Review – Exit The Gungeon
Devolver Digital is probably one of the very few companies that could release three games in the same series that are so widely different from each other. A few years ago, we were introduced to the rogue-like, bullet hell, dungeon crawler that is Enter The Gungeon. It swept through fandoms like a wildfire and offered a ton of replayability since you had all these different characters and challenges to finish. Then, and everyone thought this was a joke, we got the Enter The Gungeon: House Of The Gundead arcade cabinet, which was just a reskin of House Of The Dead, but still part of the series. Now, enters Exit the Gungeon, which is more similar to Enter than its arcade cabinet counterpart, but is also wildly different in terms of gameplay.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Enter the Gungeon was essentially a top down twin-stick shooter. Enemies spawned in and you couldn’t leave a room until they were all dead. Some sent an entire wave of bullets for you and the only way to avoid them was to dodge through them with a roll. Parts of this are still true going into Exit. Exit is no longer top down, but instead a side view 2D platformer. Not only can you still roll sideways, but also upwards. Majority of the game is spent on different elevators, with enemies coming from below, above, and spawning in on each different level of the elevator, meaning bullets fly from every which way. It’s still a bullethell after all.
Just like in Enter, you start the game in The Breach. The Breach is an area where you can spend Hegemony Credits after rescuing shop owners, change your character, practice, and basically just spend all your time when you’re not trying to escape. Trying to escape the Gungeon is much like trying to enter it, you work your way through various floors, each ending with a boss to fight. The first section is always fairly straightforward. Flying enemies spawn above or below. You kill all the enemies, you stop off in a room, kill more enemies, get a chest that has an item, back on the elevator, kill enemies, fight boss.
Much like Enter the Gungeon, the boss in each section varies, so you won’t know who you’re up against until you get there. Unlike Enter though, you don’t collect an arsenal of guns in here: your gun changes every so often thanks to some magic bestowed upon you. This random gun varies on effectiveness based on your combo level, which can be seen in the top right hand corner of your screen while you play. The combo level increases based on enemies killed, damage taken, and health picked up while at full. Blanks also make a return, letting you remove all bullets from the screen for a short time when you just need a breather.
After beating the first boss, you’ll enter the shop, which has the shopkeeper, and the Rat. While the Rat was a secret boss in Enter the Gungeon, he now offers you a key to save your friends and unlock the various extra rooms in The Breach. The first key is free, but each key afterwards will cost you bullets, or castings, which are a form of currency dropped by downed enemies.
Now we enter the second part of the game, and the most interesting bit: the elevator. From here on now, the elevator actually varies in how it works, with my least favourite being one featuring five or so different sections that move up and down individually of each other. It’s very hard to keep track of everything, but I guess that’s part of what makes Exit the Gungeon so challenging. Make it far enough though, and the room you come up to might just have one of your friends in it instead of enemies. Ah, a sigh of relief.
Exit The Gungeon is much tougher than Enter The Gungeon has ever been. Once you get a hang of its mechanics, it becomes an absolute blast to play, thanks in part to its familiar gameplay, new ways of handling different situations, and not needing to remember how a thousand different guns work. While Exit the Gungeon may be incredibly punishing, it may also be more inviting to new players than Enter has ever been. Returning fans, on the other hand, will have a grasp of the base mechanics, but will be far from masters of the new form of gameplay, making Exit inviting to everyone who’s a fan of the genre and style.
Exit The Gungeon looks exactly like Enter The Gungeon with minor tweaks to make the side view a bit more appealing.
Absolutely punishing gameplay may be a turnoff to more casual players, but will be a massive turn on to those seeking a challenge.
The same music and effects return from Enter the Gungeon. It would be nice if there was an audible tone to let you know your gun was changing though.
Fun Factor: 8.5
Although punishing, Exit The Gungeon feels rewarding in its own right. Working your way out of the Gungeon may honestly be harder than working your way in.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Exit The Gungeon is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, and iOS.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Exit The Gungeon was provided by the publisher.