I'm reluctant to purchase early access titles due to the rampant abuse of greenlight - you know the story. But with a reputable developer like Vlambeer, who have delivered games that feel like, well, actual games, I was pretty sure I would get my moneys worth. And if I were to stop playing the game now, it still would have made it worth the purchase. Luckily, Vlambeer has been consistently updating the game on an (almost always) weekly basis with new content being added all the time. They take criticism to heart and listen to the players.
The action roguelite gameplay allows for a variety of gameplay styles within the somewhat limited top-down shooter style, but a variety of "Mutations"(that function like perks which alter your statistics, abilities and expands and also limits how you play) which you are given the choice between when you level up can dramatically alter your plans. Even if you decided on a "melee" character, the selection of mutations you are given as you level up might not cater to that playstyle at all, nor might you get the preferred weapons for how you intended to play in the first place, so the game is dynamic and spontaneous in that it can crash your plans and force you to re-consider your strategy throughout your game.
Permadeath keeps you at your toes. You can forget about checkpoints. This is good because modern games are plagued with these and they make your actions have less consequences. Vlambeer brings back the thrill of old school gaming, and the high-risk/high-reward mechanics is something that draws people to roguelites.
Now to the negatives.
There are balancing issues in the game, sometimes game breaking generation parameters that can give you a seemingly impossible spawn. This has been heavily debated on the forums. This is an obvious problem area when you combine a bullet-hell shooter with a randomly generated roguelite, but Vlambeer have taken the criticism to heart and have improved on the generation parameters throughout the game development and continue to do so consistently.
There are also the obvious limitations and confines of the gamemaker engine, which Vlambeer insists on using. The game is locked to 30fps which is downright horrible on the eyes for extended playing sessions. The slideshow effect and clumsiness of this low a framerate is very detrimental to a genre that requires the player to be observant and react quickly. What makes it problematic for gamemaker creators to increase the framerate is that a lot of events are executed per-frame through the step event. This basically means that the devs have to re-write every part of the code that utilizes the step event and change it if the game was to run at, say 60fps. It is a shame that on a dynamic platform like the PC that a game is locked to perform like that.
There are also balancing issues between characters. Vlambeer seem stubborn on keeping some characters underpowered(Fish being the number one example) because they insist on keeping useless active abilities that nobody actually finds useful which becomes ridiculously underpowered in comparison to other characters abilities. At one point, some characters were ridiculously overpowered, like Rebel and Chicken. They were both nerfed, which somehow changed completely the way people play and sort of took away the novelty and personality of said characters. But I must add that criticism like this is aimed at something that takes time to perfect and that there is no one right answer to. You always give some and lose some with such decisions.
To sum it up, I have gotten my moneys worth at least two times over and I intend to also purchase the game again for the PS4 platform, even with the negatives mentioned because the game is still very fun to play.
The game keeps becoming more polished and new features are always added, so I am confident that the game will be great at release. It's just a shame about the framerate. I think it's important to know that a game is locked to 30fps before purchasing.