I’ve been waiting for another game to grab me like Spelunky did, and while it’s still early days, it seems like Enter the Gungeon might be up to the task.

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I fell in love with Spelunky for a few reasons:

  • The game changed every time you played it.
  • There was a sense of mystery to the world’s rules.
  • It was simultaneously overwhelming and fully in your control.
  • Death felt manageable, even when it came fast and sudden.

I’d argue Spelunky is one of the best games of all time, so comparisons are inherently difficult.

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Spelunky became my “daily” game, something I dipped into for 20 minutes. My expectations for each playthrough were low, but I’d always come back having learned something. “Oh, this is how to dodge an enemy in this situation.” “Ah, it turns out this item is actually useful if used that way.”

Though I’ve only played a few hours of Enter the Gungeon, its hooks are similar. Right now, I’m still grappling with the controls, making use of cover, and remembering there are blanks in my inventory. (An item that clears the screen of bullets; since you only have a few, it’s easy to forget they exist.) But as the mechanics have settled, my eyes turn elsewhere.

There are so many guns in Enter the Gungeon, and they interact with one another in different ways, characteristics I’m only beginning to pick up on.

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(Besides your starting gun, which is determined by class, everything else you find is random, which gives each run a sense of improvisation.)

For example, I had one gun that pelted the enemy with snowballs, leaving a pool of water in front of them. Another weapon shot electric darts, which not only hurt the enemy when it connected, but gained additional damage by reacting to the water. Additionally, my character had picked up a power-up that fired bullets while reloading, which meant I was doing constant and massive amounts of damage to the enemies I was facing.

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Everything was stacked in my direction...except I rolled into a pit and died.

And yet, death was not without celebration. I’d learned of a potent weapon combo—hell, I didn’t know it was possible for weapons to play off one another—and understood a new item I should be on the lookout for.

This information stacks over time, rewarding players for their investment. As my hours into Spelunky grew, I’d have a dozen strategies ready to roll, based on what the game threw at me. I haven’t amassed that level of knowledge in Enter the Gungeon yet; then again, it’s just beginning.