If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.
Dodge Roll is most infamous for their title, Enter The Gungeon and have returned with the sequel. The story goes, our character has made it to the depths of the Gungeon and now it is collapsing. We are tasked with exiting and destroying every gun pun named nemesis on the way out. Those that have played Enter, will notice a few massive changes including the change to a 2D environment, and random guns being equipped based on combo score. With these two things in mind, we start at the breach with a selection of characters and begin.
A tutorial for those rusty as myself is available and given the option to skip to begin the ascent. Every time I boot up this game I’m in awe of its beauty. Dodge Roll has used their pixel-perfect artwork yet again and it does not disappoint. Using the term ‘pixels’ almost feels like a disservice to their art. Visually this game is a ten, no less. Shadows and shading on Bello the shopkeep bring him to life. Torches perform a flickering dance and illuminate small quarters of the room. End-of-area bosses have incredible detail and movements that follow. If anyone has not played Enter The Gungeon then all of these features would be a lovely sight to see for the first time. I would wager to say that Dodge Roll could use their art for any genre and it would work amazingly.
Music is catchy and even had my Wife singing to the tune of, ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeexit the guuuungeon’. It’s a song that gets stuck in your head and can’t get it out. While in-between areas of play, items can be purchased in a tranquil safe space. Cleaning up areas of enemies will provide more bullets (in-game money) to purchase health and upgrades to make the ride out much easier. I’m a big fan of the poison bullets and bouncy bullets, as well as the +1 bullets that make damage slightly higher. Save bullets for sequential areas to save for bigger upgrades that indeed will help the run. Sound effects are fitting, satisfying to hear, and match perfectly in each area. Doors slamming sound daunting, often making me question if I had done well enough in that area or purchased the correct upgrades. Shots feel good and each enemy downed will make noises that give the player joy.
Twin-stick controls give the player to shoot in any direction at their will and use quick wits in doing so. Multiple options to jump and dodge are nice but I would recommend opting for the LZ button as it requires less hand movement and keeps the trigger finger ready. Blanks are used automatically when hit by an enemy or fire and serve as a get out of jail free card momentarily. Enemies will be pushed away slightly and give the player room to breathe and reassess movement and shooting plans. Random upgrades are given during play that I believe are based on combos. Along with that, guns are swapped at random based on combos as well. This random factor was ultimately frustrating and unreliable. It may have added to the difficulty but I think it was done to avoid picking up guns and bullets amidst the small play area. This may have been the best strategy developing the game and I cannot find a way to improve it, I just found so many awesome guns I would have preferred to use longer than the time given.
Guns are a slew of silly and devastating assortment that left me with a few lasting favourites.
- Bullet – shoots full-on handguns that can be directed easily
- Abyssal Tentacle – a tentacle is launched and grips foes until they meet their end
- Banana – it literally shoots bananas and the damage is great
The shotgun is also a solid weapon if you chance upon it or the various other types and the damage is high. After each run, the player is given the choice of a quick restart or head back to the breach to spend hegemony collected after each BOSS BATTLE. A shop is available to purchase improved guns that will then appear in the Gungeon. Characters can be swapped here as well, with each having an attribute special to them. Tasks can be completed in each run that will unlock more allies with items to purchase including hats, outfits, and you guessed it: more guns. The pause menu will reveal the Diginomocon that will give information on guns, items, enemies, and bosses encountered.
BOSS BATTLES are intense and depending on skill level, combo, accuracy, and a bit of luck, they can be over quickly. I looked up the wiki and found that I have encountered every boss prior to completing a run, and thug exiting the Gungeon. The order of bosses can change per run and is yet another variety factor in the game. Dancing about enemy fire is the name of the game as the player cannot take damage while jumping or rolling. Shots and attacks will fill the screen and cause panic but fear not, there is always a place to jump or step to avoid damage. It takes some runs to gain confidence but once that is done, it’s easier to see where to jump. Buffammo is a part-man part buffalo boss I enjoyed playing against because I had memorised his attacks and could defeat him without taking damage. Bolt Python is a steel snake that slithers across all areas of screen the player moves to and caused me loads of trouble. Fallmonger is a boss that resembles that platform used to leave the gungeon but instead, it attacks you in a furious manner. This one is one of my least favourites.
FINAL BOSS BATTLE
The following paragraph contains details of the final boss, skip to FINAL WORDS if you don’t want to know!
The Last Dragun: the final boss in Exit The Gungeon and one of the most difficult. I say one of the most because once getting to the final stage it took me three or four attempts while some of the previous stage bosses demolished me many more times. The bullet patterns are ferocious and require the player to understand the bullet dancing tricks to overcome this boss. Once defeated I felt satisfied and joyful, enough to get back in for another run.
That’s the great thing about Exit The Gungeon, the replayability is high. Change your character, clothes, and hat then begin another run. Spend some coin and unlock more guns and items to make the runs easier to handle. Learn boss patterns, routes, rooms, and progress as the player. I will say the random gun thing really doesn’t sit with me well but I think that’s the only way the game would work. The game kept me around until the end and I’m proud to have beaten it yet still have to complete Enter The Gungeon.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo, Apple
Release Date: 17/03/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Platformer, Arcade
Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop