Gonner 2 is fast paced, hectic and colourful, and yet it’s also very dark. As in the first game, you play as Ikk, who, armed with a skull, gun and backpack ventures through procedurally generated levels and faces off against a few bosses every now and then.
A roguelite platformer, this game is not for the faint of heart. Whether by the hands of the messy level design or your own, you will be dying a lot. Oh, and because it’s a roguelite, you’ll be sent straight back to the beginning every time you die.
Gonner 2 definitely won’t be for everyone. In fact, I struggle to feel like it’s for anyone. For those of you out there really looking for a challenge, less hair, fewer teeth and the loss of your sanity, Gonner 2 will definitely scratch that itch.
Every negative thing I have to say about this game aren’t necessarily things that need to be improved, as these ‘problems’ are mostly intentional. The visuals can be overwhelming and the random nature of computer generated levels can be unfair, but as they build on the original game for this sequel, that just seems to be the way developer Art in Heart intended it.
You start the game with the huge floating figure that is apparently Death herself. In this room, you will find your three main pieces of equipment: the gun, the skull and the backpack. The gun is your main weapon which is interchangeable with some unlockables throughout the game, while the skull works a little like having rings in a Sonic game. When you take a hit in Gonner 2, your skull as well as your backpack and gun go flying and drop to the floor. You also lose a heart from your health bar and must try to pick up all your equipment again to carry on. Once you hit zero hearts your skull will simply disappear and the next time you’re hit you will die.
This room is really the calm before the storm, an oasis where you can change the colour of Ikk and take your time to clear your head before the frantic action starts.
Gonner 2 does somehow manage to stay dark and colourful at the same time. The aggressive-looking enemies covered in jagged edges and mean faces are almost Picasso-esque. It also manages to incorporate a lot of colours in its palette. These aren’t bright per-se, as they all have a dark tone to them. The darkness and colourfulness of this game gives it a Mexican, Day of the Dead kind of vibe; now that I think of it, that makes complete sense with how many times you’ll be dying.
Personally my favourite thing about this game is hands down the music. The abstract electronic music ups the tempo the more enemies you kill in succession and the longer your combo runs. This really gets the blood pumping and quickly snowballs into a fun, yet ultimately short, time until you die. Did I mention this game is hard?
Gonner 2 is aptly named as you will be a goner within the first two seconds of play. That is mostly due to the almost bullet hell gameplay as enemies hunt you down. It’s either that, or the procedurally generated world leaving you without enough ammo. The physics however feel great and as much as I complain about about dying so much in this game, the controls do feel tight and well developed. Whenever I did die, I never felt that it was due to the controls failing me, rather that the overly hectic nature of the game got the better of me.
On the rare occasion the game procedurally generated a level that I could handle, I got into the swing of things and there was a rush of excitement that I could feel. Combos from defeating enemies were stacking up and along with the music getting faster and the visuals getting more intense, I really was questioning whether I was actually starting to have fun with it. As you can imagine, it was a fleeting moment and I died. Again. For a platformer junkie or someone really looking to be tested though, I can see plenty of people becoming addicted to the rush of this game.