From the moment I started up Mothergunship for the first time I knew it was going to be intense. Just looking at the title screen gives you an idea of the overwhelming madness you are agreeing to by pressing “Play”. Immediately after starting the game you are thrown into the tutorial, which plays out the same way the rest of the game will. Having the tutorial missions play so similar to the rest of the game may lead you to believe this game will be predictable. I can not express how wrong you would be for thinking that.
Throughout Mothergunship the player must make their way through procedurally generated rooms filled with robot aliens. What you use to eliminate your foes is entirely up to you. Mothergunship answers the question, “What do you do if you can’t decide on a weapon of choice?” by allowing the player to throw on as many guns as you can fit, as long as the barrels are pointed forward. I spent quite a bit of time in the armory trying out different combinations of weapons and mods. I will admit that a healthy portion of that time was spent trying to fill the entire screen with weapons… I did it.
Arguably the best feature in Mothergunship is the weapon-crafting which allows the player to well… craft weapons from the parts they have collected by completing missions. At the beginning of each mission the player selects a few weapon parts to take with them. Instead of using an ammo system, Mothergunship, uses what is referred to as “energy”. Weapons can be fired until you run out of energy but you will then have to wait until your energy bar fills back up to begin shooting again. The bigger the gun, the more energy it will consume per shot, so balance is key. The best method I found was to build two weapons so I could alternate firing for the length of time it took for the other energy bar to refill. While I did enjoy not having to worry about reloading, I did sometimes find it difficult to watch the energy bar while trying to dodge ever projectile fired at me. I also spent a good amount of time in the armory trying to build a weapon that would use all of my energy in one shot… I did this too.
The way Mothergunship is played is by going from room to room usually defeating all the enemies in the area before progressing. However, killing all the enemies is not a requirement and sometimes it’s easier to just run for the exit and live to fight another room. Each room is separated by a small passageway where the player can take a second to catch their breath. These small corridors act as a loading area for the the next room, where the player can check out some of their current stats like shots fired, damage done, damage taken, and my personal favorite, amount of jumps… yes this game tracks the amount of times you jump. One feature I really appreciated from this game, was the “threat level” it gives you before open the doors to the next area, which lets you see how difficult the next room will be. While this system of using the small room as a loading area is nice, I found it kind of repetitive. I would have appreciated them having some other use besides giving me somewhere to stand.
Each room always has at least one exit door while some have several, giving the player a sense of choice on how to proceed. Some rooms are accompanied by a shop, which is only unlocked once all the enemies in the area are eliminated. Shops allow you to spend the coins you’ve collected throughout the current mission on more weapon parts, which can be added to your current load-out at the workbench in the back of the shop. Some of the exit doors have images that indicate they have something different to offer. Take the door with a 6 sided die on it; this indicates a random feature will be added to the next room, though it’s not always a fun surprise. Sometimes it will spawn an extra jump token for each enemy you kill, but other times it will cause fire to shoot out of the floor. Another room type are challenge rooms, which are indicated by two crossed swords on the front of a door. These challenges add an extra level of difficulty to a room by giving the player an additional condition; Upon completion of the challenge the player is rewarded with more coins. I would have liked something more than the currency I’ve already been picking up. It would have been nice to receive some extra weapon parts or a temporary buff of some kind.
While dodging my way through wave after wave of increasingly difficult murder rooms, I was constantly reminded of late 80’s, early 90’s sci-fi action movies. From the overall style of the game to the hardcore main theme, this game is one bad pun away from getting a Steven Spielberg movie adaptation. Even the characters seem like they could be from a Sci-fi channel original movie and it’s absolutely fantastic.
The few characters in Mothergunship are surprisingly humorous. Anytime you fail a mission you get a less serious version of the “You Died” screen. This screen is accompanied by a sarcastic comment from The Colonel voiced by Dave Pettitt, which actually made dying a little more bearable. At one point, Jasper the robot assistant and ship AI, accidentally downloads a virus onto his system which fills the hub area with pop-up ads.The levity these few characters add really shows how seriously this game doesn’t take itself and that’s not a bad thing either. It’s nice to see a title in this genre take a lighter approach to saving the world.
Mothergunship is frustratingly difficult at times, but it’s never impossible. It doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail on a mission, either way you are rewarded with experience crystals, which can be used in the armory to upgrade your armor. Anytime you die on a mission, you lose the weapon parts you had while on that assignment, which is probably the worst part about dying. You do get the opportunity to buy some of those parts back from the black market shop, located in the hub area. If you find yourself in a cycle of constant death, the easiest thing to do is take a step back and change your tactics because not every gun will work for every situation. One feature I absolutely love is the ability to change what you spend your experience points on before every mission.
The main premise behind Mothergunship is a simple one: Kill the robot aliens and save Earth. The teams at Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games (I relate to this on a spiritual level) did a great job of keeping to that simple idea and at the same time making it feel like each level was connected to a larger world.
I only have a few issues with Mothergunship; My biggest issue was that even though each room was different from the last, eventually it began to feel repetitive. I sometimes found myself making a dash for the exit instead of fighting the same enemies from again. Although co-op will be included in a future update, I would have loved to have seen it at launch. Mothergunship lends itself perfectly to cooperative play. Having someone to watch your back is never a bad thing. This is a small grip since it will be fixed soon. When you come to a crafting station there are always 2 of stations. Co-op is being added later this month as part of a free content update.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Mothergunship. It was fun and it was a new approach to the usual doom and gloom of bullet hell shooters. I would highly recommend this game to anyone that enjoys a challenge and a FPS where the story isn’t shoved down your throat. I would not recommend this game to anyone who is easily frustrated. If I had to describe Mothergunship in one sentence it would be “It’s like DooM, Fallout, and Borderlands had a beautiful 80s movie love child.”