Mothergunship is a blast, literally and figuratively. The concept revolves around being able to build your own guns using component parts, but rather than a first-person-shooter supporting this, it stands up on its own as a fast-paced, decent action game.
Immediately the game throws you into the deep end. There is some semblance of a story, something about you stopping an alien invasion by destroying various ships before you get to the ‘Mothergunship’, but in essence your job is to blow everything up. Levels are split into rooms, reminiscent of the cult classic ‘The Cube’ in that each has a different layout and different types and combinations of enemies that must be defeated before you can proceed.
As you begin with your debrief the shooting starts, the first task at hand being to create your gun. Options are slim but you learn that three types of part are required. A connector which is essentially a base to attach other parts to. A barrel which is the firing bit, and a modifier which could give you an energy buff, or add bounce to your bullets, things like that. The trade off here is that to fire the weapon, power comes from your super suit. And whilst ammo is infinite, the charge that powers the firing is not. Each combination of parts you build will take an energy cost per ‘fire’. You could build a monstrous killing weapon that fires machine gun rounds, missiles, armour piercing bullets all at once, but only for a second, then you have to wait while it recharges.
You can have a gun in each hand, operated independently so here comes your licence to experiment. I found that a ‘tank destroyer’ arm for heavy damage was useful with my other arm being a more rapid firer that repels enemies to deal with the mobs, but that tactic doesn’t always pay off and having the option to adjust your load out at the end of each room is welcome.
As you shoot the place up you earn coins which can be used to buy parts. Really need a bigger connector so you can add one more barrel to it for added oomph? You have the option if you have the coins, but be warned – if you die, everything you found on that run (or bought, or brought with you) will be lost.
Whilst rooms do sometimes repeat, the combination of them in a level is random which keeps the experience somewhat fresh. Visually it does feel samey but thankfully it’s always a blast to play. Harking back to the shooters of the 90s, there’s a twitch-shooting feel to Mothergunship. Simplicity of controls help, with a move, shoot and jump being really all you need to worry about, with some added possibilities from a triple jump ability. This doesn’t give you height as much as it does allow you to control your direction and finesse in the air, like many of your attributes it can be upgraded as you play. I’ve made it to eight jumps but more seem possible.
Challenge rooms add a bit of variety, with offer a twist on the usual formula – usually by added obstacles, difficulty etc. One I played which cost me dearly (normal rules apply, you die, you lose your stuff) had platforms falling away into lava. Rewards of course are greater, so it’s your choice.
The combination of the frantic but tight gameplay and gun customisation makes this a surprisingly compelling package (despite a questionable title). So the story is weak, but it isn’t really about the narrative here, it’s about blowing everything to bits with as big guns as possible. And that, Mothergunship does very well.
Reviewed on PS4