It is 1993. As I sit down on my chair with my Packard Bell computer on. An MS-DOS screen flashed before my eyes with a floppy disk in hand. The name on that disk was “DOOM”. As I first popped in the disk, I was reminded how it felt when I booted the DOOM remake for the first time.
Prior to the 2016 remake, the last DOOM game I played was DOOM 3. That iteration was less than stellar and did not capture the allure of what DOOM was. Like many gamers, there was a belief in doubt for the remake. However, the DOOM IP was handed to Bethesda Softworks to be published. Upon the release of DOOM, Bethesda had an outstanding resume of AAA titles including the Fallout series, Dishonored, and Skyrim. With AAA titles to support Bethesda, DOOM was set for success.
After booting up DOOM for the first time, the title screen was reminiscent of its classic rendition. When playing games I like a little challenge, but not difficult where I would feel frustrated and quit. “I’m Too Young To Die” was the easiest difficulty, followed by “Hurt Me Plenty”, then Ultra Violence and Nightmare were the last two difficulty choices. I chose “Hurt Me Plenty” to guide me throughout the game.
After loading the first stage, nostalgia ran through my veins and I was hooked. Bethesda captured the pacing like the DOOM games of the 90’s. It felt fast, yet the pacing felt right. One-shotting and sniping enemies with a pistol felt euphoric. The game rewarded you with those kills; however, the game rewarded you better with melee kills. Since the game is fast-paced, melee and CQC played a huge factor.
Initially, I thought the combat would be repetitive due to prior experience with shooters where it felt one-dimensional. You run into an area, a horde of enemies spawn, and you can kill them with one gun that you specialize in. That is not the case with DOOM.
In DOOM, you run into an area where enemies spawn, then you have an array of weapons to choose from to cause destruction. The reason why combat is not stale is that at times, you are limited in ammo and forced to switch weapons. It is easy to switch weapons whether you use the numbers on your keyboard, Q to quick switch between two weapons, or holding Q to pull up a wheel to toggle between different weapons. If that does not tickle your fancy, once you weaken an enemy, they will highlight in a distinct color where you will insta-kill. After beating the game, performing insta-kills still feels exhilarating.
Not only combat feels stimulating, but you will find yourself trying to look for every secret. After capturing my first MarineGuy, I needed to collect all of them. Although they do not boost stats with weapons or attributes, the sense of finding MarineGuys are fulfilling. You will also come across other secrets such as data logs, elite guards, and a section of the map dedicated to a portion of the classic map.
Finding data logs gives you a background about the story, elite guards give you a stat boost on health, armor, or ammo capacity. The most nostalgia feeling in this game is finding classic maps. In each level, there is a secret lever that you pull and a specific ding will alert you that you have access to a classic map. The first time I accessed a classic map, I did not want to leave. Inside a classic map, the entire map and music changes to classic DOOM. Although you will not finish a level on a classic map, it is cool to see developers give recognition to a classic staple in video games.
A major aesthetic that made DOOM what it was is the music. In classic DOOM, you were instantly hit with metal-sounding music in 16-bit form. The feeling of hearing it was making you feel like you are ready to smash things to pieces. In the remake, you do not instantly hear metal blaring through your headphones or speakers. Rather, the game built up to it. For example, in the first level, the game has your mind ready in what is about to happen. When you come across the first gore nest and crush its core, a welcoming party arrives and attempts to crush your limbs. At this point, the music kicks in, increasing your heart rate and you are ready to tear things apart. When firing your guns, there is a sense of satisfaction that you can feel its force tearing away your enemies. Once they highlight a certain color, the sound of using your insta-kill melee wants to make you scream, “YEAH! I DID THAT!” Throughout the game, the sound effects and music combined make you want to constantly battle these demons.
Overall, if you have not played this game yet, DOOM should be on your “must play” list. DOOM received the game of the year honors including winning “Game of the Year” on Polygon, finishing runner-up for “Game of the Year” for Giant Bomb, and winning awards on Zero Punctuation and The Game Awards. If you are not at home often and own a Nintendo Switch, a Switch port is available for purchase. Although multiplayer is not fleshed out, single player and arcade mode are worth it to purchase. If you have a backlog, DOOM is always available at a discount during Steam sales or Humble Bundle. DOOM has a unique experience and is considered a classic for years to come.