I never played Terrible Posture Games’ Tower of Guns (2014), but I just might have to now that I’ve experienced the wonders of MOTHERGUNSHIP.
For all intents and purposes, MOTHERGUNSHIP is a first-person, bullet-hell, dungeon-crawler set within the machinations of a robotic alien threat that has surrounded Earth. To make it even better, it presents a gonzo science fiction narrative without the impending doom and gruff characters of many of its peers.
The closest approximation I can make is Doom meets the various writings of Douglas Adams with ridiculously over-sized guns. Hell, some of the guns you can craft make the BFG look like toy!
The Guns Have Guns
The above image represents a small weapon platform. With only four barrels, there’s only so much it can do. What if it had eight barrels, maybe a buzz-saw, anti-gravity, and a massive cannon? MOTHERGUNSHIP begins with your fists and ends with the most ridiculous creations you can dream of. If you have the parts to build it and the berserk rage to employ it without mercy then it’s yours.
At the start of any given mission, you select a handful of parts to craft your first gun. From there, you will earn currency to purchase gun parts from the shop that is available in each level. However, the shop is closed until you clear out the mechanical monstrosities. While you can purchase more parts, you can also craft your weapon platform of choice. This isn’t an automated process, instead, you select either hand, connect pieces together, be they gun barrels, connectors, or caps which serve as mods.
This is where MOTHERGUNSHIP shines. The crafting system is simple, but it allows for an enormous range of firepower. The system is further advanced by caps which can change how each gun fires. Maybe you connect an cap that makes every round bounce. Suddenly, laser beams are ricocheting off the walls into your enemies with astounding force. There aren’t enough awe-inspiring words to describe these weapons, but there is a gun range demo on Steam that beckons the wary player.
Oh, and if one gun platform isn’t enough for you, well, you have two hands. That’s right, you’re not limited to a just the one crazy amalgamation, so load up.
Heading into the Fleet
At the start of each mission you are given an allotment of slots to fill with connectors, barrels, and caps from your permanent inventory within your HQ. Once released into a ship, these parts will make up your first gun and you will be locked out of the permanent inventory. As you progress through a mission, you will gradually buy more pieces to add to a temporary inventory. These parts are available for crafting during the mission, and if you succeed, they are added to the permanent inventory.
This creates a semi-rogue-like experience, without the fear of losing everything. It’s frustrating to see all those gun-parts disappear, but your permanent inventory remains unaffected. Further solidifying the rogue-like feel are the procedurally generated levels which are composed of a variety of mechanical creatures and turrets, as well as environmental dangers. I’ve played through the same room once or twice, but the types and combinations of enemies vary enough that it feels fresh and exciting. Story missions further this with new tile sets and bosses.
Outside of the rogue-like elements, MOTHERGUNSHIP is, at its core, a bullet-hell title. More often than not, the screen will be filled with rounds of all shapes and sizes streaking towards you. Remember the fear of seeing a Bullet Bill in Mario Kart? How about ten or twenty of those, as well as thousands of other projectiles. To add to this mayhem, you are going lobbing similarly sized bullets right back at the enemy.
Similar to many of its bullet-hell peers, MOTHERGUNSHIP is also fast. You can upgrade the mech suit’s health, jump, and movement speed. On top of that, enemies can drop temporary boosts to all three; soon enough, you’ll be flying round the levels, desperately dodging the artillery.
Gonzo Science Fiction
I might be in the minority here, but science fiction in games has become monotonous with very few exceptions. However, MOTHERGUNSHIP aims to break this cycle. Its plot is not intelligent nor even completely coherent, but it’s so much fun. The story is largely told through audio communication from members of your crew between levels. Each one is an irreverent take on a cliched role from the engineer to the gruff and tough general. This goes for the Mothergunship herself. I found myself laughing at a plot that sends you careening from ship to ship until at last you reach your goal.
Into the Future
MOTHERGUNSHIP never steps on the brakes, not even for its finale. Instead, players will be given access to various game modes at the conclusion of the campaign. These include: an endless mode, sandbox mode, dungeons, nightmare mode, and more. To top it all off, the team is also bringing co-op in August so you can enjoy this dizzying bullet-hell with a friend.