KillPixel's Wrath: Aeon Of Ruin launched into early access today, bringing the original 1996 Quake's bloody, baroque 3D action screaming into 2019. Medieval castles filled with shotguns, skeletons and a smattering of blood? Chunky low-poly demons and pixel-counts you could track on one hand? Yep, it's a Quake. With some of the modding greats from the game's 23-year history, it should be a bloody good one at that, too.
While Wrath is powered by the same tech base as the original Quake, it's been dolled up with high-resolution support, improved lighting effects, and an increased level of detail of weapons, environments and monsters.
It's all very nice, but I do personally feel it loses that lovely software-rendered Quake 1 fuzziness, crunchy with pixels that'd cut you if they could.
Wrath is also more open-ended than Quake ever was, ditching corridor labyrinths for a more Hexen-style hub world structure. Early access includes one of these, and the first five levels within, with 2 more hubs and many more levels to be added over the course of development. The current release also includes 8 enemies, 5 weapons and 4 artefacts. A handy little early access roadmap on Wrath's store page lays out when the devs hope to get the rest added to the game.
It looks a bloody great wee throwback to early 90s blasters - and so it should, really. Developers KillPixel are formed of a number of Quake modding greats. I don't know who these folk are, but Dominic Tarason seemed well chuffed by the involvement of names like Jeremiah “KillPixel” Fox, Roman “Skacky” Barrilliot, Marcus “muk” Hayes and Gavin “FifthElephant” Edgington.
The corpse inhabiting 3D Realms' skin have found a nice niche in putting together throwback shooters, co-publishing with 1C Entertainment. They recently worked with developers Voipoint to create Duke Nukem inspired Ion Fury, which seemed fine until Voidpoint doubled down on defending some naff gay jokes hidden in-game. Odd hill to die on, but okay.
The publishers did at least insist that "jokes at the expense of marginalised communities will not be present in future games published by 3D Realms", so Wrath should be fine. Doesn't seem the sort of game to joke around, anyway. Too many Skeletons needin' smashed.
Wrath: Aeon Of Ruin is out now on Steam, and will set you back £20/€21/$25. 3D Realms hope to have the full game fleshed out for a summer 2020 release.