Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a blast from 2019 (2024)

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a blast from 2019 (1)

I haven’t written anything in forever, and the PC release was in February and it’s now late April, so in keeping with the theme of Wrath’s long development, let’s just say this was purposefully done to coincide with the console release and not because I’ve been dealing with vast amounts of sh*t for the most of the first quarter of the year. In fact, I haven’t even beaten Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. It is quite possibly the sloggiest of games I have played in a long time, at least in terms of boomer shooter standards.

Everything you need to know, you’ve probably watched in the 3D Realms video from Civvie on YouTube a while back. The new 3D Realms has had its fair share of issues and corporate f*ckery going on. Wrath has been in development for so long, since about 2019 when the boomer shooter craze was just starting to take off. The finished product definitely feels like it. It would have fit in with the likes of Dusk, Ion Fury, and Amid Evil as the defacto Quake-alike. It even has a soundtrack done up by Andrew Hulshult!

The whole thing is a huge tribute to Quake, as Hulshult’s soundtrack takes inspiration from the original. Personally, I never cared for the Quake soundtrack. Give me Quake II’s any day, Quad Machine f*cking rocks. In fact, the game was developed in the Darkplaces source port of Quake to give it that authentic feel. Between the technical headache and specific know-how that was required, plus the pandemic, plus the corporate f*ckery, plus the original creator stepping away from the project, Wrath kept getting pushed further and further away.

What can I actually say about Wrath? I had almost entirely forgotten I had it, to start with. I snagged a Steam copy for CDkeys.com for $11.89 and it’s currently going for $24.99 which I think is way too much for what you’re getting. You can buy both remasters of Quake and Quake II, and trust me, you are way better off. To everyone who shelled out for the Founders package…sorry, dude.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a blast from 2019 (3)

Wrath has no real plot, and in a genre known for threadbare story that’s saying something. Even the journal entries really don’t tell you much. You are the Outlander, a generic Corvo-looking motherf*cker who can’t pull off anywhere near as many cool kills as he can. You do, however, have a neat wristblade that can charge up and be used to cross chasms. It’s an overpowered move, really. You can tell Wrath is designed as if the boomer shooter scene was still in its infancy. You’d be able to do a bunch of cool moves with the blade and have dashing and double jumps and such ala Doom Eternal.

There’s not even a radial menu for weapons. Or a map, for that matter, something Wrath sorely needs as the levels are so lengthy they could have easily been broken up into smaller, more digestible levels. I’m glad the devs behind Project Warlock II learned their lesson and broke up the big levels. It takes easily an hour or longer for every level, give or take restarts.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a blast from 2019 (4)

Speaking of which, Wrath has a bizarre save system. You can collect soul tethers which act as limited quick saves, plus there are the shrines that will save your game and replenish your health along with autosaves that kick now and then. So you’ll have three separate save files to juggle at a time. The limited soul tethers are rendered meaningless as you can switch to unlimited saves at any time. Who thought this was a good idea? How do you screw up a save in a shooter?

Despite the long development time, everything about Wrath is undercooked. The weapons. The levels. The enemies. Oh dear god, the second boss is such an egregious example of drawing out a fight. The second and third worlds feel completely tacked on. Only the first world feels like it’s gotten some actual work and forethought into it. The other two are clearly done after Kill Pixel Games walked away.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a blast from 2019 (5)

Wrath wouldn’t stick in my craw so much if it wasn’t part of a larger pattern with 3D Realms and Slipgate Ironworks. Just about any title coming from 3D Realms has been in development hell and I’ve heard not great things about Phantom Fury, a rushed-out Duke Nukem Forever 2001 wannabe that will eventually probably be outclassed by the restoration project underway.

It’s games like Wrath that make me wonder how much longer the boomer shooter scene is gonna remain popular before interest peters out. It’s not enough just to be yet another retro, nostalgia-bait shooter. We can afford to be picky at this point. I still have a huge backlog in my Steam library and quite a few boom shoots I’m looking forward to. What’s so frustrating about Wrath is it seemed to have a cool style and had potential. The animation as the enemies burst into various gory body parts never ceases to bring a sad*stic smile to my face, but that’s really all I can say.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a blast from 2019 (6)

The design of all the levels and worlds after the first are so goddamn boring. The action is either too tedious, or they’re just throwing as many monsters as they can at you. You never get enough ammo for the heavier weapons, yet you never run out of shotgun shells and the shotgun is pretty blah in this game. It’s a pretty forgettable arsenal overall, I’m sad to report.

It’s taken me several months to get to the third and final hub world in Wrath. I have logged in more than a dozen hours. The only reason to fire it up again is a bizarre fetish to say I completed Wrath and put it in the done pile. I can drag myself to the finish line so I can justify to myself deleting it, never playing it again, and moving on to another boom shoot. There’s no reason not to. There are no bonus levels, survival mode, or multiplayer options. It’s about as barebones as you can get. I’m 99 percent sure all of what I said can be applied to the console version, so let’s just say I played and reviewed that, ‘mkay?

I wouldn’t buy anything from 3D Realms at this point unless it had gotten glowing praise from everywhere. Despite all that, I believe in the boomer shooter scene and after the brutal layoffs, I really hope things can be turned around, especially after the split from Embracer Group. It would be a shame for the new 3D Realms to share the same fate as the old one.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is a blast from 2019 (2024)
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