Enter the Gungeon

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Enter the Gungeon
Enter the Gungeon logo.png
Developer(s)Dodge Roll
Publisher(s)Devolver Digital
Designer(s)Dave Crooks
Programmer(s)
  • David Rubel
  • Brent Sodman
Artist(s)Joe Harty
Composer(s)Doseone
EngineUnity
Platform(s)Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia
ReleaseWindows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4
  • WW: April 5, 2016
Xbox One
  • WW: April 5, 2017
Switch
  • NA: December 14, 2017[1]
  • EU: December 18, 2017
Stadia
  • WW: December 22, 2020
Genre(s)Bullet hell, roguelike
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Enter the Gungeon is a bullet hell roguelike video game developed by Dodge Roll and published by Devolver Digital. It was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, and PlayStation 4 on April 5, 2016, on Xbox One on April 5, 2017, on Nintendo Switch on December 14, 2017, and on Stadia on December 22, 2020.

The game follows four adventurers as they descend into the titular Gungeon (a firearms-themed dungeon) to find a gun that has the power to kill their past. The game presents procedurally-generated levels to the player, where they fight enemies and acquire new guns and items with unique abilities and effects through their journey.

There is a spin-off, Exit the Gungeon, which uses a platform game-approach instead of the top-down dungeon crawler.

Gameplay[edit]

Enter the Gungeon is a fast-paced bullet hell shooter with roguelike elements. It has been compared to The Binding of Isaac and Nuclear Throne.[2][3] The player chooses one of four protagonists named the Marine, Convict, Pilot, and Hunter (more can be unlocked as the game progresses), all of whom have different special abilities, such as calling for support or lockpicking chests.[4] A second player is able to join in for co-op mode and control a fifth character (The Cultist[5]) [6] While the player descends the Gungeon, they are set to go through multiple floors, each with a random number of rooms in it.[7] While the rooms are pre-defined, the constellation of rooms in a floor, the enemies that appear in the rooms, and treasure are procedurally generated.[8] Each room contains a set of enemies, which vary in strength, endurance, and attack behavior, where the attack can range from simple, straightforward shots to a complicated mixture of shots fired at the same time.[9] The player may dodge attacks by performing a dodge roll, which was inspired by the Souls series of video games,[10] and are invulnerable during the action, or alternatively flip tables and use them as covers, although tables can be destroyed if they are shot at.[11] The player has a limited number of "blanks" for each floor that can be used to eliminate all current projectiles and dealing 10 damage to all enemies in that room, certain items add buffs to "blanks".[12] To defeat enemies, the player must use guns, which can be found in chests, won by defeating bosses, or bought at shops scattered around the floors in the Gungeon.[13] The game features over 300 different guns and items that can be combined to achieve more powerful effects called "Synergies" that were added in the "Advanced Gungeons & Draguns Update".[14][10] At the end of each floor, a boss awaits the player; beating the boss grants the player a gun or item and currency to spend at shops and unlocks the next floor.[3]

As the player progresses through multiple playthroughs, they may encounter non-player characters that can be rescued from the Gungeon. Once rescued, these characters take residence at the Breach, a safe level above the Gungeon, and where the player, prior to starting a new playthrough, can spend a type of in-game currency earned from boss fights to permanently unlock special items that will then have a chance of appearing within the Gungeon for all subsequent playthroughs.[15] In the game's "A Farewell to Arms" update, a new game mode, Rainbow Mode, assures that each level will contain one rainbow colored chest with a collection of guns in it, but the player can only select one gun from those, and no other chests will be offered; this mode was inspired by self-regulated gameplay popularized within the game's community.[16]

Plot[edit]

Enter the Gungeon is set in the Gungeon, a shape-shifting dungeon located on Gunymede, a distant planet inhabited by living bullets and other strange firearm-related lifeforms. A legend is told throughout the galaxy that at an unspecified point in the past, an enormous bullet fell from space and crashed into Gunymede's surface, and destroyed a fortress in the process. Its resulting magic subsequently created a time machine of immeasurable power; a gun that can kill the past.[17] The fortress was rebuilt with the highest of security measures to guard the gun, and adventurers known as "gungeoneers" hailed from places over the galaxy to claim their chance at changing their past. The player can play as eight gungeoneers, each with their own stories and regrets, as they decide to enter the fortress and descend into the Gungeon to find the gun in order to correct their wrongs.

If the Pilot goes back to his past, it is shown that he reluctantly ran away from an organization named the Imperial Hegemony of Man while smuggling their property, leaving his partner behind. He destroys a Hegemony battleship that threatens him and his friend, allowing them to escape together. If the Convict goes back to her past, it is revealed that she was the head of a criminal organization that had arrangements with a corrupt Hegemony official named Black Stache, whom she ends up defeating, escaping a lifetime of imprisonment. If the Hunter goes back to her past, she is taken to the time before she was to be imprisoned by a wicked scientist named Dr. Wolfenclaw, who she defeats along with one of his own creations to kill her. If the Marine goes back to his past, he is taken to the moment he left his crew behind when a monster from another universe broke into his universe and attempted to slaughter everyone in its path. Empowered by his time in the Gungeon, the Marine slays the beast and is saluted by his comrades.

Once the pasts of all four main characters are killed, the hidden final floor, Bullet Hell, is unlocked. There, any playable character can fight the master of the Gungeon, the Lich. Once the hero emerges victorious, they are free of the Gungeon’s confines and are finally set free.

The “Farewell to Arms” update adds an alternate ending: Once the player unlocks and kills the Lich with The Paradox, the game will reset at the start with a new playable character, the Gunslinger. After killing his past and reaching Bullet Hell, he confronts his future self, who has become the Lich. The Gunslinger kills his future self and ultimately prevents the bullet from impacting Gunymede, and subsequently, the creation of the Gungeon itself.[17]

Development[edit]

Development on Enter the Gungeon started in 2014, with four Mythic Entertainment employees leaving the company to fulfill their own project just before the company would shut down later that year.[18] According to developer Dave Crooks, he had been listening to the soundtrack to the game Gun Godz by Vlambeer, and the name "gungeon" came to him the next day. Crooks presented the name Enter the Gungeon to his fellow team members, and they fleshed out the game's lore over a lunch meeting and then spent the next few weeks to prototype the game mechanics.[19] Though Crooks stated that The Binding of Isaac was one of the game's biggest influences, they also were influenced by Nuclear Throne, Spelunky, Dark Souls and Metal Gear Solid.[19]

Dungeons in the game are generated in a procedural manner, but they found it was better to handcraft the individual rooms, playtesting those individually, and then using their random generation to connect these rooms into a dungeon.[19] The designs of the guns took place over the two years of development, with most of the designs by team artist Joe Harty; several of the guns are inspired by other video games and video game systems, including the NES Zapper and guns similar to those appearing in games such as Mega Man, Metroid, Shadow Warrior and Serious Sam.[19] The boss character designs were made by a combination of ideas from Crooks and Harty, which then fed into the gameplay programmer David Rubel to determine appropriate bullet hell patterns associated with that idea.[19]

The dodge roll mechanic was inspired by trying to include a similar mechanic of Ikaruga that enabled a player to easily dodge numerous bullets simultaneously, and took the ideas used in the Dark Souls series to have the character dodge out of the way. The team loved this mechanic so much that they opted to name their studio after it.[19] Similarly, they included usable environmental features such as flipping tables or bringing chandeliers down onto enemies to encourage the player to interact with and use the environment to their own advantage.[19] At one point they had included an active reload feature, similar to Gears of War in which pressing a controller button at the right time during a reload would increase the damage the reloaded bullets would do, but instead decided to limit this to a power-up that can be collected, finding that players were already distracted enough by everything else going on in the game and that felt the moment of tension when the player had to wait for the gun to reload was critical to gameplay.[19]

Dodge Roll eventually signed a contract with Devolver Digital.[20] In December 2014, at PlayStation Experience, the game was officially announced and followed by an announcement trailer.[20] Throughout 2015, the game went to multiple conventions, including E3 2015, where, during the PC Gaming Show, the co-op feature of the game was revealed.[21] On March 2, 2016, it was announced that the game will release on April 5, 2016.[22] The game was set to receive free post-release content, such as more weapons, enemies, and levels.[23] The first of these, the "Supply Drop" update, which adds several new guns, enemies, and room layouts, was released for free on January 26, 2017.[24]

A port to the Xbox One, including cross-buy and cross-play support for Windows 10, was released a year later on April 5, 2017; it includes the "Supply Drop" expansion.[25] A version for the Nintendo Switch was released in North America and Europe on December 14 and 18, 2017 respectively.[26]

A second major update, "Advanced Gungeons & Draguns", was released on July 19, 2018 for all platforms, which among additional weapons and enemies, was aimed to provide means to play the game that are friendlier to inexperienced players, but still offer more challenge for others.[27][28]

While Dodge Roll had been working on a third major update, the team decided by November 2018 to cancel it so they can refocus their efforts on a new game. The team stated that the amount of time they had to put into get "Advanced Gungeons & Draguns" was a wear on them, bringing the total time they had been working on the game to five years. Each new gun they added had to be tested against other effects already in the game, which also wore them out. Dodge Roll released a final free patch, "A Farewell to Arms", in April 2019 to fix lingering bugs and provide one last set of content updates, and will continue to support the game otherwise.[29][16][30]

Reception[edit]

Upon release, Enter the Gungeon received mostly positive reviews, and holds a Metacritic score of 83/100 for PC and one of 82/100 for PlayStation 4.[31][32] Jed Whitaker of Destructoid rated the game 9.5/10, with praise that the repetitive entering of Gungeon "never quite feels all that repetitious", however stating that "[t]he only part of Gungeon that will surely turn off some people is the difficulty."[35] Electronic Gaming Monthly's Spencer Campbell summarizes the game as "overwhelming", giving it a score of 9.0/10, however, also decries the difficulty to be too high by saying "Even though there were a few times that I yearned [] for an easier difficulty [...], Enter the Gungeon's difficulty is actually one of the game's strong points."[36] Vince Ingenito from IGN regards the large variety of guns in the game to be especially pleasing, but stating that a few guns are not very original or plain boring, rating the game 8.5/10.[38] For Hardcore Gamer, Kyle LeClair gave Enter the Gungeon a score of 4.5/5, highlighting the game's "terrific sense of humor, astonishing action, and style and charm oozing out of every corner of its pixelated world", naming it to be "[a]n absolute blast at every turn and just pure concentrated fun overall".[37] The Escapist's Joshua Vanderwall gave the game 3.5/5 stars, criticizing that "the difficulty often comes from the game refusing to provide you the necessary tools", also stating that "[t]he learning curve is very reasonable at first, but there are regular spikes that less proficient players will find incredibly frustrating", while praising the game for being "an exhilarating experience".[39]

Sales[edit]

Enter the Gungeon sold more than 200,000 copies within its first week across all platforms, with Steam Spy suggesting that 75% of these sales were made on Steam.[40] By January 2017, the game had sold more than 800,000 units across all platforms, according to Devolver Digital,[24] reached over 1 million units by July 2017[41] and 2 million by March 2019.[42] Total sales across all platforms exceeded 3 million by January 2020.[43]

Enter the Gungeon sold over 75,000 in its first two weeks available for the Switch[44] and had sold over 1 million on the platform by March 2019.[42]

Spin-off[edit]

Exit the Gungeon is a sequel developed by Dodge Roll and published by Devolver that was originally released for iOS devices through the Apple Arcade on September 19, 2019,[45][46] and was later released on personal computers and the Nintendo Switch on March 17, 2020,[43][47] and then Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on November 13, 2020.[48] Whereas Enter the Gungeon has the player attempt to reach the lowest level of the Gungeon, Exit now requires the player to escape from the Gungeon as it is collapsing. The game plays similarly to Enter the Gungeon but is based on a platform game rather than a top-down dungeon crawler, but otherwise keeps the roguelike principles and vast array of guns that the player can acquire over a run.[49]

In 2019 the arcade spin-off Enter the Gungeon: House of the Gundead was announced.[58] The arcade machine can be pre-ordered for $4,999.[59]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]