I've been playing the game some more and it's gotten to a point where I just can't anymore. RNG just plays such a huge role in whether or not you have the parts you need to make a viable island. Twice in the last day, I started a new game to find three forges. Every enemy ship always has better weapons, defenses, and movement than you, no matter what you build. If this only affected the enemy island design, I could sort of see it. Sure, it's weird that you can replace all your stone with dirt or un-equip most of your weapons to weaken a boss, but it also seems to scale with stage somewhat, and maybe the enemy needs an advantage in raw numbers to compensate for their lack of brains. But where I lost all hope was when I discovered that the quality of your island affects the loot that drops.
Having trouble finding horizontal movement items? Just get your lateral acceleration down to 20 or so, the game will start dropping them. Not finding any weapons? It's because you foolishly equipped the few weapons the game gave you, so it decided that you had enough weapons and stopped giving them to you. Just cut yourself down to a 2x2 brick with one cannon, two thrusters, and the warp drive. Of course, one false move and you're dead, but that's basically the way the start of the game plays anyway. Oh, you took a hit and died? Better esc to the title screen and start over. Otherwise you'll end up with no lives left in the late game when you need them.
What ever happened arbitrary challenges? Whatever happened to RNG actually being random?
The more I play this game and the more I start to understand how it works under the hood, the more angry and frustrated I get. I love the concept and the core mechanics seem fun. Building your base is fun. Getting loot is fun. The combat is fun when it actually works. But it feels like every time I'm just starting to enjoy myself, I get screwed by RNG or physics. Maybe if you could see the cooldowns on each block so you know when the enemy's about to fire, or maybe if you were allowed to buy as many of one item as the enemy can buy, it would be less infuriating. Or, hell. Unlocks. If I were getting pop-ups that say "You've unlocked <name of item,>" maybe I'd be able to tell myself that RNG in future games would be less shitty than RNG in the game I just played. Maybe that's why roguelites do it in the first place, I don't know.
What I do know is two of my favorite games are Shellcore Commander and Enter the Gungeon, so you'd think a game that combines them would be the best thing ever. But so far it's been pure torture. Looting mechanics are supposed to drip-feed the player dopamine, but all I'm getting on my end is pure cortisol.