If you’re a child of the 80’s it means that you were at just about the right age when some of the earliest first-person shooters made their debut. Although we didn’t know it at the time, games like DOOM and Marathon would shape how we play games moving forward. Fast-forward 30ish years and developer Buckshot Software has been hard at work hitting us in all the feels with Project Warlock.
This 90’s inspired FPS tries hard to blend everything us old gamers loved about 90’s shooters with some interesting RPG elements of more modern titles. Originally released for PC back in 2018, Project Warlock (PW) has finally made it to console I have been tasked with seeing just how well Buckshot’s shooter holds up on the PS4. So grab that coffee, kick back, and enjoy our review of Project Warlock.
That Familiar Feeling
PW sets players up as an un-named Warlock tasked with eradicating evil from the earth. Armed with an array of physical and mystical weapons, players will find themselves traversing a wide variety of environments across a series of episodic levels. Each episode carries with it a unique theme and style. Everything from medieval castles to Arctic bases is available for the player to explore.
It’s a delightful journey that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Rather it leans into the 90’s nostalgia that it’s inspired by. The standard fair of getting the red key, the blue key, the gold key and finding the exit is on full display here. However, PW also throws in a boss fight at the end of every episode just in case your nostalgia meter wasn’t quite full. It’s delightful, it’s straightforward and it’s a lot of fun. It harkens back to much simpler times when shooting a duck with a zapper gun or beating your sibling’s high score in a platformer was the peek of gaming achievements.
One point to note is that this “simple” approach to game design might be a bit of a turn off to younger gamers who have been raised in an era of much more complex shooters. To that point though I would say that the level design, combat, and progression do help keep things fresh.
Speaking of level design I have to say that the levels in PW look great and offer some fun, varied designs throughout. With the themed episodic approach, I always found myself wanting to move to the next episode just see how the developer took on the next set of levels. Each level also comes packed with secrets to be uncovered as well as a host of enemies to discover and encounter. I have to say that I am a huge fan of the level pacing in Warlock. New concepts are introduced, be it levels, weapons or spells, just as you get into the rhythm of the shoot, loot, move on. This helps keep things fresh in what may be perceived by some as an otherwise pretty simple experience.
Let’s talk about guns. More specifically let’s talk about how awesome the weapons and combat are in Project Warlock. Taking a note out of DOOM’s playbook, PW is packed with not only conventional weapons (more on those in just as second) but also a host of devastating spells that can be unleashed on your foes. There is a wide variety of spells at your disposal and each one offers a whole new approach to fending off the wardens of hell.
The aforementioned weapons also break free of normal convention and offer some fun and destructive approaches to combat. Everything from a magical staff to Dynomite is fair game and each has multiple options for upgrading. This allows players to really cater the experience to their playstyle. Once again Buckshot has found a solid balance between nostalgia and modern mechanics and in turn has created a really enjoyable combat experience. Combat is fast, fluid, and feels great.
As for shooting your way through the minions of hell on the console, the port feels right at home on the PS4. Controls are tight and responsive and there is a host of settings that allow you to configure just how retro you want to game to feel. I especially appreciated the option to lock the Y-axis to really give it that DOOM feeling. Not to mention that you can actually tweak all of the visual settings to really give it an old school feel.
Progression in PW is streamlined, simple but also impactful. Upgrades can be found through the levels and can be added at the Warlock workshop in between levels. Weapons can be modified, spells purchased and stat points allocated to things like health and ammo capacity all with a couple of quick clicks. This helps keep things moving forward and gets you right back into the action.