After a few years of being available on the Nintendo eShop and with many other rogue-like games having arrived we thought it would be good to finally get to review GoNNER from Art in Heart. You know titles like Dead Cells and The Binding of Isaac, but there are sure more rogue-likes out there that are worth your pennies!
The best way to describe GoNNER is as a 2D platformer with rogue-like influences. You play as the man Ikk with the aim to cheer up whale friend Sally. You have to find objects in dark environments, spread over four worlds. Why? The game doesn’t explain that, but in the end it doesn’t matter. The journey is more important and filled with all the inconveniences of a rogue-like: spicy bosses, various secrets and levels that change every time.
GoNNER is in good hands from the start. As a platformer, it provides everything you need to make an attempt successful, something you learn more about along the way. At the start of each run you compile Ikk with three elements. The head determines the amount of health and passive skills, while the backpack offers you a special option such as a higher jump or an instant reload. Finally, there is also a weapon and quite a few are available. This goes from a laser to a shotgun; there are actually no bad options. You can unlock or buy more skills the longer you play.
The level structure of GoNNER is easily put together. You go through a number of random levels, fight the boss of the area and get ready for the next fight. Collect symbols on the way. You use this as ‘continues’ (extra lives) or ‘score modifier’ (higher score). The score is very important, since it can be shared on the online leaderboards. You also use the symbols as money for the extra skills, which makes for interesting choices. In addition to the regular adventure, there are daily challenges. Here you can play with various modifiers and try to get a high score.
The only drawback is that GoNNER does not leave a good first impression. The game does not explain enough to you and you figure everything out at your own discretion. I had to get help to understand it, which I am normally not open to. It does not help that the game has a brutal difficulty level. As a result, the first hour will feel as if GoNNER does not understand the player. The feeling is not easy to remove, but I quickly began to love the game. The dark drawning style continued to fascinate me and after the first good run it felt like I could handle the world.
GoNNER is definitely not a game for everyone. Although the style and gameplay will fascinate many players, the first hour is not exactly fun. You have to die the hard way in order to learn the game. As soon as you master the mechanics, the whole dynamic of GoNNER also changes. You feel like doing multiple rounds in a row, getting the most out of your weapons and making a big whale smile again.
GoNNER is a slow and brutal game at first, but once you learn the ropes it all falls in to place and you will have a blast with this nicely drawn rogue-like.