Project Warlock Review

It seems that when I said “I’ll have to try it some time” I was referred to literally ten minutes after posting that update. I’ve now finished Project Warlock, currently a timed exclusive on GoG but soon to be available on Steam.

tl;dr I like it and I had fun playing it. It’s a great game although it isn’t a game-changer. It’s not an evolution on the formula or a brilliant return to form, it doesn’t blow me away, it’s just a solid game. For the price you pay for it it’s worth getting.

I settled into a rhythm and didn’t stop till I was finished, running from room to room killing everything that moved. It wasn’t very difficult, and I found myself enjoying it, but not getting immersed in it like I did with DUSK or Ion Maiden. A lot more thinking is required to play through those two, compared to Project Warlock.

Project Warlock uses low-res textures and chunky, cartoony sprites. The artwork is retro-inspired, not retro. Monsters are chunky cartoon-styled sprites that are about as detailed as you’d see in the 32 bit era. The textures are low-res, and give the world a weird almost GameBoy style feeling (there’s even a filter in the menu that can give all the colours a GameBoy filter).

Project Warlock uses pre-built levels that tend to be flat and grid based like Wolfenstein 3D. The engine can clearly do more, as room over room, platforms, elevators, and slopes appear at various points in the game, so this appears to be a stylistic choice. The levels flow well and don’t feel limited, like Chasm The Rift (a game that shares a lot of thematic similarities with Project Warlock).

After finding enough treasure and killing enough monsters, you level up and can spend upgrade points on increasing Strength (more melee damage), Life (more health), Spirit (more magic power) and Carry (hold more ammo). The spells are not actually very useful (except for ammo generation). You’re far better off sticking to guns, which are for the most part very satisfying to use. There’s a nice feeling of progression to the guns as well, and you can also upgrade them at your character’s workshop in-between missions.

Generally the graphic design in the game is good. The final episode has a particularly evil and oppressive feel, where you journey through strange corruptions of previous episodes, it almost felt like a ‘corrupted game’ creepypasta at first. Episode 1 is a slow burn as you gradually take over a medieval fortress. Episode 2 is much more enjoyable, and is a great homage to The Thing. Episode 3 is a little dull, taking place inside endless underground tombs in Ancient Egypt, while Episode 4 a frenetic battle in a dystopian city against increasingly powerful enemies in Appleseed inspired power suits and mecha.

Balance is an issue, with the game becoming significantly easier as you upgrade your high-tier weapons (even with the final episodes significant bump in enemy power). The bosses are impressively sized and look great, but are unfortunately too easy. The first boss of the game is the hardest by far; everything after that pales in comparison as by the time you reach the end of Episode 2 you’ve gathered enough upgrades to handle most challenges. The boss of Episode 4 was an absolute joke; dead before he could attack me once, and the final boss feels like he should have about twice as much health. [Edit: The latest patch has updated the final boss and made them significantly harder, although the Episode 3 boss is still a complete joke]

The final gun, a BFG homage, isn’t even that useful. If you have a hyper-sonic rocket launcher and the ‘Sammunor’ ammo generation spell, you won’t need to fear enemies again. This was part of the reason I was able to turn off my brain and play; I never really felt like I was in danger. After completing Episode 2 I only really remember my health dropping below 50 once, and I didn’t even notice it until the end of the level (where I escaped with 2hp remaining) – I think it needs to be more obvious when you take damage.

So that’s my impression of Project Warlock. The shooting is fun, the levels mostly flow well, the secrets are satisfying to find. Some of my critiques may get fixed by the devs soon, as they seem to be quite active fixing the game. They’ve already altered light levels by the looks of things, which a lot of other reviewers have mentioned, and a huge optimization patch is coming out very  soon too.

The Verdict

Project Warlock has clearly been made by people with a lot of love for the game. Sneaky references abound. It’s something that deserves a look if you’re a fan of the genre. It’s a competently made and interesting game. It won’t change your life, and it doesn’t redefine the genre, but you’ll enjoy playing it.

Worth the price of admission.

Warzone: Abridged

Warzone Abridged is getting an update!

Warzone was a miniatures game made by Target Games in the mid-90s. The Warzone / Mutant Chronicles IP is currently owned by Paradox Entertainment. Warzone Abridged is a fan-made rewrite of Warzone 1st Edition updated for the latest fluff in the Modiphius RPG.

Using what I’ve learnt writing FRAG, Warzone Abridged is getting cleaned up and made to look a little nicer. I’ve even added the Nephrite Games tag to it

http://www.mediafire.com/file/h0enk9h5hxmrgxj/Warzone_Abridged_v1_4_300918.pdf/file

Anonymous Ask: Fav. Mods?

[Anonymous Question] “Do you have any doom mods in particular you recommend? I’m new to even the idea of modding it and don’t know where to start ??”

Gosh, there’s so much out there now! It’s hard to know what to recommend first without dumping way too much text.

Trailblazer is a mod that turns you into a Snake Plissken-style bad ass. I always come back to it, it’s lots of fun and probably my favourite at the moment. https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=47494

High Noon Drifter is a fantastic “Weird West” mod that keeps the core gameplay intact while adding a lot of cool features. https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=57098

Demonsteele is Devil May Cry: Doom Edition. It’s a favorite and by the same author as High Noon Drifter but it’s very different to normal play. Try something else first. https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=46787

Combined Arms wasn’t originally a favourite, but the new update has really improved it and it just feels great. It’s a not a bad place to start as it’s a nice and simple armoury replacement. No extra controls or special moves, just new guns (and an optional monster replacement pack) https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=51066

Final Doomer is a great weapon replacer that gives you a new armory themed around five famous megawads (mega-wad = map pack that replaces all the levels in Doom 2) and a tweaked version of the default armory. https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=55061

If you’re totally new to the scene you should probably also look at Project Brutality or Brutal Doom. Their code is a mess (please don’t try and learn anything from them) but their high profiles got a lot of people back into Doom, including me. These mods basically turn Doom into the Doom Comic Book.https://www.moddb.com/mods/brutal-doom
https://www.moddb.com/mods/brutal-doom/addons/project-brutality

Honourable Mentions (ie, stuff I like but haven’t played lots of yet):
Guncaster
– super cool mod that turns you into an OP dragon with a gun. Might feel a bit overwhelming if it’s your first mod.https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=37066
Russian Overkill
– a RIDICULOUS weapon mod which I don’t play a lot of but most people adore. https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=29915
MetaDoom – every Doom game smashed into one gameplay mod! I haven’t played the latest updates. https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=53010
Colorful Hell – a monster replacer that adds harder monsters based on MMORPG rarity tiers – combine it with an OP mod like Trailblazer. https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?t=47980

Off the top of my head, you want to keep an eye on TerminusEst, Combine Keegan and Pillowblaster. They’re putting out some good stuff.

The levels you pick will really affect your enjoyment. Try looking through the Cacowad’s (https://www.doomworld.com/cacowards/) and downloading anything that appeals. ALL the stuff listed for the Cacowad’s is quality – but it’s only some of the good stuff out there.

Finally, Doom Mod Madness on YouTube always manages to find weird and interesting new mods. I don’t watch as regularly as I used to, but it’s been a useful series for me.

The mods above require GZDoom to play. I also highly recommend using the ZDL launcher because eventually you’ll have way too many files in your core Doom folder to do the drag and drop thing. Let me know if you need any help with that.

FRAG: Shareware Edition Update

A new version of the Shareware Edition is here!

Link:
http://www.mediafire.com/file/399iith5za9bc8l/Frag+Rules+0+9a0918.pdf

List of changes below…

Core rules
– Added the Leap trait
– Shotguns now multiply their firing rate within optimum range, rather than multiplying their hits
– Magic spells and psychic powers no longer require a Quality check. The Sorcerer trait has been removed and units with the Sorcerer trait have had their points adjusted
– Renamed the Watch action to Overwatch
– Completely rewrote the rules for Watch / Overwatch. Reacting is much clearer now, with specific examples. The changes to this rule should make play much more dynamic
Slow trait now means figures can’t attack consecutively with a slow weapon, instead of not being able to react with it.
– Items that require an action to use now require a Use Ability action, the same as spells / psychic powers.
– Numerous spelling and formatting errors fixed
– New credits section at the front, and formatting adjustments made to the start of the book
– Small story pieces added to the ends of chapters (these are still being tweaked)

Army Lists
– HUGE point cost alterations and re-balances.
– Many spells and abilities have had their rules tweaked (such as the Gateway, Void, and Entropic Vortex spells)
– Various squad sizes tweaked. Most squads now have a minimum squad size that forces their ‘naked’ cost to over 50pts
– Some stat adjustments to specific units (for example, EDF heavy troopers have a better armour stat)
– Weapon stats have been tweaked, for example some Hell weapons have lost the Slow trait
– All human armies have had weapon re-balances to be more consistent with each other
– Every weapon and attack ability in the game has had a complete points cost review
– Lost Marine and EDF Engineers now cause drones within 3″ to replace Mindless with Fearless.
– The Tech Glove now allows an engineer to Give Orders to a drone unit up to 24″ away.
 
Lost Battalion Specific Updates
– Replaced the Elite Guard’s temporary flight ability with the Leap trait.
– Renamed Grunt to REAPER (Rapid Engagement Anti-PErsonnel Robot), to complement the Martian Authority’s more advanced ERASER.
– Adjusted Lost army list presentation; altered formatting, added flavour text for individuals
– Added new options for HERP shoulder mounted weaponry.
– The Blast Field Cannon now costs more and can only be taken by Individuals
Soul Artifacts now require a Use Ability action to use

Probably a bunch of other changes which I forgot to write down… I got a little too into it by the end.

FRAG Fluff Pieces

I’ve been bashing out 100-300 words a night adding little fluff pieces into my rulebook. Despite endless rewrites and angst over word choice, it’s been loads of fun.

How many ways can I reference Army of Darkness and Event Horizon? Apparently lots.

But that’s the point isn’t it? If you’re making something based on 90s FPS games, then you have to reference at least Army of Darkness.