Mothergunship| Developer: Terrible Posture Games| Publisher: Grip Digital
MOTHERGUNSHIP is a bullet-hell FPS where you craft your own guns, fight gigantic bosses, and defeat a robotic alien armada that conquered Earth. Face off against overwhelming odds in brutal, non-stop combats where thinking on your feet is the only way to survive.
~ 6 hours (Campaign)
There is an "Endless Mode" as well
Old school shooter mechanics
Randomness of shops and currency
Campaign levels abruptly end
Note: Due to an unfortunate issue with our storage device, our screenshots were deleted. Hence we had to use the images from the developer’s website.
Most old school shooters had a few things in common; they were fast paced, visceral, loosely based around ‘realism’ and didn’t have reloading which resulted in fast paced action. Mothergunship checks most of those boxes while adding in roguelike elements and the sweet ability to craft guns.
BASICALLY, IN THE WORDS OF THE DEVELOPER-
MOTHERGUNSHIP is a bullet-hell FPS where you craft your own guns, fight gigantic bosses, and defeat a robotic alien armada that conquered Earth. Face off against overwhelming odds in brutal, non-stop combat where thinking on your feet is the only way to survive.
Instead of making the player to cycle through numerous guns like all of its contemporaries, he/she is given two hands and a ton of gun crafting parts/tools which can be connected together to form screen obscuring, damage dishing monstrosities. It’s not every year that we get a game where chainguns, rocket launchers, railguns, sawblades and pulse rifles are all firing on screen at the same time.
The gun parts are broadly classified into- connectors, barrels and caps. Connectors are used to connect everything with varying numbers of attachment points and come in all kinds of shapes & sizes. Barrels are the shooty parts ranging from conventional stuff like machine guns rocket launchers etc to exotic parts like pulse boxes, sawblades and spike launchers. Caps are like runes in an RPG; they add effects like less scatter, ricochet, additional DPS etc. The crafting system in the game follows just two rules- the parts should not overlap and the barrels should always face forward (We all know why). Other than that, the player is allowed all the freedom in the world.
The game has no reload function, obviously to keep the pace of the gameplay up. Instead, it has two energy bars, one for each arm with regenerative energy that work very similarly to stamina bars in the “Franchise that has made journalists ask for easy mode” games. Every barrel or cap that is added to the guns drains the energy faster, so that the player is given some incentive to think strategically while making colossal guns. My main strategy was to keep the energy consumption of both guns equal and fire them alternately giving each gun a second or two to recharge the energy. (I am a simple man)
When it comes down to the basic FPS mechanics, it doesn’t deviate from the set structure of the genre. There are 10 levels in total consisting 5-10 rooms each and overall takes about 4-6 hours to complete depending more on how much luck shines over the player rather than his/her skill (leaning more towards skill, to be completely honest). Side missions allow the player to grind for gun parts, currency and XP which can be used to upgrade character traits (like health, energy etc) while also extending game time.
Traversal is another huge part of this game due to the amount of control the game grants to the player. The direction of movement can be changed very easily and the player gets at least 3 jumps at the start which can be upgraded to 8 jumps by grinding for XP. On top of that, the levels are littered with secrets that give you health, energy and jump upgrades apart from the ones that are occasionally dropped by enemies; adding on extra mid air jumps to ridiculous amounts.
Jumps can be assisted by the recoils of every part (Or rather barrel) you add to the gun. Big enough guns can hurl you backwards at incredible speeds which can be used to get away from enemies or as a means of gaining altitude to reach otherwise inaccessible heights. In an interview, the developer had said that the maximum amount of jumps that a player could accumulate was 99 (if I remember right). While I wasn’t able to find that many, I can vouch for 26 jumps at the very least as a person who didn’t hunt for all the ‘secrets’ in the levels.
Mothergunship also features a pretty much bog standard character upgrade system. Basically, the player gets XP when a mission is completed (Or failed, very less XP in this case) which can be used to get upgrade points. These points can then be used to improve health, energy, energy regeneration etc. There’s a few small catches here, nothing that changes the game drastically; I’ll let the players explore for themselves.
The responsiveness of the controls is on point here and in a game where projectiles approach from every direction, this is one aspect where the game can’t afford to falter. The precise movement allows the player to dance and circle strafe around enemies in tight areas. Anyone who has played DOOM (2016) will appreciate the default movement speed while anyone who is a fan of the older, faster Quake games, might appreciate the game if they are willing to grind for XP points and upgrade the movement speed of the character.
Since we are on the topic of Doom, one thing that might put people off here is the level design, not completely though. The game has some major swings when it comes to how the levels are designed and put together. Some of them will be borderline claustrophobic in nature while some are sprawling open levels (relatively) with jump pads popping you in all kinds of directions. Bosses are worth mentioning here, albeit being very few in number. The boss design and sheer scale that these fights bring to the table blew my mind- they are big, they are mean and they hit heavy while also having more guns than you could think of (Or rather enemies, who are basically guns personified). Mini bosses are scattered across levels and can be a pain in the ass, especially if the randomness decides to not give the player enough resources by the time he/she encounters them.
Keeping the overall story aside, the player is immediately taken into the game through some brilliant slapstick humor pulled off via some really great voice acting. There are a handful of characters in the game, each adding a different flavor of humor. As talking too much about it will go into spoiler territory for this game, all I will say is that the dialogues are well written and will provide lots of chuckle worthy moments to anyone who likes pizza and cheese.
The only gripe I have with the game is a result of the genre it is from- ROGUELIKE. Inherently these type of games are supposed to be randomized and sometimes unfair, ending up either too easy or too hard which again is a result of being random. And that randomness seeps into every aspect of the game design here from levels to health/currency pick ups. Since the levels are procedurally generated, it is hard to determine when the next shop will be available.
As an example: There were times when I was stuck with 15 coins after the first 3 rooms without encountering any shops while in other cases the shop was present in the first room with me having no/few coins leading to a mismatch of acquired components through shops. Say, I would run into a shop after 5 rooms with 15 coins. Now each shop has 6 parts available for purchase, one of which is almost always going to be health. The remaining 5 parts can be any assortment of connectors, barrels and caps which can be rendered useless if the player doesn’t have some kind of compatible equipment to begin with. There is no fixed way of earning coins or health. Unlike in Doom, where chainsawing an enemy results in gaining ammo and glory killing an enemies dropped sure-short health, there is no system in place that allows certain acquisition of coin.
As far as health is concerned, I noticed that various enemies have various chances of dropping health. The enemy healers always drop health bars, the tank-ier enemies have higher chances of dropping the same while there is a very low chance of getting one from any of the cannon fodder. But since the enemies are randomized, the player can never guess whether the next room will contain an enemy that drops health or not which can demotivate the player from moving forward if health is low. Being a roguelike, it is also tough to suggest an alternative system since increasing the drop rate or making a specific system to acquire them will break the game.
The real star here has to be the endless mode because in-spite of all the randomness, the arcadey nature of this game mode gives the player a good chance to either be a complete badass or go out with a whimper (Depending on whether the coins and shops come around at the right time). It also solves one small issue in the main campaign. In the story mode, it felt like whenever the game was actually starting to get fun with the player getting all sorts of attachments and creating the gun of dreams, the level would just abruptly end. This isn’t the case with endless mode which truly allows the game’s gimmick of crafting guns to shine in the end.
Last but not the least, the game scores pretty much evenly on the visual and auditory end. Being an Unreal Engine 4 game, the graphics are undeniably good while maintaining an even theme across the board. I am not too much into graphics (more of a gameplay guy) as long as the game is fun, so I didn’t really judge it based on graphics. Some of the levels (especially those with jump pads) look gorgeous with either neon blue or pink themes. As far as sound goes, the music is pretty good; I actually waited and listened to the whole menu theme which was about 5 minutes long nodding in rhythm to the distorted guitar.
Overall, Mothergunship is an interesting rogue-like FPS that packs a lot of punch, thanks to solid gameplay, beautiful visuals and fantastic sound direction.