First-person shooters and bullet hells aren’t a common pairing, and that’s a shame — the result can be complete, overwhelming madness, and I mean that in the best way possible. If you’ve played Devil Daggers or even Tower of Guns (the first game from Terrible Posture Games), you know what I mean.
There’s a certain, frantic joy in strafing around an arena while juggling a few dozen threats at the center of your crosshairs. That kind of fast-paced chaos is exactly what Terrible Posture’s latest endeavor, Mothergunship, seems to be going for, and based on my brief hands-on demo the result is something pretty special.
Mothergunship is one of those shooters that demands constant movement — and those are some of the best kind, when pulled off right. I spent most of my demo frantically strafing and hopping around its massive spaceship setting’s huge, metallic rooms – partially to dodge its many dangers as I blasted my way to the next procedurally generated arena, but also because it felt pretty good.
Not only does Mothergunship grace you with the power of a double and triple jump, but by leaping off a clunky iron buttress onto a long, steel walkway, I actually found an upgrade that let me quadruple jump.
The first few rooms I cleared were pretty straightforward — wide-open arenas with a few elevated platforms, full of missile-launching robots, tiny exploding drones, and mounted flamethrowers. (Also, a terrifying, laser-shooting orb enemy the creator Joe Mirabello pointed at and casually called “the disco ball.”) I died almost immediately as I found my bearings, but after I learned what to avoid and how to avoid it, jumping and shooting my way between enemies while keeping a close eye on my energy gauge was a blast… especially with that sweet quadruple jump.
This element of verticality added an exciting new dimension to Mothergunship’s combat, especially once I reached a huge room dotted with glowing launchpads. I flung myself into the air to avoid a swarm of small but deadly drones as I fired my gun at the four-legged, energy beam-shooting mechs below me. Enemies burst into floating coins of health, energy, and gold that were fun to collect – especially when they’d accumulate on the ground after destroying a wave of enemies.
The most fun room, by far, was the one after that — a towering, cylindrical arena that rewarded me with a second gun on the ground floor and a series of rotating platforms and launchpads all the way up. I shot my way towards the incredibly high ceiling, sometimes bouncing from launchpad to launchpad to maximize my air time while using my dual energy guns to take down hostiles.
Mothergunship’s bullet hell elements shined strongest during my brief time with its Nightmare mode, which introduces permadeath to the mix, but I imagine things will ramp up even in its standard modes. The boss I faced, hidden behind a colossal airlock door, fired wave after wave of missiles until the room was cluttered with deadly projectiles and I was left trying to strafe between them as I shot at the towering, mechanical beast’s weak spots.
One of Mothergunship’s most standout features so far is its modular gun crafting system, which lets you customize your starter weapon in a variety of interesting ways. Using the money I collected in-game, I purchased a Blaster Barrel and a Laser Barrel for 100 gold each at a store near the beginning of my run. At the crafting table, I used huge splitters to create more space to build along the firearm’s frame. The new slots let me crowd the extra barrels next to each other, along with an add-on that gave me a firing rate bonus, until I ended up with a monstrous, 13-part hunk of metal that used up 1/5 of my energy bar with each burst shot — and this wasn’t even the most ridiculous thing I could’ve built.
With all the add-ons and differently sized and shaped splitters, it’s possible to create a weapon that suits your specific playstyle or go all-out on the biggest, dumbest looking gun possible. Because I knew I wouldn’t have time to dive deeper into the nuances of Mothergunship’s crafting system, I went with the latter for my first run. I ran out of energy faster than I would’ve liked with that thing, but it was fun to experiment with just how creative Mothergunship lets you get.
I look forward to seeing what Mothergunship has in store for the future. For now, it’s playable at PAX East this weekend if you happen to be attending the annual Boston gaming convention.
Chloi Rad is an Associate Editor for IGN. Follow her on Twitter at @_chloi.