What's better than powering your way through a labyrinth of fiends, monsters, traps, and treasure, with guns a-blazing? Doing it with a friend! Same-screen multiplayer is what sets this game apart from the other Rogue-like shooters. With both single player and co-operative modes available, Shoot First is more complex than a first glance will tell you.
The procedurally generated maps lead to a different experience every time you start a new game; very reminiscent of Derek Yu’s Spelunky! or David O'Toole’s Xong -- just with more bullets. The dungeons are packed with all of your favorite RPG formulas as well, from enemies who drop experience, to treasure chests stocked with weapons and armor upgrades. Players can choose to wander the entire map, clearing out all of the baddies, or simply hunt down the stairwell exit to reach the next level. Either way, the experience is kept fresh as unexpected bosses appear and Indiana-Jones-sized boulders try to impede your endless firefight. The only frustration comes from permanent death which, when paired with a game of high difficulty like this one, can lead to some curse words when your much beloved, time-invested character bites the dust. Playing with a friend alleviates some of the struggle; two guns are better than one.
The control scheme is easily customizable as both players can choose any keystrokes to correspond to movement, shooting, action, and a map. Gameplay is fast paced; dodging and shooting at the same time is a challenge. The openness of exploration is pleasing; players may feel a sense of accomplishment in removing the fog of war from an entire level. But the bow atop the wrapping paper is the catchy retro music, looped during your quest for your listening pleasure. Give it five minutes on high volume and you’ll be humming it in the shower before your day job tomorrow. But don't let the vintage feel of Shoot First fool you, this game is as bad-ass as your avatar’s ponytail. Parting advice: "learn to strafe."