Nongunz: Doppelganger Edition is an overhauled version of the popular Nongunz that was released on PC a few years back. The updated version is getting a release across all major home consoles, including the Switch, and promises to provide great replay value due to its roguelike structure. I have generally found roguelike games to be light on narrative and substance which is par for the course for the genre, albeit with the odd exception, of course. However, Nongunz: Doppelganger Edition looks visually nice with slick gameplay and an almost monochromatic colour scheme.

Gameplay

One thing that becomes clear pretty soon after you fire up this game; it does not hold your hand. You are kind of thrown into the deep-end and left to figure things out for yourself. There’s a quick and basic tutorial on what buttons do what but then you get stuck into the procedural action pretty quickly. The character movement plays out like a run and gun Contra type game and each procedurally generated area is swarming with baddies. Each ‘level’ has a finite number of rooms, indicated and tracked in a HUD map in the top right-hand corner, so you always know how far you are away from the end, where a boss awaits.

The action is fun and you soon feel overwhelmed with each screen, which is no mean feat on a small 2D side-scroller like this. Along the way, you encounter demonic enemies of increasing difficulty as well as a number of environmental hazards such as spikes and lava, which all add to the stress of navigating your way through. You are incentivised to keep the number of bullets you fire to a minimum and of course, as you probably guessed, any death means going back to the hub and starting again. However, you build up your knowledge and tactical know-how as well as your gear through RPG-type upgrades, all of which can be put to good use if you want to keep progressing further and further.

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Story / Personality

As for the story, there really isn’t much in the way of narrative text and I’m not sure if this was to cut back on translation/localisation costs! The lack of text is also an issue on the in-game menus which makes them almost impossible to navigate through, especially when trying to turn off the overused rumble feature.

What the lack of text does mean is that you have to work out for yourself what is going on and what motivates your character on their mission. There is added intrigue in the game when it becomes apparent that Nongunz: Doppelganger Edition is a game within a game, and you can exit the main game to a bedroom where a human figure is seen playing a game (most likely Nongunz) on the computer screen. This ties an element of escape-room into the plot which is an intriguing spin on the genre. The activities and progress you make in the core game have an effect on how your human equivalent can move around and interact with their bedroom. It’s not easy to explain but I found it enjoyable and the bedroom set-up certainly offset some of the repetition.

Graphics / Sound Design

The atmosphere of the game is bleak, dark and moody; personally, I found this de-motivated me a bit. Being a roguelike, there is a fair bit of repetition and being in a constant loop of predominantly monochrome coloured screens became a bit dreary. If you make a game like this, you need to inject as much pizzazz into the colour pallet as possible. However, the pixel art is gorgeous and super-detailed, and the backgrounds are wonderfully designed.

Musically, Nongunz: Doppelganger Edition is perfectly functional. Funnily enough, I somehow turned off the music in the aforementioned textless options menu and I was unable to work out how to turn it back on after the first hour of gameplay! However from what I recall, it was pretty haunting and gothic, quite like the visuals.

Final Score: 60%

You really have to be a purist to play and enjoy Nongunz: Doppelganger Edition. The repetitive environments rule out enticing any fans who are not a fan of the roguelike genre. Personally, I found it frustrating to play, but also rewarding when you finally make it through any given area, which is always the pay-off. There’s a whole lot of trial and error which can become very frustrating very quickly. If you like unforgiving roguelike games where you need to grind to get very far, then you’ll love this game. However if you like a game which is gently paced and forgiving, then this really isn’t for you.

Thank you for checking out our Nongunz: Doppleganger Edition Switch review, thank you to Digerati for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: