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WRATH: Aeon of Ruin Review

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin Review

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin (shortened to WRATH) is a retro-style FPS developed by KillPixel and published by 3D Realms and Fulqrum Publishing. You might know 3D Realms for such classics as Duke Nukem 3D, Prey (2006), and Max Payne. Upon doing some research, I discovered the development hell this game went through to get released, taking a total of four years. So, is it worth the wait?

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Wow, this is dark.

It is heavily inspired by Quake, even using its engine from the ‘90s, so that means no reloading, your normal speed is a sprint, and enemies are relentless and full of gibs, ready to burst with a shotgun blast. If you stay still too long, you’re essentially dead, but you’ll have a variety of weapons to even the playing field, from an armblade and shotgun to a slag-spewing cannon and a crystal-powered laser rifle. Each weapon has a role to play and will remain relevant all the way through. However, if you die, it’s back to your last save.

Now, I found how it deals with saving and loading really interesting because, unlike the shooters it's trying to emulate, you can’t just save anywhere. In WRATH, you are given options when you want to reload: at the start of the level (the only autosave), at a shrine (a one-use heal and pseudo-checkpoint), or at your last placed Soul Tether (a consumable item that lets you save anywhere at any time). It makes you really think about how you want to keep your progress and where or when you want a second chance. There’s some risk and reward here, and I personally like that, but if you forget to save after a while… Well, that puts a serious damper on the experience, which is not helped by how hard and fast enemies can hit.

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Nothing beats a double barrel (except range).

Let me take a second to talk about the difficulty and what I realised as I was playing: they are misnamed. Instead of Easy, Medium, and Hard, it should be more like Normal, Veteran, and Nightmare. My first time playing was on Medium, and it wasn’t pretty, leaving me low on health and ammo on the very first level. I could probably beat it if I banged my head against it long enough, but I decided to restart and play on Easy, which still provided a challenge but at least gave you a fair fight. But hey, in the Gameplay options, it allows for infinite saves, so don't worry if you find yourself being too frugal with your Soul Tethers.

Onto the presentation and design, it perfectly emulates the looks of shooters from the ‘90s, with pixelated textures, low polygon models, and a pretty decent colour palette. It’s not a horrendously ugly brown and grey throughout and has some vibrant colours, but there are parts of levels that look samey and make it easy to get lost. The level design does keep you moving forward, but once you start looking for secrets, all bets are off, and it can be aggravating to explore areas you’ve already been to. If you’re getting this game, I recommend bumping up the gamma because it gets dark in places, and you might accidentally end up somewhere you shouldn’t… like into a bottomless pit.

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I hate lava.

Speaking of bottomless pits, I hate first-person platforming, and WRATH does not change my mind on it. Now, the controls aren’t bad if you’re just focusing on fighting. Even in narrow hallways and enclosed rooms, running around while shooting will get you through most scenarios, but when you need to cross chasms or lakes of lava is when things get messy. Your standard jump isn’t going to cut it most of the time, so you’re gonna have to use the armblade’s ability to dash forward to extend your jumps. It felt a little uncontrollable, and I found myself either overshooting platforms, bumping into a wall and bouncing off, or just not making it all because my timing was off. Fine, if a little annoying when there’s a safety net, headache-inducing when there’s a threat of death at the bottom. Also, if you land in lava, you’re dead, it just takes longer. I recommend using two Soul Tethers in these sections at minimum: one at the start and one at the end. At the very least, there is no fall damage.

Onto technical performance, WRATH runs perfectly at a consistent FPS to keep that fast pace all throughout your time with the game, and I didn’t encounter any glitches that I am aware of. As for any other issues I had with the game, I’ve pretty much covered it all already, but I must reiterate that this game can be dark and easy to get lost in.

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Always something bigger to kill.

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin is a very fun time to go through, but I should warn you it's not for everyone. If you love Quake, Doom, or any other boomer shooter, you’ll find yourself at home here. Fighting enemies is satisfying, and you’ll always find something new to discover. That being said, you’ll get lost in its levels, and anyone unprepared for its challenges will have a terrible time. I really do recommend the game, but proceed with caution.

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin is available on Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

7.50/10 7½

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin is a very fun time, but it's not for everyone. You’ll find expansive levels and worthy challenges to conquer for those willing and ready to face what it offers.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Dylan Pamintuan

Dylan Pamintuan

Staff Writer

Taking all of the AAA games

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