Title: Exit the Gungeon
Developer: Dodge Roll Games, Singlecore Games
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Action Platformer
When Exit the Gungeon hit the market last year, it was a launch title for the brand new Apple Arcade. At the time, it was interesting to see a title developed to use with responsive controller input redesigned for touchscreens. Now, developer Dodge Roll Games is taking their mobile game to consoles, which just might be the best way to experience it.
Taking place immediately after Enter the Gungeon, the Gungeoneers learn that for every time-warping bullet that was shot, the Gungeon was breaking within itself to the point of collapse with everyone in it. To escape in time, the Gungeoneers have to take specialized elevators while fending off all usual enemies.
Exit the Gungeon still uses tongue-in-cheek humor with a returning cast of characters for fans to enjoy references from the first title. Being that this game was developed for mobile devices, the game retains a “fun in short bursts” appeal.
The most significant addition to the series is jumping, which the narrative refers to as a “vertical dodge rolling,” which introduces a new core mechanic. Simply put, as long as a Gungeoneer is in the air, they will have invincibility. With no limits to dodging and jumping, players can continuously avoid bullets though they will not be able to fire their weapon since shooting can only be done from the ground.
Making a return to the series is the blink ability that gets rid of all bullets on screen. Additionally, the vast arsenal of weapons that can be found throughout a run makes a return; only this time, there isn’t a need to look for them. This time around, the “Blessed run” power-up given to the player by the sorceress from Enter the Gungeon is also a new mechanic that randomly changes your weapons. However, this is all dependent on the player’s skill.
The more players can avoid bullets and kill enemies, the more likely they will be granted powerful weapons that even bosses can’t defend themselves against. On the other hand, the more damage a player takes, the higher the chance to receive a lower-tier weapon requiring more effort to fight back.
When a run starts, players begin with a standard pistol and a few basic enemies to fight. Throughout the game, the gun changes every few seconds or so while enemies rise in difficulty. These sections differ from which Gungeoneer is being used, but the structure is pretty much the same across each character. The first set of sections takes place on a small elevator to fight on. After surviving a wave, players then move on to the next section, which ranges from larger platforming rooms to autoscrolling rooms with mini-bosses, again depending on the character that is being played.
This is where Exit the Gungeon begins differentiating from its predecessor. The levels are made in sections due to the pickup-and-put-down nature of mobile devices. Fans how enjoyed the adventuring, extras, and secrets of the first entry won’t really find that here. Exit the Gungeon trims off most of those features for a more focused game. Thankfully, the core gameplay works on consoles if not better than the mobile thanks to the responsive controls instead of auto shooting with on-screen analog sticks.
There are opportunities to save prisoners between sections when you pay for keys from the Resourceful Rat. These prisoners have resources to help with the journey, like Cadence and Ox or an Old Man, who sells the characters new items or a chest, respectively. Also, players that unlock Hattori can buy and collect cosmetic hats from him.
Finally, there are the numerous bosses to encounter. All of which act differently from one another and will take multiple runs and characters to get through. Sometimes this all depends on the luck you had with any given run, so expect to carefully plan out your time in a dungeon before the boss. Exit the Gungeon’s unique weapon mechanic can be your best friend or worst enemy during these encounters, but one thing is for sure, your skills will be put to the test.
An issue I have with Exit is just how much-reused assets there are throughout the adventure. Sprites, music, animations are pulled from the previous game, which makes it feel like I’ve seen a lot of it before. Sure, seeing reused assets isn’t something totally new, but given that this provides a unique experience within the series, remodeling the designs would have complimented the new systems.
Exit the Gungeon made the smart move to take its adventure to consoles, and the result is a fun and skill-based gaming experience. The game can be enjoyed in small bursts or long play sessions as you hone your skills during each run. The only downside is the amount of things to do here is limited to what the mobile version could accomplish, which makes this entry come up a bit short. Regardless, I found this version to be the best way to play.
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