Original DOOM Review: It’s All Kicking Off on Mars

Last Updated on November 16, 2023

DOOM by ID Software is an undisputed classic and responsible for countless FPS tropes we know today. Despite its status, my only real experience with the series is with Doom 2016, and this is the first time I’m giving the original a proper try.

Thrown in at the deep end

After selecting the first episode and default difficulty, I’m flung straight into the first level. There’s no hand-holding in DOOM, and the map is so unintuitive that I never touched it unless necessary. From the get-go, combat feels excellent, and Doom Guy moves fast enough to run rings around monsters.

I quickly fell in love with the shotgun; it sounds punchy and is so satisfying to use, even if it sometimes felt inconsistent.

The controls aren’t inadequate per se, but they do feel strange. Not being able to look up or down is quite jarring, as is aiming weapons. You don’t really point your gun at targets and, instead, hope your shots land on enemies near the middle of the screen.

This feels counterintuitive, but getting used to it doesn’t take long. One thing I never really got comfortable with is movement. Doom Guy is fast, and the momentum feels like I’m skating on ice. Flying around hordes of enemies with this speed is tremendously fun, even if I rarely felt in complete control.

Wait, is this a horror game?

Doom Review
Image: GamingRetro

Although DOOM isn’t a horror game, it has a few tricks that make it unnerving. I physically jumped on the 3rd level when a pink bipedal monster rushed me, and that’s only the start. I found most stages hard to navigate, and this is mainly due to multiple walls sharing the same textures. My exploring was made far more tense by the enemy sound effects as they screech and roar to let you know they are still lurking somewhere.

Mars is ripe for exploration

Although I have gripes on the tricky navigation, my time spent hopelessly lost was often rewarding. Many collectibles are off the beaten path, from health to weapons.

Even with my wealth of accidental exploration, I rarely reached 100% of secrets found on the level end screens. I appreciate the stage complexity, and it makes them replayable.

Image: GamingRetro

Another thing that surprised me about the level end screens is how they list an average time to beat the stage. As someone who casually speedruns, I love that this is a feature, and I’m sure I’d have taken advantage of this if I had played DOOM in its heyday.

Initially, I had reservations with DOOM, but my perception changed after a couple of hours. Many features feel dated, so much so that I know DOOM will appeal to everyone. That said, combat feels incredible, and the sound and music make the title truly special.

DOOM: I struggled with a few of Doom's limitations, but it's a masterpiece with tight combat and a brilliant soundtrack. If you can overcome the technical limitations, this classic shooter is still worth playing, even 30 years later. Platform: PlayStation 4 Anthony

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