Channel your Inner Doom
Like New Blood Interactive’s DUSK, Amid Evil contains level design, weapon styles, enemies, interface elements, and other design choices from Quake, Heretic, and similar games. Playing through the three episodes of the early access build, I could tell that the creators have an authentic love and understanding of old-school first-person shooters. I have some complaints, but they don't overshadow the game's spot-on throwback magic.
You can tell this game is for players like me as soon as you hit the main menu. At the start of a new game, you select the difficulty level by choosing to go down one of three hallways, one for easy, medium, or hard. The latter two have a more difficult path. If you fail to make it down one of them, there’s even a message saying that you are not worthy, or that it must not be your destined path. Nightmare mode has got to be somewhere, but I guess I won’t find it until I’m worthy enough. There is a noclip mode coming soon - maybe I'll be worthy then.
Amid Evil's episodes are accessible via a hub world. At the end of each episode’s level, there’s a results screen that lists off your kills, your time, the secrets you found, the par time, and your rewards. If you kill all the enemies on a level, for example, you get a "Killer" reward. You'll have a difficult time discovering all the secret areas in each level - I may have done so only once. I never came close to the par time for any level, but I was never a speed-runner.
You’ll hack and zap through all the enemies with an assortment of blades and magical weapons. There’s an axe, a wand that shoots blue orbs, a rocket launcher (or, ahem, "Celestial Claw") that summons and fires planets, a fancy sword that flings out energy arcs, and others. My favorite is a shard launching mace called the “Star of Torment,”. Pinning enemies against the wall with this weapons feels just as satisfying as Painkiller's crossbow kills.
Speaking of Painkiller, if you collect enough of the souls left behind by enemies, you can activate overkill mode. In this mode, weapons transform into a more powerful form. Several times you can unknowingly activate it since all you have to do is press fire. It's annoying when you do so right when finishing off the last enemy in a wave. You're in a supercharged state, but no baddie is around to use it on. Then, when a swarm of enemies hits you, overkill mode immediately ends. It seems like a simple fix to remap this to a separate key if only to avoid these annoyances.
The graphics can be off-putting. The colors and pixels on the polygonal models look kind of sickening. If the design is meant to imitate Quake’s low-resolution graphics, it's not justified. Quake just doesn’t have the color palette that makes Amid Evil stand out. With those brighter colors, the low-res look of the textures doesn't work. There is a full-color mode that helps, but it only activates once you enter a cheat code. There are other graphical tweaks you can activate via cheats; each of these you can read in the game’s menu.
The mouse sensitivity is too low. For a throwback FPS, I expected smoother, quicker mouse movement, but even after turning up the sensitivity, it just felt off. Looking around felt limited; it felt like a bad PC port of a console FPS. The visuals and mouse movement combined made me feel motion sick when first playing, and I’ve never suffered from motion sickness from first-person shooters or any other game. I did get used to it, though, and it stopped bugging me after a couple hours of play.
There are a couple glitches I encountered. In one level, I received damage when touching a moving block, though it was not squishing me at all. Then, in the level named Pilgrim’s Temple, I saved the game while on an elevator that was about to go up. When I reloaded that game file later, I fell through the elevator, and onto the floor below. There is no falling damage in Amid Evil, but I still lost my progress.
Amid Evil isn’t a fully polished experience, but if you’re into throwback shooters, you'll like it all the same. The off-putting visuals and restrictive mouse movement were not enough to keep me from loving my time with it. I felt like I was playing a new Quake with Heretic flavoring. If that sounds good to you, then get Amid Evil, and dig in.
Our Amid Evil preview was conducted on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.