Mothergunship is a rogue-like bullet-hell FPS from indie developers Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games. Donning a giant mech suit, you face off against endless corridors of robots in hectic, procedurally generated levels, all with ultimate aim of reaching and destroying the titular mothergunship.
While the genre tags rogue-like and bullet-hell made me apprehensive going into this game, the draw of its bold, Borderlands-esque visuals and tone, combined with the potential of its modular gun system, was strong enough to grab my interest.
Care has clearly been put into the design of projectile effects, making the barrage of fire both flying towards you from all angles and spewing forth from your multi-barrelled franken-gun impressively overwhelming, although this can get messy and overly chaotic at times. Additionally, the game handles this cacophony of enemies and bullets with no lag or technical issues, an accomplishment for an indie game.
While the game’s fusion of old-school colour pallets with more contemporary design give it a distinct look, and the sheer number of enemies, bullets and explosions on-screen at one time can be visually impressive, the game’s repetitive arenas and enemies soon become dull. Even bosses are just masses of copy-and-paste robot-bits which absorb bullets until they eventually die.
Unfortunately this repetition and sterility extend to both the game’s narrative and gameplay. The writing and voice-acting, which aim for a tone and sense of humor akin to Borderlands, falls flat.
Companions Jasper, Wilkinson and The Colonel, all who guide you via comms through levels while bickering among themselves, are generic, blandly written and tediously annoying, often proving much more of a hindrance than a help.
The fast-paced gunplay feels too slow to be satisfying and frenetic the way Doom is, but too floaty to feel solid or precise. One of the game’s most inventive features, the modular gun building mechanic, holds a lot of promise but also felt too shallow and limiting during my time using it. For those who excel at the game though the possibilities for gun-customization appear to be fairly creative and extensive.
There were times when I attached three rapid-fire shotguns together that the combat began to feel gratifying, but these moments of fun are too few amongst the repetition and monotony. Challenge rooms aim to add some variety to levels, yet these offer more of the same just with timers or zero-damage modifiers.
The rogue-like structure also feels unbalanced; dying results in you losing gun parts you were using and requires you to replay the level. However this can easily put you in positions where you are using your weakest weapons to tackle a stage which was already too challenging for your most powerful guns. The economy of currency and upgrades is poorly paced, with very little sense of reward or progression, furthering this frustrating, static cycle.
Perhaps Mothergunship is simply not the game for me. I really wanted to enjoy Mothergunship, and there are moments of enjoyment, however they are unfortunately buried beneath flimsy gunplay, laborious progression and uninspired design and writing.
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Reviewed using base PS4.