Devil’s In The Draw Distance: Into The Gloom

Gloom is a fantastic word, too often ignored in the gaming world because a certain FPS takes all the ‘oom’ attention. Loom deserves some of the ‘oom’ love, of course, and perhaps a little should be spared for Into The Gloom as well. It’s a first-person horror game with puzzles to solve and darkness to flee from, and it has the sort of old-fashioned grayscale (+red) graphics that will cause some observers to roll their eyes in exasperation. There’s a reason for the style though – and it’s not just the lack of a huge art team. The gloom uses a short draw distance and simplistic visuals to conceal…something.

It’s ghosts of some sort. That’s what the gloom is hiding. I suppose that’s to be expected but I admit to a fondness for this kind of lo-fi horror. The old rule about keeping the monster hidden in the shadows doesn’t apply to the same degree when everything is murky and obscure.

Into the Gloom also sounds like something a Mancunian would say if Mark E Smith had picked a slightly different band name.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve been well into The Gloom ever since Live at the Witch Trials. Pure tunes.”

Into The Gloom is available now, on Desura, and it costs £1.99. It’s short and probably won’t change your life, but it sets a fine mood, has puzzles to break up the wandering and is a promising first release.


  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    Story time.

    In mid to late 80s and early 90s, the Amiga range seemed like the ultimate apex in games-centered computing. It felt like there was nothing it could not do. And then a DOS game came along called Doom. Amiga enthusiasts promptly decided that they needed one of those and it became apparent that while the Amiga could very competently scroll 12 layers of parallax around, it had a much harder time doing whatever it was that Doom needed to work.

    But this did not stop folks from trying. And eventually a contender came along. This contender was named Gloom, an obvious riff on the game it was trying to be. They more or less competently pulled off the technical side of things, but sadly were so focused on the technical side of it that they never quite made as good a game out of it. It was ok, mostly just ok.

    Here she be: GLOOM.

    And then, not long after, the Doom source was released, ported to Amiga and any reasonably-specced Amiga could run Doom, Heretic, Hexen etc. just as well as if it were on the system they were originally intended for.

    • sinister agent says:

      I knew you guys wouldn’t let me down, but first comment? Great work.

      Gloom was by far the best “Doom – But on the Amiga” game, largely because it knew what it could and couldn’t achieve, and didn’t do impressive technical things but terrible game things (Fears), terrible technical things but quite good game things (Death Mask), or very good game things and extremely impressive technical things that only three amigas in the world could actually do (Alien Breed 3D).

      Also the gothic tomb levels were legitimately terrifying. To paraphrase Amiga Power: “What other game causes you to be afraid of walls?”.

      • Emeraude says:

        Damn/bless you for that nostalgia bomb.

        Had totally forgotten about Alien Breed 3D.

        On another note, I always thought Loom was just plain beautiful game-design hat never quite got the love it deserved.

        • sinister agent says:

          Alien Breed 3D 2 holds up remarkably well visually even today. How well it plays I’ve no idea, mind. Plus from watching gameplay videos it never struck me as really having a strong identity of its own, being a bit too much of a clone, compared to Gloom (or indeed, to the 2d Alien Breed games, which flaws aside, certainly had personality).

          I never played Loom (or AB3D, if I’m honest – hardly surprising though, as the list of people who could play it starts with “the developers” and ends with “HAL 9000”), but I do remember some very impressive preview images.

      • Scumbag says:

        The Space hulk levels were all fun and games, then you hit the gothic tomb and GOD DAMN RAPTOR BLOKES SCREAMING! Not sure how much of it was down to processing power being funneled toward making the graphics render but the old Amiga “Doom clones” were always that little bit more atmospheric due to a lack of music.

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        Hodge says:

        Ah, thank you! The secret room at 11:50! I played this in an emulator a couple of years ago specifically to find that room again, but my memory failed me. Now I have closure.

        If I recall correctly this had split-screen co-op and deathmatch modes too. In hindsight it was pretty bloody impressive for a tongue-in-cheek knock-off written for a platform which couldn’t do this type of game in the first place.

  2. Turkey says:

    I ain’t scared of no pixel ghost.

  3. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Yeah, yeah, I’ve been well into Gloom ever since the Amiga. Pure tunes.

    Seem to remember I had to stuff some kind of accelerator board (Blizzard?) into my 1200’s wazoo to get it to run properly.

    It was bobbins and probably the main reason I jumped to PC.

    • KwisatzHaderach says:

      Wasn’t there a Quake-mod with the name of Gloom? The first cross-over of FPS/RTS, the like of Natural Selection…

    • Scumbag says:

      If you had a blizzard card you were a well off kid or an adult with a disposable income. Those things were about £300 back in 1995. I saved up for ages and could only afford a 68030 Apollo thingy. Made Gloom and Breathless look nice.

  4. Stardreamer says:

    Yes, Amnesia, but also Corporation (Another Amiga classic) and even some olde-timey Freescape adventure (Driler\Castle Master\etc) in there as well. Impressive, in one so young.

  5. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Alright, now make that pony do another trick.

  6. neffo says:

    I feel like either a) whole bunch of Amiga people had google news alerts activated for the name “Gloom”, or, b) there is a secret society laying dormant waiting for the chance to mention how great the Amiga was*.

    “It’s time people. Insert Workbench!”

    * “It’s still great.” **
    ** I’m a reformed Amiga owner, I am able to make these jokes.

    • sinister agent says:

      RPS is one of Amiga Power’s spiritual successors. Kioran Gallien cut his teeth there, and John Walker has been closely associated with a couple of people who worked on it. I’m not sure about the other guys, but whether they know it or not, they too hold the torch.

      Plus RPS was championing unusual and indie games long before the big names caught on and the indie revolution took hold everywhere. “unusual and indie games” were always the way of the amiga.

      There are quite a lot of us here.