They say that variety is the spice of life and videogames epitomise this with their almost endless customisation options; if they have the of course. Being able to chop and change equipment, tools, and clothing, nay your entire loadout and inventory can mean spending hours fine-tuning everything before you’ve even started a mission. Doing away with all that faff whilst staying true to the joy of perfecting an absolute beast of a gun is Mothergunship: Forge, a roguelite shooter that has the spirit of Doom and the versatility of Inspector Gadget.
Mothergunship might be a familiar name to those of you who love a good roguelite as the title originally arrived as a PC and console videogame a few years back. Now it’s had a virtual reality (VR) makeover, keeping all the ludicrous gun options whilst adding all the physical interaction you’d expect in VR. That means no menus to swap components, simply grab them and move them almost however you please.
You’re fighting a bunch of aliens and their mechanised creations because, you know, nothing makes for a good shooter than an attack on Earth by some nasty extra-terrestrials. Standard sci-fi narrative aside, whilst there are several characters to give a bit of life to the whole experience with some mildly humorous dialogue, uncovering some deeper plot isn’t what you’re here for. So don’t expect a deeply rich adventure because there really isn’t any.
Mothergunship: Forge centres on its single-player modes, running through each one trying to collect as many upgrades and useful items along the way. That being said, there is a co-op multiplayer mode where a mate can join in the frenzy but with that mode unavailable prior to launch this review is based entirely on the solo modes. Of which there is a selection. Starting with the catchy titled Main Mode, you can unlock Recruit Mode, Nightmare Mode, Challenge Mode, Megaship Mode and Ironman Mode by fully completing previous ones, adding a nice replay factor to the experience.
What we’re all really here for though are the guns, or more specifically what you can build with the components that become available to you. The variety on offer is such that it’s easier to say the combinations are almost limitless, as each run you’ll never make the same loadout twice. To begin with, you’re given a couple of components, usually a weapon part and a connector. These connectors are crucial to each build as they’ll only have one way to attach to your arm cannon yet 1, 2, or 3 additional sockets to build upon. These can face forward – great for weapons – or upwards and left or right, all of which make for ideal placement of ammo upgrades or other perks.
Make each of your guns taller, wider, and shoot a range of projectiles with different ammo types like chain lightning or poison. Pop on a Railgun, shotgun, machine gun, or pizza slicer, each hand can have an entirely different setup to mix and match your strategy. Or you can recombine the parts in between levels should the loadout need a slight tweak.
Half the fun is seeing what you can build but there’s also plenty of strategy involved if you want to make it through to the end. Like any roguelite, all the levels are procedurally generated, with the waved-based gameplay throwing dozens of enemies at you in each room. Afterwards Mothergunship: Forge gives you 1-3 random doors to choose from, these can be anything from health and armour to the shop and, of course, gun parts. Keep choosing gun parts and you’ll build an awesome setup yet you might not have enough health to survive a boss encounter. Most of these are lost upon death, with only the purple crystals remaining. These unlock new items to choose from during your next run, making them the most valuable items to select when they become available.
The boss fights are where Mothergunship: Forge shines, there big, brash and the kind of old-school battles that arcade games were so well known for. There were times during the normal levels when the enemy repetition and lack of diversity did become noticeable, especially where the attack patterns were concerned. This is made slightly worse due to the lack of freedom you have, unlike the original Mothergunship in the VR version you’re fixed to a particular roomscale supported area, so there’s no environment exploration.
On the plus side, this does make for a very comfortable experience. You can smoothly walk around the area to dodge projectiles or physically duck and move, making for an energetic experience. Developer Terrible Posture Games has also ensured that Mothergunship: Forge is accessible to all players by including a seated mode, this adjusts enemy’s attacks to suit seated play. This option isn’t available in the multiplayer mode, however.
Mothergunship: Forge is a classic wave shooter just like Blasters of the Universe, taking the ability to swap out weapon components to a whole new level. The variance in parts is almost like stepping into a Lego store to build your ideal model. Get far enough and the guns can get ridiculous, filling the screen with components. Then again, that’s kind of the point. It would’ve been nice to have a sandbox gallery to experiment in, even so, the variety of gameplay modes keeps the gameplay entertaining. Just don’t go in expecting a slick, tactical shooter, Mothergunship: Forge is 100% an absurdly frantic FPS.