Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Also available on: Steam, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One,PlayStation 4/5
Days of Doom, a unique roguelite, combines elements from deckbuilders and RPGs. It offers beautiful graphics and animation, perfect for roguelite enthusiasts seeking a new and challenging experience. Although the game's progression requires some grinding, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.
The story behind Days of Doom is straightforward - you will lead a band of survivors across six maps to reach Sanctuary, the promised land free of the horrors of the zombie-filled world. As you might have guessed, zombies have taken over the world. And it’s not just zombies that you need to worry about; giant lizards and golems roam the lands, and other raiders are looking to end your run.
As I mentioned, there are six maps, each with different paths to the final boss. This setup is similar to deckbuilders. The map has several icons: the sword symbolizes battles, the question marks represent random events, the tent symbolizes a place to rest, and the potion bottle marks merchants. You have limited gas, and each move uses one of your gas cans. If you run out of gas, your run is over.
Battles are set on a grid with tactical elements in Days of Doom. You start on the left-hand side, and before the battle begins, you can arrange your characters anywhere you wish within the first two rows. The fight initiates, and the battle operates on a turn-based system - the top of the screen displays who is up next.
The battle system is where the game shines. For each run, you start with three survivors, each with their own special abilities. What’s fun is combining their abilities to unleash some devastating damage. For example, there’s a character that shoots bullets and will do fire damage as their special ability. The one-two combination works well if you have a character that can douse oil on an enemy before shooting them with the special ability. Each character’s special attack has a cool down; most times, it’s two turns before you can use the ability again. Timing out when you use your special ability is vital in winning battles. You can move on once you eliminate all the enemies on the field.
You’ll start to unlock characters after you do a few runs, and you’ll also be able to purchase teammates at the merchants. There are eight unique characters. You’ll learn how each character may complement each other; some act as support while others are bruisers or ranged attack warriors. Besides utilizing each other’s abilities to do bonus damage, there are also barrels on the map filled with water, oil, or toxic fumes. You can also find runes that boost your stats or add elemental damage, or you might find items that drop at the end of a battle, or you can purchase at a merchant that adds additional damage. Mixing the character that can do water damage with someone with electrical damage attached to their attacks is fun.
At the end of each level is a boss, and they get progressively more difficult as you continue. Your characters will level up as they earn experience, but once all your characters are dead, the run will end, and you will need to start over. The challenge is that the symbols on the map are randomly generated, so there might be a tent near the beginning of the map that won't be beneficial when you reach the boss. Backtracking incurs gas costs, leading you to skip healing and rely on luck against the boss.
Besides the gas, you will pick up other items after each fight. You can use food for healing at tents or for trading with merchants. Scrap is also used as currency. You will also earn reputation points, which you can use back at your camp to upgrade buildings. The grind comes into play here, as some of the more powerful upgrades, like unlocking another squad slot, can be quite costly. I would typically get between four to seven hundred points for most runs. However, if you do not spend the points at your base, they carry over, allowing you to save up for certain upgrades.
The game's beauty lies in its hand-drawn art and wonderful animation. It is evident that a lot of time was invested in creating the look and feel of the game, and it paid off. My only criticism is that the print was hard to read in handheld mode.
Boss battles are challenging and will require a good strategy to beat some of the later bosses, as you can imagine. This is where my final criticism of the game comes into play - you'll find barriers throughout the boards that, at first thought, would protect the characters. Barriers can also be bought from merchants. I thought these barriers would protect my characters from ranged attacks, but unfortunately, they did not. It’s a minor point, but it's something that caught me off guard.
Final Grade: B
I enjoyed Days of Doom. Although leveling up your camp to start having better runs can be a bit of a grind, each run provides enjoyment, and half the fun lies in working through the strategy of how your characters will complement each other. Days of Doom offers a challenging roguelite experience, so it is worth considering if you seek a new challenge.