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  • Writer's pictureAntal Bokor

 WRATH: Aeon of Ruin Is Great but Unconventional for a Boomer Shooter

Screenshot: WRATH: Aeon of Ruin

I appreciate the fact that video games of all eras are being represented by contemporary developers. It’s no surprise that even tried and true formulas will be tweaked by modern developers mixing up the formula a bit. WRATH: Aeon of Ruin is an example of a game that has a great retro feel with some “why’d they do it?” tweaks the developer made to the formula that actually end up not entirely ruining the whole experience.

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin is a first person retro style shooter in the vein of Quake or other fast-paced 3D shooters that came out of the mid to late 90’s. It's set in a vague afterlife type world with a flimsy story that sets up the most important part: gibbing lots of low poly enemies with extreme prejudice.

Screenshot: WRATH: Aeon of Ruin

As with any other “boomer shooter” movement is fast, and enemies are plenty. There are a good variety of different enemy types with behaviors that will make you stay moving. Unfortunately, the enemy types stay the same between the multiple different zones you’ll fight across. There also aren’t many boss encounters, which is a bummer.

One of the most important parts of a first person shooter is the shooting, and WRATH: Aeon of Ruin does a great job, even if its selection of weapons is unconventional. I’m not unused to strange weapons in first person shooters. The '90s, in fact, were a time when developers were trying to come up with the most unconventional arms you can imagine. That tradition stays alive in this title, with weapons that fire teeth instead of bullets, or globs of explosive acid instead of conventional grenades. There are normal firearms like the shotgun, and the pistol. But every weapon has an alternate fire mode that makes them more interesting than just a normal gun. And let’s talk about that blade.

Screenshot: WRATH: Aeon of Ruin

The Outsider also has an arm blade that is absolutely one of the most fun things I’ve had the pleasure of using in a retro themed first person shooter. While most default melee weapons are boring or just useful as tools, the arm blade is a powerful weapon that gibs enemies and even works as a traversal tool. Instead of rocket jumping, you can blade jump after charging up your blade. It’s very cool.

Fights take place in a variety of environments, both tight corridors and open arenas. While there are the normal traps with walls sliding away to reveal enemies and such, I can’t say that any of the levels were particularly clever. They were competently made, and had a flow that made it so I never quite felt like I lost my bearing. I never spent too much time wandering around looking for where to go.

Screenshot: WRATH: Aeon of Ruin

The biggest departure that WRATH: Aeon of Ruin takes from conventional retro styled shooters is the save system. Traditionally you are allowed to save as much as you want in these games. However, WRATH: Aeon of Ruin incorporates an item-based system. You can only save when you have a soul tether to expend, or if you come across a single-use shrine. Having limited saves is a bold move, as it feels antithetical to the boomer shooter style. It doesn’t really add much to the gameplay, beyond having a bit of extra stress, but I find it didn’t really detract too much, either. 

Enemy encounters can be difficult, however–and dying does have the potential to derail gameplay significantly. There are power-ups to employ that can help stave off death, and armor/health pick-ups scattered around the level so you never feel too starved of resources.

Screenshot: WRATH: Aeon of Ruin

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin feels great to play. It has great shooting, strange but good feeling weapons, and a nice variety of enemies. I do wish there were different enemies for the different zones you fight through, but the limited enemy types kind of fits with the theme. I do wish there was an option for a conventional save system, however. And lack of controller support is a strange decision, especially since WRATH: Aeon of Ruin is exactly like something I’d want to play on the Steam Deck.

If you’re into boomer shooters, WRATH: Aeon of Ruin is a no-brainer. I’d even argue it was essential if it didn’t make strange design decisions.

WRATH: Aeon of Ruin leaves Early Access tomorrow and will be available for PC via Steam.



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