Roguelikes are a tricky beast, easy to pick up and play and nigh on impossible to master. It’s new game every time so the gameplay moves through random rooms which allows skills to constantly be pushed each time you play. So with a game daring you to try again and again, it makes sense to release these kind of games on the most portable console ever made, the Nintendo Switch. After The Binding of Isaac’s release earlier this year, Enter the Gungeon makes a fantastic – and fairly affordable- addition to the burgeoning Switch library. But don’t expect to master this game anytime soon!
As soon as you pass the opening title card, the player is given an option to play as four different characters (perfecting one is hard enough let alone four). The Convict, Hunter, Marine and Pilot all tend to have the same control schemes, but their guns, special abilities and overall perks will keep you swapping between your favourites. After putting a whole lot of hours into the experience, I’m still not ready to say which one I preferred over the others which really says a lot about the pick up and play qualities of the characters (yet I have heard there’s more to be found).
One of the first things one notices when they start up the game is the gorgeous pixel art style, and notice it you will. The game will be throwing hundreds upon hundreds of big white and red pixel bullets at you before you even reach the second floor. With some truly enjoyable screen shake (which this reviewer kept at the middle of the slider in the options), every battle feels intense and visceral. With a simple button press the small table in front of the player flips over gaining me a quick cover position. This animation is so simple yet it’s always gorgeous and satisfying. The dodge move allows for a quick jump and roll, which is great to link together with the flipping of a table to keep the dodging of the bullet hell scenario never getting old. Don’t let the old school art put you off, this game is consistently gorgeous.
As in games like this, you have a compendium of sorts, and finding new enemies, weapons and bosses kept me coming back to fill the book full of little details. It’s this thrive for some new element that not only allows for replayability but I found it made me not afraid to fail. Striving to find more, and experiment with it (which would often lead to yet another death) made me more ready to jump back in and fight again with the knowledge I had- a feeling I haven’t had since Breath of The Wild earlier this year. A strong sign of a game is when I have to tear myself away from the console to write a review.
However this writer must stress that it’s okay to fail, and the frustration that will come from this will be something tough to stomach. I recently defeated Cuphead earlier this year, and that game was no slouch either in regards to difficulty, but it was about learning patterns. And while bosses have pattern like elements, the randomised nature of rooms makes the player never feel comfortable with the next door they go through. After a while, and some really unlucky randomised rooms later, one does hit a wall where they need to put the controller down and walk away. This is the kind of game some religiously sign up for, but sometimes I did hope for some consistency to the gameplay. If you are not into these kind of games, this is not the magic cure for you.
Overall Enter the Gungeon makes an absolute awesome addition to your switch, especially if you keep using the device outside of home in short bursts. It takes a lot of skill to make headway in this game, but I loved every small victory, every step further I made, and every boss I defeated. With multiple playable characters, hundreds of secrets to uncover and one of the most addictive gameplay loops one can have on the Switch- this is a no brainer. Ladies and Gentlemen: ENTER. THE. GUNGEON.