Review: Mothergunship is a First Person Rogue-Lite that Makes You the Bullet Hell

Screenshot: Mothergunship Developer Grip Digital’s follow-up to Tower of Guns came as a bit of a surprise. First person shooter rogue-lite bullet hell Mothergunship first showed off its fast-paced action and gun crafting in the free demo released earlier this year, and it left a good impression.  I wanted the chance to test out even crazier weapon combinations, and see what Mothergunship could throw at me, and it didn’t disappoint. Screenshot: Mothergunship The Mothergunship’s armada has conquered earth. You are recruited to help save it. To do so, you’ll need to fight your way through each ship. Room after room is filled with murderous robots, turrets and a number of other obstacles in a chaotic bullet hell. To stop the invasion you’ll have to find and destroy the Mothergunship itself.  You’ll be alone (at least until co-op is released later this year) but luckily, you’ll have lots and lots of guns available to you. Better yet: with Mothergunship’s gun crafting system, you can put lots of guns together to make even bigger guns, potentially making you your own bullet hell. Screenshot: Mothergunship Mothergunship is about speed. It’s fast, frenetic, and will often have you dodging through curtains of ridiculously oversized projectiles. Instead of being set up like a traditional first person shooter, each mission in Mothergunship consists of a series of rooms, each progressively harder than the last. These rooms are randomly generated, so even on subsequent playthroughs, you won’t necessarily know what to expect. Screenshot: Mothergunship The gunplay in Mothergunship is addictively fun. It’s super-fast, and often tough, requiring quick twitch reflexes. Each arena is like a playground, with bullets to dodge, enemies to defeat, and often jump pads to bounce around on. As you defeat enemies, you will accumulate experience and currency, the latter of which can be used throughout missions to upgrade your weaponry and make it easier to progress. Screenshot: Mothergunship Mothergunship’s gun creation system is one of the most important gameplay elements, and something you will use quite often. Before you start most missions, you choose a specific loadout. You can only bring with you a limited amount of gun parts per mission, and you’ll have to put these parts together on a workbench once you actually get into the level. Gun crafting can lead to all sorts of different gun combinations, but the bigger the gun, the higher the energy consumption. While there isn’t ammunition, firing weapons drains your energy, with bigger guns having fewer shots. There is a gun range available to you between missions to try out different creations, but you will still have to build your weapons while in each level. Screenshot: Mothergunship Being defeated while on a mission means losing all of the gun parts you take with you, so be careful: if you take your favorite guns and you die, you’ll have to scrounge up new ones. Luckily, besides the main campaign mission, there are several different types of side missions that can help you accumulate gun parts, as well as currency and experience. You can spend currency between missions on a black market vendor to buy gun parts, while experience is used to increase stats like health and movement speed. Screenshot: Mothergunship The actual gun options that are available for crafting are decent enough. You have your normal first person shooter fare of shotguns, rocket launchers, machine guns, etc. but also more unconventional weapons like spike launchers and lava cannons. There are also modules that can modify weapons’ behavior, from those that increase, to those that propel you forward or even negate gravity. Screenshot: Mothergunship Weapon crafting can feel a little unintuitive at first, but it’s something that can be figured out with a little bit of practice. Unfortunately, it’s something that slows down the action a bit, as you’ll have to be crafting weapons at every turn, and there are no presets. This encourages experimentation, but slows down the gameplay. Screenshot: Mothergunship Despite how fun Mothergunship is, it suffers a bit with its rogue-lite elements. it does feel like there is a limit to how interesting randomization can be. While playing through missions, I wouldn’t know what would be behind each door, but I knew it would be one of dozens of variations I’ve already seen. Don’t get me wrong: there are so many as to keep it interesting, but the repetition is noticeable after only a few hours of playthrough. It’s the same for enemy types, and weapons too. Mothergunship would benefit a ton simply by adding more stuff. That really isn’t so much a criticism as a testament to how great its gunplay is: I just want more. Screenshot: Mothergunship The story itself is interesting, but somewhat sparse. It’s humorous with interesting characters, though you don’t interact with them so much as hear them chatter at you. The banter is usually pretty amusing, though it can sometimes slow down the action during campaign missions. Luckily, you can skip through it if you want to get right to the action.Mothergunship's story is unobtrusive, but actually pretty interesting— though I don’t want to spoil anything. Screenshot: Mothergunship Grip Digital obviously meant to have co-op included, and clues to this are scattered throughout. There are two suits of power armor in the station, and every time I can remember seeing a crafting bench it had a companion bench not too far away. Though not available at release, Grip Digital does intend on implementing co-op in the near future across all platforms, available as a free update. I will definitely be putting more time into Mothergunship when co-op is available. Screenshot: Mothergunship Mothergunship continues the resurgence of the fast shooter. It’s rogue-lite, but manages to stay interesting and addictive. Its gun crafting system and related mechanics encourage experimentation with its array of weaponry. It’s also incredibly fun, with satisfying gunplay. It is lacking in enemy and gun variations, but hopefully upcoming free updates will add a little more variety, and if not, the impending co-op capability definitely will. Mothergunship will be available tomorrow, July 17th on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.