Enter The Gungeon released on the Nintendo Switch last week, and they go great together. Despite a few bugs and some little niggling issues with the controls (which are 100% remappable) the overall experience is great. It’s also the most approachable version of the game thanks to some balancing tweaks that haven’t yet hit the PS4, Xbox One, or PC versions.
If you’ve never played it, Enter the Gungeon is a roguelike bullet hell game. You run from room to room shooting enemies and collecting money and new guns until you get to the boss, where you’ll promptly die or just narrowly scrape by. Then you go down to a new floor and do it all over again. The roguelike element means all of these configurations are random. What enemies you face, how each floor is laid out, and the guns you happen to pick up along the way are all left up to chance. And when you die, that’s it. Next time you play you’re back at square one.
The randomness keeps the game fresh and is part of why it’s still fun to return to nearly two years after it was originally released. It can also make the experience seem both impenetrable and punishing. Whereas The Binding of Isaac keeps things short and constantly changing and Rogue Legacy let you carry over progress between each new run, Enter the Gungeon is more grindy and less forgiving. You can unlock new characters to play, but none of them will accrue upgrades or powerups over the course of your time with the game. Floors can also be quite sprawling, especially the lower levels, leading you to invest a lot of time and effort into a playthrough only to see it completely wiped away when your fingers accidently twitch at the wrong moment.
Fortunately, the Switch version is a bit more generous. Without sacrificing the challenge and variety that makes the game so interesting, it dolls out more money, guns, and other drops throughout the course of a each playthrough while also making warps between rooms more plentiful. All of these “quality of life improvements” as developer Dodge Roll calls them, are going to be part of the Advanced Gungeons & Dragons update planned for early 2018.
The Switch got some of them early thanks to its release timing. Going forward Dodge Roll says updates will be nearly simultaneous across all platforms, but for now it makes the Switch version one of the most fun ways to play. I actually had well over a hundred casings, the game’s currency, in my pocket by the second room on most playthroughs, meaning I could finally buy stuff from the dungeon shop rather than just stare longingly at its display case.
The Switch version isn’t without its flaws of course. Some players have experienced the game crashing quite a bit, a problem Dodge Roll says it’s working to address and thinks might be worse when playing in docked mode. In addition, the control scheme isn’t the best. Playing with the Pro Controller remains the best option given the need to be running, shooting, and aiming all at the same time. That said, you can remap the controls to bind just about every major action to the one of the bumper or trigger buttons (something I definitely recommend doing right when you start).
Those qualms aside, the game looks great on the Switch, especially in handheld mode. The compactness of the screen and having it that close to your face actually helped me do better and gave the game a crisper look and feel overall.
Enter the Gungeon on the Switch also supports local co-op using the Joy-Con. Normally that would be a big bonus, but given how important reacting quickly and accurately is in the game, playing on a single, detached Joy-Con is simply more trouble than it’s worth in my opinion. The good news is that Enter the Gungeon remains a great solo-dungeon crawler.