First Impressions: Wrath Aeon of Ruin
One of the things you often hear is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, Wrath: Aeon Of Ruin is doing its damnedest to be an old ass Quake-inspired shooter from the ’90s, right down to being made in a version of the Quake Engine. But comments aside, I’ve been playing Wrath on and off the last few weeks since I grabbed it on the last Steam Sale because I saw a Civvie11 video about its initial early access release. It’s currently in the final stages of early access with a release scheduled for sometime this Summer. I’ve written about games in Early Access before or were fully released from it, but not one that was basically “feature complete, but doing a last round of polish”, so it’s been an interesting experience.
The game immediately throws you into the deep end by starting you off in a crypt with an arm blade called the Ruination Blade (which can be charged for a lunging attack). You kill some zombies and then it introduces you to the expansive hub world that serves as a microcosm for a lot of the levels the game offers. From there the game’s structure and difficulty scaling kick in. You can do the game’s levels in any order and the challenge is changed to compensate, and in a possibly smart move, the first level introduces the enemies you’ll be fighting in that area, which is rad because these places are huge and secret filled. These enemies range from the small like zombies to the large like bigger zombies with cleavers for arms, to the fuck-off-big enemies like wretches that shoot vomit at you and weird three-mouthed cacodemon looking things that straight up aggressively charge you when you so much as breath in their direction. What the enemy A.I. lacks in cleverness, it makes up for in sheer numbers and it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you aren’t careful.
This leads to the guns, all of which you need to get through the hordes of monsters the game throws at you. You start with the aforementioned Ruination Blade to start, then you get your hands in the Coach Gun, a three-barreled pistol that that single-shot fast fire and a slower, more potent secondary fire that lasts all three barrels at once. Other weapons include a damn good double-barreled shotgun with a chargeable ricochet shot for a secondary fire, the metal as fuck Fang Spitter that shoots monster teeth and can use two shots to stagger enemies, and the Wretcher, a sticky poison bomb launcher that shoots three poison bombs and is great for one-shotting the bigger monsters. You find all of these in The first level as well and I assume you find the other four weapons in later chapters (I haven’t found the Slag Cannon or the Spellbook yet and the other two I don’t think are in the game yet), but right now the arsenal slaps so far. There are also consumable items that have different effects on the battlefield and you once used ranging from life steal to a projectile eating bubble to turning enemies against each other and even sacrificing some of your health for temporary invincibility. All of these elements, on top of the inherent speed from a game that wears its Quake influence on its sleeves, all add up to make for a fast and frenetic shooter that can be a bit meat grinder-like at times, but is super fun once you get the rhythm down.
The most interesting thing about Wrath actually has to be its save system. While you have the typical autosave, there’s no quicksaving or quick loading. In their place, some shrines can be found in each level that acts as a halfway point or Soul Tethers: consumable items that can save your game right on the spot and effectively serve as a checkpoint. At first, I was apprehensive about the way shrines and soul tethers worked, but they throw so many of the latter at you over the course of a level that them being an expendable resource doesn’t come into play all that much.
I definitely intend to come back and play more of Wrath once it’s fully out of Early Access. Because based on the near 7 hours I’ve put into it since I’ve bought it, it is shaping put to be a game of 2021 Honourable Mention candidate at the very least. I say this because it'd absolutely be on the list if I hadn’t played Prodeus first. Oh, and the ambient soundtrack is by Musically Versatile Metal Bin Enthusiast Andrew Hulshult and does a great job of setting the tone for gloominess on display. So Yeah, I’m into this and will give the full update when it’s out.