PAX South 2016: Enter the Gungeon
I had seen Enter the Gungeon multiple times at various events I’ve attended, but never got a chance to play. At PAX South 2016 I decided to try the game, and I can’t believe I hadn’t played this game before. Enter the Gungeon is a bullet-hell dungeon crawler with procedurally generated levels. Each of the several characters are on a quest to enter the gungeon to obtain a gun that can erase their dreaded past.
Every one of the characters has their own story and final boss, leading you to complete the game as each character. In addition, the characters each have different attributes that will aid them in battle. The characters all move at the same pace, and each have a trusty dodge roll, so the difference between the characters is in the abilities. One of the characters I played as was a hunter who had a pet that could carry more items for the player and detect mimic treasure chests.
There is progression in the game, but maybe not how you might think. The game is a rogue-like, but the more you play and farther you get, you’ll unlock new story segments, weapons, items and more. These new items are then available as a drop in the game the next time you start the gungeon. Every time you play, you’ll be back at square one with just an infinite ammo gun.
Enter the Gungeon has a massive amount of weapons available to find. I played with mostly the main pistol, but a powerful crossbow was something I got to mess around with. Other guns include a gun that shoots rainbows, mail, lasers, and even genies. Weapons and items are unlocked as loot drops that can come from various chests. In my playtime, I found an item that refilled a piece of health and then allowed me to deal extra damage until the next time I was hit. There is a lot of creativity going into the items and weapons, and I definitely want to unlock them all when the full game releases.
However, your most trusty ability, isn’t firing a weapon. Developer Dodge Roll takes inspiration from the Dark Souls series and has instituted (as the developer’s name implies) a dodge roll. This dodge roll acts as a quick jolt of speed to avoid on-coming fire, but more importantly, if timed correctly, you are given a brief instance of invulnerability. Mastering the dodge roll is important, as the quicker you learn that skill, the longer you’ll survive.
One of my favorite mechanics in the game is the ability to turn tables on their side and use them as cover. Blazing into a room with guns flying and kicking over a table is immediately satisfying. Enemies can do the same though, so you’ll need to be quick to react to the situation at hand. The enemies will also try to flank you and have unusual patterns that make them unpredictable. Enter the Gungeon features boss fights, which will put your skills to the test. Each of my play sessions ended at the hand of a boss. Some bosses are randomized on each floor, so you may encounter different bosses in different orders each time you play. The boss that got the better of me was a Gatling gun wielding bird that is relentless in its attack.
Everything in the game resembles a bullet. Heart containers, enemies and even the currency resembles a bullet. Currency can be used to buy new items at the shopkeeper, who you don’t want to anger, because if you shoot in his shop, he’ll raise the prices and even start attacking you.
Playing Enter the Gungeon at PAX South felt like playing a full release. Controls were responsive and the dodge roll feels not only satisfying to use, but fits the game perfectly. The game is fair and doesn’t have anything holding you back. The game gives you what you need. The mechanics are there, and it’s up to you to learn the mechanics to master the game. When getting into a flow of dodging, shooting and traversing, it can absolutely bring a smile to your face. I can’t wait to get my hands on the fully finished product later this year.