Tower of Guns, now there’s a game that I plugged countless hours into upon release. Why? Because of its nonstop action and its heart-crushing difficulty. This, is perhaps one of the reasons I was so excited to get into MOTHERGUNSHIP. The game comes from the creator of Tower of Guns and although the elements that made that game exciting are present in MOTHERGUNSHIP, this is an entirely fresh experience that comes with some excellent fluidity and solid gameplay mechanics. This is one of the best bullet-hell games this gen.
MOTHERGUNSHIP mixes the intensity of bullet-hell with FPS, heaps of randomization and a dizzying amount of firepower. The story may well take a backseat before long, but let’s be honest, the real reason you’re considering a purchase is for its gameplay, am I right or am I right? Moving on. The premise tells of a soldier that’s sent in to fight back against the Archivists aliens that are attacking our planet. Players awaken on a ship and are instantly thrown head-first into a decently structured tutorial that doesn’t at all outstay its welcome.
Here, you’ll learn of all the things that run through MOTHERGUNSHIP’s veins; shooting, jumping, movement, crafting and so forth. It handles well and it’s clear that developer Terrible Posture Games has personality to show off, which is apparent by the witty, well written, otherwise hysterical dialogue that flows through the experience. Nevertheless, the game wastes no time at getting you in the thick of it. The aim of the game is mercifully as straightforward as can be; move from ship to ship (procedurally generated) whilst blasting absolutely anything that stands in your way, gradually becoming more capable as a result.
Each level can only be cleared and exited once all enemies have been disposed of, and there’s typically several pathways that you can take to decide where you will go next. What comes next, however, is another question entirely; will you find yourselves face to face with a towering boss? Perhaps a ship to buy upgrades and equipment? Or maybe a standard action-packed room full of grunts and added challenges to deal with? This level of uncertainty is what keeps MOTHERGUNSHIP fresh and on its feet. It’s an absolute rush.
Furthermore, due to the fact that the game supports procedurally generated levels, you’re very unlikely to stumble upon the same level twice. That’s not to mention the environmental hazards or the platforming skills that the game so often demands. Missions all begin in the same way. You’ll pick your equipment and dive straight into the fray. Now, this is where MOTHERGUNSHIP truly stands out. Players have the constant perk of being able to make their own weaponry; ranging from the insane, to the totally ridiculous outputs.
Though with that being said, it all just works so well. Never knowing what room you’re going to get and never knowing which enemies (or where they) will spawn in, puts MOTHERGUNSHIP in an FPS league of its own. The enemy variation is fantastic, with no shortage of nasty beasts coming for you from all angles, all of which vary in size, behavior and complexity. This means that you’ll quickly need to adapt depending on your chosen weaponry and although the game can often put you in a tight spot, it’s very well balanced.
Character upgrades and weapon creation gets a huge thumbs up from me, mostly due to how easy and fluid it is to achieve. The game will hand out EXP for a range of actions; defeating foes, or completing missions and side quests. These points can then be spent on improving your character’s stats, such as improved jumps and increased health capacity. Weaponry is split into three different categories; barrels, caps and connectors. Using parts that you earn or purchase throughout play, you can create some truly bizarre fire-power.
Fire-power that would have DOOM looking over its shoulder in disbelief, might I add. The kicker, however, is that you can only carry a select amount of parts from mission to mission, making choice a forefront importance. Though even with that in mind, the sheer depth of weaponry in this game is unmatched, or at least going from like-minded games of recent memory. It helps, of course, that the game’s mission/sub-mission structure is so well thought up and doesn’t at all feel tacked on for the sake of longevity, it all makes sense.
You do have Jasper, your friendly loner AI to keep you company through all of this. Jasper helps you between each mission by giving you general tips and quirky one-liners. Moving back to the structure of the game, you’re kind of given free control on what you want to do. You can either move the story along or hang back and tackle some special side missions. Side missions are strict and demand that you complete them by using specific parts, though with that said, it doesn’t matter what you take on and in what order, the game remains fun.
Holding all of this together is the game’s design, its theme and its visuals. It didn’t matter what stage I was presented with, each looked jaw dropping and vivid throughout. Being a space-themed game you can expect to see the usual; jump-pads, metal platforms, odd machinery and much more. The game’s diversity, thanks to its procedurally generated levels, never buckles under the weight of its vast replay value. It even sounds magnificent, with loud, thunderous audio cues popping all over the place. Did I also mention co-op?
Did I mention that co-op is soon to be coming to the game? Well, it is. In fact the developer plans to support this game for the long run, and why wouldn’t they? The foundation is remarkable as it is. More can only mean better. My only gripes with the game sits with the occasional drop in the game’s framerate when there’s a lot of action going off at once. That, and the game can indeed become overly hard at the drop of a hat. With those two concerns to the side, there’s little else that can be scoffed at. If you enjoy bullet-hell, you’ll love this.
MOTHERGUNSHIP is the epitome of FPS bullet-hell. Despite minor issues with the game’s framerate, this is a shining example of how several gameplay elements can be seamlessly slapped together to produce a near outstanding outcome. The game’s action-packed structure rarely buckles, which when grouped with its fantastic design and uncertainty, makes for one of the best shooters in recent memory.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.