Doom 2 mega-mod Doom: The Golden Souls 2 is the sugary treat we all deserve today. Take one part Doom, one part Super Mario World, put them in a blender until smooth and brightly coloured then garnish with fresh gibs and candy sprinkles. It’s a full game in its own right, with lots of bouncy platforming across dozens of levels with new weapons and enemies from prolific modder Andrea ‘Batandy’ Gori, who previously brought us the excellent Castlevania: Simon’s Destiny.
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The original Doom: The Golden Souls came out some years ago, and while it was fun and nailed the Mario aesthetic, the sequel feels like a huge improvement, especially in terms of platforming. It adds snappier guns, more coherent level design and Mario-style mid-level checkpoint flags for those who forget to quicksave regularly. Most importantly, Doomguy has been given a plumber-class spring to his step, making for some very vertical levels and the option to just leap over incoming enemy fire instead of strafing.
It’s a genuinely good fusion of two very different sets of game systems. There’s a Mario World-styled overworld map, and cleared levels can be returned to for exploration. Mario’s springy arcing jumps feel strange initially in an FPS, but it opens up a whole new world of secret-hunting options, with the inquisitive rewarded with special giant coins for buying permanent weapon upgrades.
The Golden Souls 2’s guns are geared towards ranged engagement too, with Doomguy opting not to saw his double-barrelled shotgun short, giving it the kind of range that most other FPS’s bless rifles with. It’s a good fit for the more open, breezy level design, and perfect for picking Cacodemons out of the sky. Just watch your step while you’re shooting, as falling off the level kills you.
As great as The Golden Souls 2 is, it’s just icing on the cake. The past few days also brought us the somewhat more traditional but similarly full-game-length Struggle: Antaresian Legacy, and a major new update to techno-magical power-fantasy character mod Guncaster, best paired with ridiculously hard levels in order to balance things out a bit. Four veteran mappers even challenged themselves this week to create a complete 32-level campaign in 20 hours, and the results are impressive.