Gonner2 Review: A Weird and Worthwhile Roguelite Shooter

by David Sanchez November 10, 2020 @ 9:45 am

Gonner2 on Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Switch

The original Gonner was an absolute joy to play. It was incredibly fun, quirky, and strange, and it was a total sleeper hit. Gonner2 is a lot of fun, too. It’s an ambitious sequel that’s weirder and bigger than its predecessor, and it mostly hits the mark on what it sets out to accomplish. Developer Art in Heart really swung for the fences with this followup, and though you could question whether or not the end result is a better game than the original, there’s no doubt that it makes for a wild and fun time.

A Hectic Good Time

Gonner2 turns the dial all the way up when it comes to sheer gameplay insanity. While the original only allowed for horizontal shooting, here you can shoot in all directions, which means more enemies on the screen at all times. You’ll find yourself emptying your clip frequently and then stomping on enemies a few times to kill them while you try to refill your ammo. It’s a satisfying, if hectic, gameplay loop that you’ll experience virtually on a level-to-level basis.

Gonner2 level select.

The procedurally-generated levels in Gonner2 are a lot different than they were in Gonner. A lot of the time, they feel more compact but are loaded with more enemies. You’ll still do plenty of wall-jumping around tight spaces, but everything feels tighter here. This added sense of claustrophobia makes for interesting enemy encounters, though the slightly more open nature of the levels from the first game is definitely missed here.

When you’re not in rooms filled with countless enemies, you’ll battle giant bosses that take up a big part of the screen. These can be pretty tough, and any space not covered by the bosses themselves will usually be filled with their projectiles and smaller enemies.

Gonner2 is as weird as it is ambiguous. Along the way you’ll be able to acquire new weapons and abilities, though the game is never clear about what any of the pickups and shop items you discover actually do. That’s okay, though, because there’s an odd charm to discovering it for yourself, and stumbling upon something increases your odds of survival is always a delight.

Gonner2 boss battle.

Like the first game, Gonner2 will keep you busy for about eight to ten hours before you reach the end. That’s a decent length, especially when you take into account that you’ll be dying, retrying, and experimenting that entire time.

Bold and Bizarre

In terms of art style, Gonner2 takes everything that made the previous game charming and aesthetically interesting and boosts it even more. Everything here is more colorful, more psychedelic, and more dream-like. The more enemies you kill, the crazier the game’s visuals get, with different off-color filters and high-contrasts covering the screen as you drop creature after creature. It’s visually intense, and it’s easily the game’s biggest improvement over the first.

Gonner2 graphics.

Speaking of improvements, the music here is a lot better and catchier, too. That’s not to say that the first Gonner didn’t have some nice melodic tunes, but the themes you hear in Gonner2 are even better. Add to that the bubbly, squishy sound effects, and you have a mix of great music and sound that works well in the dreamscape crafted by Art in Heart.

I loved Gonner. While I can’t exactly say I love Gonner2, I definitely really like it. Gameplay-wise, the first game is superior. Though this sequel attempts to do a lot and go bigger, it doesn’t always succeed. It’s still a very good game, but some of the near-perfect mechanical design of the original is lost in the process. That said, Gonner2 is still an absolutely worthwhile roguelite shoot ‘em up that’s filled with style and weirdness. If you’re looking for another cool roguelite to fill your time, Gonner2 is an easy recommendation.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

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