DOOM shouldn’t need an introduction. Back in 1993, the first game had a simple setup: The UAC facility on mars had been taken over in a demonic ambush, the hallways were crowded with bullet sponges from all nine circles of the inferno and that trigger finger of yours got really itchy when it was busy cradling a shotgun. And in the beginning, it was all bloody good fun. Gamers had a blast, parents were furious at seeing demonic inhabitants reduced to a mess of red pixels and id Software grew into a huge studio from that big hit.
Over two decades later, and first-person shooters have changed. They’re bigger, prettier and allow players to move in ways that would rip a spine apart if applied in real life. But at the same time, they’ve kind of lost something along the way. So few games these days are actually interested in being fun. Some games are bleak experiences which make you feel all too vulnerable while you huddle in a corner and wait for your healing factor to kick in.
DOOM isn’t that kind of game. It’s massively backwards, stuck in the past and completely dumb. But in the very best way possible.
Because right from the start, DOOM hits all the right notes. What little story there is on the bones of this shooter is saved for a few sparse in-game cutscenes and a codex of information that you can dip into. DOOM is all about that bullet bukkake that results in demon blood gushing all over your screen. It’s about grabbing a shotgun and running headfirst into action, not sitting back and taking cover. Something that DOOM does oh so well.
Here’s the thing: Risk is rewarded. Taking your faceless marine and running into battle isn’t just recommended, it’s encouraged through the use of a glory kill system. Knock a demon’s health down enough, and you’ll be given the chance to finish them off in a manner that would make Mortal Kombat high-five the screen. Glory kills aren’t just visceral methods of pouring salt in the wound however. On a technical level, they’re also perfect micro-breathers, moments when you can catch your breath and continue the onslaught.
Onslaughts which don’t exactly expect you to do more than go from point A to point B and kill anything and everything that moves. It’s brutally simple stuff, and I’m more than okay with that because id Software knows exactly when to turn the action up to 11 and when to ease off on all the carnage. Pacing is a key ingredient here, something that DOOM nails with ease and confidence.
Savage glory-kills and exploration help balance the insanity of curb-stomping a demon until there’s only squishy bits of brain matter decorating your boots, echoing the speed and chaos of the original two DOOM games from the 1990s. Brutally simplistic stuff, and I’m more than okay with that as I close in for the kill and introduce a Cacodemon to the business end of my boomstick.