Taken at face value The Forestale by solo indie dev Yorzh Aleksey isn’t a particularly noteworthy game. A fairly standard 2.5D platformer, currently slated for release on Steam. It seems decent enough in a early 2000’s kinda way, but the game itself isn’t the interesting bit.
No, what makes The Forestale fascinating is that it’s a full indie platformer developed entirely in the GZDoom engine. Yes, that GZDoom engine. The one that powers the likes of The Adventures Of Square, Castlevania: Simon’s Destiny and, yes, even Brutal Doom. I’ve said it before, but Doom really is everything now.
This isn’t the only really esoteric project made with GZDoom, by any means, but it does appear to be one of the most polished standalone releases in a completely different genre. Without being told about the tech powering it, you’d never know that under that cute polygonal facade lies the heart of DOS’s most venerable FPS engine, albeit with literal decades of tweaking, tuning and enhancements. One thing remains a constant though: A lot of the GZDoom community have trouble capturing good footage, as the stuttery trailer below proves yet again.
I sass because I love – it’s an impressive project, but you’re better off taking a peek at this long-form developer gameplay video instead. Or at least skimming through it.
I think over the next few years, we’ll see a lot more projects like this. A surprising number of up-and-coming indie talents are cutting their teeth with GZDoom before any other engine because it’s so easy to create content with at a basic level. With the likes of GZDoom Builder, creating a basic level is literally as easy as drawing a rough dungeon floor-plan on paper. Importing new models, scripting and art assets is as easy as dragging and dropping files into a folder now. You’d be surprised at how many current Doom modders are younger than the game itself.
As for weird mashups of platformer and GZDoom, I’ve already mentioned Castlevania: Simon’s Destiny above, but from the same creator, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of The Golden Souls 2 this summer, a full-game-length mashup of Super Mario World and classic Doom. Gunning down thousands of demons has never been so cheerful. Fans of DOS-era platformers might want to check out Hocus Pocus Doom, unsurprisingly a reimagining of Apogee’s early platformer Hocus Pocus as an FPS. Somehow, it works, despite replicating its gameplay mechanics almost completely.
So, have you lot made anything from this weirdly flexible engine? You don’t have to have done anything as madly ambitious as Doom/Heroes of Might & Magic mashup The Reconquest or upcoming standalone PSX-styled cutesy fantasy FPS Memoirs of Magic, as seen above, and now with a playable demo. Even a single map, monster or a weapon is notable enough. Ain’t no judging – we all start somewhere – so let’s make this an end-of-the-week Show & Tell session, and maybe give a few tips to those eyeing those tools with envy.