Mothergunship Review

By Mike Sousa on August 5, 2018

Back in 2014, Terrible Posture Games released Tower of Guns, a roguelike single-player first-person shooter, with game having a positive reception from both the media and players. While it was true it was a very short game, just like other games in the genre, the randomly generated rooms made each playthrough feel unique and different. Now, four years later, Terrible Posture Games brings forth Mothergunship, a game that is described by the developer as a spiritual successor to Tower of Guns that blends bullet hell and FPS gameplay together with extremely versatile crafting.

Mothergunship takes place after planet Earth has been ravaged by alien machines called ‘Archivists’, and as a soldier that was sent to fight the alien invasion, it's up to you to destroy every single one of them. As you probably would expect, the story is far from memorable, something that isn't helped by how abruptly the game’s campaign ends. While it’s true that there’s some funny dialogue and moments that make the story more enjoyable, as well as an interesting plot twist toward the end, the gameplay is really what you should be here for.

Similar to Tower of Guns, Mothergunship is a first-person shooter that promotes you to constantly keep on the move while shooting at your enemies instead of taking cover and wait for you chance to strike. With rooms that often have dozens of enemies and barely any cover, the game puts your skills to the test, as you will constantly need to act fast and use your arsenal and environment around you in the most efficient way in order to survive. One of the few issues I had with the game is how in certain situations I’m taking damage without noticing. With so many enemies firing at you and you firing back, it becomes very difficult to see what’s coming your way and what’s not. While it’s true that staying on the move in one of the keys to victory, I wish there was some way around this small issue.

Each room usually has multiple exits, which the developers tried to use to add some variety, as players can occasionally choose to go into special rooms like challenge and dice rooms. In challenge rooms, players are presented with a combat challenge in order to receive a reward, while dice rooms depending on the player’s luck are rooms where fights will either be easier or harder. There’s certainly a risk/reward mechanic here, but if players want to play it safe, they can always pick the normal rooms.

At the start of each mission, you start either with a few components you brought along with you or only with your fists. As you collect gold coins, which are occasionally dropped by enemies, you can then use them at shops to purchase new barrels, components, health, and more. This is where the game truly shines with its weapon crafting and customization, as it’s not just about buying two weapons and equip one in each arm. For example, you can buy a connector with 3 slots and then equip a shotgun, a laser and a rocket launcher on each slot, or even go as far as equipping a connector with 3 slots, putting a laser and a machine gun in two slots, equipping another connector on the last slot and then place 3 more barrels on this new connector. The amount and variety of weapons you can create is certainly impressive. In addition, on the slots you can also equip caps (attachments) that give the weapons some bonus stats, such as higher frame rate, damage, or speed.

Although you can create some really powerful weapons, you have to take in consideration the energy consumption of each weapon. The more components your weapon has the more energy it will use, and when the weapon’s energy drops to zero, you will have to wait a few seconds for it to recharge, which can be troublesome if it happens often mid-combat. However, it’s also true you can use the fact you have two weapons to your advantage, as you can have an insanely powerful weapon that uses all its energy after 2 or 3 shots but deals massive damage, while the other weapon is much weaker and consumes a lot less energy, but you can use it to protect yourself from incoming missiles or enemies close to you while your stronger weapon recharges. Again, this goes to show the game has a lot to offer in terms of weapon customization and combinations, as one weapon’s weaknesses can be compensated by other weapon’s strengths.

At the end of each mission, you get to keep all the components you collected during that mission. As I mentioned before, you can start a mission with a few components you brought along with you, which means that if there is a particular combination that you find to be really good, you can just bring the necessary components with you and start the mission with your best loadout. However, there’s a risk/reward mechanic in place here as well. If you die, all the components you acquired during the mission, as well as the ones you brought with you, will be lost forever. While you can take the risk and start a new mission with your best loadout, you can instead bring along with you some components you never used before to test the waters, which by itself is a good way to try out new combinations. Even during missions, the game promotes you to experiment, as shops only have a few components available to purchase, meaning sometimes you will not able to acquire the components you wanted to, and instead, you have to create combinations and survive with what the game gives you.

If you are wondering about how long the game is, I can tell you that the game’s campaign takes around 5 hours to complete, however, there’s quite a bit of side content that extends the experience and adds some replay value. For starters, there are always side missions that you can take on in order to get new equipment and get yourself ready for the harder campaign missions. Once you complete a few campaign missions, you will also unlock Sandbox and Endless missions modes.

Sandbox is like a training mission where you can take all your components with you, allowing you to experiment to your heart’s content and without losing any equipment in case you die. Endless, just like its title indicates, is a game mode that challenges players to survive as long as they can, with enemies getting stronger as you complete each room. After completing the campaign, there’s also some high difficulty missions for hardcore players. In addition to all this, developer Terrible Posture Games is adding more content to the game in the near future via free updates, including online co-op (coming in August), Leaderboards, Daily challenges, new gun parts and rooms, and more, which will add some replay value down the line.

In terms of presentation, Mothergunship features a sci-fi visual style that resembles games like Borderlands. While the game’s graphics aren’t exactly outstanding, the visuals, animations and weapon effects are still quite good, and do a great job in immersing the player in this space-themed adventure. While it’s true that it might get visually repetitive after a while, the one issue I had here was the framerate, which would always drop whenever I was in a room with a lot of enemies. The overall soundtrack fits in nicely with all action going and really helps you feeling pumped as you complete each room, however, it gets a bit repetitive after a while.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Mothergunship offers a solid roguelike experience with some interesting gameplay mechanics where creativity and adaptation are key to survival. The weapon crafting and customization systems are unique and rewarding to experiment with, and certainly offer players a lot of options and variety in terms of weapons for them to take on the action-packed missions. While it’s true that the story disappoints quite a bit, with its enjoyable combat and gun crafting system, as well as new content (including online co-op) in the near future, this is an experience that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss.

Mothergunship was reviewed using a PS4 Digital Copy provided by Grip Digital. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
Impressive and unique crafting system.
Dialogue has some genuinely funny moments.
Engaging action-packed combats.
Forgettable story.
Framerate issues.
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