Simply keeping on top of the steady release of “AAA” game is challenging enough these days, with a larger market than ever before, and a massive number of devs and publishers trying to sate that demand. Unfortunately, that often means far too many good indie titles fly under the radar without the recognition they deserve. This weekly post aims to highlight some of those games we’ve got around to playing but never got around to reviewing.
The game that kickstarted this feature is an excellent homage to retro FPS games of the ‘90s, like DOOM, Hexen, Blood, and a bit of Serious Sam. It shamelessly emulates the classic feel of movement, shooting, and the key-hunting gameplay, while using those games and classic movies as inspiration for the level and monster design. It’s not a pure classic shooter however, with its own (somewhat undercooked) spell system, weapon upgrades, and four stats that can be boosted every time you level up. The game also has, in theory, permadeath. Die and you must restart the level - which are never more than 5-10 minutes long - and you’ll want to keep an eye out for extra lives (I never came close to running short).
If you ignore those modern additions, you can still swiftly lose yourself in a blur of winding corridors, multicoloured keys, horrific enemies, booming gunfire, and gratuitous gore. The visuals are distinctly retro, with some great sprite-based objects and monsters, but the “modern” lighting and particle effects enhance the experience (primarily by splattering the walls and floors with the innards of your demonic foes).
There are a dozen levels in each of the five acts - bookended by simple walls of text describing your continued quest to hunt down all evil - ranging from Antarctic research bases (with creatures straight out of The Thing and Cthulhu stories), to modern industrial complexes (with robotic foes similar to the Strogg in Quake 2), to Hell itself (with no shortage of DOOM-inspired denizens). The levels are well-designed, often looping back on themselves, hiding monsters around corners and secrets in plain sight, while the final level pits you against a suitably challenging boss. The exploration and gunfire is backed up by incredible soundtrack - again emulating classic MIDI tracks - that always seems the thump along in sync with your shots (and it's free to download for those who pick it up on PC).
What I didn’t expect was the ability to play this from the couch with excellent gamepad support that feels better than the DOOM and DOOM II ports for consoles; I completed the game on “Hard” without ever feeling the controls were a source of frustration. This is a game that started as a high school project, before generating enough profit on an early prototype to fund a small team for Project Warlock, and I’m disappointed it’s not gained more traction and exposure, given how damn good it is. I’m hoping that we’ll see some console ports in the near but, in the meantime, you can pick up Project Warlock cheaply on GOG or Steam.
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
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