All is going according to script.
We’ve seen it before: a first-person shooter is announced, with the developer promising a “return to form” for the genre. Veteran fans are understandably excited, expecting to relive all the key-hunting and horde-thinning glory of the 90’s. However, the only thing they experience is disappointment time and again by silly gimmicks and modern gameplay conventions awkwardly juxtaposed against old staples. Fortunately, I can say that indie game Gorescript is for once a 90’s-style FPS that actually manages to deliver on its promise. For the most part.
The story is… actually no. The game doesn’t have one. Like, for real. Players are literally thrown into an abstract world populated by hostile triangles and spheres, and have to navigate towards the exit whilst shooting and collecting keys, ammo, and health. That’s it. The world in question appears to be some sort of construct in a starry void, and matter itself is comprised of massive, fat voxels. A couple of evil beings lurk here, though their motivations (and indeed, the player’s) remain a mystery.
That aside, the game is 90’s first-person shooting as you remember it. Levels are composed of a series of tight corridors, outdoor areas, and rooms full of traps. Ammo, health, and weapons lay haphazardly about, awaiting a wayward soul to collect them. Explosive barrels are conspicuously placed next to enemy clusters to maximize damage. And bottomless pits and crushing ceilings are a few of the dangers you’re expected to face. It’s all presented in a 2.5D engine and could easily serve as a selection of levels from classic Doom. Not only that, but the enemies serve as various archetypes one would find in iD’s iconic shooter. With a few visual overhauls, it could very easily be misconstrued as a map pack for any Doom-engine game.
Players are unable to jump, at least initially. Jumping requires finding anti-gravity boots, though this is not essential for winning the game. In fact, true to its Doom inspiration, the game can be played in its entirety without jumping. Obtaining this ability will be useful, however, especially later on in a scenario which I won’t spoil. Uncovering such secrets really help towards making the game all the more compelling, and encourages exploring and keeping a sharp eye to details. It’ll bring wonderful memories flooding back of the very first time you booted up Knee-Deep In The Dead.
There are however a few slight annoyances. The lack of a quicksave feature is a baffling choice in a game that prides itself on replicating FPSes as they were made in the 90’s. It does however make the game far more challenging, and if you want to take up a couple of extra notches, you can play a one-life permadeath mode or a mode where everything is dark. It adds a high degree of longevity to the game’s somewhat modest 18-level campaign.
Gorescript‘s presentation is certainly… unique. The game consists almost entirely of oversized voxels, giving the whole affair the impression of a Minecraft mod gone awry. Retro aesthetics and minimalism are great, and many games utilize them masterfully, but I dunno with this game. There’s little appeal in the look of the world and the creatures that inhabit it, and it’s only compounded by the lack of variety in the levels and monsters. Little touches such as bloom effects and chromatic aberration help keep the visuals interesting, though, as do the various visceral splatters from enemies. But while Gorescript‘s look might not be too enduring, the audio side of things are in stark contrast. Guns sound heavy and impactful and are satisfying to use. The sounds of explosions and monsters gnawing at you help with the immersion. And the music is a sweet collection of fairly minimal electro that’s definitely worth a separate purchase.
There’s a long-standing discussion about graphics being unimportant in a game, and Gorescript is perhaps the seminal example of this point. I won’t lie: it’s not a very pretty sight to behold. In fact, at times, it’s downright ugly. But what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in game play. The level design, the gun mechanics… all of it is straight out of the 90’s, and just as fun and challenging as you remember. If you fancy yourself as any sort of retro first-person shooter fan, then you need to play this game post-haste. Bunny hop over here to secure a copy of your own, or to at least try the demo.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: AmusedSloth ; Developer: Sergiu Bucur ; Players: single-player. ; Released: 15 of June, 2017.
Full disclosure: this review is based on a Steam key for Gorescript given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.