Title: Project Warlock
Genre: Action, Indie
Release Date: 6 Dec, 2018
It pains me to do this but sadly, the game has a lot of issues under it's belt. First off, the game suffers some serious optimization issues. Secondly, Level don't have much depth to them and the cheap trap sections in them just makes them annoying to get through. There's plenty more issues with this game such as not being able to save when you want, and enemies that have a ridiculous damage output. All these issue take what would otherwise be a great game, and turn it into an absolute mess. Now this game has it's positives. The pixel art is very nice, the soundtrack is great, and the weapons are satisfying and fun to use as they should be. But unfortunately, these pluses don't really warrant the purchase.. Fantastic throwback to classic FPS games like Doom and Wolfenstein. I'll start off by saying that if you love classic Doom clones, then you owe it to yourself to buy this game. Project Warlock takes all of the classic elements of those games - blue\/yellow\/red keys, kick\u2665\u2665\u2665\u2665\u2665weapons, hordes of varied enemies with gory kill animations, tons of secrets - and combines them with modern game elements like weapon upgrades and a leveling system. The game has great replayability thanks to the variety of upgrades that you can take - each weapon (aside from the dagger and one that I won't spoil) has two potential upgrades, and the points you spend on those upgrades are also your currency for new spells, meaning that you need to pick and choose what you want to take for the rest of your run. Every weapon\/weapon upgrade has a use, and each weapon usually has an upgrade that can change the function of a weapon. Not a fan of the flame thrower's short range? Buy its flame lance upgrade to turn it into a long range laser that can turn enemies to ash.
Aside from your weapons and spells, you also get to upgrade your health, magic, strength (for melee weapons and some spells), and ammo capacity, and you get to choose a perk every five levels that can range from faster sprinting speed to the ability to walk through enemies.
The game has a fun throwback art style, primarily relying on sytlized 2D sprites for enemies and objects in the world. Although the enemies only have two different angles (front and rear, as opposed to classic Doom clones which usually had a variety of angles for their enemy sprites), the animation in the sprites more than makes up for it. The soundtrack is pretty solid mix of hard rock that maintains a retro feel, and each stage has a unique song, unless I'm mistaken. Although some enemy types do reappear between episodes (the crabs in the first episode serve the same function as the black ooze in the second episode), the majority of them feel pretty unique, which helps keep the gameplay fresh. Bosses are pretty fun and challenging (though occasionally they can go a little too far, like with the charge speed of the boss in episode four).
One of my few gripes with this game is the sprint key. Since the controls for the game are pretty simple and make sense, there isn't an asinine tutorial that tells you to press W to walk forward. However, because of this, the only way that you'd learn about the sprint toggle would be to go into controls and look for it (I even managed to miss it whilr looking for it multiple times). For some reason, the toggle is on K, which is quite possibly the least pressed letter in all of computer gaming, and since the game never tells you about it, I just assumed that there wasn't a sprint function and played my first playthrough without it. Although there is a perk that mentions upgrading your sprint, I assumed that it referred to walking speed, and when my walking speed didn't change, I just assumed that it was bugged or something. Now, the game is possible without a sprint key, but only just. I had to restart the episode four boss and the final boss so many times that I almost rage quit because the bosses felt like an absurd difficulty spike. I only ended up finding out about the sprint function on my second playthrough because I was stuck on the episode four boss again and didn't want to get a game over for what felt like poor game design. If the default for the sprint key was just the shift key, like most modern FPS games, it would completely alleviate this issue.
Most of my other complaints with this game (which were fairly minor) were fixed in the recent patch, and the sprint key is the only issue that remains. Other than that, this game is an excellent modern take on the Doom clone genre that deserves a lot more recognition than it's getting. I highly recommend purchasing it.. This game is like Wolfenstein 3D except not completely boring. Level design and weapons are way better. Also, the enemies fire projectiles that can be dodged. Most levels are horizontal with some having elevators for vertical movement. I haven't yet given hard mode a try, but I am almost done with the normal mode. Seems kinda easy once you learn enemy attacks. I haven't died once. I bought it for the full price and don't feel like I wasted money. Worth every penny.. Edit: To correct myself on previous points, episodes are typically broken down into 5 segments of 5 chapters varying from 2 - 4 stages, with some variation. And the soundtrack is honestly far better than my initial impressions, goes well with the aesthetic and gameplay; and is overall very well composed. Still not in Hulshult's league though.
Review TL;DR: Worth it, a good 5-6 hours of very twitch shooter fun for a single playthrough and with enough choice thrown into the progression to give replayability outside of higher difficulty. Not for the pixel haters but excellent visual design.
Wolfenstein 3D, Catacomb Abyss, Ken's Labyrinth... Project Warlock takes it's core gameplay and level design from a time before even Doom, when FPS games were essentially mazes with enemies. Minimal verticality (I suspect vertical look was mostly put in to keep people comfortable), limited colour palette (moreso if you want filters on), limited lives (progress reset on game over) and sprawling, labyrinthine levels that will have you wandering from corner to corner looking for keys, with only the occasional lift in sight. It has 60 levels split into 10 level episodes, each split into chapters, with a boss fight at the end of each episode. They all move quite fast however and you'll find doing a chapter of 2-3 levels is a 10-15 minute affair, even accounting for a death or two.
It adds it's own twists into the melange, however, and they're a welcome addition; a light RPG system with stats, perks, unlocks and upgrades gives you a sense of growth and reason to move through the episodes. Significantly more than 4 weapons - including two kinds of highly satisfying shotguns (just in the first episode), dynamite and a flare gun for the Blood fans, some useful spells (like one which lets you fire off your dynamite like an overpowered grenade launcher), and even weapon upgrades to tune your weapons to personal taste.
Then on top of that they manage to make the levels visually atmospheric, the enemies interesting and varied (with well tuned animations so you can predict attacks), and the challenge on Hard difficulty feels fair without forgetting to punish you for silly mistakes. Gameplay isn't too fast, but enemies react QUICKLY to your presence, so be prepared to lose some health around corners (or you know, toss a boomstick).
Complaints? Well my initial experience gives me very little to complain about. The default CRT filter is irritating to the eyes even for a seasoned retrogamer, so turn that off. No crosshair is initially annoying but doesn't hinder much, most targets are big. Sometimes the player hitbox seems bigger than it should be. The soundtrack is serviceable but not really in the league of something like Dusk.
Overall, I'd recommend this as a welcome addition to your boomer shooter collection, a chunky visual feast for the eyes with a slightly more vintage flavour, satisfying combat and plenty of variety from the get-go. Well worth the price of admission.. Devs abandoned game. Do not buy. Bad technical state
*resolution reset every level.
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