Retro Gamers and sorcerers rejoice; especially Switch owners in this case! Project Warlock; a 2018 title originally released on PC, has finally made its way to the Nintendo platform, bringing all of its artillery and magic to the players fingertips.
Within the opening moments of the game, it was clear where developer Jakub Cislo and his team’s heavy influences behind this project had sparked from. Following a routine of gameplay we have all been familiarized with from games like Doom and Wolfenstein3D, players are dropped into the shoes of an unnamed warlock, armed and ready to destroy everything in his path. Greeted with some catchy heavy metal music at the start menu, this 90’s style first person shooter didn’t waste any time throwing me into an adrenaline-driven, unforgiving, and bloody great experience.
The visuals are outstanding and beautifully crafted in this “2.5D” adventure. Each level consists of several stages, and there are a ton of them. From sprawling corridors of dark and dangerous dungeons, to the icy tundras of the Antarctica and beyond, each area stands out from the previous adding to that sense of adventure. I was impressed with the smaller details that sometimes get overlooked such as melee weapons leaving marks on walls after being hit and even smashing out stained glass windows. You can utilize some of the environment to your advantage as well. Although equipped with a mini-map, I found myself backtracking unintentionally once in awhile due to the the maze-like layout of some areas. It was usually an easy fix, but could be frustrating at times.
Ammunition, treasure (the games form of experience points),new weapons, and keys are scattered throughout the levels, but obtaining them isn’t the easiest at times. One of Project Warlock’s big highlights, is the impressive variety of enemies. Around each corridor awaits waves of relentless creatures. Rabid bats, winged demons, mummies, even yeti’s and robots; each had their own means of attack, giving some diversity to the combat. Encounters quickly turn into a chaotic and bloody exchange of projectiles between the player and the enemies. Options like using a precise shot to detonate an explosive barrel will save you a lot of headache when overwhelmed with enemies. Other than the overall difficulty of the game, I never found myself stuck trying to figure out exactly how to kill any of them. But I did have to spend a bit of time getting the timing down to dodge them, especially during the boss encounters.
Guns, axes, spells, and more guns. There was no shortage of weapons to use as I blasted my way through what felt like endless swarms of demons and other unworldly enemies that blocked my path. RPG elements are thrown into the mix as well, which allows for stat increases like strength and health, as well as the ability to upgrade weapons and spells. A “workshop” serves as a hub in between levels, where upgrading can be completed. I found the majority of the magic to be underwhelming damage-wise, so I mostly used a good old shotgun or crossbow bring down the demonic forces. There is a fair bit of flexibility packed into the character building, allowing for players to experiment and see what suits them best.
The controls handle well between the joycons and a Pro controller. I spent a divided amount of time bouncing between the two, and had zero issues with either. The weapon “wheel” does feel a bit clunky, but I was adjusted to it after a good hour of playtime. Everything else is spot on performance-wise with this port.
Project Warlock delivers highly in every aspect, and does an incredible job paying tribute to the benchmark titles that shaped the genre to what it is today. 50+ stages, an awesome soundtrack, dozens of guns and spells to tamper with, topped off with endless amounts of enemies and exaggerated amounts of blood; there is a solid amount of content and replay value packed into this one. If you’re looking to get your classic gaming fix, or just in the mood to play something new, look no further.