Review: GoNNER


I'd rather get some head

Man, do I love roguelikes and these past few years we've been graced with some of the best games in the genre: Rogue Legacy, Downwell, The Binding of Isaac, and Enter the Gungeon

Thankfully, there is room on that list for one more.

Developer: Art in Heart
Publisher: Raw Fury
Released: October 12, 2016
MSRP: $9.99

I gushed about GoNNER when I played it at PAX East this year, calling it "hands-down my favorite game" of the show. Now, it's one of my favorite games of the year.

This spooky yet cute platformer has you collecting various heads, guns, and backpacks on every run as you develop the skills required to reach the final boss. Once an item is found you'll be able to use it at the start of any run without having to find it again. Heads change the way your movement work as well as how much health you start with, and backpacks grant you special abilities that can be used infinitely on a cooldown, such as reloading your gun, firing a ton of shots rapidly in succession, or causing a ring of explosions to surround you momentarily.

Levels are drawn around your character as you go, which makes for one of the more interesting art styles I've seen in a while. I always will appreciate when a game goes for style over realism, because it typically makes the game timeless whereas today's "best graphics ever" look like shit in a few years' time. The player character and enemies are all so adorable, including Sally, a giant beached whale who is your best friend that you'll run across from time to time. I friggin' love Sally. She always happily smiles upon seeing the player character and gives you health to show appreciation for your friendship. Dawwwww.

The gunplay and movement are very reminiscent of the critically acclaimed Downwell in that each gun has a different feel and kickback, plus you can slide down walls, wall jump, and jump on enemies to damage them. Even though I only came across six guns (there are supposedly tons of secrets in this game with more being added in updates), each felt equally powerful and useful, depending on which one of the four levels I was currently in. Just before the bosses of each level, you'll come across a shop where you can purchase the different items if you've got enough glyphs to do so, as well as refill your ammo and health. Glyphs are earned by quickly killing enemies in a row and are also used to continue should you die.

You'll die, a lot, but it never feels unfair. Generally, upon getting hit, all your items fall off and you've got to scramble around headless to quickly grab them before you get hit a second time and die, regardless of the amount of health your skull has. When swarmed by a ton of enemies in later stages, this can prove quite challenging, which is probably why the online leaderboards heavily favor the skull that keeps all your parts together upon getting hit. It is a strange mechanic, but it works aside from a few cheap deaths where your body will fall down a hole after getting hit, or you lose your skull or weapons meaning you'll have to find new ones or hope you can survive till the shop.

GoNNER is not a long game. It can be completed in under 20 minutes, that is if you're the shining golden god of gaming. It took me a total of six hours to finally have a successful run and kill the final boss, which feels about right considering the $10 price tag. My final run lasted exactly 17 minutes, which was on the lower end considering most on the leaderboards were around 25 minutes or so. While there doesn't seem to be much to do after completing the game aside from attempting to string together lengthy combos to achieve high scores (which while admittedly is a blast, won't keep me playing), that's fine. I'm more than happy with the time I put in with the game already.

It is unfortunate that GoNNER is seemingly flying under the radar. It is a damned good game by all measures with addictive gameplay, catchy music, a great art style, and just the right amount of challenge. If you're looking for your next favorite roguelike platformer, look no further.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. Hamza Aziz, who works for Raw Fury, was previously employed at Destructoid. The writer never personally worked with Hamza. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

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GoNNER reviewed by Jed Whitaker



A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage.
How we score:  The Destructoid reviews guide


Jed Whitaker
Jed Whitaker   gamer profile



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