Mothergunship is a first person bullet-hell developed by Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games. Mixing fun gunplay, roguelike elements, and a fairly unique gun crafting system, Mothergunship winds up being a treat when you first pick it up. The big question is, does this remain the case the more you play?
Mothergunship is available on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One for $24.99
Mothergunship’s story takes a fairly dark premise and manages to turn it into a more lighthearted and comedic experience. The player takes the place of a new recruit in the resistance, and must fight against an alien fleet known as the Archivists. The Archivists are, as the name would imply, a race of robotic information hoarders who have abducted most of the human race for the sake of “backing up data”. The resistance is made up of those who have managed to be rescued from the Archivists.
On the surface, this seems like a pretty damn grim experience. But, through the use of tastefully quirky characters and good writing, Mothergunship manages to be a much more jovial experience. Some highlights of the game include your HQ’s computer getting a pop-up virus, an advanced alien computer being tricked by a “pizza delivery” plan, and an A.I. messing with your suits captioning software.
The story is clearly secondary to the gameplay, but still manages to display a significant amount of effort behind it. Side missions have clear reason to exist while still fitting with elements of the game’s story, something a lot of games tend to forget. This also extends to other mechanics in the game, and the amount of time put in to make coherent and consistent story elements is definitely appreciated.
As mentioned in the intro, Mothergunship can best be described as a first person shooter bullet-hell. One of the main attractions, at least in my eyes, would be the gun crafting system in the game. In addition to this the game also boasts some strong roguelike elements.
Before getting into the nitty gritty, we should go over the basic elements of the gunplay. You have two slots of weapons, those being your left and right hands. Each of these has a set amount of energy they can use to fire. When this runs out, that weapon can not fire until a short cooldown is finished. This may not seem overly notable in itself, but as we continue it will become apparent how important this mechanic becomes.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the gun crafting system. Gun parts are separated into 3 categories, those being barrels, connecters, and caps. These parts can be purchased during gameplay using coins collected by killing enemies, and as rewards for completing missions. The more difficult the level, the more powerful parts you’ll be able to acquire.
In addition. There are also a couple of guidelines to go by when creating a weapon. First off, parts must have space between them. As such, the player needs to be a bit more creative when it comes to how the layout of their gun will play out. Secondly, the barrel parts must be facing forward. This is fairly simple, but can provide some difficulties when trying to make more complex weapons.
Barrels determine what mode of fire your weapon will have. These can range from a basic blaster, to a rocket launcher, and then to a gun that shoots saw blades. Different weapons will have different values of course, such as damage, rate of fire, and projectile velocity, (the latter applies to weapons like the grenade launcher, mini rockets, etc). Weapons will also consume varying amounts of energy, usually dependant on how powerful they are.
Next up is the connectors. As the game progresses, the importance of these pieces becomes much more evident, as they are key to creating more powerful and intricate weapons. The player will start off with one socket on each hand. The connectors can be attached to add additional sockets, allowing to add more barrels and caps. The size and and socket placement of these connecters will vary from part to part, and getting a hold on how they fit together becomes essential to making it through the game.
Finally, we go to caps. These act as upgrade pieces to the weapony, giving effects like additional damage, faster rate of fire, etc. Most of these will also come with some kind of drawback to balance things out, such as increasing weapon spread or adding more pushback to weapons. As such, finding and equipping caps that manage to make up for the drawbacks of each other will determine the good weapon builds from the great ones.
There are a lot of factors to look into when creating your weapons. On the one hand, you could just attach as many barrels as possible and go for the spray and pray method. But if you do this, you’ll wind up burning through your weapon energy way faster, leaving the player defenseless until the cooldown runs out.
On the other hand, you could try going for a single barreled weapon with plenty of caps boosting its power. The problem with doing this is, while you may not be as vulnerable as you are with the former option, you have far fewer ways to fight your enemy. For example, if you're using the rocket launcher, which has a slower velocity than other weapons, it may become a lot harder to hit smaller, faster enemies.
Because of the issues that come with both sides, having both the right and left hand available as separate weapons can become crucial to reaching some kind of balance. With this mechanic, the player has more options as to whether they want to specialize in one weapon, or go with the quantity over quality option. Of course, this is all dependant on whether or not the player can get these parts, which can be a lot more difficult than one would imagine.
A big part of difficulty is due to the way the player collects weapon parts. When starting a mission, you will usually be given the chance to take a few parts with you for a starting loadout. When you complete said mission, those parts, alongside any you collected during gameplay, are brought back to base with the you and added to your loadout options. But if you wind up dying, not only do you not get the parts you collected, you also lose the parts you take with you.
This ends up being one of the more frustrating parts of the game. Due to the nature of random level generation, it's very possible to just wind up getting rotten luck during a run. You could get a bunch of rooms filled with traps, or no good weapon options. As such, even being cautious doesn’t guarantee you won’t end up losing valuable parts.
The solution the game offers around this is by having special side missions. These missions give the player specific parts for your loadout. As such, you can fail these missions without having to worry about losing parts from your own inventory. The idea seems to be that in between campaign missions you should be grinding these side missions.
Another important aspect to this grinding is due to the player's experience points and currency. Both of these can be collected through either defeating enemies or completing side missions. The former is used to level up, which gives skill points that can be used to increase your stats. These include health, element resistance, and weapon cooldown.
The latter can be used in much the same manner as it is during the levels, purchasing weapon parts. Any coins you collect during gameplay that aren’t spent are added to your inventory. These can then be used to purchase parts from a market in your HQ. These parts will vary in price and rarity, and stocking up on coins can lead t getting even better parts.
As I mentioned before, the random level generation plays a pretty important role in the overall gameplay. Levels will vary from plain arenas with to much more complex areas. The main goal of the gameplay is to find your way out of the room through one of several doorways. What types of doorways they are can determine what obstacles will be in the next room. For every room completed, the difficulty level will incrementally increase.
These rooms will vary, from the more basic setups to rooms with a special requirements to escape. Some rooms will have a have multiple exits, while others may only have the one. The amount of level variety is actually really impressive, even managing to have distinct setups depending on the tileset of the level.
The levels will also have secrets with special pickups that increase your abilities for the duration of the level. These include maximum health, maximum energy, and additional jumps. These upgrades can also be collected from enemies on rare occasions, and gaining these can make the level a lot easier to complete.
The enemies that populate these levels are also fairly varied. These include little Mouser esque bots, turrets that will lockdown level exits, and machines that resemble a hot air balloon made out of lava, which then explode into a bunch of small drones. As mentioned earlier, the way these enemies are dealt with can depend heavily on what weapons you have, motivating the player to try out different builds.
Another important aspect of this game is its movement. As a bullet-hell, being able to maneuver around levels and enemy fire is essential to creating a fast paced and exciting experience. Fortunately, Mothergunship manages to pull this off extremely well. This is mainly due to two things.
First off is the jump mechanics. The game starts the player off with a triple jump, and through upgrades gained through skill points and found during gameplay you can increase that number. This gives the player a much greater control of the space around them, not limiting them to just standard strafing on the ground.
Another important part, which I personally feel a lot of FPS games forget about, is the movement speed. Having this set at a above average pace and allowing it to be increased through upgrades allows the player to successfully maneuver around multiple enemy projectiles at once. Had the movement been similar to other games, like Borderlands 2 for example, it would lead to the player taking damage that they can’t avoid.
You may have noticed I’ve mentioned the player HQ a few times during this. This area acts as the main hub for the game, and boasts a significant number of features outside of the main gameplay. Depending on how you use these features, which include a firing range and a market, you may be spending a decent amount of time in here
Graphics and Sound
Mothergunship looks fairly good, if not the most unique artstyle in the world. As mentioned before there is a decent amount of variety in enemies, and for the most part the remain consistent. The only thing I found annoying was that some of the levels and enemies blended together a bit too well, making it difficult to see where they were.
The soundtrack for the game is definitely one of its best selling points, at least in my opinion. Using pumping rock music, the game gets your adrenaline pumping as you blast your way through hordes of enemies. Much like the gunplay, the music reminds me a bit of the old Quake series
Overall, Mothergunship manages to succeed in a lot of aspects. Fun gameplay, great music, a decent story, and a fairly interesting crafting system all mix together to create a fun experience for the player. On that same hand though, it does fall into some of the traps which take away from the experience, such as repetitiveness and a bit to much reliance on grinding. While the gameplay is enough for me personally to get past this, I can definitely see it being a turn off for others when looking at this game. Otherwise, Mothergunship is a definite recommendation.
|+ Fun gunplay||– Can become repetitive with extended play|
|+ Interesting crafting system||– A bit too much reliance on grinding|
|+ Decent story|
|+ Great soundtrack|