In space, no one can hear you get riddled with bulletholes.
The Mothergunship booth at PAX East is a small, relatively unassuming thing; a simple corner with some nice banners displaying the game’s title, and a few computers to play on. Truly, I had no way of knowing just how brutal the adrenaline rush in store for me was when I entered to get my hands on Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games’s new game, Mothergunship.
I was led to a computer with two modes to choose from. One was a segment of the game’s series of core missions, and the other was an extreme hard-mode gauntlet. With a half hour to play and very little fear of death, I was able to try both.
Mothergunship drew me in immediately with tight first-person shooting that reminded me a bit of Doom. I began making my way through parts of a space station, with a mysterious AI occasionally popping into my ear to tell me what boils down to the idea that having bullets and cannons shot at me is all part of some sort of process.
Yes, Mothergunship is essentially first-person bullet hell slaughterfest. And hey, that’s a pretty good thing to be. From the get-go, the campaign slice I played was blasting rockets at me, roasting me at the heels with flamethrowers, and tossing out an airfield of flying mine robots here and there for good measure.
The player character is given not just a double jump, but, stop the presses, a triple, which plays nicely with the generous placement of high-velocity jump pads in the level design. The cognitive flow of Mothergunship is such that it pays to stay in constant motion, even when dodging a volley of rocket blasts accidentally sends you hurtling into the air. Running and gunning feels awesome, taking down giant mechanical forward as fast as they can spit ammo back at you.
A big part of why combat works is, obviously, because the guns work. The base gun I was given was a pretty standard Lazer rifle, and I didn’t really think about it until the game prompted me to. I found an upgrade station, and in doing so discovered one of my personal favorite takeaways from my time with the game. My gun had something like seven or eight mod points, where I could connect secondary barrels, modifiers for damage done and efficiency, and tons of other options. After I had finished playing the game, I was told by a member of the development team that they had designed weapon customization to be as freeform as possible, with the only restrictions being that all barrels faced the same way and gun parts couldn’t phase through each other. Reasonable, I suppose. Near the end of my demo, I was also given a second gun, doubling the number of total firepower possibilities.
My time with the story mission led me to a boss battle with an actual wall of cannons. I took it down after a couple attempts, noting as I did that some of the damage I would do in one attempt would carry over to the next. With a lazer gun in one hand and some kind of mini-rocket cannon in the other, I pressed through, noticing as I did that my two weapons seemed to be tied to the same rechargeable cooldown meter. Until the boss, I hadn’t really noticed it at all.
Mothergunship‘s second mode is a brutal tour-de-blamblam. Here I was given only one weapon, and sent through a full-force gauntlet on the map I had already played through, filled with stronger and more explosive fields of fanning fire than ever. I was told nobody at PAX East had been able to clear it yet; after becoming a price of human Swiss cheese a few times, I believed him. This mode was a ton of fun, but even less for the feint of heart than normal modes.
After I had dusted the blood and ash off my shoulders, I talked to someone from Mothergunship‘s dev team. I was told that the different modes I had just played would be consolidated into a more seamless whole in the final game, all connected by a singular hub, so the player can easily decide on the fly what kind of experience they want to have that day.
And basically, there you have it. Mass arrays of projectiles. Modular gun customization. Tight first-person shooting and a solid physics engine. Mothergunship is planned for a release later in 2017 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.