Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Roguelike Review: DoomRL

Holy Crap. Doom the roguelike, mixture of mid 90s FPS classic Doom and the awesome depth of a modern roguelike. A match made in heaven...or hell? When I first heard about DoomRL, years ago, I thought the game could go two ways - fantastic or massive fail. A mad scientist like concept, does this Frankenstein's monster like game live up to the classic Doom legacy?

I'm not going to introduce Doom, go Google it now if you are 12 years old or casual. Needless to say, Doom is a classic FPS action game with gameplay features that modern developers still emulate today. DoomRL incorporates story, characters and gameplay elements from Doom into the roguelike genre. First person viewpoint is changed to top down, real time action is now turn based and many other changes have been made to transform the essence of Doom into DoomRL.

You start the game as a marine, scout or technician. DoomRL features a unique skill tree and custom equipment modding. Skill and equipment tailoring will need to be mastered for you to win the game. Unlike most roguelikes, DoomRL is action focused and has been designed for fast gameplay that can be enjoyed by casual gamers. DoomRL cuts back on the normal roguelike learning curve, allowing players to jump straight into the game and start blasting away - just like Doom.

All of Doom's weapons are featured and DoomRL includes special and unique weapon variants. Equipment, weapons and armor can be modded to increase damage, speed, etc. Chainsaws, knifes and fists allow you to melee opponents, but I think DoomRL's gunplay shines through. Blasting enemies with you chaingun or plasma rifle is quite satisfying. If a stubborn enemy crosses your path, time to bring out the BFG or rocket launcher. Knowing the right gun for the situation is critical to beating boss monsters or clearing a demon infested room.

DoomRL demands sensible resource management from the player. Ammunition, armor durability and health all need to be maintained throughout the game. Running out of ammo or armor at a crucial moment can be quite fatal. Fighting with your fists or chainsaw can be quite brutal, but your health and armor will suffer for it. Powerups, randomly placed around levels, can save the player's life or offer a huge advantage over the local filth.

DoomRL features both randomly generated and custom crafted levels. Custom levels are denoted by their red staircases and their designs are usually based upon famous Doom levels. Levels can be skipped if you are not properly prepared or you have run out of supplies. DoomRL is very forgiving for a rougelike and offers multiple difficulty modes for novices, experts and everyone in-between.

If you have fond memories of the original Doom series, and don't mind the roguelike genre, than DoomRL will give you a decent nostalgia hit. Easter eggs, references, enemies and epic soundtrack will bring those 90s memories flooding back.

DoomRL is the fastest paced and action oriented roguelike I have ever played. Music and sound effects are remastered from the original games and the soundtrack immediately sets the right "Doom mood". If you need to waste a few minutes or an hour, DoomRL is the perfect game - light on story and heavy on action.

DoomRL now features full graphical support and is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. DoomRL can be found here.

-I'm too young to die!

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