At its best, Mothergunship is a mashup of frantically fast bullet-hell style gunplay and incredibly rewarding weapon crafting. At its worst, Mothergunship lacks some polish in the gameplay, gun creation, and RNG elements but is still an enjoyable experience.
Mothergunship is a bullet-hell, rogue-like, first person shooter with lego-style weapon crafting. There is a lot to unpack in that little sentence and some of it works better than the rest. The moment to moment gameplay involves running through procedurally generated rooms and killing groups of enemies. Standard fare for a rogue-like game. Dying mid-level means a loss of progress and a loss of the parts you brought in with you which, as rogue-likes go, is not the worst.
The bullet-hell first person shooter aspect of the game is where things start to get interesting. The game is more of a spiritual successor to Doom then it is the modern shooter. You move fast and you can upgrade to move faster. You start with a triple jump and can upgrade all the way up to forty jumps. Your guns spew countless bullets and there is not a chest high wall in sight. It is all very fast and visceral.
Your consistently increasing speed and jumping ability lends itself to the bullet-hell atmosphere. As more and more enemies spawn in the rooms, the number of missiles you have to dodge to survive increases. Unfortunately, bullet-hell in three-dimensions has never been ideal given that all of the current threats are rarely visible at the same time. The game compensates for this by giving you a fairly strong shield, but then fails to provide strong indicators that you are being hit or that your shield has collapsed (at least compared to the business of your screen).
Now let’s talk weapon crafting. There are few games I have found that make weapon crafting this much fun. In most games, the crafting system is about adding modifiers to your weapons or farming Adamantine until you can build a Lion Heart. Mothergunship allows you to make guns that are fun to build and unique to your playthrough.
In Mothergunship, you craft increasingly ridiculous guns through a three dimensional lego-style building system. You can rotate your gun on the screen and select any available sockets onto which you can place gun barrels, extra sockets, or modification caps. Your ability to add to your gun is limited by spatial constraints (larger components can block your ability to place others) and practical constraints (the game won’t let you build a gun that shoots its holder).
As you upgrade your gun, the appearance of your gun on screen changes. While this may seem obvious, the scope of it is a thing to behold. Massive guns can take up a fairly hefty portion of screen space while blasting bullets of every kind from a multitude of gun barrels. It is truly a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, bigger guns tend to drain energy quickly, thereby limiting their usefulness. This is one aspect of the game which, while practical, seems at odds with the game’s ridiculousness.
As far as story goes, it exists. There is some silly dialogue to increase the camp feel of the game. While the dialogue in between missions adds lightness and comedy, the story itself is not the main pull of this game. If you want a good story, play Spec Ops: The Line. If you have ever dreamed of connecting three guns together to create a super mega gun which you use to blast robots to oblivion, play Mothergunship.
- Gun editor allows you to build ridiculous instruments of robot death
- Gameplay is fast and exciting
- Death punishes you, but not so harshly that it leads to frustration
- RNG can generate levels that give you money and shops or shops and no money
- Graphics and gameplay can feel unpolished at times with few indicators that you are taking damage
- High speeds in a first-person game combined with large amounts of camera movement can cause motion sickness in the weak (myself)