Review – Mothergunship: Forge
I absolutely loved the original Mothergunship. The mix of roguelite elements, bullet hell gameplay, and the ability to build a weapon with numerous amounts of guns and accessories on a single hand was a ton of fun. It was fast paced, it was intense, and had some great twitch based moments. So when I heard that Mothergunship: Forge was a VR adaptation, I was ecstatic. All that action set in VR sounded like a dream come true. Does Mothergunship: Forge live up to its traditional version and elevate it beyond a traditional game?
Mothergunship: Forge follows the same story structure as the original. An alien force has invaded and you’re Earth’s last remaining hope. You’re tasked to board the alien gunships and reach the Mothergunship and take it down. This is where the roguelite elements come into play, because while you may complete a run, there are multiple Mothergunships to take out. Much like the original, there isn’t a large focus on story or characters, and that is absolutely fine.
Gameplay is king here, however, there are some very key differences that I’m not sure elevate the title. Having the immersion of VR is fantastic, and in combination with the weapon building it is a pair made in heaven. Unfortunately, what was an intense bullet hell shooter that attacked you from every direction and even had map obstacles, has been boiled down to a mostly stationary VR shooting gallery. Shooting gallery games are a dime-a-dozen in the VR marketplace and this feels like a step back.
The intense shooter that relied on your fast-paced action, has now become a much slower game where you just need to move your head away from oncoming bullets. Enemies only come from in front of you, and as long as none of the bullets hit your face, you won’t be hurt. You can enable free movement, but the catch here is you’re limited to a small circle around the player. This means you can essentially only strafe a few feet, which makes the game even easier since you can move and dodge your head.
Since the roguelike structure is still here, you will go through rooms that will grant you various items that range from weapons, currency, shops, key items, and then a boss room. The purple diamond currency is the one that will help you unlock weapons and modifiers for your next run. Gold, and anything else collected like weapons, will be reset each run. The roguelite elements are leaned on heavily here, as the main meat of the gameplay for Mothergunship: Forge because the game isn’t all that long anyway.
There are only three different levels, and each level has about eight rooms and a boss, and one of the rooms will be a shop room. This isn’t a lot of content and you can easily complete a run in less than thirty minutes. In one sitting I easily ran through the game five times. There is a bit of procedural generation in the levels, but for the most part, including the bosses, you’ll be running through what looks like the same rooms. They really rely heavily on the roguelite unlocks and various modifiers to pad the game, but it just isn’t enough variety.
Let’s talk about the one gameplay aspect that actually benefits from the VR immersion: weapon building. It is awesome to grab and attach all these different weapons and be able to wield it directly with your hands. The variety here is fantastic, just like the original game with various weapon types like blasters, shotguns, rockets, grenade launchers, bolt rifles and more. There are also various accessories and attachments that will change or add attributes to the guns. You’ll need to unlock or buy arm attachments to keep increasing gun size and make ridiculous weapons.
The drawback is with the shorter campaign there is less opportunity to make ludicrous weapons on both arms. For the most part, unlike the regular game, you’ll only end up with enough weapon parts to load up one side. Or you can make two medium sized weapons, but the fun of Mothergunship was having both arms with a weapon that would scare a Gundam.
Visually, the game has a very clean aesthetic and looks great on the Meta Quest 2, with barely any aliasing and easily readable. Level and enemy designs are bold and recognizable with color pallets, and the three bosses are a fun fight visually. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough variety in the normal enemies and levels. The levels have their own color pallet, but ultimately they feel similar. The enemy variety goes from the normal bad guys to a large red versions of them that have more health and aggression.
Sound design remains fantastic just like the regular version. The hard rock soundtrack still keeps you pumped and engaged with the fights, and the all the various gunfire is top notch. The mix between constant shooting and the soundtrack creates a perfect environment for the theme. There is less dialogue from the colonel from the original which does lose some of the humor, but honestly it’s not a negative for the game.
Mothergunship: Forge is a decent VR shooting gallery on its own, however, I expected so much more after the stellar original version. The content here isn’t very deep, and it relies too heavily on unlocking a couple new weapons or modifiers as new content. These unlocks are great, but when you can easily beat the game on your second run, you don’t really need a majority of the unlocks. There are additional difficulty modes, but only having three levels is still not enough to strive for more runs. Unfortunately, building weapons in VR is great, but with everything else stripped down, this falls short of the original version.
Visuals are clean and there is some cool inner ship and boss designs. However, there is a lack of level and normal enemy variety.
While Mothergunship: Forge retains the crazy weapon building features of the original, the general bullet hell gameplay is heavily toned down.
Between the hard rock soundtrack, constant gunfire and explosions everything fits perfectly with the gameplay.
Mothergunship: Forge only has three levels, relying on unlocking new weapons and modifiers each run to pad the gameplay. The essentially stationary shooting gallery gameplay takes away a lot of what made the traditional version so great.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Mothergunship: Forge is available now on Meta Quest 2, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Oculus Rift.
Reviewed on Meta Quest 2.
A copy of Mothergunship: Forge was provided by the publisher.