REVIEW: Oprainfall Conquers the Gungeon

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

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In many ways, Exit the Gungeon is the condensed, somehow crazier version of the first game. It’s different in a number of ways, but I felt it was the superior experience. Or I felt that way eventually. At first I was really frustrated by how hard the game seemed, and a lot of that had to do with the change in perspective. I mentioned how in Enter the Gungeon, you have a lot more room to roam about and avoid damage. That is entirely not the case here, where you’re usually trapped on a moving elevator or some other narrow vertical space, avoiding bullets and blasting foes to smithereens. Another reason I was initially not as hot on the sequel was how it handles dodge rolls.

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Enter the Gungeon quickly sold me on the utility of dodging bullets to survive. It was just intuitive and easy to grasp. Here though, you can dodge in many different directions. You can still dodge horizontally, but now you can also dodge upwards and downwards. That last one caused the most confusion, since dropping from one platform to another counts as dodging and makes you temporarily invincible. Eventually I got the hang of it, and learned to do smart things like jump up to dodge one bullet then dodge horizontally to avoid another. Keep in mind that when I say “one bullet,” I’m being conservative. Normally there’s a whole shooting range of bullets flying at your face at once, so you’ll need all the dodging you can handle.

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The other way that Exit the Gungeon most distinguishes itself is through Kaliber. The goddess of guns herself is helping you, kind of. See in this game you only have one gun at a time, period. But every few seconds, Kaliber will magically change which gun you’re using. If you play well and thus increase your combo level, it’s more likely that you’ll get rewarded with amazing weapons. Which is good, since you want those Mass Shotguns, not the Bubble Bobble guns. Even if you’re amazing, it’s still more than a little random, so get used to your weapon changing unexpectedly at the worst possible time. To make up for this, you can acquire passive upgrade items like in the first game, as well as grabbing floating temporary booster shots. These will grant you various upgrades for a limited amount of time, whereas the usual items last the entire run. Thankfully, a successful run in Exit the Gungeon will take you a half hour max, whereas the first game getting all the way through can take more than an hour. That’s a big part of why beating Exit only took me some 6 hours total.

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Exit really grew on me the longer I played. Once I got accustomed to things, I grew to really like the quirks. The controls were very intuitive here, since all you really need to do is aim to fire your gun, instead of aim, fire bullets and reload. I also utterly adored the bizarre bosses found in this game, most notably the weirder ones like the feline version of Dr. Robotnik and the Bullet King’s Chancellor, Toadstool! The entire thing felt much more streamlined, for better and for worse. Take Blanks for example. These are found in both games, and clear all bullets from the screen. In Enter, you had to press down on both joysticks simultaneously to activate a Blank, but in Exit you can do so with a single shoulder button press. But for every feature like that, there was stuff that felt out of balance. I liked the ease of gameplay and less hand cramping controls, but I also missed having a plethora of guns, bosses and foes. And if I complained about the platforming in the first game, it can be even rougher here. It’s very easy to fall off the sides of some areas, and you have much less maneuverability to avoid damage. But then again, you don’t have to worry about things like storing extra hearts for later use or weapon synergy combos. Plus, some weapons that were less effective in the first game are super powerful here, such as the powerful exploding banana. But then foes that barely bothered me, like the annoying Rubber Kin, are suddenly dangerous agents of death. And while I do like shorter runs, I wish I could save progress here and return later like I could in Enter. One of the more interesting aspects of this game is that once unlocked, bosses can seemingly appear in any area they want, with the exception of the final boss. That means you really need to master fighting all of them, since you never know when exactly they’ll show up.

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Like in the first game, you’ll find and rescue prisoners who can later aid you. But just as the Gungeon itself is in a chaotic state of flux, so are its inhabitants. A hilarious example is Manservantes and the King. In the first game, they would challenge you to beat a room a certain way, and then reward you for it. Here, the servant is now the boss, and the king has been mutated into a bloated crybaby. When you encounter them now, you play a twisted golfing mini game using the former king as your ball. Like I said, this game is somehow even more crazy, and I love that about it. Sure it still shares the same DNA as the first game, with multiple playable characters and bosses, but there’s interesting new ideas. Each character now has a more set in stone path to the final boss, and you can actually unlock and play that route as other characters. Also totally new is that you can customize your heroes with hats and costumes. Sure, they serve no practical purpose, but sometimes you just want to look snazzy. Just keep in mind, while in the first game beating bosses provides Hegemony Credits used to unlock useful items for subsequent runs, here you also need to use those Credits for hats and suits. At least if you’re a completionist.

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Both of the Gungeon games have tremendous art and musical direction. There’s a whole boatload of foes, and each is rendered with love and care. While none of them are anywhere near as demented as those I grew fond of in The Binding of Isaac, there’s still some delightfully dark humor here. I appreciated how so many foes are basically walking bullets holding gun or grenades that run to you and explode, and many others are totally unexpected and freaky, such as the giant hand that throws you back in time, or the terrifying bullet spewing Lead Maiden. The biggest difference aesthetically between the games is that the sprites in Exit the Gungeon are a bit more bombastic and larger than in Enter. That said, neither game is close to ugly, and there’s a lot of personality on display, from the faces of the Gundead to the dozens of crazed weapons you can use. While there’s plenty of basic weapons like shotguns and rifles, there’s also things like mailboxes, demonic tentacles, unicorn horns and much more. Musically, the first game can be a bit milder at times, but there’s also a good variety of tunes to distinguish different areas. I did slightly prefer the music of the second game, perhaps just cause it was less reserved.

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Though I had some minor problems with both games, none of it was a huge deal. Sure I got annoyed with platforming in both games, and sometimes the first game was more than a bit aggravating. Plus the load times can get long and there’s some occasional slowdown when a lot is happening on screen. And I really didn’t love how sometimes I got hit by enemies I couldn’t fully see on screen in Exit the Gungeon. But overall, the pros most decidedly outweighed the cons, especially since both games are so inexpensive, with Exit only costing $9.99.

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I’m ecstatic I finally found the time and presence of mind to play through both Gungeon games. While it’s true the first one is more jam packed with content, the second makes up for it by doing an amazing job of distilling the unique essence into a more palatable form. In all, I spent nearly 40 hours playing through both games combined, and enjoyed every crazed minute. Games like this are why I’ll always be a fan of Devolver Digital, and why I eagerly await what’s next from Dodge Roll and Singlecore. If you love crazy, hardcore rogue games with more than a bit of insanity thrown in, you can’t go wrong with either one. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put in dozens more hours to fully complete both games!

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Review Score

Author Purchased Copy of Enter the Gungeon. Publisher Provided Copy of Exit the Gungeon.

And many thanks to Brandon Rose for the awesome Featured Image!

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.

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