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.