements of bullet hell shooters which will have you back to the start often as enemies fill the screen with waves of bullets. You initially start off with four characters; The Pilot, the Convict, Marine and the Hunter. There is also the Cultist who is exclusively for the two-player co-op. All the ‘gungeoneers’ start off with a weapon and unlimited ammo to help you get through the basic enemies. Most characters have an extra gun with limited ammo, and all have passive traits that are helpful in different ways. My personal favourite was the trusty lockpick, that would give me a chance to unlock a chest when I didn’t have any keys, which was most of the time.
At the very beginning, there is a training area that covers all the basics you’ll need to make it past the first few rooms. It’s handy, and what you learn in there should be enough to get you to the very end. Then you’re sent into the depths of the Gungeon. Being procedurally-generated, you never know what kind of layout you’re going to get. In some cases, I’ve only been two doors from the boss, and in others, you need to check nearly every room. If you want to have the best chance of taking on any of the bosses, you’ll need everything you can get your hands on. Be it collecting bullet casing currency to get better guns, finding guns in chests, or items to use with your guns. Most rooms you enter will have multiple enemies that are known as the ‘gundead’, which often take the form of living bullets/shells that also carry guns. There’s also a variety of other enemies filling the floors that are made of tougher stuff. From the first room of the game, there’s enough variety in the enemies you face to keep you on your toes.
Now it’s not just enough to be able to run and gun. It’s not long until you are up against waves of bullets firing in every direction. Fortunately, you’re more than well equipped to survive. You have the dodge roll. As you roll you dodge bullets, and it can also give you a short jump that gets you ahead of the bullet wave. You are also given Blanks. When used these clear the room of bullets for when things are getting a bit heavy. In some of the rooms, there will also be cover in the form of tables. Run up to one, hit the button and you’ll flip it onto its side and use it as a shield. I never tired of flipping tables as a shoot-out got hectic.
Like most games with procedurally-generated content, there’ll be times where there’s a bad layout, and the room is arranged badly for the enemies you’re facing. Bullets will be going everywhere, and next thing you’re facing the boss with barely any health, or you’re blindsided by an enemy you haven’t encountered before. This is unavoidable, and it happens in the Gungeon Thankfully it isn’t too often. Most times when I messed up it was the poor timing of the dodge roll, or something silly like using the weak starter gun to conserve ammo on tough enemies. Enter the Gungeon isn’t for the faint of heart. It starts off challenging and doesn’t let up. Due to its difficulty, it won’t be a game for everyone. There isn’t an easy mode and it doesn’t let up. Gungeon will push you to improve. Every attempt will sharpen your skills, whether it’s a short-lived run to remind you to use your evasion skills or discovering what lies in wait deeper in the chambers.
Another factor that makes Enter the Gungeon so damn fun is its pixel art aesthetic which really suits it. So many of the gundead are too cute for their own good, and the animation adds to the frenetic action of the game. The music and sounds all play into this. When you’re running and gunning it all just works. One thing that may have gotten tiring is the heavy leaning on the gun theme and gun puns. But it leans so much into it that it works, and it adds to the charm. There’s still a few amused grins to be had when you come across some of the enemies. Look through the ‘Ammonomicon’ (the game’s encyclopaedia/bestiary) and see how many puns they cram in there, on top of what you encounter through the game. While so much of the game works, there is one small yet fixable issue, and that’s the controls. While everyone likes their controls how they want them, something feels a little off with the default controls. Thankfully these can be changed. After a few runs, you’ll find what set-up works best for you. I preferred having as much of the attack and evasion controls kept to the shoulder buttons/triggers.
Enter the Gungeon is dangerously easy to jump back into for ‘just one more game’. It’s been out for a while on other consoles, but it is the perfect fit on the Switch as you can try and squeeze in another run for the gun wherever you may be. With great pixel art filled with personality, appropriate music, and fun gameplay, it’s not hard to sink many hours into Enter the Gungeon.
- Fun action-packed gameplay
- Amusing gun theme and puns
- Portability is great for gungeon runs
- Initial controls not so great
- A bit too hard for a relaxed playthrough