GoNNER is a tough but fair roguelike 2D action platformer reminiscent of those old-school NES games that don’t offer much instruction or guidance. While GoNNER begins with a brief tutorial, it doesn’t tell you much about what’s going on, and you’re left to decide for yourself how to handle the various situations that you’ll encounter. Of course, when you start the game, you’re probably not going to know how to handle much of anything, and you’ll probably die—a lot. But if you’re determined to keep trying, you will eventually learn how to survive and will likely become quite skilled at this challenging indie title, which sells for $9.99.
At the beginning of each round, you will choose 3 helpful items: a head, a gun, and a backpack. Of course, GoNNER doesn’t tell you anything about the items you choose; you’ll have to figure out how they operate and whether or not you like them. Also, remember that different item combinations work together in different ways, so you should experiment to figure out what works best for your particular play style or your current point in the game.
After choosing your 3 items, you will spawn in a randomly-generated level, which helps keep GoNNER fresh. Each level features a dark background and colorful platforms that appear and disappear as you move around. This might sound scary, but rest assured that the disappearing platforms always re-appear in the same place, so there’s no risk that you’ll fall off into nothingness when a piece of the platform disappears. Against the dark background, your character (Ikk) is blue-green, your enemies are red, and your gunfire is yellow; this variety of bright colors helps keeps things less confusing and looks great against the game’s dark background!
As you move through each level, you’ll encounter a variety of enemies, which you can kill by shooting them or jumping on their heads. If you kill them quickly, you can accumulate purple glyphs that allow you to continue if you die—if you have enough of them. The glyphs have other functions as well, but we’ll let you figure that out on your own!
You’ll want to avoid being hit by enemies, because a hit makes you drop all your items—even your head! (There is one unlockable head that allows you to keep all your items when hit, but this head provides fewer hearts.) If you want to survive after being hit, you must gather your items without being hit again. If you’re unable to do this, you’ll die—unless you have enough purple glyphs to continue—and will have to start your run over again.
After clearing several levels, you will have access to a shop before your big boss fight. At this shop, you are free to change your head, gun, and backpack, and you’ll want to choose a combination that will help you in a very tough fight! Be prepared to take on a new tier of enemy with each boss fight, and be prepared to die—a lot. Just remember: if you keep trying, you’ll get better, and you’ll likely feel very satisfied with your improvement!
There’s also a different mode of play in GoNNER: Daily Challenge Mode, where you can try out new combinations of weapons that you haven’t yet unlocked. In this mode, you’ll want to score as high as you can, because soon the game will feature leaderboards that honor players with the highest scores.
In addition to fun and challenging play, GoNNER offers breathtaking, sharp, and smooth graphics as well as cool, techno-style music and sound effects. Even though you’ll be dying a lot, you’ll be dying in a beautiful place—and when you re-spawn after death, you’ll find yourself in a uniquely generated level. In this way, dying and having to start over is nothing like traditional platformers like Mario, where things can get pretty repetitive. In GoNNER, things are always fresh and new!
Overall, GoNNER is a tight roguelike platformer that will be quite challenging for anyone inexperienced in similar games. There’s not much room for mistakes in GoNNER, but there’s plenty of room for growth. Some may call GoNNER punishing, but we think it’s more rewarding: if you keep trying and get better, you will be rewarded. You may feel overwhelmed at first, but if you’re up for a challenge, you’ll probably become addicted and spend your spare time thinking about your next run and what you could do to improve.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of material in GoNNER that we haven’t been able to cover in this review, but a big part of this game is figuring things out for yourself. So if GoNNER looks like something you might enjoy, we suggest that you pick it up for Switch and start exploring its unique world and all that it has to offer!
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.