EXIT THE GUNGEON / DEVELOPER: DODGE ROLL, SINGLECORE / PUBLISHER: DEVOLVER DIGITAL / PLATFORM: PC, SWITCH (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
So the adventurers from 2016's smash hit Enter the Gungeon have made it to the final floor of the dungeon (something that very few of us managed to achieve in real life!), and now the whole place is collapsing due to the amount of damage dealt by careless gunfire during their previous mission. A kindly Gungeon resident has activated the central elevator and mapped out different routes for each adventurer to take back to the surface, so now it's time to make your way back home!
A small-scale spin-off rather than a full-blown sequel, Exit does things quite differently to Enter. For one, the game takes a side-on rather than top-down viewpoint, and the entire game takes place on a single screen so there's no more exploring rooms or hunting for secrets. All you need to do is fight waves of enemies until the elevator stops, jump off to fight some more enemies in a room (or perhaps do some shopping or play a minigame) until the next door opens, then continue this loop until you reach the surface.
The constant hunt for new guns and loot that Enter was known for is gone, replaced by a single “blessed weapon” whose properties change randomly every 30 seconds or so. There are lots of entertaining effects (and the better you perform, the better the effects become), but this comes with the slight drawback that by the time you get comfortable using a new weapon, or find one you really like using, it suddenly changes to something else, completely throwing you off your game.
Being confined to a single screen makes combat incredibly tricky, considering the insane amount of enemies and bullets flying all over the place. Your job is hampered further by a questionable control scheme that asks you to use your right thumb to aim your weapon but also to jump, dodge (you're only safe from enemy fire while your feet are off the ground) and launch screen-clearing "blanks" that eliminate all enemy bullets, ideally (but impossibly) all at the same time.
You'll die many many times, but any money gained during each run can be spent on adding new weapons to the available pool, adding variety to subsequent runs, so time is never wasted. Exit retains all of the quirky characters, bold visuals and chaotic atmosphere of Enter, and there's plenty of fun to be had if you can get past the changes in gameplay. It's fast-paced, full of action, addictive as anything, a bit silly (and it knows it) and, with each adventurer taking a different route through the Gungeon, there's plenty of reasons to replay over and over again. As long as you don't go into it expecting a full-blown sequel to Enter the Gungeon, you'll be just fine!