It’s Quake time. Quake doesn’t get huge amounts of attention anymore, but it has an active community still making content for it.
Quake modding used to be about strikingly different total conversions / mods (Air Quake, QuakeRally, Fantasy Quake, Horrorshow Quake, Special Forces Quake), but nowadays it is more focused on providing an enhanced and refined Quake-style gameplay within the original Quake universe. Quake+. The bleeding edge of Quake modding is Quake gameplay in hugely expanded and often breath-takingly beautiful worlds, often with new enemies. Arcane Dimensions is the most visible of these.
Then are more vanilla offerings that provide a classic experience – meaning no new monsters, no changes to weapon or monster behaviour, no complex scripting and minimal or no use of new textures. Masque of the Red Death by Tronyn is one of those. It’s a mostly vanilla offering sticking closely to the design of the original Quake, just larger and far more action packed than the original levels.
Masque of the Red Death opens with a desperate battle against huge numbers of knights, death knights, fiends and scrags. The beginning is one of the hardest sections and if you’re not a master of monster infighting the fight is almost unwinnable. It gets easier as you pick up new weapons but the battles against huge numbers of monsters carry on throughout the level. The architecture is impressive but vanilla. It doesn’t make you wonder whether you’re playing a next gen game in the way that limit-breaking ‘Quake+’ levels do. It’s most definitely a Quake level.
I found the fights enjoyable for the most part. The level gives you a clear goal – get the rune to the door to leave – and a clear sense of progression – fight your way up the tower to get the rune. What I didn’t enjoy was how the large monster hit boxes restricted movement and made the combat in tighter spaces more of a chore, particularly the fight against the knights along the battlements.
The number of monsters really felt incredible, but I managed to win most of the battles first time. Ammo was tight in a few spaces but I almost always had what I needed to progress, even though I only managed to find 1 out of 8 secrets on my first play-through.
Masque of the Red Death is certainly worth a try. It’s an intense experience with a satisfying sense of progression.
On 20th June, Amid Evil left early access. I’ve owned it for a while, but not played past Episode 4 (of 7).
I have really enjoyed my time playing Amid Evil, but it hasn’t grabbed me as hard as DUSK did. Something about the combat in DUSK feels more polished, and I find the pseudo-realistic level design and atmosphere a little more immersive.
However, it’s still a great retro-FPS throwback. Seven episodes with four levels each, with gameplay that is reminiscent of Heretic. Some of the level design looks absolutely gorgeous, and the designer clearly had fun making crazy patterns in the level editor.
Night Dive’s Blood remaster is out. It’s pretty good. It has the full game, cutscenes, all the music, both add-on episodes, and modern day graphics options.
The most important thing, and the reason I’m posting this as an update, is because Night Dive are offering Steam users with a copy of Blood a 50% discount on Fresh Supply, which lowers the cost to a couple of beers.
As a package, if you already have Blood it isn’t much different to running Bloodgdx or Nblood. It is nice to have everything in one place though.
If you’re new to Blood, this is the best way to start playing it. All the files in one place, modern options, and some nice quality of life improvements such as power up timers and easy-to-use custom difficulty (Blood is amazing with hard-mode numbers of monsters but medium or easy-mode aggression/damage).
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.