WRATH: AEON OF RUIN
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on March 3, 2021
Remember when you were young and a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 was still the bees knees? Well, if you do, you'll probably also remember the iconic shooters of that age. Now, according to some, these shooters were absolutely the best games ever and have never been surpassed in terms of gameplay and fun. Especially for those among us who share this opinion, the good people at developer Killpixel and publishers 3DRealms and 1C Entertainment brought Wrath: Aeon of Ruin to the ever-expanding world of gaming!
We first laid eyes on this game while we visited the 1C booth at Gamescom 2019. We always love going to 1C because of their awesome games and truly nice people. 2019 was no exception to this rule and it was at the 1C booth that we came across a team of 3D Realms, who were showcasing their upcoming game, Ion Fury. We had a fun time playing this game, and were invited to try another title, which turned out to be Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. And while these games were presented side by side, they was a totally different game. Sure, at its core, they're both FPS games, but this is where the similarities end. Not alike how they did when comparing Duke Nukem to Quake, one might say.
Wrath utilizes a modified version of the well-known Quake Engine and that shows. Now, I don't mean it looks old, that would be too obvious. What I mean is that the graphics look like the games that we all loved back in the day. You know, the games that actually served to launch the FPS genre into the next age: the age of 3D graphics. When compared to Ken Silverman's Build engine (known for being awesome and powering games like Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior at the time), the Quake engine can actually render 3D environments and other game components in real-time. This means that Wrath is actually a fully-fledged 3D FPS. The medieval -looking fantasy setting comes to life in this engine and looks really cool. Plus, the engine is fully capable of running smoothly, even when hordes of enemies are coming at you. which does frequently happen. Now, when you think medieval fantasy, you wouldn't normally associate this setting with guns. Luckily, Wrath doesn't bother with reality, and supplies the player with a wide variety of awesome firearms!
In Wrath, you take the role of the Outlander, a mysterious and lone drifter, whose travels have led him to the ravaged shores of a world on the brink of death. He is contacted by an old man who goes by the lofty title of Shepherd of Wayward Souls, and is given the task to restore peace and prosperity to the world by hunting down the Guardians of the Old World. These characters were once the protectors of the now ravaged lands, but somehow fell into corruption along the way. It is the Outlanders task to rid the Guardians of said corruption and restore balance to the world.
And what a world it is! The grim and gloomy environments you'll have to make your way through are positively crawling with bad guys and other monsters, all of who seem to only have a single thing on their mind: utterly destroying you! Naturally, we won't take this lying down, and this is where our arsenal of awesome weaponry comes into play. This was to be expected, of course. I mean, who has ever heard of a First Person SHOOTER game without weapons? These games carry that name for a reason, right? It's not called a First Person Walker, now is it?
So yes, you'll get to wield a plethora of cool weapons during your adventure, but that's not all! You can also find, collect and use various relics from the old world, each of which have a unique, yet short-lived, effect. Take the Life Syphon, for instance. This useful item actually does what the says it does; it syphons life from killed enemies to your own health bar. Or maybe you'll want to use the Trinket of Deflection, which creates a globe-like shield around your current position that deflects all incoming projectile attacks. All these items come in really handy from time to time, so be sure to try them out and see what does what, so you can incorporate them in the fights that are sure to follow. In total, you can collect nine weapons and ten artifacts. Different combinations of weapon and artifact make for different gameplay, so be sure to do some experimenting with different combinations.
Of course, where there are weapons, there is a need for ammunition. For some weapons, this ammunition is found in weapon drops scattered around the different levels, while other ammo types are dropped by killed enemies. Next to these ammo drops, you can also collect armor shards and health vials. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is no regenerating health to be found in Wrath. The game utilizes the old school approach of replenishing lost health by collecting health containers. So, if you're almost dead, you'd better make damn sure that you get your hands on a bit of health before encountering another enemy.
Also, the games uses a slightly different save system than is found in modern games. During your adventure, you can collect so-called Soul Tethers. This consumable item creates a save spot wherever it is used, which serves a sort of checkpoint when you die. Now, the Soul Tethers aren't in limitless supply, so think before you save. When you're out of Tethers, you're out of luck when it comes to saving wherever you want. Luckily, you will also come across shrines from time to time, which also serve as save points. But these shrines are relatively few and far between, so be sure to use them whenever you come across them!
This brings us to the level design portion of the game. Contrary to most shooters, Wrath features a semi open-world design. The game is divvied up in three hub worlds, each of which has its own distinct look and feel. Per world, you can gain access to five different levels, each filled to the brim with enemies and collectables. A handy overview lets you see what you've already gathered per level. This is a very useful tool for the completionists among us, because you now know exactly what you'll still need to find in a specific level. The levels are built in such a way that there are more than one way to reach your objective, granting the player the freedom to "attack" the level in the way he or she sees fit. This gives the game a greater sense of freedom than is usual when it comes to old-school shooters. This seemingly simple game mechanic is a very wise addition, if you ask me.
After playing Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, I can only say that I absolutely love it! It has that old-school look and feel but, at the same time, works just that bit better than these games did back in the day. The variety of guns and enemies also means the player will have adopt a more tactical approach to things. Some guns won't work as well on some enemies as they do on others, and it is up to you to find out which gun is best used against which enemies. The addition of the Artifacts adds another layer of tactics to the game. The game looks and sounds the part is highly enjoyable for everyone who loves a good FPS game! So do yourself a favor; pick up your weapons and ammo and go in all guns blazing!