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Game Info:

MOTHERGUNSHIP
Developed By: Grip Digital, Terrible Posture Games
Published By: Grip Digital
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Available On: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Action; First-Person Shooter; Rogue-like
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Teen for Fantasy Violence
MSRP: $24.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Grip Digital for sending us this game to review!

Four years ago, Terrible Posture Games made a little First-Person Shooter (FPS) called Tower of Guns that gathered a small but loyal following. The premise of that game was to enjoy a short, quick session of player vs. environment (PvE), where you shoot down lots and lots of enemy robots, while doing your best to stay alive. Level and enemy layouts were random, which lends itself well to lots of replayability. That team is now back with the spiritual follow-up, MOTHERGUNSHIP.

Rather than just lots and lots of enemies to blow up (though there is that), there is now a crafting and leveling element, which makes you gradually gain power as you not only gain experience, but also new and better weapons. As you complete missions, you can take with you whatever you find, and add it to the ship’s inventory. You can then choose a limited number of items in that list to take with you when you start another mission. There are several at a time to choose from; there is always a story mission, as well as a few other side missions which can help you gain experience or weapons if you need them.

MOTHERGUNSHIP
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun shooting action; lots of bullets to dodge; levels are unpredictable; humorous dialog; graphics are great
Weak Points: No difficulty level selection; failure loop is easy to get stuck in; levels are too random at times
Moral Warnings: Lots of shooting and blowing up robots (and you die a lot); AI robots are the butt of lots of insults

I’ve generally enjoyed my time with MOTHERGUNSHIP, and the basics of combat and shooting is really well done, and feels great. I also find it funny that you can collect the ability to jump many, many times over – a simple double jump is not enough. One time, I collected seventeen jumps! That was nearly unlimited in practical use, and was fun when trying to avoid bad guys, or lava and such. Unfortunately, I have not gotten so lucky again since that run.

There are two major problems with this game. First, is the random number generator (RNG). The levels and drops are truly random – and sometimes, that leads to lots of jump upgrades, but no healths. Or lots of shops in the level, but no coins to buy new weapons. Or lots of coins, but no shops to buy them. Or lots of enemies – and no chance of survival with the crappy weapons you might have started the level with.

If the RNG is particularly tough on you, you may find yourself on a losing streak, which then limits or eliminates all weapons from your inventory, which can lead to a losing spiral and you get weaker and weaker without good weapons. They try to alleviate this by giving you weapon testing levels, but I still found myself losing to even the easiest level one weapon testing levels. While you do gain experience (which allows you to make permanent upgrades when you level), it is not difficult to get stuck in what amounts to a weapon drain loop as you continuously lose. No amount of excellence in shooting or neat ideas can make up for a negative feedback loop.

MOTHERGUNSHIP
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 12/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 93%
Violence - 7.5/10
Language - 9/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Thankfully, the game itself is fun. No two levels are exactly alike, though the environments do start to feel repetitive after a while, despite technically always being unique. Beating a level is quite a chore, and a relief when it happens – but it happened far to rarely for me. I suppose you could argue I need to ‘git gud’ - and to an extent, that is true. But if beating the campaign is not accessible for most, then perhaps it should be reexamined, especially when this happens in the first few hours of gameplay. A selectable difficulty level could be another approach to solving this problem, as those who seek the difficulty will be pleased. Either way, the second or third mission should never be a steep difficulty wall, no matter what game this is.

And that’s really my problem with MOTHERGUNSHIP. I want to like it, and it’s not that I don’t - but at the end of the day I don’t want to play a game where I don’t feel like I am making any progress. I am okay with challenging games, if the gameplay itself is really compelling, or playing it makes me a better player, and I can somehow learn from my mistakes. But here, you will never play the same level twice, and what killed you last time may be totally different from what does it next time. With no levels I can learn to conquer, or with too few tools to earn to take on the level again renewed, it’s just no longer fun, nor is there a compelling reason to keep going.

I really want to like MOTHERGUNSHIP. It has a fun premise, rock-solid gameplay and shooting mechanics, and great ideas. It also really helps a lot that the developers avoided putting in curse words, which made me very happy. (The AI is brunt to a lot of jokes, but computers don’t have feelings, right?) Only robots (or you) die. So I want to give this game a chance. Thankfully, it seems that the developers are looking into player feedback, and do intend on patching the game to improve the sometimes terrible RNG, and hopefully other issues. They have already promised co-op to come, and more content as well. Once they make it so a level can usually be completed by most competent players, then I imagine I will also enjoy it very much. Until then, I’m going to pass.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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