Enter the Gungeon is a fast-paced rogue-like shooter fused with dungeon-crawler elements. The Gungeon challenges players to fight, dodge roll, and table-flip their way through an increasingly difficult series of floors to the bottom of the Gungeon. Each floor is filled with enemies, bosses, NPCs, shops, and secrets. Players will take control of one of four Gungeoneers, each of whom are burdened by a deep regret in their past. The ultimate goal of each character is to make it through the Gungeon while collecting pieces to build the bullet for the Gun That Can Kill The Past.
Spiritual Content: The enemies that players fight in Enter the Gungeon are members of the Cult of the Gundead. There is a location in the game called Bullet Hell, which is a literal Hell for bullets. There are also rituals that enemies perform to resurrect dead shells and enemy bullets that look like priests—some even have hats that bear a resemblance to the Pope’s hat. Story-wise none of these themes are really touched on other than visiting Bullet Hell after certain conditions are met. Most of the cult themes are represented in level and enemy design.
Violence: As the name implies, players battle literal guns and other enemies in multiple floors of the Gungeon that resemble bullets, so there is a lot of shooting but absolutely no blood, gore, or anything else that you would find in most other games featuring guns. Enemies pop or explode once defeated and some leave behind fire or poisonous goo in their wake.
To get the most out of Enter The Gungeon, it is best to know what to expect going into the game. Players start by selecting one of four Gungeoneers—each with their own set of gear and abilities—and navigate through a randomly generated set of floors with algorithmic, generated loot, enemies, and floor layouts. However, there is a lot of strategy and planning involved for each run, even in just the simple choice of selecting a character to play as.
For example, the Marine packs a strong starting pistol with faster reload times as well as a single piece of armor in the form of his helmet. If he gets hit in the Gungeon, he will not lose any of his three hearts, but his helmet will visibly be shot off of his head. Depending on the drops for that particular run through, the Marine can either purchase or earn more armor. The Pilot, on the other hand, has a weaker starting pistol with a longer time to reload, but he can carry two active items from the start as opposed to every other Gungeoneer who can only carry one. These items can be activated at any time during gameplay by pressing ‘R2’ on a Dualshock 4 controller or the ‘ZR’ trigger on a Joy-con.
The Hunter has a companion that travels with her in the form of a dog. The dog can dig up items like health, armor, keys or ammo after a room has been cleared. The Hunter is also one of two Gungeoneers that starts with a second weapon. Her trusty crossbow can take out most enemies on the first floor in one or two shots. She can also make quick work of the boss of the first floor using her crossbow. Finally, the Convict starts with a Molotov cocktail for her active item which will catch enemies on fire and cause burning damage over time. She also starts with a small range pistol and a shotgun. She is best used by players who prefer a hit and run style of gameplay.
Beyond choosing a character, there isn’t much in the way of story at first. To get to the actual story elements, players will have to die, respawn, and run through all five floors of the Gungeon over the course of many playthroughs to find one of four pieces used to construct a special bullet for a weapon that will unlock each character’s ending. There are two hidden characters to unlock as well, though the game never tells you this outright. As with most other unlockables, this is only discovered via trial and error. Knowing the requirements to access the hidden characters can make the game more frustrating when certain drops, enemy arrangements, and floor layouts work against your goal of unlocking them.
Basic gameplay begins in The Breach, which acts as the hub world in Enter the Gungeon. Here, any NPCs who have been released from their captivity in the Gungeon will appear to sell new items. Once they are purchased, these items may appear in future runs through the Gungeon. Some of these NPCs even offer challenges in the form of challenge rooms or modifiers that work for or against the player. For example, one of these modifiers prevented me from picking up any new guns in the Gungeon—after I emptied a clip, my gun would automatically change to an entirely different gun. This was both a blessing and a curse as getting stuck with a terrible weapon against a boss ended an otherwise perfect run very quickly.
As players progress through each floor of the Gungeon enemies get stronger and room layouts get more devious and challenging. You can dodge roll across pits or use randomly generated items found in chests or a shop that can help such as the jetpack or the wings. While the wings do not take up an active item slot and allow players to dodge roll in mid-air, the jetpack item does take up an item slot. There is also a gun that shoots tornadoes that allow you to float over pits and other hazards. However, once out of ammo, this gun no longer allows players to float in the air. This lends a fair bit of strategy even with the randomness of items provided to players during each playthrough. Many times I found myself nearly out of ammo on all but my starting weapon—which always has an infinite clip—and had to decide if it was worth spending money on replenishing the ammo in my strongest gun or buy a new gun and try my luck with that.
Speaking of guns, there are hundreds that can be unlocked in The Breach that players can then pray they find in the Gungeon. Some of these offer more passive benefits like the balloon gun which allows the player to float. Other guns like The Stinger—a literal Stinger missile filled with bees—will do continued damage to enemies and absolutely devastate bosses. There are also synergies: combinations of certain guns and items that will lend new benefits to certain weapons. For example, there is a Mega Man-style gun that can be found in the gungeon which can be upgraded to deal fire and poison damage if the right mix of weapons and items are collected. Players will discover these combinations on their own through trial and error. But once discovered, luck and a little strategy can offer players an easier playthrough when they know exactly what items to keep and what to leave behind.
While I do love the randomness of item drops, chest contents, enemy placement, and level layouts, I seem to have had an easier go in the Switch version after the latest Advanced Gungeons and Draguns update. Most of my runs through the Gungeon saw me earning a chest, armor piece, heart, or key after nearly every room while this rarely occured when I played on PS4 with the same update. Meanwhile, I finally made it to the final floor of the gungeon in my latest playthrough on PS4.
Though the game doesn’t end there since I had not constructed the Bullet That Can Kill the Past, I did not face one of the true final bosses and earn The Hunter’s real ending. The one negative part of playing on Switch is an abundance of glitches, such as sound cutting out for no reason and a myriad of crashes took me out of the experience. Luckily, if the game crashes, once it reloads from the main menu, the game remembers your progress in that playthrough and puts you back at the start of your current floor with all of your weapons and items in tact. This makes it much easier to forgive these technical hiccups.
Overall, I am currently addicted to this game and have found myself repeating “one more run” in the hopes that I will finally unlock one of the hidden characters or construct the Bullet That Can Kill The Past so I can see the true ending and face the real final boss. Since I seem to have an easier go of things on the Switch version, I may find more success there. But the game comes highly recommended no matter what platform players choose to purchase it on. The tight, responsive controls and gameplay make it an overall blast to play and most deaths come down to player error—though sometimes the Random Number Generator (RNG) is more devilish than the enemies themselves. Players will have playthroughs where they will find no guns and very few keys to unlock chests. Luckily, each playthrough only lasts between 1-1.5 hours total, so repeated runs are a must to truly see and unlock everything this game has to offer. Players will find themselves pouring hundreds of hours into this game without even realizing it.
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The Bottom Line
Enter The Gungeon is the first game that I can firmly say I am addicted to. It is always different, exciting and makes me want to continuously push myself to get good to see everything that the Gungeon has to offer.