Review: Mothergunship: Forge

The mechanical alien invaders came and decimated the Earth.  It wasn’t pretty but it also happened well before the original Mothergunship began, so the task at hand was less grimdark apocalypse and rather a last rush against an overwhelming force.  Eventually there was victory!  Or at least there was a success and complete destruction of what turned out to be one of many Mothergunships.  Turns out machines are really good at making more machines.  Oops.

While this meant that Mothergunship didn’t so much have a story as a situation (stories have ends, after all) it also meant the fight could go on forever.  What’s terrible for Earth is great for a video game and even better for a series, and now the fight against the mecha-horde continues in VR with Mothergunship: Forge.  Like the original game the object is to survive a series of first-person encounters in a randomized series of hand-crafted rooms, slowly building up your weapon from parts earned through combat and eventually creating a ridiculous engine of destruction.  Each run starts with a basic weapon, although you do get to choose from a couple of options, and if you can hold on long enough it can grow to hold multiple barrels shooting different types of projectiles with damage enhanced by various modifiers.

The move to VR brings a number of tradeoffs to Mothergunship: Forge, with the biggest change being the shift from standard FPS to VR-style shooting gallery.  Each room of the ship has you standing in a spot as enemies rise up or materialize ahead, and survival requires picking them off while dodging their incoming firepower.  Being in VR there are three ways to dodge, from using room scale to walk out of the way, or using the stick to either teleport to one of three preset locations on the combat platform or getting there via smooth movement.  The player’s head is the only part that takes damage but when the room gets populated with different types of gun turrets, flying drones, gently drifting homing explosives, as well a couple of charging staplebots, it’s easy to take a hit or two.

The trick to survival, then, is to use absolutely everything you’ve got as efficiently as possible.  The enemy homing explosives can damage anything within range when shot, so that becomes a priority target.  Both hands are weapons, even if only one has a gun in it, so the ground-based staplebot goes down with a punch to its mechanical head.  The various bullets are best dealt with by getting out of the way, whether that be switching to another section of the combat platform or simply moving your head, and once the room is cleared you can use its reward to get just a bit more powerful.

Each room has at least two doors leading from it and they show what the reward will be, whether that’s coins to spend at the occasional shop, purple crystals that go towards earning permanent upgrades back at home base between one run and the next, health or shields, and best of all gun parts.  Each hand can hold a weapon, which brings with it a choice between concentrating firepower or dual-wielding, but whichever you choose one of the best things VR brings to Mothergunship: Forge is the ability to hand-construct your own Frankenstein’s monster of a gun.

Weapons are constructed from a number of parts with the body being a series of connectors in different shapes and sizes, each with a varying number of connection points.  Your in-game hands have one connector socket each so a multi-port connector is the first thing awarded before the run begins, and you attach it by grabbing and slotting the piece into place.  The same holds true for barrels, modifier caps, shields and anything else that may turn up during the run.  This makes gun creation much more simple and intuitive than in the original Mothergunship, and satisfying thanks to how tactile it all feels.  Being able to earn pieces faster to play with more ornate creations would be nice, but by prioritizing gun-piece rooms over everything else, you can cobble together effective weapons.

Closing Comments:

While a different game from its prequel, Mothergunship: Forge is a great arena shooter with a strong challenge level.  It takes practice to get past that first boss and into the more ornate areas, but along the way you’ll unlock perks and new weapon parts to help each run get farther into the heart of the ship.  As the rooms get bigger the amount of area to keep track of grows as well, requiring you to constantly be aware of what might be coming outside the field of view.  The enemies spawn in waves and don’t let up until the room is finally complete, each area a bite-size challenge that in total grow to a sizeable quest that can easily leave you sweating with the effort of keeping an eye on everything while actively dodging what you can’t step out of the way of.  Destroying a mothergunship is by no means easy, but with the right weapon construction plus inhuman situational awareness the mechanical invaders might just get shot, blasted, lasered, exploded and beaten into much less-threatening piles of scrap.