Enter the Gungeon came out this year, 2016. It is one of the best games released this year, 2016. If I made a 2016 top 10 list, maybe it would have a strong chance to make that list. In 2016 that is.
Part of me thinks this will be on the top of my ranking for a long time. It will be tough to topple. King, the game will rule over other roguelikes and roguelites. Laughing. Throwing pixels at the peasant roguelikes and roguelites, it will have a jolly time wrecking the countryside at its will. Until realization settles in. Realization that no matter how high the pile grows, there isn’t anything around that can compete. Everything becomes boring once domination becomes normalcy. Struggling to wake up in the morning, Enter the Gungeon would turn to other acts of dominance. The kind you find in shady motels outside major cities. The secret kind; something to ruin one’s reputation if properly exposed.
The other part of me doesn’t want to play this game. I force myself everytime I open steam and double click the game’s title on my library. Part of me scrolls over on my PS4 and wants to scroll past even though I know I should play more for the purposes of this exact blog post.
With a heavy sigh, I have to forgot about Dark Souls 3. Or WWE 2k16. I’ll play you later. I need to Enter the Gungeon. Because I need to know:
How this game ranks.
The presentation of Enter the Gungeon is by far the greatest part of the game. Sublime animations greet painfully detailed pixel art as you flip tables, shoot bullets with bullets, and find guns upon guns upon guns–all with different functions, styles of attack, value, and rarity. Enter the Gungeon really works as an indie game, capturing that style of retro video games without really overwearing the style as a crutch. Countless retro styled games come out every single day, and the majority of them are shitty games with pretty pixel art. This game has one of the prettiest art styles and it plays really well.
Keyboard and mouse, controller, it doesn’t matter–the controls work really well. Remember Ocarina of Time, and how you would just roll everywhere because it was fun? The same thing happens here–the speed increase is fairly negligible but you will find yourself rolling everywhere because it feels fun to do. If you find yourself doing something repeatedly in a video game because it feels fun–that game did something right. That something is its controls. Stand up Enter the Gungeon. Stand up for your applause. STAND UP FOR YOUR APPLESAUCE.
Each weapon in this game feels different. Yet it’s not so different that you can’t figure out its purpose. When you find an unfamiliar weapon all you need to do is fire it a couple times and then reload. How does it shoot? Okay I can use it in this situation. How quickly does it reload, and how often does it reload? Most of the time you’ll be deciding between “boss weapons” and “room clearers.” You’ll want both for a successful run because switching between weapons is a must due to the need to conserve ammo. And thankfully this game allows you to drastically slow down time while you’re swapping weapons. This implements a cerebral side to the frantic bullet hell action.
You ever play bullet hell games? Generally shoot-em-ups, and generally developed in Japan, bullet hell shooters are known for spamming screen covering patterns of bullets at you. Success often means a focus on dodging while shooting in the general direction of the enemy because it’s more important to dodge than it is to kill. If you can continuously dodge the enemy’s attack they will eventually die. You just need to stay alive.
Thankfully this game has that dodge roll I spoke of earlier. When you dodge you have invincibility frames, and these frames are extremely easy to decipher when playing. You don’t have to study frame data, you can see and feel when these invincibility frames occur. It’s while your character is in the air, allowing you to dodge through exactly one bullet. This gives you enough power to get out of just about any situation without making you too powerful. If there’s another bullet following that bullet you just dodged through it’s going to hit you.
If you find yourself in a situation where a dodge doesn’t work you need to use your blank. Blanks are like bombs in shoot-em-ups as in they are consumables you find in the level that explode around your character in an outward traveling radius. The main purpose of blanks is to eliminate all projectiles in a room. Blanks are exceptionally important–if you beat a boss without taking a hit you will get a heart container. Besides the very few items in the game that do so, this is the only way to gain more health in the game. This is nice because you feel rewarded when you focus and master a boss. You’re given a tangible reward that is immediately useful to the player and can make a run successful. However, flawlissing a boss (as the procedure is called) isn’t necessary the only way to beat a run of Enter the Gungeon. Like The Binding of Isaac you have to play well and make the right decisions. And hope that the items you get are good.
Unlike Isaac THE GAME ACTUALLY TELLS YOU WHAT EVERYTHING FUCKING DOES. And I really like this as someone who opens up PlatinumGod everytime I find an unfamiliar item in The Binding of Isaac.
Unlike The Binding of Isaac I feel satisfied with my skill with this game. I’ve never beaten it. I’ve never seen all the levels first hand. I haven’t seen all the weapons, all the enemies, and I haven’t seen all the bosses. But I don’t want to play this game.
It feels slow. Even though runs aren’t as long as Isaac. Runs are around thirty minutes for a long one–that’s more than half compared to Isaac’s typical One Hour. And it should be mentioned that the gameplay doesn’t feel slow. Combat is fast and frantic. Rooms may be a bit bigger than I would like, leading to mammoth floors, but the ability to teleport to rooms at any point grant reason to forgive that.
But everything looks really nice. Everything is painstakingly animated. And you see that over. And over. Again.The same room layouts. The same enemies (they are all bullets). The same artstyle. The same music. The same.
I need variety. That’s the reason I play roguelites, and roguelikes. That’s the reason I can never beat a video game, and it’s the reason I always play multiple video games at the same time. I crave variety. Constantly.
And that’s the purpose of a roguelike, or a roguelite. It’s the reason you put procedurally generated systems into your game. It’s to provide variety. These games are designed to make you, the player, want to play the game over and over again. The worse thing a procedurally generated game can do is give players the same experience over and over again. You almost start to feel like you’ve been jipped out of something promised to you. This experience was supposed to keep me entertained for hundreds of hours.
This game was fifteen dollars. I’m not going to dock it for not providing me hundreds of hours. And who knows? Given my past with video games, I could see myself getting into the game every now and then. Perhaps for years. Until I’ve racked up around a hundred hours. That’s how I play Isaac: I pick it up and play for hours, then I drop it and pick it up again later. Except with Isaac, I don’t want to drop it because I’m tired of playing it.
I drop it because I’m tired of fucking sucking and dying all the time on an early GODDAMN FLOOR WHAT THE FUCK
When a game comes out as a roguelite, billed to give the player a different experience every time, it should. If the game’s main function is to be procedurally generated it needs to feel more random. This game has an amazing presentation that ends up handicapping its effectiveness as a roguelite. Everything is so cohesive, everything makes sense in the context of the universe, and everything reoccurs so often the player doesn’t take notice anymore. Nothing is surprising.
Unless you take a fucking hit when the easiest spread comes toward you. Why did I die during the first boss? AGAIN? DAMNIT!
I find myself saying that surprisingly often. This game seems easy at first, it really does. Until you find yourself constantly making mistakes because you were not playing well enough. You were not focused enough.
This game can be draining–that’s another reason I don’t play it as often as I should. When I see a wave of bullets come toward me I feel exhausted. How am I going to get around all of these bullets? I HAVE THE TOOLS, don’t get me wrong–this is totally the fault of my mind and my inexperience. I could dodge through the bullets. I could use a blank. If I haven’t enough room to dodge I should have positioned myself better. If I’m out of blanks I should have picked more up or used less throughout the level. For once, this is one of those games where every “bullshit moment” is actually 100% legitimate. If I die it’s my fault. Like Dark Souls, the difficulty is completely sound. I just have to git gud.
Likely, I come across as disappointed with this game. True, I was very hyped before it came out, and some of that hype died after the “honeymoon phase”–or the phase just after a new game comes out and it feels new so none of the faults show themselves. But I am not disappointed with this game. Really!
I might be disappointed that I fucking bought it on PC and PS4, but that’s my fault completely. I now have split progress between two versions of the same game, and I’ve done the same thing with Nuclear Throne AND The Binding of Isaac. I even bought Afterbirth on both! Split progress isn’t the smart thing to do. Don’t do that. PSA OVER.
As I said in the intro–this game is one of the best that has come out in the year 2016. I just simply wish I wanted to play it more than I do.
I’m too busy playing professional wrestling video games.
So, how does this game rank? What does that mean, you ask?
Are….are you serious?
Rank the Rogue means I have to rank this roguelite against all the other roguelites and roguelikes on my list! And here is that list in its current state:
- Pixel Dungeon
That’s it! Enter the Gungeon is only the second game I’ve “reviewed” for this feature. That’s why the list is small. Duh.
Alright so how does Enter the Gungeon rate against Pixel Dungeon? Well…it’s better!
That’s right. Enter the Gungeon is a game that feels like a full game, which is perhaps a cheap shot considering this is a game sold on various markets that has had a large budget (for an indy game) and years of press. This game has been hyped to hell and back. It’s road the gravy train and come off not bloated and sweaty! Enter the Gungeon also has the presentation to back it up, which I’ve talked about at length as being a great plus and negative, however what really pushes it over the edge of excellence is its mechanical feel. I’m developing a skill as I play Enter the Gungeon, and if you know me you know that’s the kind of thing I look for in video games. This game feels great, and when I beat a boss without taking a hit and retrieve an extra heart container, I feel like I’m getting better at something in the real world. Like cutting vegetables and then cooking those vegetables in a pan with some olive oil. Maybe some butter. Sprinkle a bit of seasoning–salt, pepper, garlic powder. Maybe oregano and basil–you know, just the shit you find in your cupboard or spice rack. Then I eat this with a bunch of hot sauce, or maybe I just eat it without the hot sauce–depends on how much I want to punish my body. All that matters is I use as many of these horrible looking double dashes as I can. Wouldn’t want to litter semicolons everywhere like I think I know what I’m doing. I only possess a bachelor’s degree in english after all.
So as it’s better than Pixel Dungeon, Enter the Gungeon get’s #1 on my Rank the Rogue list!
- Enter the Gungeon
- Pixel Dungeon
How long will it stay there?
professional hot dog