Mothergunship: Forge isn’t a roguelite revelation, but its central hook makes for an outrageous amount of fun. Here’s our full Mothergunship: Forge review.
I named him Goliath and I loved him. He was fitted with a chaingun at the front that ripped apart any that dared stand in his way. He was powered by chain lightning that bounced between enemies on contact and acid mines that polluted the air over time. Sitting at two 45-degree angles to either side were a devastating — and largely impractical — blaster and shotgun respectively. With a simple squeeze of a trigger, hell was let loose. He made health bars vanish within seconds.
For a time, it was perfect. Movie love, even. And then I died, condemning my creation to the archives. The loss extracted a heavy toll.
Such is the loop of Mothergunship: Forge, a game about building increasingly ridiculous weaponry over the course of a run of its roguelite dungeon, getting as far as you can and then starting all over again. It’s a wave shooter that helps rejuvenate a genre I’d long thought redundant.
This being a roguelite, you’ll be familiar with the core structure. You move between randomized rooms, unable to progress until you’ve defeated every opponent in the given area. At the end of each encounter you’ll be given a reward, be it money, upgrades, or new weapon parts, and then choose which door to walk through based on the next reward they offer. Make it far enough and you’ll meet bosses that block the way to new, harder areas with three levels in total.
It’s also a bit of a bullet hell game. Your head is the only area that can take damage, so you simply need to lean and duck out of the way of incoming fire, though that’s often easier said than done (there is a smooth locomotion option within a small area too, for those that want/need it). Die and it’s all the way back to the start, though grabbing purple crystals (which the game makes a point of not properly naming) will contribute to optional starting upgrades like more health or ammo.
None of this is especially new and, in fairness, anyone that’s tired of VR roguelites like Until You Fall, In Death, and Sweet Surrender likely won’t be won over by this formulaic setup. But it’s the game’s unique approach to weapon customization that really sets Forge apart.
Alongside weapon powerups and money, you can also get new gun parts between battles. This includes connectors that let you snap one port to either of your wrists, giving you access to yet more ports. To these, you can attach different weapon types; single-shot rail guns, grenade launchers, standard blasters, or even a pizza box that fires out razor-sharp slices. You can also take up slots with run-altering upgrades like increasing health, or even just add more connectors to provide more ports at different angles.
Developer Terrible Posture Games already spent time perfecting this mechanic with the original Mothergunship for PC and consoles, but it really comes to life in VR. Snapping parts together is both a mad science and utterly seamless, taking moments to reorganize. You could have a gun that provides a consistent barrage of bullets at the front, but covers other angles with rocket and grenade launchers. Or gather a swarm of shotguns that spread over a huge area. You can even slap together shields to become an impenetrable fortress. And, because this is in VR, you can utilize whichever side of the gun you want with just a twist of your wrist.
I find it hard to overstate just how fond I am of this system and the way it enticed me to keep playing to see whatever insane inventions I could bash together next. There’s an endless amount of combinations, especially when you consider you can build out weapons on both arms.
If there’s anything to fault in the approach it’s that I wish Terrible Posture Games had gone further with it. The vast majority of builds will let you assemble straight-forward weapons and it’s a shame you’re not forced to be more dynamic and adaptable; limited ammo could have meant suddenly switching arm directions in the middle of combat and weirdly-shaped connectors would have been great for piecing together Frankenstein firearms.
There are also some hiccups when it comes to enemy design and placements. Forge has a good variety of enemies to deal with that have you juggling your priorities, but some are a little overpowered or simply broken. There’s a health bot that recharges enemies in a flash but, if another spawns in the same room, you basically can’t kill them with anything but the most destructive build. There’s also shield generators that can protect others and, if they shield an enemy sitting in front of the unit, you won’t be able to take it down with anything like the speed required to survive.
But every death in Forge is simply an opportunity to start anew, and the game ticks that boxes of giving you enough permanent rewards between runs to keep you coming back. That includes new starting upgrades, extra weapon parts, and even different modes like easier and harder difficulties as well as challenge-based runs and much more. Granted it’s as much padding as any roguelite has, but it pulls it off as well as you could expect.
And all of that’s without even mentioning the game’s co-op mode, though it’s admittedly not a starring role. It’s fun to tackle the gun-building together but the game doesn’t really feel designed for two players, and more like this mode was included to tick a box.
Mothergunship: Forge Review – Final Impressions
Structurally, Mothergunship: Forge is a familiar VR game in an oversaturated genre. But its central feature that lets you endlessly customize a massive arsenal of weapons is so well realized that you can easily brush off any sense of deja vu. Bringing that original hook from the flatscreen game to VR completely revolutionizes how the mechanic works, and you’ll find yourself coming back for runs time and again not just to progress further in the game but simply to see what weapon of unparalleled destruction you can whip up next. Much of Mothergunship: Forge is a tried and true VR shooter, but when you bolt-on that extra grenade launcher and power it up with a fleet of lava mines, what’s old is new again.
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