Get ready for bullet hell with Enter the Gungeon, developed by Dodge Roll and published by Devolver Digital. Originally released for Mac, PC, Linux, and PS4 in 2016, the title was ported to Xbox One in April 2017 and has now arrived on Nintendo Switch. This addictive dungeon crawler puts you in the gungeon of a foreign planet, where you’ll face an overwhelming barrage of bullets in a maze of hand-designed rooms. Do you have the skills to dodge the gunfire, destroy the enemy, and navigate the labyrinthine gungeon?
Your goal is to venture deep into the gungeon, where the “gun that can kill the past” is hidden away. This gun destroys the past and rewrites it, creating a better present with hope for a bright future. You are not the first to attempt this daunting task; many before you have tried and failed to locate the sacred weapon. Now is your chance to succeed as one of four characters, each with a different motive for taking on the gungeon quest—and each with a unique storyline and ending.
Most of the time, you’ll be battling mobs of enemies in procedurally-generated levels that offer nuanced fun in every run. Everything you encounter in the gungeon—aside from the hand-designed rooms themselves—is randomly generated, so you never have the same experience twice. As you play, you’ll explore rooms, collect gear, and beat bosses as you work your way deep into the gungeon.
To proceed to the next room, you’ll need to destroy the group of enemies you’ve encountered in your current room. When you find the boss room, you can take on the boss right away, but we recommend exploring an entire floor before taking on its boss, just to make sure you’ve found all the hidden secrets—including game-changing upgrades!
Another potential game-changer? You can play with a friend! They can join the fun as The Cultist and do everything that your own character can do. (Keep in mind that each character has a unique load-out, or starting set of items, so no two characters are exactly alike in how they play—but they can generally do the same things.) With this title, your P2 will be most helpful for you if they are skilled at bullet hell roguelikes, but even if they aren’t, they can still try their best taking down as many enemies as possible and offer moral support as they die by your side!
Enter the Gungeon features several shops that sell guns, keys, health, and other important items. The keys can be used to unlock chests, which are your best resource for upgrades and guns. As you play, you can combine active and passive items to work in a synergistic fashion. For example, we once paired an item that made our bullets poisonous with a t-shirt cannon, resulting in a barrage of poison t-shirts that decimated our foes. Enter the Gungeon is filled with unique items that can be mixed and matched, and with a bit of creativity, your possibilities are truly endless!
As you play, be mindful of your ammo. If you’re using your starter gun, you have infinite ammo; when you run out, press the reloading button on your controller, and you’ll be back to shooting in no time. Of course, you’ll be vulnerable while your ammo reloads, so take cover if you can! Aside from your starter gun, every gun in this game has a limited amount of ammo, so if you run out, you’ll need to find or buy more.
Mastering the controls is essential, and we’re pleased to report that they are fully customizable. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your perfectly calibrated control settings will guarantee your success. To get far in Enter the Gungeon, you’ll need to devote time and effort to learning its controls, and the first technique you should master is the dodge roll, which provides a few frames of invincibility and offers a chance to escape a sticky situation.
You don’t need us to tell you that this game is tough. But to make things a bit easier for you, Enter the Gungeon provides several blanks at the start of each floor, which clear a room of all bullets and get you out of tight spots. (We suggest saving those blanks for dire situations, like challenging boss battles.) Another defensive measure involves flipping tables and hiding behind them. This provides temporary shelter from enemy fire, but be careful—they do eventually break!
Another crucial maneuver is aiming while moving, which is hard to master. You’ll be aiming with the right joystick and moving with the left, and some players will find this challenging, especially when they’re also trying to dodge roll, take cover, and watch out for more bullet hell. But as with all video games, practice really makes perfect, so don’t give up—and if you’re prone to giving up, this title may not be a good fit.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
Enter the Gungeon boasts a perfectly retro, 16-bit, SNES-like art style that’s packed with detail, especially in the hand-designed gungeon rooms. The characters and enemies are fun to be and interact with, and the action is quite immersive for its style. For instance, when you flip a table, whatever was sitting on it—whether it be books, food, pottery, etc.—is launched in the air, adding to the bullet hell chaos.
The game’s sound is equally immersive. The soundtrack is truly impressive, and you may even find yourself seeking out the tracks to blast between your Enter the Gungeon runs. And on top of this, the sound effects are top-notch, especially for an indie of this caliber. The popping of ammo, cracking of wood tables, and rushing of flames enhance your experience and really suck you in. (So yes, you should play with the volume on.)
Enter the Gungeon offers nearly infinite replayability, and we love that you can pick it up for a quick round when you have a moment to spare. This game is seriously packed with content, including countless unlockables, loads of secrets, hundreds of guns, and tons of items. For literal endless fun in both single-player and co-op modes, the price tag of $14.99 can’t be beat. The only people who maybe shouldn’t give this game a try are those who have no interest in a super-hard game that requires practice and dedication. While dedicated beginners will definitely struggle at first, they’ll develop talent and skill if they stick with it and don’t give up—and really, that goes for every dedicated player.