Grip Digital seems to have developed a new genre of gaming with their recent release Mothergunship, as just like the title itself this genre combines a lot of different things, including roguelike mechanics, first-person-shooter action, and shoot-em-up chaos. It's a game that's better explained by seeing it in action, but it definitely stands out just as much as the name.
In Mothergunship's story Earth has been taken over by a race of robotic aliens that have surrounded the planet with their armada of spaceships, and as humanity's last hope you must fight your way through their ships, each randomly-generated, to reach the self-destruct button and detonate the spacecraft into oblivion. Simple enough, right? Well, each room is filled with a ton of enemies to blast into smithereens, often culminating in a big boss battle, but don't fear, as you're given a suit of robotic armour to wear which can be upgraded and modified with a massive amount of weaponry to help decimate your foes.
As you battle your way through the seemingly endless ships you can gain experience to upgrade your armour back at the headquarters, as well as coins to spend in the various weapon shops dotted around the spacecraft. Every weapon you buy can be added to your arsenal and crafted onto your armour to help destroy your alien enemies, and the good news is there's really no limit to the amount of guns you can have.
Even the weapon crafting in Mothergunship is pretty unique, as each arm can be stacked with more firepower and connectors can be used to build almost any combination of guns you like. Fancy a left arm with a spike ball launcher, lava cannon, and a flamethrower? No problem. The possibilities are seemingly endless. One factor to take into consideration though is each weapon obviously uses power to shoot, and each arm - controlled independently with the controller's shoulder buttons - has its own power supply, meaning rapidly firing all your beefy weapons will deplete your reserves real quick.
Moving around the ships is easy enough, and you can dodge around the hail of bullets raining in your direction, or perhaps even use the boost jump to navigate to higher ledges or traverse huge gaps. As you progress this can be modified to increase the number of boosts you can use in succession too, improving your speed and manoeuvrability in battle and producing some awesome mid-air gunfights.
It's not all plain sailing in Mothergunship though, as the roguelike elements can be the cause of much frustration, especially since you lose all your weapons and return to HQ when you die. On that note, be prepared to kick the bucket a lot as you get used to the random layout each time, although there are measures you can take to increase your chance of survival, like side missions that give you extra weapons. Lost weapons can also but bought back from the black market arms dealer hidden in your headquarters, albeit at a hefty price. It ain't easy being the saviour of the world, after all.
To help guide you through the levels are a group of misfits led by The Colonel, who talk to you through radio chatter, and while this is a great alternative to cutscenes, we felt the dialogue was a bit over-the-top and at times it sounded more like an uneven radio play. It's not without its merits though, as there are some rather funny moments, but a lot of the time we found ourselves just skipping the dialogue to just continue the barrage of bullets. That's what we're here for, right?
Speaking of sound, there's a punchy industrial soundtrack that suits the game well and certainly keeps with the hectic tempo of the gameplay. Added to the vast number of shots, blasts, explosions, and clunking of heavy machinery, it really is an assault on the ears and it helps ensure that everything about Mothergunship is frantic, with the foot never coming off the gas.
As you make your way through the campaign you'll unlock more things to do in your headquarters, like allowing further ways to upgrade your armour, a shooting range to help find the combination of weapons that will suit your playstyle, and the black market to purchase some of those lost weapons, but as you near completion extras modes are added. These include side missions for weapon parts, XP and coins, a nightmare mode for the most hardcore of players, an endless mode for the score chasers, and a sandbox mode in which you can create almost any weapon that your heart desires, so there's plenty to keep you coming back for more.
There's a lot of substance in Mothergunship for those willing to put the effort in, even if the roguelike difficulty may put some players off. We're not done though, as the developers will be including a co-op mode coming in August in which two players can battle their way through the countless rooms and enemies side-by-side, and we're looking forward to seeing what other additions come our way. For now, though, it's a solid and chaotic experience, but just be prepared to die a lot before you can save the world.