What is Enter the Gungeon?
Enter the Gungeon on the Nintendo Switch is a two-dimensional top-down rogue-lite shooter game. If you are unfamiliar with the term “rogue-lite” it simply means that every time you start the game you start from the beginning on a fresh run, and your run ends when you either beat the game or die; no checkpoints allowed! However, you also unlock all sorts of items and powerups during your multiple runs that will be available for all of your runs thereafter. In this way rogue-lites have a progression system that takes place over multiple runs.
In Enter the Gungeon you can choose among four different characters: the Pilot, who lacks firepower but makes up for it with charm and storage space, the Hunter, who starts with a crossbow and her trusty dog sidekick, the Marine, who’s training gives him an edge in combat, and the Convict, a short-tempered rogue with Molotovs to spare. You lead them on their quest to conquer the gungeon and find the gun that can kill the past. Throughout the Gungeon you will find all sorts of zany guns that will aid you, some of which include the Fightsabre, a gun made out of hardened light that can reflect bullets, the Black Hole Gun, a gun that shoots room-clearing black holes, and the Banana, a gun that launches clusters of exploding bananas. There are also helpful items as well, such as the lead potion that lets you reflect enemy bullets, or the ethereal ring that makes you phase through enemies and hazards.
Gameplay in Enter the Gungeon is relatively straightforward. You can move in eight directions with the WASD keys and use your mouse to aim and shoot in any direction you choose. Where things get interesting is the game’s dodge-roll mechanic: by right-clicking you can jump over enemy bullets and other hazards. You also collect items called blanks that you can use to remove bullets from the field. These seemingly simple mechanics form the bread-and-butter of Enter the Gungeon’s gameplay and allow for strategic maneuvering, which leads to intense and fast-paced gameplay that really gets your adrenaline pumping. And on top of all this, grab a friend if you are feeling in the mood for a co-op run!
Procedurally Generated Rooms: No Run is the Same!
I’ve clocked over 300 hours into Enter the Gungeon, and yet each run is a fresh and invigorating experience. That’s because no run in this game is ever the same. Although each room’s layout is meticulously hand-crafted, the rooms themselves will never be arranged in the same location twice. Additionally, on each new run you will find different items, and NPCs will show up where they were not there previously.
I cannot overstate the incredible replay value Enter the Gungeon possesses. The procedural and semi-random nature of Enter the Gungeon always keeps me coming back fore more action. On top of this, there are different game modifiers and challenges that can make runs even more interesting. For example, there is an NPC that you can unlock that adds random effects to each room to make runs even more challenging.
The Perfect Balance of Challenge and Reward
Enter the Gungeon has a steep but fair learning curve. In the beginning you’ll most likely find yourself struggling to complete more than 2 floors as I did. However, this is offset by an excellent progression system. During your runs you can find credits that will unlock additional guns and items for all future runs, boosting your future chances of success. You’ll also find special NPC characters that will do a variety of things for you to make the game more interesting. Eventually you’ll find yourself being able to make it to the lower chambers and hopefully uncover the mysterious pasts of the four main characters.
Secrets and Surpises Around Every Corner
Another one of my favorite aspects of this game is its many secrets. The Gungeon is full of hidden surprises, and listing them all here would be impossible. Nearly every run you play is bound to have a secret hidden somewhere. You can use blanks to blast holes into walls to uncover hidden rooms, or find hidden pathways by using the environment to your advantage. In addition to these secrets there are other types of unlockables that you’ll gradually come across, like secret characters, secret boss enemies, and even secret floors.
Switch Version Differenences
Like some other indie games for the Switch, Enter the Gungeon was originally released for the PC on Steam, and although this is the case it translates exceptionally well to the Switch as a twin-stick shooter. The game looks and feels crisp and fluid in handheld mode, and plays quite nicely on the big screen as well.
With that being said, the Switch version does have a couple of issues. Some people, for example, have had problems involving the game crashing, especially while playing in docked mode. Also, the controller mapping may be more suitable for the pro controller than the Joy-Cons, so you might have to pay an extra $60 to play the game optimally. Fortunately, you can customize the controller layout however you want, so you might be able to find a suitable joy-con controller scheme that works for you.
Final Thoughts and Recommendation
To sum up, I would wholeheartedly recommend this game in both its PC and Switch versions. This is the game for you if:
- You enjoy high-quality rogue-lite games
- You are fond of difficult games that have a good learning curve
- You enjoy games with high replay value
- You prefer top-down shooters or similar games
- You enjoy wacky guns
- You are interested in Indie pixel art type games
- You like games with many secrets
The only aspect that may turn you off from this game is its difficulty. In this regard I should point out that as of this writing the Switch version has received an update that makes the game slightly more forgiving for newer players. Overall, I would absolutely reccomend Enter the Gungeon for either the Switch console or as a PC game.