I'm starting to realize some of the best first-person shooters on the market are created by Doom modders. Take last year's Prodeus, for example. I called this "Doom in its primal form." That is heavy praise from me, and I'm starting to see hints of greatness in Supplice as well. Also developed by a team of Doom modders and other veterans of the genre, Supplice hits all the right notes for me and has the potential to become another must-play for boomer shooter fans.
Supplice is Looking, Well, Pretty Dang Nice
Mekworx, the team behind Supplice, utilizes the GZDoom engine for this particular title. For those unfamiliar with GZDoom, it's a modernized version of the original Doom engine. Games running on this engine have that old-school DNA, without some of the jank that accompanies older titles. In many ways, Supplice feels like a return to my boomer shooter roots, when I started looking beyond modern FPS' and started to play games such as Shadow Warrior, Quake, and of course, Doom.
Weirdly, I'm reminded of Ion Fury while playing GZDoom. Perhaps it's because the lead artist and project coordinator for Supplice was also the art lead for Ion Fury. Aesthetically, Supplice greatly resembles the look of Build Engine titles. It's undeniably retro but has such a clean, legible look. Environments in Supplice are gorgeous and allow players to take in the expertise Mekworx clearly has in crafting sprawling FPS maps.
Of the three levels I played, each area was richly detailed. The many different pathways create a complex maze of corridors and arenas to fight through. The occasional colored key card -- ever a classic of the genre -- and hidden secrets are found all across the map. The level design is ambitious, to say the least, and when you move from room to room encountering enemies, it's great fun. On the other hand, I found myself getting lost a bit too often in Supplice. While I absolutely can't wait to see what other beautiful levels are made -- especially with the art direction Supplice has taken -- I hope the map or direction I need to proceed is a bit more overt.
Of course, map design goes only so far. The main gameplay, the shooting, has to be competent as well. Supplice delivers on that end. There were only a few weapons in the preview (I may have missed one or two), but each one felt sufficiently powerful and satisfying to use. Players start out with a drill, which is the melee weapon for Supplice. It can also send out a shockwave at a range, so it's great to use if you find yourself out of ammo. It can kill the weaker enemies in a single hit at range, so I never had to stress much about ammo even if I was low. The melee portion of drilling is also pretty brutal, if a bit reckless.
You're also granted an automatic assault rifle, which can also zoom in and take enemies out at range. With just the right amount of power and acoustics, it's one of the better starting guns I've used in a boomer shooter. If you find an additional assault rifle, you can duel-wield, so you might get some flashbacks to Lo Wang and his duel Uzis from Shadow Warrior (1997). There's also a shotgun that seems quite effective at range and even maintains its spread from afar. An alternate fire shoots three shells at once, absolutely obliterating stronger enemies. Lastly, I got to use some sort of weird flame thrower. It lobbed fire blobs and, also as an alternate fire, shoots out a huge explosive that coats an area in flames. I also found it to be quite dangerous to myself, setting myself ablaze more than once. Oops.
There's only one issue with these weapons. In almost every way, they are satisfying and powerful. They sound strong, they clearly kill enemies without much issue as well. It's just, there isn't as much gore as I'd expect. Look, I'm no gore junky, but the gibs and blood sprays don't seem to match the power of weapons. I expect a bit more out of these absolute beasts. Combing through the options menu, I found I could increase the number of giblets on screen but didn't seem to change anything, so all I can say is: Let the blood flow!
Just as promising as the gunplay is the story. I find myself longing for a bit more substance in my boomer shooters -- they're not exposition heavy, that's for sure. Supplice appears to take a different approach. There's a not insignificant amount of dialogue to comb through as you access terminals and text logs throughout these levels. I won't spoil the story, but I can see there's a mystery brewing and I'm quite invested in it. It's a story involving AI and aliens, and how the survivors contend with an invasion of said aliens.
Supplice is hitting all the right notes for me. From a stylistic perspective, there are absolutely no complaints. And if the gore gets adjusted a bit? The gameplay will feel even more satisfying than it already is. The overall feel to Supplice, no doubt due to the GZDoom Engine, ticks all the boxes for a good, old-school experience. Let's see where Mekworx takes Supplice from here, but I have a feeling it'll only get better.
Supplice was previewed on Steam Early Access on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.