Retro DayZ: DoomZ Alpha Impressions

“This is a a remake of DayZ but made in a superior engine in which zombies can’t just walk through walls.” I love that. Puritanism in zombie games. If there was a Mojo magazine for games, “Doom is still the best engine in the world” would be its “the Beatles are still the best band in the world.”

I digress. DoomZ really is DayZ in Doom, including the whole rickety, unfinished thing, at least for now. And, to be honest, there is some truth to its obstinate declaration about superiority – but it’s not because of anything to do with walking through walls, and more because of how its appearance affects -and enhances – my survival game mindset.

When I play DayZ, I tend to spend more time than I should worrying about how it looks, framerates and visual glitches. This can distract me from the business of survival. Worrying about prettiness while zombies want to consume one’s brains is very much fiddling as Rome burns. DoomZ is both atmospherically start, and so barebones that I immediately didn’t bother to worry about its appearance and instead turned my mind solely to finding guns and food, and fleeing from its 3D-but-not zombies.

It’s fascinating, too, to play a version of Doom where its most ubiquitous commodity – weapons and their ammunition – is an absolute rarity here. Having three bullets in your inventory is a miraculous turn of events. This goes against everything Doom is, and I can feel my mind straining to adapt to something I know so well changing so much.

The silent starkness of DoomZ means that the statement “night is coming”, in its old-fashioned and jagged-edged font, somehow holds that much more terror than DayZ’s. And never mind that this means the horde is on the prowl – there was a day? But where was the sunlight, the grass, the sense that the world yet lived? There was only a grey sky and brutalist buildings. There was so much land, so many buildings, but so little hope.

It’s rickety. It’s an alpha, you know? There is MS Paint UI art, there is difficulty in ascertaining what’s a door and what’s just a bitmap, and I had no luck getting the multiplayer to work (if indeed it does). But there’s something to it. That essential starkness of Doom (or zDoom, as DoomZ currently uses) breeds a menacing tone and a heightened degree of grimness.

Sure, every one of its ideas is lifted wholesale from DayZ, but somehow this feels more like the end of the world. Because stuff like precision aiming isn’t included, this is much more ‘shoot / run / find food / find ammo / hide’. Desperation through directness.

Of course, I say all of this from a position of only playing it solo. With no potential to encounter humanity – whether benign or malign – the dread and hopelessness ramps up. Maybe once I’ve seen a bunch of DoomGuys haring about the place its slight spell will be broken.

In any case, it’s free (either as a PK3 for zDoom or a standalone version) and it’s twelve updates down the line with more to come. Definitely worth a look, now and much later on. You will die repeatedly, even though you think you mastered Doom long ago.

22 Comments

  1. tumbleworld says:

    Somehow this interests me far more than DayZ.

    • SquidgyB says:

      I still have hopes for DayZ… Their latest development update pointed at zombie AI being the main focus for the next few patches. I can only hope this means a tidy up of all the things wrong with zombies at the moment, one of the main reasons I haven’t played in months.

      • rusty5pork says:

        I still don’t regret throwing 30 bucks at DayZ when it hit Early Access, because this was pretty much what I was expecting. Development seems slow but steady.

    • zentropy says:

      Haha word. This intrigues me suprisingly much.

  2. Skeletor68 says:

    The ‘You are Dead’ just reminds me of the best song ever.

  3. Curratum says:

    I will assume this runs on GZDoom as well, no?

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I haven’t yet found a zdoom mod that doesn’t. There might be one, but so far everything I’ve tried has worked.

    • Superpomme says:

      Heya, – Yea it does room on GZdoom, and the next version is actually going to be made specifically for gzdoom which will allow for better sky textures, dynamic lighting for torches and the fire etc, better 3d houses and a load of other things :)

  4. Michael Fogg says:

    Does that scope actually work, I wonder? That would be something, for Doom-engine.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      There are plenty of doom weapon mods with actual working scopes.

  5. Niente says:

    The Beatles still are the best band in the world…

    • Rise / Run says:

      So in a gameworld where all other bands are the living dead… I’ll grant you that.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Skabooga says:

    Worrying about prettiness while zombies want to consume one’s brains is very much fiddling as Rome burns.

    This might be the best pun ever. Clearly you were playing to your strings when you wrote this article.

  7. manny says:

    What’s the point working with such an antiquated engine? Why not just make a Dayz clone with Doom-like graphics on Unity? A retro Dayz is a good idea, not everyone has the latest pc and immersion is arguably increased.

    • Superpomme says:

      well, the main reason is…I love doom. And my friend’s said I couldn’t do it. Reason enough for me :)

      • manny says:

        Loving Doom is great, I’m just saying the Doom game engine is a dead end, if you want to develop the game more with others, you’ll need a much easier to use engine.

        • Polifemo says:

          Not everything needs to be in Unity or the latest tech. If something works it works. Doom engine works. People want to do stuff on Doom engine.
          There is absolutely nothing wrong with that even if there are “objectively” better options. Not everything needs to be “the best of the best” especially when it comes to standalone development just like not everything eeds to have the best graphics.

        • rossy says:

          In my experience the modern iterations of the doom engine are working quite nicely. I had more problems with unity engine games.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          “The doom engine is a dead end”
          Someone hasn’t actually thought to go and check out what people are doing with the doom engine these days.
          “If you want to develop the game more with others”
          Someone hasn’t actually thought to go and see how many people are still using the doom engine these days.

          • manny says:

            Well the Doom engine has been available for 15 year for free, and only one commercial game has been made using it. A 2002 gameboy advance game.

          • Premium User Badge

            Phasma Felis says:

            See, there’s your problem: “commercial.” Some devs are perfectly happy with their day jobs, and make games just because they enjoy making games. It’s not all about producing a saleable product.

  8. Superpomme says:

    Wow – my DoomZ got onto RPS – so happy, thanks!

    Just to say – it looks like you ran the alpha12_sp720.bat version rather than the alpha12_sp.bat version from the screenshots above, which is why all of the icons are shifted over to the left (and the ui will be more broken than usual like this). The other bat is included with it.

    The multiplayer should work – I tested it with a friend before releasing that, but have a read of the readme for how to set it up – you need to all join at the same time unfortunately, but it was quite fun still when I was testing it (tho mainly because it was the whole “coop” thing where you just end up shooting your friend in the back when they aren’t prepared for it).

    the readme: link to doomz.co.uk

    I haven’t been able to work on it the last couple of weeks, and I probably won’t for another week as I’m moving house