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Behind the scenes with Enter the Gungeon, a bullet-filled dungeon crawler coming to Windows

What do you get when you cross the hardcore dungeon exploration of The Binding of Isaac with a bullet hell shoot 'em up and lots of cheerful colors? Enter the Gungeon, an upcoming Rogue-like game developed by a group of EA veterans at Dodge Roll and published by Devolver Digital.

Enter the Gungeon will bring screens full of bullets and loot to PC and PlayStation 4 this spring, but naturally we'd love to see it on Xbox One as well. We caught up with the game's designer, Dave Crooks at PAX South to ask about just such a possibility. Read on for his answer, plus lots of insights into the creation of Enter the Gungeon!

Enter the Gungeon gameplay stream from PAX South

Paul Acevedo, Windows Central: Hey Dave, give us a quick description of Enter the Gungeon.

Enter the Gungeon

Dave Crooks, Dodge Roll: So we like to call it a bullet hell dungeon crawler. I actually do think that's a pretty good fit for it because other than the combat, it is a dungeon crawler. You find loot, you go to shops, fight mimics, [and then encounter] a boss on the floor and go to the next floor.

The combat is very much like a bullet hell game. So lots of bullets on screen and you have a few different things you can do to manage them. The main thing being the dodge-roll. It has invincibility frames like Dark Souls, so you can actually dodge-roll straight through the bullets. So, "Bullet Hell Dungeon Crawler, where you have to master the timing of the dodge roll" is what I would call it.

Paul: That sounds like a blast. How large is your development team?

It's four people full-time and two people part-time. I'm the designer on the game, by which I mean game design – not art design. We have two coders, my good friends Brent Sodman and Dave Rubel. Our artist is a good buddy of mine who I've known him my whole life: Joe Hardy.

The person who is doing the music for the game is Doseone, who also did the music for Samurai Gunn, Gang Beasts, and a few other things. He's just an awesome guy. And Erica Hampson does our sound design.

Enter the Gungeon

Paul: How did the core team come together?

Dave: Dave, Brent, and I used to work at Electronic Arts. [Our specific studio] got closed down. We had the chance to go to another EA studio, but instead we decided to take our savings and go and do our own thing. We'd been making very different kinds of games [as part of] much larger teams where we had a lot less input. [This game] is our first together as a team; it's exciting.

Paul: And what aspect of Enter the Gungeon are you guys proudest of?

Enter the Gungeon at PAX South

Fans enjoy Enter the Gungeon at PAX South

Dave: Man, that's a tough question. Honestly, when you're making a game it takes a really long time, in some cases, to know that you've hit a "fun loop." I had [the concept] in my head. "I know it's going to work like this," and "The dodge roll going to feel THIS good," and "we're going to design our bosses to put pressure on the player in THIS way, but they will feel good because they have mastered the dodge roll." So I guess the biggest thing really is seeing that it kind of works. Our crazy idea worked.

At some point in the development we were [demoing] it (maybe at show or something), but we didn't have to explain anything. The players "got" everything and they had super fun with it. Other than that, the biggest "Yes we did it" moment was when we realized we were going to FINISH a game. It took us two years, but we are going to finish the game. So I guess [I'm most proud of] the experience of creating it and finding out that "Yeah, people like it, it's fun."

Paul: Congratulations. Does that mean the game has gone gold already?

Dave: Not gold, but very close to it. It's coming out this Spring, probably early Spring on PC, PlayStation 4, Mac, and Linux. Right now we're balancing the difficulty and some of the guns, adding more rooms, a little bit more content, and fixing bugs. It's coming out soon though.

Paul: How did your game get picked up by Devolver Digital as a publisher?

Dave: I flew to E3 with the prototype of the game… on a laptop in a backpack. I didn't even have a ticket to E3! I stood outside the Devolver area [and pleaded] "Look at my game." And they did!

Ever since then, they have totally boosted us up. I [mentioned] that we [used our savings] for the development money. But that ran out and Devolver helped us finish the game. They brought us here, and so they have been incredible supportive.

I've made a ton of friends, and I would ABSOLUTELY work with Devolver again. If any indie out there [is looking for a publisher], I would recommend Devolver. I can't say enough good things about them. Sony [has also] been really supportive, Nick Suttner in particular. They've definitely helped make people aware of the game.

Enter the Gungeon

Paul: Speaking of Sony, let's talk about the competition. Do you plan to bring Enter the Gungeon to Xbox One and/or Wii U in the future?

Dave: We'd like to get it on anything the players want it on, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I just listed out our team, very small. We're doing four platforms at launch, and we've never developed for a console before. We'll get the game out, deal with the launch, and after some time we'll figure out if there's demand on the other consoles. I would like to [bring it to other consoles].

Paul: I hope so! Indie gaming fans on Xbox would love it. But for people who game on computer or PlayStation 4, do you have any parting words about Enter the Gungeon?

Dave: It might look a little difficult, but give it a try. As you play, your skill is going to get better, I promise you. I've watched people come back on the show floor and their second run is better, their third run is better… That's a good feeling.

Even if you're kind of wary on the Rogue-like genre, hopefully our game will maybe put a different spin on it for you, and make you see it in another light.

Enter the Gungeon

Enter the Gungeon arrives on PC, PlayStation 4, Mac, and Linux sometime this Spring. You can find its Steam store page here. Do you plan to enter the Gungeon, PC and PlayStation 4 gamers?

Special thanks to Chris Tadlock for his assistance with this story.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • This looks really fun. Hopefully it does well enough for them to bring it to Xbox
  • It's raining Games!!
  • I know ms is about new original in house IPs but they need to be looking to help the little guys too. Reading articles like this only goes to paint Sony in a good light and virtually guarantees future support for the PS4. Hopefully as it's win10 then the port to X1 shouldn't be for behind.
  • Yeah, the problem for Xbox is Sony is really great at reaching out to indie developers and making strong connections. Microsoft does some indie outreach, but probably only half as much. So PS4 gets a ton of indie games before Xbox One, sadly.
  • Its so easy to see but either MS is being neglectful or playing there cards close to their chest. Im really, really hoping for the latter but fear the former.
  • This looks like it could be as fun as Dungeon Explorer from the 16-bit NEC days, and of course Gauntlet. A modern twist with similar graphics at quick glance.
  • Funny as how Isaac game was supposedly pulled from iTunes store lmao.
  • Something this simple, should run fine on a phone. And since it is all universal coding, why don't we see projects like this coming out for the phone?
  • The main reason is because people don't like paying $15 for phone games. Also, many developers strongly prefer physical controls to touch screen controls - just like many gamers. That said, Binding of Isaac did get an iOS port, so it's not out of the question that this one could eventually end up on mobile.
  • Yes, but it is suppose to be easy and almost hands free to move it over with universal. If you already coded it and it is as easy as they say, it is like free money even if it only has ten sales.... Unless thus isn't as easy as they claim.
  • They game would probably not run on a phone. The light looks like pixellights, they need a high fillrate which mobile doesn't offer. Also the controls would need a rework and the whole game would have to be optimized, it is very very far from being "free money"
  • It is that time of the week again! Paul Time!  And also time to listen to some #Downtown!!! :D:D:D  ;​)
  • I need to read the articles closer i skimmed this one to fast. As for the game there are many games but this one looks fun. If paul streams it I will watch it. Will see about buying it. At this time my gameing needs to take a back seat to bills as our economy where i live is effected by many prices around us.  I  will have to start to budget my games more.
  • This doesn't look like I'd enjoy it much; not my style but looks like something that others would have lots of fun with.
  • The art and all the guns are really cool, the game looks like a lot of fun to me. Sucks that it's not on Xbox though.
  • Looks like a game I would play if it comes to Xbox I might get it. Good interview Paul.
  • That looks like a fun game. The bullets are cute. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Super cute! :D
  • Xbox. Please.
  • Why linux but not xbox?
  • Presumably, porting and releasing it on Mac and Linux is easier than learning to develop for a new console. There is also the factor that Devolver Digital, the publisher, seems very cool on Xbox One for unknown reasons.
  • It's sad no Xbox!
  • I'll be grabbing this on PS4 and possibly PC as eel as it looks like a fun time waster if I'm ever commuting.