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Jupiter Hell, the Doom-inspired roguelike, is now in early access

It's not the swearing, it's the slightly inexpert grasp of swearing.

It’s nice when your friends from different circles meet and get on well, especially when they’re so different.

That’s kind of what Jupiter Hell is. It takes the heavy metal goresplosion shooty fun of Doom and runs it through the cautious, high-stakes permadeath tension filter of the roguelike. I’ve had a brief dig into it this afternoon, and the result is immediately engaging. The trailer, plus some more thoughts, are lurking below.

The same devs created DoomRL (renamed DRL after it was bitten by ZeniMax Media’s legal cacodemons), an earlier form of the idea complete with ASCII art. That’s still free, by the way. They describe Jupiter Hell as a spiritual successor, offering 3D art and controls, and a lot more atmosphere.

I’ve sent a few grunty space maniacs into its grubby gunmetal decks to get a taste, and it’s unusually friendly and easy to learn for something with its origins in You Miss The Goblin!* A simple cover system lends some tactical consideration to its mostly ranged combat, and leads to many chin-rubbing decisions over shotgun vs hunting rifle, upgrade the good rifle or the one with loads of ammo. Its over-the-top Duke Nukem speak is intentional, but it overshoots and strays into very slightly obnoxious at times. I muted the music within two floors. But this is all very petty of me.

What it nails pretty quickly is the strange balance between feeling powerful as you gun down lots of mooks, and having but one fragile life. The result tempts you to be reckless even as the game reminds you to take your time and reload at every opportunity. It’s a fun blend, I’d gladly play more.

Jupiter Hell is out now in early access on Steam and GOG, with a 10% launch discount making it £17.54/€18.89/$22.49. The plan is for a full and finished launch “before the end of 2020.”

*Not a game, but now I want it to be.

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