Review written by Jack Bankhead
Dungeon crawlers are fun- but can get stale in the genre a lot. Bullet hell games are a plenty, but the question is, which one to get? There are also plenty of twin stick shooters that can be stale and a plenty. Enter the Gungeon combines these genres into something hilarious, fun, and very much a get-good game.
The game involves you traversing the titular Gungeon, where the fabled Gun is. 4 gunslingers are after the treasure, with you playing as one of them. The map layout is always random- so never the same playthrough. It’s hard, but not always frustrating. This is due to the outrageous amount of things that can hurt and kill you on screen. Most deaths (for me at least) are because of poor timing on my end or not moving around enough, so I’m not frustrated that I die. For example, I may not aim well with the second stick, but move around too much and run into the bullets. Or, I’m aiming just fine but forget there are more cute bullet shells that are out to kill me. This is why there is an ability used with “blanks”, an item that will remove all bullets on the screen. If you are completely overwhelmed, you can use this to eliminate things that will kill you and push back the enemies.
The main part of this game is the guns- there’s a LOT. There’s a large variety- from rainbow guns, RPGs, bullets that shoot guns, a fish launcher. Oh, don’t forget the regular old revolvers and shotguns. There’s tons of varieties of guns, all with their strengths and weaknesses. They all work very differently, which is one of the main strengths of the game. Despite all these different working guns, they all just work. It requires the player to change their strategy on the fly- but if you get it, it is in your favor. The mechanics work- the whole point of the game is well executed.
Another part of the game that works is the randomly maps. These areas, despite being different each time, feel natural and not at all randomly generated. There isn’t a strange room with no point, there’s a cohesive map that doesn’t make you ask, “How?”. This makes you on your toes at all times, you don’t know if the shop is going to stock health, or if it does, if there’s enough money you have collected to buy it. You treat every room like it can kill you, that gets me through a lot.
The NPC’s are colorful and useful. Almost all of them you have to find in the Gungeon (randomly) in a cell. If you save them, the particular NPC will have many uses. One will sell guns and items at a very reduced price (if that NPC spawns in the shop). Another will open a shop in the pre-Gungeon area. If you see a cell, try to find the key to rescue them.
The soundtrack and pixel art is phenomenal. The little bullet shell creatures are adorable, yet frightening (they’re out to kill you!) and the room design is fun. Each sprite looks just perfectly kill-able and hug-able. Soundtrack is rockin’. The guitars and other instruments are played to make a tense, yet kickbutt feeling. Basically, just good.
This game I’ve spent 10 hours on and haven’t gotten past the 4th floor- but that’s what makes it so addicting. These 10 hours flew by so fast- making this already worth it. In fact, I just booted it up. I highly recommend this game. Go buy it on PC, PS4, Switch, or Xbox. Especially if you have a Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, not provided by Devolver Digital.