So, I don’t normally like to describe things as quirky (since I think the word is fairly overused), but it’s really the only word that I can come up with to describe Dodge Roll and Devolver Digital’s Enter The Gungeon.
Developed by Dodge Roll and published by Devolver Digital, Enter The Gungeon is about a group of people who travel to the eponymous Gungeon for the ultimate prize: a gun that can kill the past. That’s the basic story anyway. Like most shoot-em-ups, the actual point of the game is to destroy as many enemies as possible as waves of bullets come your way.
There are four main characters (five if you’re playing co-op): the Marine, the Convict, the Hunter, and the Pilot. Each character has different skills to help them survive. For example, the Pilot (who is very Han Solo-esque) can pick locks and gets a discount in stores, while the Hunter has a dog that can dig up useful items. The fifth character, the Cultist, has abilities that aid in multiplayer, like resurrecting fallen characters. Personally, my favorite character to play is the Hunter. She just has a really cool design, and her starting gun reminds me of Zoe’s gun from Firefly.
Gameplay-wise, Enter the Gungeon is fairly standard for a bullet hell: shoot at enemies while trying to avoid the very large number of projectiles coming your way. There is an item in the game (blanks) that destroy all bullets in the room, but the effect is very temporary (though still useful if you need a little breathing room). There are also some roguelike elements, in the sense that levels are procedurally generated and death is permanent. To me, it actually plays a lot like The Binding of Isaac, but with a brighter art style and lighter tone overall. The PC version does have controller support, but I found aiming with the controller to be really awkward, and using the mouse and keyboard felt more natural. Which is odd, since with most games it’s the opposite for me.
Speaking of the art style, Enter The Gungeon has an extremely colorful, very retro art style:
There’s a reason the game’s tagline is “bring a rainbow to a gun fight,” and it’s actually quite refreshing to see in an era where a lot of games are criticized for being brown.
The game’s tone is also quite charming: this is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you can tell from the plethora of puns. The title of the game itself is a play on words (gungeon obviously being a portmanteau of gun and dungeon), and one of the first bosses I encountered was the Gatling Gull. It looks like this:
There’s also the game’s codex, the Ammonomicon, which has information about enemies, items, and the various guns you can obtain. It also serves as a game over screen, showing a screencap of how the player died, as well as other stats for that particular run. I will admit, I actually did see that particular screen frequently throughout my playthroughs (mostly because I’m actually really bad at timing my dodges).
The best part for me, though, is the music. Enter The Gungeon has an absolutely awesome soundtrack composed by hip-hop artist doseone, which you can get either through Steam, GOG.com, or directly from the artist’s Bandcamp page (linked above). It’s absolutely fitting for the game and extremely listenable on its own. Here’s the opening theme:
I have had this song in my head for days, so I figured that I would return the favor.
So, in short, Enter The Gungon is an extremely amusing bullet hell with an awesome art style, a fantastic soundtrack, and a very punny sense of humor. It is extremely fun to play, though I do recommend using the keyboard and mouse rather than a controller.
Enter The Gungeon is currently available on Steam, GOG.com, and the Playstation store for $14.99. You can also get a collectors edition for about $25 that includes the soundtrack, an extra gun, and a digital comic.