Enter the Gungeon is a game with simple mechanics and ideas but it is extraordinarily hard to master. The basis of the game is pretty straight forward. Get to the end of a procedurally generated dungeon in order to obtain a magic time gun. There are four playable characters at the start. You pick one, enter the dungeon, and then try to survive. Shoot everything that moves until it dies or you die. That’s the whole game.
The real nerd description that best fits Enter the Gungeon is rogue-lite. My husband described it as such. Of course, I immediately understood what he meant. I had no need to google its definition… Don’t look at my search history, it’s lying!
This game has an old-school pixel art aesthetic. It’s done really well. It has all the vibes of Dungeons and Dragons combined with good ol’ ‘Murican gun love. It’s fast-paced, with no wasted time on cutscenes after the intro.
If When you die one button press is all it takes to instantly restart and try again. Honestly, this made it really fun to play. The combat was simple to learn but hard to master. The fast pacing made it easy to keep trying. I like the style of it, fantasy western with a hint of creepy.
So why is Enter the Gungeon part of my petty reviews? Because it is hard! Dang hard! Bathing my cat was easier than this game. I died so many times. At least half of those times was just because I was dumb. I kept trying and trying but I couldn’t make any progress. Every time I thought I was getting a little bit better at the game, Enter the Gungeon was ready to “lol. Nope:)” and immediately kill me. While there were moments I raged at this game, most of the time I wasn’t even angry. I died because I was dumb or just plain bad. My normal reaction to “You Died” was “Understandable”.
Eventually after dying like 15 times without even coming close to beating the first boss (most of the time not even reaching the boss) the effort to get good at the game didn’t feel worth it. I didn’t feel angry at it, I felt tired. I felt tired of continually trying without anything to show for my efforts. The best word for this feeling is demoralizing. Beating the game seemed next to impossible. On rare occasions, I might like a rogue-lite game enough to be determined enough to finish it. This is not one of those times.
Enter the Gungeon would have been far easier to play if they had added an upgrade system. So that every time you died you would have points of some sort to spend on improving maximum health, stats, or starting equipment. It would have made dying so many times feel less like a pointless slog. Whenever I died I would be able to work towards things that would make beating the game possible. They could have at least added a second mode where that was an option while still having the original “git gud” mode.
Maybe I’ll play it from time to time for fun. But I’ll probably never beat Enter the Gungeon. So I’ll never be able to write a true review of it. It’s a shame because it is a pretty good game. I like its style and gameplay. If you ever do try it, good luck. You’re going to need it.
*Image does not belong to me. It’s a screenshot of Enter the Gungeon posted on a EuroGamer review