Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a Hardcore Journey Back in Time – PAX East Preview
One of my favorite game demos at PAX East so far has also been one of the most unique ones I could experience at an event like this. PAX is of course all about the indie games, the upcoming huge titles, and those “out of left field” games that you could only find at a community-driven event like this one. This is why I was surprised to find that a 1990s-styled, hardcore first-person shooter where the player relentlessly and brutally murders the undead in spectacular fashion would end up being the game that resonated with me over many others. Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a fast paced first-person shooter in the style of Quake that is fun, stylish, and surprisingly fits right at home in 2019.
In Wrath: Aeon of Ruin, 3D Realms in collaboration with KillPixel are paying homage to the classic era of first-person shooters with Quake being the biggest inspiration. The player is free to explore open environments and take down enemies as they appear. The speed of the movement immediately felt rapid as I took control of the player character but by about two minutes in, I felt right at home. Slaying zombies at a clean, smooth framerate felt satisfying on the PC I was playing on, however the big surprise is that Wrath: Aeon of Ruin will also be hitting PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch despite the deeply rooted PC heritage of the games it’s homaging.
There’s a variety of weapons in Wrath: Aeon of Ruin and each weapon feels unique and individually interesting. Weapons have a primary and secondary fire which allows for a plethora of gameplay options that the player can use to plan their approach. The blade that I started with goes from a slash attack to a far lunge when secondary fire is activated and it was immediately satisfying to tear through enemy groups at a time. I was also able to get my hands on a pistol, shotgun, and fang-spitting machine gun which was easily my favorite weapon to use. The fangs shot out at an accelerated pace that allowed me to fiercely demolish groups of undead enemies.
The gameplay of Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is not all that resembles experiences like Quake and Doom as the world holds that same open, gloomy feel. Environments have a mid-90s style of texture quality but the art direction warped me back in time to when these games ruled supreme on PC. The smooth feel of movement and combat by today’s standards helped to compromise the 90s visuals and add to an experience that is strengthened by the era it’s inspired by rather than be held back by it. The exploration elements also hold great potential as the fast movement made it easy to get around and hidden health packs, ammo, and items incentivized looking around corners and taking alternate paths.
I didn’t want my demo of Wrath: Aeon of Ruin to end which is the highest praise I could pay toward the game. It’s gameplay focused with a narrative that seems to take a back seat but the world leaves room for mystery and possible story elements to pop up when appropriate. The action that is present is the game’s strong suit and despite Wrath’s willingness to pay respects and live in the 90s, the game’s individuality allows it to be a breath of fresh air in the modern era.