Apr 4, 2016
Average Playtime: 7 hours

Enter the Gungeon

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Enter the Gungeon is a twin-stick roguelike shooter. The game takes place in a planet inhabited by living bullets. You play as one of six adventurers trying entering a considerable fortress to find a gun that can destroy one’s past.
The gameplay represents a mix of bullet-hell and dungeon crawler. You choose one of the characters and start descending the Gungeon. Every floor has several pre-made rooms with enemies and treasures procedurally-generated. The player can shoot guns, dodge, use items and make barricades of the tables. There are more than 300 hundred different guns and items in the game which can be acquired from shops, treasure chests and bosses.
The game is notable for its severe difficulty that comes from tough enemies, the vast amount of projectiles that can simultaneously be on the screen and from the fact that every time you die you have to starts the game from the beginning.

System requirements for PC
  • OS: Windows 7 or later
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 (2*1866) or equivalent
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce 7600 GS (512 MB) or equivalent
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
System requirements for macOS
  • OS: OS 10.6+
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
System requirements for Linux
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 or later
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 (2*1866) or equivalent
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: GeForce 7600 GS (512 MB) or equivalent
  • Storage: 2 GB available space
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This review is for the Switch port - which I put 35 hours into before putting it aside because of a mix of difficulty and performance issues (I got to High Dragun only twice just to take a death to the game hitching at the crucial moments of its final phase attacks). Those hours alternate between fun and frustration but I would still recommend the game on a platform without the Switch version's problems, albeit only to someone who enjoyed challenging games with no difficulty options. Despite everything Gungeon has beautiful presentation. The title screen and theme is drop-dead gorgeous, and that carries over to the game with bouncy pixel art (which is given lots of time to shine with the huge variety of weird weapons), little touches like your home base changing depending on how many deaths you've had, very amusing puns, and lots of physics particles bouncing everywhere. Unfortunately that seems to come with occasional issues technical issues like hitching when entering crowded rooms and big slowdown with lots of bullets on screen (like against the second and "final" bosses) and the "Speed mode" option makes those worse if anything. Mechanically it's similar enough to give me that Binding of Isaac fix but really it's a whole different beast. Runs are much longer and the game is HARD (reaching that aforementioned second boss took 14 deaths), although it does feel fairer than BoI - runs are much less tied to random item drop rates and more skill based, rewarding you for dodging the bullet hell nightmares. Yes, shockingly it is actually more bullet hell than BoI, and unfortunately there is the odd unfair enemy placement where immediately upon walking into a room you'll get smashed by 2 shotgun shells blocking you in right next to the door with not a lot you can do about it. The reason runs seem less influenced by item luck is that, so far at least, I've only found items that are more sidegrades or slight buffs - none of the mechanically game-changing insanity of Isaac. So far the pickup that messed with the game's fundamentals the most was probably a Gears of War style active reload which, while fun, doesn't really give a huge benefit or change of pace. Unfortunately there are also a few too many hidden stats at play to make sure you don't get too lucky, for example the chances of getting more than 2 good items in one run drops down to 5%, which means the really fun OP good luck runs you could very rarely get in BoI just aren't possible. Another strange choice (although it might just have been my luck) is that it takes a long time to unlock your first NPC/permanent upgrade shop, something which I can see putting of people who want at least a little sense of progression, but that does have the benefit of meaning when I finally did get a shop I had more than enough money to get whatever I wanted. The shops don't get new items until you buy everything on sale, and there isn't a way to remove them from the item pool à la Crypt of the Necrodancer, so you're sometimes forced to spend money on things you don't want and that you know will actively make the game harder by stopping you getting the items you do want. NPC quests are much more interesting and involved than any other Rogue-like I've played, like Ser Manuel's story and filling up the breach with rescued people. The teleport system is a big Quality of Life feature: almost every room of interest or branching paths has a teleporter in it that you can near instantly go back to with a tap of the map, completely cutting out boring backtracking, although to balance that any items left in a room (except health) are gone for good. It's much appreciated that they want to minimise the player's wasted time in a game that you'll likely be making hundreds of runs in. On the other hand Weapon Enhancements (combos) aren't as obvious as I'd like - neither telling you which items combine, or the new effects they gain - and because you get so little info about guns/items in general they can be a bit nonsensical, with the only way to know them being to memorise the whole list. On the Switch version the achievement system is missing, which is a much bigger problem than in most games as it's not just trophy-hunters that are affected. the achievements each unlock a good weapon/item for use in the dungeon and provide a short-term goal to work towards at the start of the game: keeping minute-to-minute gameplay rewarding, incentivising trying out different playstyles and making the overarching long-term goal of exploring the Gungeon seem less daunting. While the weapons still unlock when you reach the achievement milestones they aren't visible in-game (and there isn't even an internet browser on the Switch to keep a list open on, thanks Nintendo) leaving the only sense of progression to unlocking shortcuts, which are intended for experienced players and necessitate lots of luck and near-perfect no-hit runs. The lack of achievements basically cuts out the whole early-game of Enter the Gungeon, and all they need is a Shovel Knight style "Feats" list to fix it. If it sounds like I'm blowing a small issue out of proportion with that imagine playing a Breath of the Wild without any shrines, as they serve the same moment-to-moment gameplay purpose.
A solid game you can dive into whenever you want - and pretty damn challenging.