Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, the tried: a hymn to Quake and the shooters of the 90s

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, the tried: a hymn to Quake and the shooters of the 90s
It is not uncommon in recent years to run into video games that look to the past, because they are dissatisfied with the evolution of the videogame medium and its more modern forms, all too condescending with the players. We are not just talking about reworkings of classic games, but also about the recovery of aesthetics that were considered forgotten, linked above all to technologies considered obsolete.

In different times and ways, developers and enthusiasts are recovering game systems and ways to conceive mechanics and gameplay that were believed to be confined to times when many current gamers were not even born, in search of a more direct and human relationship with the video games themselves, a relationship that has been lost in the big industry. Thus, more or less populous niches are being born, which are abstracted from the mass market to dedicate themselves to rediscovering their true passions: what made them fall in love with video games. Wrath: Aeon of Ruin by KillPixel, of which we tried the latest version in Early Access before the definitive one, fits this trend perfectly, presenting itself as an ode to Quake and, more generally, to the shooters of the 90s.


Quake is undoubtedly the first game that comes to mind when playing Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, either for the atmosphere, or for the rhythm of the truly pressing action and either because the graphics engine is exactly that: the Quake 1 Tech. In reality, by playing a little, elements taken by weight from the Hexen, the first Unreal and the Bloods emerge, a sign that the intent of the developers is more to celebrate a certain school of thought than a single game. A little bit what Ion Fury tried to do with the Duke Nukem 3D legacy with some success. It is no coincidence that it is always published by 3D Realms.

Wrath is a gothic way in which the player plays the role of the Outlander, commissioned by the Shepherd of Wayward Souls to hunt down the Guardians of the Old World. Each of them occupies a different area, reachable from the initial hub map (the final version of the game will have fifteen levels divided into three hubs). There is also a tutorial, which fortunately lasts a few minutes, just long enough to explain the functions of the default weapon: a powerful wrist blade that also allows you to make prodigious leaps. Once out in the open, you can go in search of one of the portals that lead to one of the five levels currently available. Just go through it and the nightmare begins.

To start we selected the Normal difficulty (the second of four), but soon discovered one of the main features of the game: it is merciless. It is also by selecting Easy (which we can match the maximum difficulty level of a modern shooter). The first enemies you meet are undead who go down without too much trouble, but when the first demons equipped with firearms start to appear, things get very complicated ... also because in Wrath you cannot save freely.

To do this you need to use a Soul Theter, magical objects that can be found by exploring the levels. If you do not have any, or if too many are wasted, you cannot save and you run the risk of having to redo long sections of the game several times in the event of premature death. Learning to use Soul Theter wisely is one of the skills required of the player. Also because, as we have had the opportunity to experience on our skin, we die very often.


During our first attempts we confess that we have attempted an approach to Serious Sam, breaking into the rooms full of monsters with weapons drawn, then waving us like angry children, jumping and shooting wildly. Each time we were wiped out in a few moments: the enemies are very precise, their shots are fast and difficult to dodge and, moreover, they do a great harm. There are also some who only fight hand-to-hand, but they are quick and do terrible too. In general, hostile creatures are not particularly intelligent, but they usually attack in enough numbers that they are still very dangerous, benefiting from a map design that favors ambushes.

After some indecent deaths, we managed to take the right measures and we started to get some results. We therefore started to have a more cautious approach and to look around us more carefully, paying attention to the directions of the sounds, especially those coming from our shoulders, in order not to risk being surrounded. Better to look around every corner before acting and retrace your steps when necessary ... Also because you forget about energy or shields that recharge on their own.

As already mentioned, Wrath: Aeon of Ruin has a very classic approach to the genre, so the levels are littered with more or less hidden healing items, as well as pieces of armor and ammunition for weapons. There are also many secrets to discover, which invite you to explore every nook and cranny of the vast game maps. The feeling is really that of being in front of a 90s title on steroids, with the action never giving a moment's respite. The weapon progression system itself has a very similar approach to that of the rest of the game: each collected weapon ends up in the inventory and can be recalled at any time, without limitation of the two weapons as happens in modern shooters. Too bad the more weapons you have, the harder the levels get.

Of course, mastering the two firing modes of each weapon and learning how to use artifacts, powerful objects with incredible powers such as making the Outlander recover energy for each kill, or donating a few seconds of 'immortality, things subside a bit, but the fact remains that in certain moments Wrath is really punitive, therefore not suitable for everyone.


From a technical point of view / stylistic there is not much to say about Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, since it recalls Quake in this too: bare and angular environments, small textures spread on the surfaces without too much regard and very mild special effects. From a certain point of view, sometimes it is better not to be distracted by too flashy graphics, so as to be able to evaluate the gameplay value of the game in front of us more carefully. It should be emphasized that the KillPixel title is really playable on any PC at very high framerates, just don't expect miracles. The levels are a mixture of closed and open environments (much more Unreal than Quake in this one), all well characterized and with a great atmosphere, despite the lack of detail. The same can be said of the creatures, which seem straight out of a CD-Rom of some 90's game. After all, the developers have never hidden this aspect of the game, so it is difficult for anyone to be surprised in the negative.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is somewhat self-explanatory. The Early Access version that we got to try showed us a title that has all the credentials to be loved by those who come from the 90s, videogame speaking. Of course, many levels are still missing from the appeal and the gameplay needs a lot of filings, so for now it's better to remain completely neutral, without hiding, however, that the experience as a whole we liked very much. Of course, whoever tried it is an old player, so the perfect target for this title.


You will like it if you like Quake The levels are really big Very high difficulty DOUBTS Really high difficulty Quake went really exhumed?

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