Enter the Gungeon (Switch) Review – Guaranteed Fun
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release: Switch : 14th (NA) / 18th December 2017 (EU)
When Dodge Roll announced Enter the Gungeon´s Switch port, which should´ve come simultaneously with the Gungeons and Draguns update, no one really expected the long wait until its release. Yet, after months of silence and a delay of the update, it finally made its way onto Switch and still is a fantastic game, especially with the added quality of life updates.
As the name suggests, the game is about entering the gungeon, a dungeon filled with guns, in a roguelike manner. Meaning, every time an enemy kills the player, the game starts anew, carrying over only permanent things like rescued characters or item information.
Starting out by selecting one of four characters, each with their own initial playstyle, perks and weapons, ranging from the soldier who gets a shield every new layer,, to the faster, revolver-carrying blonde guy. Of course everyone can equip the same weapons, do the same things and so on but especially in the inital layers of the gungeon, the starting equipment heavily defines the gameplay.
Once ready, Enter the Gungeon is essentially a 2D bullet hell shooter in a roguelike costume. There´s no melee attack, only a a little health bar and tons of rooms full of gun equipped enemies. If you played such a game already, you most likely know pretty much everything. There´s a dodge button, a necessity to survive the dozens of bullets shot at you, different rooms, different weapons and so on. In terms of pure gameplay, Dodge Roll didn´t reinvent the formula. However, by reducing the playfield to very little rooms, while increasing the bullets enemies can shoot to the maximum, it forces you to dodge, keep moving and always try to outsmart the shots, actually playing Enter the Gungeon feels fast, fluid, and damn rewarding.
Naturally the increased speed and condensed action also bumps up the difficulty significantly. Enter the Gungeon is by far not an easy game, forcing you to make use of pretty much everything in a room, from kicking up tables as an improvised cover, moving around pillars while not getting cornered and dodging as much as you can. Especially the name giving dodge roll is probably the most important asset and has to be mastered, since it doesn´t only have a cooldown of ~1 second but also makes you vulnerable during the last few ms. Just dodging mindlessly will get you killed faster than running around. Nonetheless, the Switch version already comes with quite a lot tiny difficulty adjustments, making the game easier or simply more forgiving, which are part of the Gungeon and Draguns update. So progressing is actually a bit easier in the Switch version compared to others, at least until the release of the update.
Otheriwse Enter the Gungeon feels like many other roguelikes, having a procedural generated dungeon, divided into big, hand-made rooms, full of enemies, that have to be killed to unlock the doors. The more each layer is explored before proceeding to the boss, the more likely it is to encounter treasures, containing valuable items or guns. Equipped with one key from the beginning and the option to buy more in the shop from collected gun shells or even find more in special rooms, special treasures can be opened, often containing more valuable things. Nothing surprising nor unique but it still works great and the rewarding, fast nature of the gameplay, combined with the roguelike elements, motivate in a comparable way to The Binding of Isaac.
The obligatory endbosses of the levels follow the already established classic roguelike formula, infused with the pun-y Enter the Gungeon spirit. From a gatling gun pigeon, a giant bullet shell king or a gun cobra, they´re incredible diverse and train the different skills necessary to survive. Due to the fact a few layers are bundled together in a section, they feature their own little selection of endbosses as well, so you won´t fight one of the hardest bosses in the beginning. Instead the boss selection expands and changes throughout the descent, slowly confronting you with more powerful ones, while training and refining your skills through their diverse attack behaviour. I think it should be clear, that fighting a gatling pigeon or giant gun shell doesn´t only look weird as hell but feels challengingly great at the same time.
Unfortunately, the spawn restrictions of bosses and enemies inevitable lead to a very repetitive experience because of the ever same mods, that need to be killed. As much as I adore the artstyle, transforming bullets or pretty much everything into some kind of gun enemy, combined with the amazing pixel art, there´s a limit to how much shotgun enemies I can see and Enter the Gungeon clearly exceeds it. No other boss or enemy is fought as often as the beginner ones, either due to their mild difficulty or fact they inhabit the entire beginning area and beyond.
It should be clear by now that Enter the Gungeon is definitely one of the very best roguelikes out there, bursting with creativity, a great execution of the classic twin-stick shooter genre and much more. Fused together in a giant package, enhanced by some early sneak-peeks of the Gungeons and Draguns update and put on a portable console like the Switch, no one should want to miss this out, so go, buy it already!
[A Review Code was provided by Devolver Digital]