Enter the Gungeon Review
Guns. Guns are unsurprisingly the name of the game in Enter the Gungeon, a challenging twin-stick shooter/roguelike in the vein of Binding of Isaac and Nuclear Throne – but it manages to top both of those titles with its procedurally generated dungeons, cool and colorful bosses, and arsenal of unique weapons and power-ups. From death to death, players unlock a bit of meta progression, secrets, and questlines to discover. Even when your dungeon run is a bust, you walk away with the sense that you made progress on your journey to claim the gun that can kill the past.
A room-to-room tour of bullets and baddies ensues as you move through the floors, each level ending with a boss encounter. Death is just part of the game as you try to preserve your heart containers by dodging swarms of bullets and navigating quirky environmental hazards, like guns mounted on minecarts and explosive traps. Perhaps you find a shopkeeper where you can purchase a few “blanks,” essential consumables that evaporate all on-screen projectiles at critical moments. Maybe you run into a quest NPC you didn’t find on your last few runs. You certainly find guns, ranging from mundane revolvers to amazingly elaborate contraptions. I found a laser rifle that reflects bullets like a lightsaber when you reload, a Mega Man inspired blaster, a t-shirt cannon, a fish that shoot out of a barrel, a beehive, and even a Bloodborne-inspired shield. The guns are loaded with flavor and make every attempt a delight as you uncover each weapon. You die and get sent back to the hub area a lot, but it never feels punishing or overwhelming, because you’re having too much fun discovering new things.
The gameplay isn’t as demanding as some niche pure bullet-hells like Ikaruga or Touhou, but it’s still plenty challenging, and you have to master the dodge roll if you plan on blasting your way to victory. The dodge roll features an invincibility window that you need to abuse if you plan on surviving when the screen fills up with ammo from every direction. The core mechanics are simple – run, gun, roll, and reload – but they’re also enjoyable to master.
The difference between your first outing and your twentieth dungeon run are markedly different, as you learn enemy patterns and abilities and nail the timing of your own movements. However, Gungeon skirts the line of negative repetition; fighting your 50th iron maiden enemy or the dumb bird boss isn’t quite as impactful as the first few encounters, but the title boasts enough variety to generally remain strong in the face of procedurally generated reiteration.
You select from four playable characters for each attempt at the Gungeon, all with their own bonus perks. I found the Marine to be the go-to choice, with a free point of armor and a handy ammo drop for when you find that perfect gun and want to make sure it lasts. Other characters offer things like Molotov cocktails or a cute pet, but the bonuses don’t really make a huge difference; they’re more like flavorful accents on the gameplay.
Enter the Gungeon is an essential pick for those that are fans of the roguelike twin-stick shooter genre, and a great choice for those looking for an action-filled arcade romp as well. Even with permadeath threatening to ruin your fun around every corner, the vast selection of goofy guns and eventual discoveries keep you coming back again and again without any lingering frustration.