Nioh is an action role-playing game developed by Team Ninja and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment in early 2017 for the PlayStation 4. A port for Microsoft Windows was also released later in the year, which contained all of the title’s downloadable content.

Set in the early 1600s Japan, the events of the game take place in a fictionalised version of the Sengoku period, a part of Japanese history marked by civil war and political conflicts. In this game, the player accompanies the main character on his journey across a foreign land filled with danger, conflict and supernatural beings.

Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

The four basic elements of the game are implemented harmoniously and as a result they provide a coherent and engrossing narrative as well as gameplay experience for the player.

Story – Based on the life of William Adams, an English navigator turned Western samurai, the game’s plot revolves around an Irish sailor’s (also named William) pursuit of the antagonist in order to retrieve what was stolen from him. His journey leads him through foreign soil engulfed in war and yokai (supernatural beings in Japanese folklore). Throughout the game, William encounters and interacts with various historical figures from the Sengoku period including Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hattori Hanzo and Ii Naomasa. In order to achieve his goals, William ends up forming alliances and help repel the opposition, be it human or yokai.

Aesthetics – Through the game’s design choices, the setting is presented excellently. The characters are outfitted accordingly for the time period, featuring traditional samurai armour, shinobi garb and weapons that were not out of place. Equally fitting, the environment is populated with traditional Japanese architecture such as castles, temples, shrines and dojos. Levels are lit properly, conveying scenes of serenity, destruction or danger realistically. The decision to have most characters speak Japanese furthers the immersion, given that English-speaking Japanese were rare during that era. When some of them do speak, they do so with an accent. All these come together to let the player feel that they, like William, have stepped foot on a foreign country with its own culture and history.

Mechanics – The game is divided into discrete levels, with distinct objectives assigned, such as slaying a boss enemy, acquiring an item of strategic value or rescuing a character. Often compared to the Soulsborne games (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne), the gameplay focuses mainly on third-person melee combat. On top of that, William is also able to engage in ranged combat via bows, rifles, shurikens, talismans etc. Players can also cast spells or consume items to provide various buffs as they deem fit to deal with the situation at hand. Iconic to the Soulsborne games as well as the titles it inspired, upon death the player drops experience points currently carried at the location of death. If the player dies before returning to the same location and reclaiming it, what was dropped is simply lost.

Technology –  The game engine utilised was built from scratch and offers graphical fidelity and performance that is worthy of a modern 3D title. This allows the game to present great visuals and fluidity, making it a joy to witness as well as play.

Lens of Challenge

  • Enemies, even common ones, can swiftly end the player’s life in a few hits if given the chance. While it is true that casual gamers are likely to have issues with the difficulty, the game is in actuality not as hard as it is demanding. Players are equipped with appropriate tools to deal with enemies such dodging or blocking, and by observing the enemy attack animation, it is the player’s carelessness for getting hit.
  • Apart from combat, other challenges exist in the form of environmental hazards. Poison filled caverns or pitfalls demand the player’s awareness of their surroundings, especially in the heat of a battle.
  • As the game progresses, the challenge steadily rises as new enemies and levels make their appearances, requiring the players to observe and explore anew.

With a proper understanding of the mechanics and a careful playthrough, the difficulty of the game is just right, and challenges the player consistently through the game.

Lens of Meaningful Choices

  • Various shrines are placed in each levels. Praying at one refills recovery supplies, offers a chance to level up the character and saves the game progress. Doing so however, respawns all enemies in the level. The player thus has a choice between regaining safety at the cost of incurring potentially more damage when facing the respawned enemies, or pushing on with the current state.
  • The game offers seven classes of melee weapons, with their own unique traits in terms of attack speed, reach etc. Each of them have separate skill trees and the choice of which skills to invest in would provide different strategic options.
  • Different armour have different weights. By wearing heavy armour, the player would be able to survive more damage and block attacks more effectively. This however, reduces the player’s agility and dodging effectiveness. Conversely, opting for a light armour makes a player more agile and fragile at the same time.
  • The playstyle is also an avenue for choice. A player could try and rush through each level, minimising danger but also resources like experience points, currency and crafting materials. Alternatively, one could choose to fight every enemy present, maximising the resources but also the risk of death.

As a result, different players will likely have different experiences with the game depending on the choices made. Even the same player can experience combat in a new way by switching to a different set of equipment.

Lens of Punishment

  • As aforementioned, dying carries the punishment of losing the experience points recently earned. All slain enemies are also respawned. This however, allows the player the face whatever killed them again, making them more familiarised with the game and motivating them to not make the same mistake once more.
  • The ease of dying to enemies can be an indicator to the players that they may need to adopt a different strategy or that their equipment is in need of upgrading.
  • Some levels are designed with terrain where players can fall to their death easily. This in turn teaches the player to be more aware of their surroundings, while also showing them a potential way of killing enemies

While punishing, the game does not punish for no reason. It is done so fairly, and provide opportunities for player improvement.

Lens of Visible Progress

  • As the game progresses, the player will have access to more and better weapons, armour and utility items. These items usually possess better aesthetics, names, abilities and sell value. Not only will the player become stronger in terms of stats, they will also see the character wielding more attractive items.

  • The skill tree in the game lets player see progress, even ahead of time. This provides something to look forward to unlocking. Furthermore, skills unlocked further into the game tend to be stronger, allowing players to participate in combat more effectively.
  • When the players proceed further into the game, they encounter stronger enemies which offers different challenges. Moreover, previously introduced enemies will appear more frequently, indicating to the players that they have progressed such that the game has to present more danger.

  • Preliminary background information can be unlocked for characters, yokai and the culture of the time period upon encountering them. Further entries pertaining to a topic are acquired the more a player interacts with said topic, such as by slaying an amount of a particular enemy, or completing a character’s questline.

Thus, a sense of progress is easily felt by the player.

Persona 5

Persona 5 is a Japanese role-playing game developed by P-Studio and published by Atlus. It features a high-school protagonist who was put on probation for an assault case where he was wrongly accused. He later finds out of another world called the Metaverse that is born out of the subconscious desires of humanity. Together with his new found friends, they create a secret vigilante group known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts with the goal of eliminating injustice in society. With the power of their Personas, they “steal” the hearts of malicious adults and cause them to repent in the real world.

The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad
The game uses an excessive amount of red and with the white and black supplementary colors, brings out an aggressive color theme. This theme is emphasized heavily as can be seen from the UI and text. Together with a comic-like text style, the game produces a bold and eye-catching interface. This bold use of colors caught my attention and even though it was striking at first, I eventually came to appreciate the uniqueness, character and beauty of it. This kind of theme is never seen in other games and is definitely a fresh and welcomed change to many gamers.
Apart from its beautiful interface, the game uses songs that will get players hook on to the game. The songs used tie in very nicely with the player’s current situation as it brings out emotions fitting of the scenes.

Persona 5 story revolves around a protagonist who was wrongly accused for a crime he did not commit. It follows the events of the protagonist as he gets on with his social and academic life in Shujin Academy. As the story progresses, he gets to meet more allies, known as Confidants, and eventually realized that they share a similar fate with him. Being victims of an unjust world, they set their minds to stand up against the injustice of society.

One of the main mechanics of the game is the deadline for each chapter, where the game will be over if the objective is not met. There are also social stats and relationships that have to be leveled up to unlock more content to the story and all this has to be done within the deadline.
Also, this is a turn-based strategy game which hinges heavily on exploiting enemy weaknesses and certain technicalities that allows for dealing more damage. Within each chapter / dungeon, there are limited save points for the player which adds on to the difficulty of the game.

Persona 5 is exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The graphics is drawn with an anime-like style and objects are less detailed. This means that it is not as graphically intensive as many of the other AAA games. It uses a game engine that is created internally by Atlus and also Criware for development.

The Lens of Curiosity
Persona 5 instills curiosity into the players by showing bits and pieces of information every now and then in the game. Some conversations are carried out vaguely with no proper explanation. In an attempt to find out the truth, it motivates me to play the game to get to the ending. It constantly reminds players of these questions and leak more information at further stages of the game. What makes it special is the vast number of questions it plants into players and how eventually all these questions comes together to form a bigger picture. One such question occurs when the protagonist gets introduced to the Metaverse. The game claims that the protagonist needed rehabilitation in order to not step into the path of ruin. This concept is reinforced at many different junctions and the game is not quick to release any information on it. Finding out the truth to these questions is one of the many highlights of the game.

The Lens of Challenge
The biggest challenge of the game is the need to race against time. Due to the deadline and the limited number of actions a player can do within a day, it is essential that one spends his time wisely and plan for the days ahead. I find this important as accomplishing it will allow me to unlock more story content.
Besides that, the limited number of checkpoints within the chapters / dungeons means that I have to be on high alert throughout the dungeon. One small mistake will result in the frustration of having to restart from the last checkpoint. To make it more challenging, players are unaware of the weakness of new enemies and would have to figure them out as they encounter more of them. Furthermore, enemies use the same combat mechanics as the player and they are capable of exploiting the weakness of the characters in the party. A normal enemy encountered in the dungeon can potentially cause the game to be over.

The Lens of Skill
Persona 5 required me to be pro-active in finding out the weaknesses of new enemies so that I can exploit them during a fight. There is a system in the game which allows for Persona fusions (i.e. combining enemies obtained during combat to produce new Personas / enemies), so that one may know of the weaknesses of new enemies that are to be encountered in a later dungeon. With these knowledge and coupled with other technical skills during combat (e.g. wind skills doing more damage on a burned enemy, all out attack), a player can easily gain the advantage in the fight. On top of that, there are enemies with no weaknesses and enemies that are prone to exploiting status benefits. These enemies required me to think on my feet and adjust my strategy accordingly. I find myself getting better at the game as I played more of it as I understand more of the combat system, strengths and weaknesses of all my characters.

The Lens of Character Transformation
Persona 5 is filled with many different characters with many different unique background stories. One of the main highlights of the game is spending time with these characters and finding out more about them. Many a times, these characters are not what they seem to be. These changes are conveyed through sequences of dialogue options and giving different responses will garner different reactions from the characters, which makes the exchange seem more realistic. As the characters slowly open up to the protagonist, I get to learn more about them and start to empathize with their situation. The different hardships that many of them go through are very relatable to the protagonist and they tie in strongly with the theme of the game where the weak is oppressed by the injustice of society.

Diner Dash

Diner Dash is a strategical and time management game developed by GameLab and published by PlayFirst. It is one of the most popular games, available on multiple platforms such as Windows, Mac and mobile.

In this game, the player takes up the role of Flo, a hardworking worker working in a restaurant. The gameplay revolves around serving of customers and earning as much revenue as possible. As the levels increases, different types of customers are introduced, each with unique personalities and tipping patterns, and more items are introduced as well.

Lens #7 The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad


The goal of each stage is very clear – to serve as many customers as possible, without angering them, before the restaurant closes for the day. For each group of customer(s), there is a fixed procedure of actions to take from taking the order to clearing up the dishes. However, within this very procedural set of actions, extra bonus points comes from entertaining the customers and placing customers on seats corresponding to their shirt colours etc. This creates variations in the gameplay and makes routine steps interesting.


The background of the story is about a greedy landlord planning to demolish 4 restaurants in order to build a Mega Multiplex Food Plaza instead. Flo, being friends with the restaurant owners, came to the rescue. Through working 10 shifts a day, she plans to help her friends in upgrading their restaurants and make it more attractive to customers. By doing this, the restaurant can then earn enough revenue to pay the exorbitant rents charged by the landlord.


The artwork of the game is relatively simple but easily understood. Each customer has their own unique traits: for example, cellphone addicts are constantly on the phone and talks loudly, and these are portrayed clearly in the game. The appearance of the restaurant also improves along the stages, from a run-down restaurant to a modern-looking restaurant. This makes the player feels more attached to the gameplay as one can feel the sense of achievement in upgrading the restaurant.


The gameplay only involves simple mouse clicking and can run on many different platforms without additional plug-ins. This makes it very convenient and easy to start the game without additional technical difficulties.

Lens #42 The Lens of Simplicity/Complexity

I like how Diner Dash is a simple and clear game, yet still addictive and complex. The elegance of the game comes from the entire setting of the game. In our daily life, we definitely go to a restaurant or at least saw a restaurant before and know the work flow in there. This makes the game rules self-explanatory and easy to grasp. First, the customers will be ushered in and seated. Then they will look at the menu and calls on the waitress to make their order. The food arrives, and customers can choose to opt for dessert after their main course. Finally, customers will settle their bill and the waitress will clear the table so that the next customer can be seated. Though the steps are fixed for each customer, the confusion comes when the player has to multitask between tables and ensuring that the food does not end up on the wrong table. This creates complexity within a simple game, making the game interesting despite the simple game elements.

Lens #77 The Lens of Character Traits

Being a service industry type of game, different types of customers is a must have in the game. Each type of customer has a distinct and unique character, where they vary in the level of patience and tipping. For example, businesswomen are impatient, fast eaters, and gives moderately high tips, while seniors are relatively slow eaters, gives low tips and are very patient.

Moreover, what makes the game more interesting is the interaction between characters. For example, cellphone addicts constantly talks loudly on the phone and this creates much noise disturbance for the bookworms, resulting in them having a bad impression on the restaurant. These interactions between customers makes the game more challenging as the player has to plan the seating arrangement strategically to manage the customers well.

Lens #39 The Lens of Time

In the game, time is crucial. Similar to real-life, angry customers can leave the queue or restaurant if they are unsatisfied with the service. In Diner Dash, customers’ mood is indicated by a series of hearts over their heads. Waiting too long in the queue or for the orders will cause the customers to lose hearts, while providing complimentary drinks or giving interesting speeches can improve customers’ mood.

Every second is precious in the game and the player is constantly busy having to attend to many customers. The sense of urgency can be felt throughout the gameplay and it is only until the restaurant has closed for the day then the player can take a rest.

Lens #32 The Lens of Meaningful Choices

Choices come about when the player has to make decisions whether to play safe or to take risks. This comes from the bonus points in the game. For example, when customers are seated in the correct colour order labelled by their clothes and the colour of the chairs, and chain bonus from Flo performing the same action (eg clearing dishes) multiple times in a row.

However, these actions comes with risks as the chairs may be labelled with a colour scheme similar to a customer at the back of the queue but by ushering that customer in first may result in losing the front customer as they may have waited very long in the queue and lost their patience. This triangularity in the game forces the player to think strategically within a limited time, creating suspense and tension within the gameplay.



Terraria is a sandbox 2D game with gameplay that revolves around exploration, building, and combat. The game starts in a procedurally generated world and the player starts with three basic tools: a pickaxe for mining, a shortsword for combat, and an axe for woodcutting, which is reminscent of classic resource gathering games like Minecraft. The world is open and large, and the player is encouraged to gather or spelunk for rare resources to craft better equipment, armor and miscellaneous items.
This game allows for different progression speeds, allowing players to either go slow, like designing their base or start building projects, or go fast, like speed-running through the bosses. There is a deep progression tree – beating one boss or performing a very specific action unlocks more things.

Lense of Elemental Tetrad

Terraria has a large number of biomes – from the underground jungles to sky islands to underground crystal caverns, each having their unique soundtracks, collectibles and themed monsters.

Underground Jungle Biome in Terraria

Terraria was initially available on Desktop, and has since been ported over to Android, iOS, XBOX ONE, and more. The nature of this game does not require any new tech, but rather the most efficient arrangement and controls settings possible to accommodate the large number of controls. In particular, the Mobile/3DS version has a subset of the controls, especially combat, and compensated for that by introducing auto-aim.

While Terraria doesn’t have that much of a story, it makes up for it by having a very progressive gameplay and intricate unlocking tree. There is a big range of the types of movement in Terraria, and much more so when it comes to weapons, armor, buffs and pets. When progressing through the game, the player would be tempted to keep switching weapons, because certain types are more effective against monsters in certain biomes. Particularly, some bosses are required to be beaten in their specific constrained areas. For example, Plantera requires the player to remain inside the Underground Jungle and Golem inside the Lihzard Temple summoning room.

One example of an equippable item set: Accessories provide certain movement upgrades, like running, walk on water, fly, triple-jump, wall slide or breathe underwater. There are also items which provide convenient effects like teleportation to base, equipped buffs or even quick-wiring that helps in building contraptions in game. The Tinkerer’s workshop, which is a service provided by a NPC that you discover in the underground caverns, offer the option to combine accessories under a crafting tree.

Terraria Accessories Crafting Tree

Lense of Visible Progress

The player will be constantly getting stronger throughout the game – gaining hearts, mana stars, movement upgrades, stronger weapons. The enemies that you avoid at the start might just be fodder to you later on. Additionally, your base will only keep expanding to accommodate for all the new items.

Perhaps, one of the more drastic changes that signifies a new checkpoint in the game progression would be the triggering of Hardmode difficulty, where new enemies are introduced to every biome and the evil biomes now spreads much faster.

Lense of Curiosity

Terraria is a game about discovery. The entire map is available to explore at the start, and the surface is generated such that there will be many interesting features to see, with landscape transformations like hills, sheer cliffs, canyons or potholes. The minimap that gradually fills up as the player explores the map certainly leaves the player wondering “What can I possibly find next if I go this way?”.

Minimap of the Underground Jungle Biome in Terraria

There are a large number of biomes, of which some only appear underground or specific places and they vary in size. Multiple types of treasure rooms or structures appear randomly throughout the map, and is usually discovered by chance while exploring, often offering generous rewards.

Mushroom Biome in Terraria

Some things appear in place of another during level generation, so the player can even expect to see something new when generating and playing another level using the same character. For example, the Crimson and the Corruption are biomes that can never appear together in the same map. This applies to certain sets of end-game ores, as well as certain equipment.

The Crimson Biome

The Corruption Biome

Lastly, there are rare objects or collectibles (including furniture, banners, statues) that are only present in random structures all over the map, which the player can bring back for base building.

Lense of Freedom

Terraria is an inherently exploratory game, where they can choose their playing style: from spelunking, fighting monsters, completing collections, make huge builds or just fighting boss monsters. This is because the major game checkpoints are player-initiated, with the exception of the earlier boss monsters or certain monster waves which they can trigger randomly. It might be overwhelming to a first-time player – you’d have to consult the Terraria Gamepedia all the time to find out what are the uses of certain items, crafting recipes to progress, what not to do and also how to progress. Common mistakes would be summoning Skeletron too early on, by talking a NPC that is easily accessible.

Lense of Skill

Terraria has a progression system which encourages the player to constantly seek to fight tougher monsters in order to get better equipment; rinse and repeat. With better equipment usually comes with them mobility and ability upgrades of the character. There is also a range of attack styles, like swords, bows, boomerangs, flails, guns, etc. The wide range of movements upgrades (as previously mentioned in mechanics) in Terraria might sound hard to master, but in order to traverse the unforgiving terrain, especially underground caverns where there might be steep drops, lava and monsters that can kill the character easily, that becomes a natural skill.

The boss fights in this game is quite challenging, some even requiring tons of preparation, and even building of an arena for the boss. But the more important requirements is to be grokking the bosses’ attacks. The player has an option of turning on “Expert Mode”, where it makes every monster much harder to kill.

West of Loathing

Steam header image. Click on it to go to the Steam page!

West of Loathing is a 2018 IGF-nominated video game developed by Asymmetric Publications, LLC. Asymmetric is well-known for their still-ongoing online multiplayer RPG Kingdom of Loathing, which I’d be willing to bet that most people played in their earlier childhood.

Described by the developers as “a slapstick comedy stick-figure wild west adventure role-playing game”, West of Loathing marks the developers’ first release on the market and DRM, Steam, for PC/Mac/Linux. There are also iOS and Android versions in the works.


Lens of Elemental Tetrad:

Aesthetic: For people that are well-versed with Kingdom of Loathing, they will find the choice of graphic style incredibly similar. West of Loathing’s aesthetic is in a rather comical, hand-drawn 2D stick figure style. Who needs rich 3D graphics when well-done and somewhat comedic 2D stick figures or objects in simple black and white suffice?

Oh yes, the game has an option for Stupid Walking. Which is a reference to a Monty Python sketch.

Amusingly enough, the game also (jokingly) offers a colour-blind option – and (slightly less jokingly) a sepia colour option later on when unlocked.


Technology: West of Loathing is built entirely in Unity – a popular choice of game engine that is frequently seen in today’s indie games. I did not experience any technical hiccups when playing – the engine used served its purpose pretty well.

Mechanics: Think of the gameplay as similar to Skyrim, but massively shrunk. West of Loathing features many explorable locations with various NPCs and dialogue options, a rich inventory and equipment system, and combat. Combat is JRPG-style where you and your opponents are on a grid, and you take turns depending on one of your main stats to attack the enemy, using either basic attacks, skills, or items. Unless you’re on the secret-ish hard mode, the combat is actually easy most of the time, but it does mean that you do focus your attention more on the humour and story…

This is actually from the endgame where you have a lot more stuff at your disposal. Obviously you start out with much less.

Story: The whole overarching plot is that you want to head out and explore the world, so you leave your family house and head West. There are a lot of sub-plots/quests littered throughout the game as well; chief among them being a part where you have hell cows warring against evil clowns. (No, I’m not making this up.) The outlandish approach to the game’s theme adds to the humourous and flippant nature of the game.


Lens of Problem Solving:

Besides combat, West of Loathing chiefly works on fetch quests. These take up most of the game. You talk to various NPCs here and there, and they ask you to head to other zones to find specific stuff for them. The problem solving aspect therefore lies in which dialogue options to pick, which areas to explore, and what to do with the items you have at your disposal in order to fulfill these quests.

A particularly neat problem that draws upon logic would be to form a reanimated buffalo skeleton to aid you in combat. Finding the bones is a simple matter, but the trick is to concoct a beaker of reanimating fluid – which comprises of 3 ingredients, in a very specific order. The player has to hide in a closet to listen out for which ingredient goes before which; any slip-up and they won’t have access to that companion in that particular save file.


Lens of Curiosity:

You only start out in a small town called Dirtwater. The player’s curiosity is piqued at that point; they explore and talk to all the NPCs, some giving quests that reveal new locations. Even travelling to other locations can also sometimes yield a new location to check out. At the end, the map gets filled with a lot of locations, each with their own quirks.

Honey, someone put Skyrim into the dryer!

Lens of Character:

All the features described above add to West of Loathing’s idiosyncratic style. From the quirkiness of the 2D stick figure artwork, to the inanity of the scenarios, to the side-splitting dialogue, West of Loathing is packed with tons of charm, wit, and laughter. While combat is arguably on the easy side and thus construed as a flaw, it is this easiness in combat that makes players focus more on the hilarity. West of Loathing is designed to give the player a good, fun, and enjoyable time, and I feel it has succeeded immensely in that regard.

Diving into the dank, dirty spittoons for gross equipment is one of the best parts of the whole game.

Enter the Gungeon


Enter the Gungeon is a bullet hell roguelike video game developed by Dodge Roll and published by Devolver Digital. The game was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, and PlayStation 4 on April 5, 2016, on Xbox One on April 5, 2017, as well as on Nintendo Switch on December 14, 2017.

You play as one of four starting adventurers as they descend into the Gungeon to find a gun to kill their past. These adventurers have their own special perks such as having extra starting health, an ability to lock-pick chests or an extra starting weapon.

The Lens of Elemental Tetrad


The objective of the game is for the player to reach the final level and kill their past. To win the game, the player must traverse multiple floors, each with a random number of rooms. These rooms are pre-defined, but their arrangements and contents are procedurally generated. The player must first clear each room of all enemies before they can advance into an adjacent room as well as fight a boss to travel to the next level. To defeat these enemies, the player uses guns, which can be found in chests, won by defeating bosses, or bought in shops. They can also use blanks which are rare items that deal damage to all enemies in a room. Finally, to defend themselves, the player can perform a dodge roll which makes them invulnerable for a short period of time.


Enter the Gungeon is a 2D pixelated game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is seen in the charming gun themed enemies that are at times both adorable and frightening. The games also reference many movies and games through the wide array of in-game weapons and items.


Story is not one of Enter the Gungeon’s strong points as most players will never be able to uncover the past of their characters as they would have to beat the final Gungeon boss to do so. With that said, the game manages to tell a compelling backstory of the player’s character through essentially, yet another boss fight.


Enter the Gungeon was developed using the Unity Game Engine. There wasn’t much innovativeness in the game from a tech standpoint as it did not use any ground-breaking techniques to develop.

Hence, we can see that even though Enter the Gungeon did not have the best story or made use of the newest technology, it managed to appeal to audiences through its strong mechanics and aesthetics.

The Lens of Surprise

  • Procedurally Generated Levels
  • Randomised bosses, weapons & items
  • Vast variety of weapons & items each with their own unique attributes
  • Ensures that no two playthroughs are the same making it highly replayable

The Lens of Challenge

  • Enter the Gungeon is a challenging game requiring quick reflexes to dodge enemy attacks while returning fire forcing the players to have intimate knowledge of the game’s controls
  • The difficulty of the game increases as the player progresses through the addition of new enemies, bosses and environmental hazards for each level that they manage to clear
  • The game does not accommodate a wide range of skill levels as the first level was challenging even for seasoned players of bullet hell games making it unfriendly for beginners to the genre yet appealing to players seeking a challenge.
  • There is a variety of challenges in Enter the Gungeon as the player has to adapt to the playstyle of the weapon/item that they are given. For example, there exists a gun that shoots backwards forcing the player to point their cursor in the opposite direction of the enemy.

The Lens of Dynamic State

  • Not all items/weapons/characters are unlocked at the start
  • Some are only unlocked after certain achievements are made, killing a specific boss, discovering a secret level, completing quests for NPCs, etc
  • Others can be bought from the merchant outside the Gungeon using credits earned inside the Gungeon
  • Once these items are unlocked, there are added into the pool of items that can be randomly obtained in the Gungeon
  • Hence,even if they players fail to clear the Gungeon, they will not feel as if their efforts were wasted as they are able to unlock items to help them in future rounds of the game

The Lens of Skill vs Chance

  • The game is ultimately a balance between Skill and Chance.
  • If the player is skilled enough, they could complete the game using only the default weapon given at the start
  • Alternatively, if a player is lucky enough and receives good items, they will have a higher chance of surviving
  • The element of chance is there to add variety to the game through the different play-styles of each weapon as well as to ensure a new experience each time with the different map layout
  • With that said, no amount of luck can compensate for the lack of skill in this game as it is extremely challenging
  • The game is a mix between serious and casual. It is casual in the sense that you can pick the game up anytime you like as you will always start at the first level of the Gungeon in your playthrough. It is also serious as the game is quite challenging requiring multiple playthroughs just to clear a level alone and a death would send you back to the beginning without your items
  • However, even with the reliance on chance, the game does not take away the player’s control of the game. For every death, the player does not feel that they have been unfairly cheated, rather that they were not skilled enough to continue.