I somehow missed Enter the Gungeon – and after playing its spinoff, Exit the Gungeon – I now know that was a huge mistake. A mistake I was happy to rectify as soon as I was done with this fun spin-off. If you missed it like me, Enter the Gungeon was a top-down twin-stick shooter in bullet hell. Exit the Gungeon still resides in bullet hell, but ditches the bird’s eye view for a 2-D side-scrolling version. That may not seem like a big departure, but it changes everything.
The story takes over right where the first one left off. You and a band of Gungeoneers spend Enter the Gungeon blasting your way deep into the bowels of the Gungeon searching for a gun that can kill the past. It turns out shooting off a gun that kills the past is hard on stuff, and now you need to pound sand on your way out of the Gungeon before the whole thing collapses, crushing you and your trigger happy friends.
With no time to go back the way you came, you’ll need to fight off the last of the Gundead and a slew of bosses – new and old – as you ascend one crazy elevator after another. The camera is mostly fixed and you’ll need to jump and dodge-roll the bullets that come at your from everywhere. The route through the Gungeon is different for each of the five Gungeoneers, which managed to keep everything fresh and provide some replayability.
No matter which gunslinging sprite you choose, the way to safety is gonna be chaos. This chaos is mostly born from the game’s decision to randomly change your weapon every thirty seconds. The quality of the weapon you receive is supposed to be based on your current combo but it felt pretty random to me. I know I received some great weapons when I was playing poorly and occasionally cycled through some terrible weapons while on a roll. This was especially frustrating when a bad weapon popped up during a boss or an especially tough portion of the game. I kept telling myself that if I continued to jump and dodge-roll out of harm’s way, then the gun in my hand didn’t matter. As true as that is, it rarely made me feel better, but it did keep me on my toes and was a pretty decent way to force me to play the game differently than I normally would have.
Like its predecessor, Exit the Gungeon is brought to us by publisher Devolver Digital the aptly titled developer Dodge Roll. The dodge roll and jump is your best friend and your number one tool for survival. As I mentioned, no matter what weapon you’re saddled with, if you take no damage, you’ll be fine. Thankfully, the controls are extremely tight and responsive, because the action is intense. As long as you’re rolling or in the air, you are safe from harm, which is good, because the harm is literally everywhere.
The game looks and sounds as great as the original, but it does feel different. It somehow feels more shallow than its acclaimed predecessor and in this way feels more like a spin-off than a true sequel. The core game of riding an elevator, destroying a wave of enemies, stopping at a random room with some loot, and buying new gear after dispatching a boss was repetitive but fun throughout. That said, the difficult but fun gameplay loop is definitely worth your time if you like sidescrollers, dungeon crawlers, or bullet hell games as much as me. Despite being a long-time fan of sidescrollers, I personally enjoyed the top-down design of the first one more, but I still had a great time playing and I have no problem recommending it to fans of the genre.
Exit the Gungeon PS4 Review
- Overall - Very Good - 7.5/107.5/10
Exit the Gungeon is a worthy successor to the fantastic Enter the Gungeon and one that fans of the original should enjoy. The cycling of weapons makes it unique, and at times frustrating, but exciting throughout. It’s not as deep as the original but manages to maintain most of the charm and fun that made the first one such a gem.
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Reviewed using PS4.