Why do I do it to myself? I know full well I am not good at bullet hell games. Never have been, never will be. But somehow I still really enjoy them. So there was no way I was passing up the chance to play Exit the Gungeon on the Switch.
This is a literal follow up to the original classic Enter the Gungeon. The game takes place immediately from the end of Enter and tasks you with this time Exiting the Gungeon. Clever right? Not going to lie, I am sure there is some lore here, but I really don’t care. Enter the Gungeon was all about the gameplay and thus that is really all I care about with Exit the Gungeon.
Now, what you have here is a game that is similar to its predecessor. One though that makes a number of changes that keep things feeling fresh. Where Enter the Gungeon is a top down shooter with decent sized arenas and mazes to work through, Exit the Gungeon instead is more confined and vertical with platforms.
The change whilst initially jarring to fans of the original is actually very welcome. A copy of the original with minor new mechanics wouldn’t have added much. Here you have a game that feels part of Gungeon family but also stands out on its own.
I am not sure if this is because the game was released on Apple Arcade first, or because it was a conscious design choice. But there is a major shift in the scale of levels. Where the original felt like it had open space to work in, this is much more constrained.
Individual levels are small and rely on verticality rather than large areas. This means things are often hectic as you jump, dodge and roll away from enemy fire, whilst trying to return the favour. There is barely a moment to rest up and gather your thoughts.
There is a balance there though and despite the chaos the short nature of each level on the whole works wonderfully. It is all action for short bursts and it feels great.
You are given a basic weapon at the beginning of each new run. But what you get feels almost insignificant as your weapon constantly evolves based on how you play and perform. You will go from something simple, such as basic shotgun, to something pretty out there that fires off lasers in all directions.
What you get with each run has so far to me felt different, which keeps things feeling fresh. It did mean that finding a strategy that works was a tad more difficult though. I found I could go from a really good run, to one that was over pretty quickly.
Enemies are a mix of recognisable ones from the original with a fair few new ones thrown in. Each one will challenge you in a variety of different ways and you’ll need to learn the best way to handle each
Easier said than done at times due to the aforementioned hectic nature. Also there is the problem of learning to jump as well as dodge-roll. Whilst this shouldn’t seem like a problem, it is because of what you learned from Enter the Gungeon. The vertical levels do add something positive, but it will take time to adjust to additional movements.
I personally don’t think Exit the Gungeon quite matches the original in terms of pure joy to play. But it is a worthy follow up and nice to have sitting on the system for the odd blast through. Easy to recommend.