As tends to be the case when a developer works on a few similar franchises, you tend to find fans of one or the other rather than both; Elder Scrolls, or Fallout? Mass Effect, or Dragon Age? Or more pertinent to this preview, Doom, or Quake? I fall in the latter here having always preferred the Quake series over the years, from playing the original on the Saturn (I know) up to 360-launch title Quake 4, there’s something about the series that just calls to me. So imagine my delight when I heard about Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. Here’s a shooter based off that same tech that powered the original Quake, but with a few modern elements to help bring it in line with shooters today. The small slice I’ve had chance to play so far has been great fun, and I look forward to the Xbox release later this month.
Those of you young enough to have missed the good old days of shooters might feel a little perplexed at first; there’s no aim down sights, no load outs, and not much in the way of levelling (outside of getting progressively more violent weapons). This is a retro-action shooter through and through. The action is ultra-fast, and our reflexes need to be even faster as enemies spawn in al over the shop to catch us off guard. The handful of weapons on offer in this early access build (played on PC) get ever more gruesome. I am a particular fan of the double barrelled shotgun that minces anyone in our way up instantly, but the Fang Spitter is a close second – a mini-gun that spits out literal fangs is always going to be awesome! More are promised for the final release, and I can’t wait to try them out.
Gunplay as mentioned is fast and fluid. Enemies often outnumber us massively, and the variety on offer means we need to be mindful of not just head on attacks but also those from the sky or even charging suicide bomber-types. As you may expect there are plenty of health and armour pick-ups dotted around but these don’t tend to last long unless we’re careful. Checkpointing is handled is a fun way too: rather than auto-save at set points we can pick up Souls that let us place a checkpoint wherever we like, though this also means we’re limited to the amount of Souls we’ve picked up. It encourages more risky play – can we get past this next room and then save? – while also giving us a good way to take fate into our own hands. I found that Souls were frequently found enough to have a few stored at all times, though there were more than a few times I risked it all and lost.
We’re also transported back in time thanks to the retro gameplay being presented in literal retro-vision. Outside of higher resolution counts than you’d find in the 90’s, everything else can be left as we remember it. For an old geezer like me, I think it looks excellent, painting that time in my life on screen as I remember it, not how it actually looked. A kick-ass soundtrack is also present, and some hefty, squelchy sound effects accompany the enemies being torn asunder at our hand.
I’ve enjoyed this renaissance of old school shooters, from Ion Fury to Demon’s Pit, Project Warlock and now this. Sure, some of the more modern shooters might have refined a lot of elements and are slick as all hell, but sometimes you just can’t beat looking back and blasting an endless horde of demons in the face with a shotgun.Become a Patron!
This game was previewed on PC (via Steam). All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.