Archives by Day

August 2020


Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Grip Digital (EU), Sold Out Sales & Marketing Limited (US)
Developer: Terrible Posture Games
Release Date: July 17, 2018


PC Review - 'Mothergunship'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 9, 2018 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Mothergunship is a bullet-hell FPS hybrid that pits you, Earth’s last hope, against the armadas of data-hoarding robotic alien invaders.

Buy Mothergunship

A few years ago, Terrible Posture Games released its first title, Tower of Guns. It was a simple conceit, merging the fundamentals of the roguelike with solid, old-school, first-person shooter mechanics. Wrapped up in old graphic novel cel-shading with an ever-fluctuating story, it was something that felt both different yet familiar. The result was a fun title that also happened to sell very well, eventually branching out from the PC to other consoles. Normally, this success would mean that we'd be seeing Tower of Guns 2, and while that was the original plan, the game eventually morphed into the one we're reviewing now: Mothergunship.

This time around, there's a single story for the game. You play the role of a fallen soldier who's been found and automatically recruited by Earth's resistance force. For too long, alien forces have orbited the Earth and are planning the extinction of mankind. While sending up squadrons to deal with the threat has slowed things down, an alternate plan has been devised to send soldiers in robotic power suits to go to the smaller ships and find a way onto the large mothergunship.

While some players will miss the random assortment of storylines from before, this particular tale is still laced with humor. Most of it is incidental stuff, especially the dialogue, which has comedic beats ripped from movies like "The Naked Gun" and "Hot Shots." Some of it is more ludicrous, like seeing pop-up ads appear after one of the robots contracts a virus. Some of the jokes miss, but for the most part, the whole thing feels lighthearted despite this being a story about humanity's last stand.

The core gameplay mechanics are almost a direct copy of the developer's previous title. The random nature of level generation means that there's no consistency with room sizes and hazards. One minute, you'll get into a small room that's actually large since it goes vertically instead of horizontally. The next minute, you'll go to a large, sprawling room with lava traps and missile launchers that can only be shut down if you kill all of the enemies. Speaking of enemies, you'll be mostly concerned with turrets and spinning saws flying in the air, with a slew of small Mouser-like bots nipping at your feet and other bots that cover up doorways. Some rooms have special side requirements, like surviving for a period of time without getting hit or going in with powered-down weaponry. Meanwhile, the bosses are large and certainly the most inventive enemies you'll face in the game.

Interestingly, the pacing has taken a hit. For the most part, Mothergunship retains a sense of speed reminiscent of old first-person shooters. Movement is fast as if you're running all of the time. Turning speed, even on a controller, is just as quick, and there's no reloading for your guns. That has been replaced with a cooldown meter that gives you near-continuous fire with any weapon — provided you ensure the meter never reaches its peak. That flow is always interrupted by rooms that give you stats on what you did in the previous room and also act as hidden loading sequences for the next randomly generated room. There's a stop/start flow to the game that may act as a breather for some players and a source of annoyance for others who just want to maintain the breakneck speed.

The real gimmick is in the guns. Specifically, you practically have free rein over the types of guns you want to design. There are three types of gun parts, but the barrel is all you need for shooting. Connectors allow you to attach more barrels if you wish, so it's entirely plausible to have a rocket launcher, shotgun, and laser on just one hand. In lieu of barrels, you can also attach caps, which modify the shot properties. For example, the same rocket launcher can now have splash damage that freezes enemies, or the standard machine gun can now have bouncing bullets. The sky's the limit as far as design goes, with the only restrictions being that the barrels must face forward and gun parts must have enough clearance between them to work. Also, your guns expend more energy if you have more attachments, so you can have one gun that has every modification three times over, but prepare to only shoot it once because you'll need a long cooldown.

Interestingly, death in Mothergunship is handled differently from the other roguelikes. All of the coins you get in a mission stay with you, along with your XP. This means you have a better shot of buying some of the more expensive gun parts in a level and retaining your previous armor upgrades so the next run will go a little better. However, dying means that you lose out on the parts you bought in that stage and parts you brought with you for the mission. Considering the random availability of these gun parts in the store, deaths hurt more. It's actually much worse if you're struggling with a stage, as you'll soon find yourself with nothing but your fists to fight with. That makes progression a slower grind than usual, since you can't backtrack to previous levels to farm for some gear.

The game is rather short, with the campaign taking an average of three hours to complete. That's actually a decent length for the genre, and the real joy will come from being able to try out different gun configurations in later runs. On top of this, the developers have already promised more gun parts and level configurations in future patches, and they'll be releasing a co-op mode later next month. Provided they all make it in time, that means Mothergunship has some serious replayability.

The presentation is very solid. The environments shine with neon in some areas and a metal sheen in others, but they do a good job at not obscuring the enemies and their related gunfire. Speaking of which, some enemies still have a bit of that graphic novel look from Tower of Guns, but it's subtle and doesn't clash with the rest of the visuals, but the somewhat jerky animation might. More importantly, the game runs very fast even with quaint hardware, so it won't take much to get that speedy experience the developers were aiming for. Sound-wise, the music is pulse-pounding, and the voice acting is very good. The effects are good but a little more subdued than what you may be expecting, which is fine considering how gunfire and explosions almost never cease.

Your enjoyment of Mothergunship is going to be dependent on how much you liked Tower of Guns. Even though other games are starting to adopt the style, the fast pace is still refreshing, and the enemy variety could be better. Players will have tons of fun trying to make up new and ridiculous guns, but they'll also curse the game when it becomes so hard that they lose all of the parts they worked so hard to get. Mothergunship looks and sounds great, and with new modes and items coming in from future patches, there's still some enjoyment to be had after defeating the game. For shooting fans, Mothergunship is well worth checking out.

Score: 8.0/10

More articles about Mothergunship
blog comments powered by Disqus