Wrath: Aeon of Ruin
It’s not everyday that I play a game that pulls me in with its violence and throws me against a wall with its art. Of course, when you play a game published by 3D Realms then this is exactly what you should expect. Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a first person shooter that uses the same dark platform that games like Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem used to deliver an experience that can best be described as pure carnage. With it’s fast-paced gameplay, demonic artwork, and creative arsenal the game stands out among its brethren of Steam titles promising to give you that much needed demon-killing therapy.
“Hello. Bang! Bye.”
For starters, the game is your standard run and gun first person shooter. The controls are pretty easy and maneuvering around the world is a breeze once you mastered the art of dodging while enemies are firing at you. On that note: everything wants to kill you. You are barely able to catch a breather when you are shooting your way past monsters that look like flying facehuggers or zombies with little lasers on their eyes and shotguns for arms. And you know what? It’s exhilarating. Not once did I feel the game was slow or weak on the action. Every enemy required its own strategy. But having a variety of demons in one room? That’s where the fight gets interesting and your cunning skills get put to the test.
Aside from the game mechanics the world is appropriately sized for the combat that is to come. Even when I was navigating my way through the crypts and graveyards I never felt confined or restricted. There was always ample cover and even when I was caught in a trap out in the open, I still had the ability to dodge enemy fire. To that end, it seems the developers put emphasis on freedom of movement and it makes for a frustration-free experience.
The only hangup I had with the combat was collecting items. You quite literally have to walk over the item you want to get in order to pick it up. Of course, the utility of this is that you don’t want to accidentally pick up any of the scarce health items when you don’t need it. While to some it may not be a big deal but a slight increase to the pickup radius of the player would go a long way.
“What did I just kill?”
Speaking of flying facehuggers and robotic zombies you have to appreciate the creative design behind the enemies that are begging to be slaughtered. Very rarely will you get to take in the 90s-aged graphics of the demons because of how fast you will kill them. As you get more familiar with the dodges and jumps do you get to see how atrocious these demons really are. However, they do not look this way for long. One shotgun blast close quarters sends their limbs across the room. It’s incredibly pleasing.
A nice touch to the whole demon killing experience is the in-game bestiary that shows you the various enemies you have killed (and in a really cool sketch, too). Not a lot of games show off their artwork in this fashion, but it was a welcomed addition to the game.
Also, a special shout out to the developer for bringing the Cacodemon’s (from Doom) cousin into this game. It was very pleasant to see the floating mass of teeth in this game. 10/10 would kill again.
“I don’t know what to kill you with!”
In Aesop’s fable about the fox and the cat there is the lesson to be learned that indecision breeds failure. Well, the same lesson can be learned with this game and the vast arsenal you have at your disposal. There were many a time when I struggled with finding the most creative way to kill the monsters that inhabit the world, but my indecision did not come from the complexity of the enemy AI but rather from my own self: which gun would give me the most satisfying result? You got your standard hand-to-hand combat knife that does a ranged stab when you use the alt-fire. There’s also a pistol and shotty for those hail mary shots and close quarter bangs. Those all seem familiar, right? What about a machine gun that fires the jagged teeth of your fallen enemies right into demonic flesh? Or an acid-ball-shooting launcher that clears out a mob of mindless zombies like a fart in a cramped elevator? Bottom line: it was so much fun killing the spawns of Satan that finding a creative solution in combat ended up being the real challenge instead of the combat itself. Hats off to the developers for giving the player the power of choice when it comes to mowing down a horde.
Final Grade: A-
There’s a lot to love in the wasteland that is the world of Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. What the game lacks in promoting story it certainly makes up for in gameplay. While I admit that I fell perfectly into the target audience of this game (having told Roger that it is good therapy after a long week of programming), I think there is something in it for anyone who has played FPS games from the 90s. While the graphics might not be anything to brag about, the nostalgia that Wrath delivers will take you back to pre-Y2K times. Last but not least, the goal of the game is very clear cut and should be relatable to anyone who has picked up a 3D Realms game: kill everything.
The Tip and The Top:
Non-stop action around every corner
In-game artwork and level design
Satisfying weapon experience
The Flip and The Flops:
Not much of a presented story
Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is currently available for early access.