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WRATH: Aeon of Ruin v1.0 Review – Great Nostalgic Action

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin is a dark fantasy horror FPS developed by Slipgate Ironworks and KillPixel Games and published by 3D Realms and Fulqrum Publishing. Originally launched on Steam early access on November 23, 2019, it has finally reached the v1.0 milestone and is launching on February 27, 2024. This ambitious title takes the legendary Quake 1 tech and throws you into a world dripping with nostalgic charm, channeling the spirit of the classics while carving its own bloody path.

I’ve been soaking up a heap of nostalgia with the plethora of FPS remakes of late. With the likes of Rise of the Triad and especially Kingpin: Reloaded that used the Quake 2 engine, I saw the opportunity to dive into WRATH: Aeon of Ruin with the older Quake 1 engine and take all the bad with the good because it just reminds me of the early and mid 90’s where FPS games were all the rage, and so much fun was had. When a game comes along and faithfully recreates that feel, I’ll always give them a play.

These games certainly do not hold your hand, and I like that. WRATH has some slight help from the ghastly Shepherd of Wayward Soulds who tasks you with hunting down the three Guardians of the Old World, pointing out doors, keys, elevators and such, but your survival is entirely in your hands. For example, when I grabbed the first ruination blade and started slaying skeletons, I was circle strafing and skeleton heads were getting lopped off all over the place. However, when the much quicker zombie-like creatures charged at me, it took a fair amount of health to dispatch them. The term run-and-gun really comes into play with these games – don’t stop moving!

As you progress through three unique hubs and 15 maps, you’ll explore a vast world shrouded in darkness, passionately crafted by the hands of longtime veterans of the Quake scene. The graphics are spot on for the era and runs super smooth on my modern system with limbs and gibs flying everywhere. I remember back in the day when my system would hitch if there were too many monsters on screen at once. You got used to it and anticipated it once you learned the level layouts, but it’s so good to just play a smooth-running game with such heavy and bloody action.

The levels are well designed with various mechanisms like secret doors, elevators and the use of your ruination sword’s secondary ability to cross large gaps, makes exploration dynamic and wild. Each area boasts impressive architecture and a distinct atmosphere, from ancient crypts and sunken ruins to howling forests. There are some rare save points scattered around but you’ll be relying on relics and pressing F2 to set a save state that you can respawn at if you die. It can get confusing running around the same corridors, trying to remember where locked doors are once you eventually find the keys, but again that harks back to those older days. There were no walkthroughs and you just had to build up muscle memory, draw maps of the levels on graph paper, or ring a mate and ask him over the landline phone.

The atmospheric soundtrack adds a moody tension to exploration and comes from the twisted mind of Andrew Hulshult (Quake Champions, Dusk, Amid Evil and DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part One). It all adds up to a fast-based, hectic and frenetic action combat game that rewards you for exploring to find powerups as you build up your arsenal to eventually take down the Guardians. Some of the outdoor scenes with heaps of enemies reminded me of playing Serious Sam and I was having a blast. Some of the levels can take 40-60 minutes to beat, depending on how many times you die, but it never outstays its welcome and the action combat gets the blood pumping.

Overall, WRATH: Aeon of Ruin can definitely be added to the growing list of outstanding nostalgic upgrades of engines of the 90’s FPS era. It has brutal and intense combat in cleverly designed levels with secrets aplenty, and enough diversity in the environments to cater to the occasional lengthy levels. If you’re a fan of Quake, Wolfenstein 3D, and that 90’s era of FPS games, definitely check this one out for yourself.

This review utilised a key provided by Stride PR and WRATH: Aeon of Ruin will launch v1.0 on February 27, 2024, on Steam.


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