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Project Warlock II Early Access Impressions

Project Warlock II is a retro FPS developed by Buckshot Software and published by Retrovibe. It’s a sequel to the 2018 original game and released on Steam early access, GOG and Epic Games Store on June 10, 2022. The game’s trailer fill with explosive FPS action immediately drew me to it and having now smashed through a number of levels, it’s a great mix of nostalgia with the 2D sprites and fantastic 3D environments. The metal soundtrack perfectly suits the gory mayhem that ensues.

In Project Warlock II, players step into the shoes of Palmer and need to defend their home castle from an onslaught of invading demons. Palmer is the first of three Warlocks that will be featured in the full game, with Urd and Kirsten’s chapters to be introduced over the coming months. Starting with an assault rifle and hefty sword, players will collect an arsenal of upgradeable swords, guns, magical staffs, cannons, and special skills. The shotgun was a particular highlight.

The first single-player chapter of Project Warlock II consists of six massive, sprawling levels that are up to ten times bigger than any individual level in the first Project Warlock. Having grown up on FPS classics of Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and Quake, I went into the game thinking the levels would be relatively linear with some branching pathways. However I was pleasantle surprised at how expansive the levels really are.

Every level is sprawled with secrets to be discovered via cracked walls and other destroyables, and there are heaps of powerups to collect. Some levels took me over 30-minutes to complete, with some close to an hour as I explored every corner that I could access. I did get lost a few times but the map helped get me back on track. There are also coloured doors spread through the levels where you will need to search for the corresponding key to unlock access.

The game’s world features vertical, three-dimensional, multi-floored structures, platforms, and buildings along with 2D sprites for enemy monsters, and it’s so damn cool to play. It gets a little jarring sometimes if you’re high up on a ledge and look down at the 2D sprites and see that they are paper thin, but when you’re looking at them down a corridor or open space, the monsters look great.

Each chapter of Project Warlock II will pit you against different types of enemies. There are hordes of imps, tough knights with rocket launchers, flying machine guns with heads, and some of the boss fights were crazy. It took a few deaths to refresh my memory of being aware of splash damage from rocket blasts. You can also quicksave and manually save the game too which the first Project Warlock lacked.

Early Access of Project Warlock II is planned for about one year and the developers are hard at work on Chapter 2, and just released a content roadmap which looks great. A Single Stage mode, as well as two additional difficulty levels, will be introduced next, followed by weapons rebalancing and modifications. These will offer deeper customisation options for the guns, allowing players to upgrade their favorite tools of destruction further. I’m definitely keen to keep revisiting the game over this coming year, especially when new warlock Urd is added with the second episode.

This preview utilised a key provided by the publisher. Project Warlock II is now available on Steam, GOG, and Epic Games Store.


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