Your inner child would be jealous of all this demon-killing.
What happened to the “good old days” of gaming, when your mom would walk in the room to chastise you for wasting your day, only to realize you had been slaying zombies all morning? Where are the times when software was vehemently accused of being acid that corroded our minds, and turned us away from the light of humanity? Moreover, when did games turn into something other than just plain fun?
Doom asks all the right questions, and aptly provides a remedy.
A callback to the franchise of yesteryear, id Software‘s 2016 title Doom is lovingly crafted with crazy, exciting gameplay in mind. The concept is short, sweet, and to the point. “Remember killing demons when you were a kid? We brought that back, in HD!”
You’re overpowered, in a world where hordes of monsters surround you every few minutes….
Doom succeeds in its quest. A steroid-jacked solider wakes up on Mars to find it overrun with the spawn of Hell. Of course, he discovers that this is all thanks to the manipulative work of some space marines, and ventures to fix the whole mess. It’s a simple premise for a simple game. The narrative is never deep, convoluted, or even necessarily interesting. It wasn’t meant to be. Doom isn’t about the story.
No, this addictive shooter is all about that sweet, sweet gameplay loop. The combat is consistently front and center throughout the experience. Walk into a room? Demons. Fight off those monsters? More demons. Find some collectibles? Nice, they were next to a demon portal. Doom hands out plot points, yes, but they act as small treats served between the main meals: frantic shoot-outs.
These fights aren’t your everyday “Aim down your scope from afar,” sniper battles. They’re formulated to keep players on their toes, asking them to frequently switch out powerful weapons and focus on multiple creatures at once. Players have the opportunity to get in their enemies’ faces, and are heavily encouraged to do so.
id Software blatantly cheers you on, shouting, “You’re overpowered, in a world where hordes of monsters surround you every few minutes–mow everything down, son!” Each weapon and subsequent upgrade makes the player ridiculously stronger than they were before. Shotguns, assault rifles, plasma cannons–you name it, and Doom has it. Switching these guns out is quick and painless, allowing you to change your battle tactic on the fly. However, you’re outnumbered on Mars, and are a walking one-man army with a large arsenal of weapons…doesn’t that mean you’re powerless once you run out of ammo, or get hit a little too much?
Doom once again provides a clever answer. Enemies are likely to drop health and armor to increase player survivability. Sure, you’ll take a few smacks on the back when you rush into the fray, but a portion of your health will be handed right back to you. If you run out of ammo, you’re also in luck: a handy chainsaw can be used to rip enemies in half, causing them to gush fountains of blood and ammo packs. Mastering combat requires smart ammo and health management, as well as some quick thinking in regards to enemy-juggling and weapon-changing.
These systems work together to provide a smart risk-and-reward system. In many games, the prize is a collectible, scene, or audio diary. In Doom, the reward is your own entertainment. Every shot, swing, or jump doesn’t serve some grandiose higher purpose, but rather is simply in place for your enjoyment. If you aren’t having fun in a fight, you have more than enough options to make it fun. The journey quickly becomes a sandbox for first-person shooter entertainment.
The downside is that Doom doesn’t always provide enough of these puzzle pieces to justify its length. By the fifth or six mission, you will probably have every weapon and seen every enemy in the game. You’ll still have seven or eight missions to go. For the last half of the 10-12 hour campaign, players will essentially be asked to use this sandbox to cultivate their own entertainment using only old tools, while never being given new ones. Environments will change and the story will march ever forward, but the soulful combat begins to drag. That’s not to say these fights aren’t still engaging or wonderful: they just feel repetitive.
As I said: “Walk into a room? Demons. Fight off those monsters? More demons.”
Though the combat takes a slight dip, every other aspect of the adventure stays high quality. The settings littered throughout Doom are gorgeous and surreal. Evoking both “sci-fi” and “satanic ritual,” they’re satisfying to explore and gun through. Retro-styled secrets await you, tucked away somewhere in each non-linear stage. Hordes of monsters claw at you with terrifying detail, each one with their own devilish twist or haunting style. The soundtrack chugs underneath the action, grinding every brutal moment forward with another metal guitar riff. Even if the non-stop fighting tires you, nothing else in the game will.
…The reward is your own entertainment.
Is Doom a perfect experience? No. I can say that I was very worn out by the time I reached the end However, Doom did take me back to the days before games were complex or over-the-top. These newer titles are by no means bad, but it’s true that some have lost their focus on entertainment. With this in mind, id Software succeeded in devising a title that orients itself entirely on the idea of having fun. It devotes every fiber of its being to this cause, allowing players to explore wonderful, hellish environments and brutalize brutish beasts in exhilarating ways. In the end, it’s an astoundingly good time that puts many “boring” titles in their place.