bhlaab's Project Warlock (PC) review

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  • bhlaab has written a total of 87 reviews. The last one was for Hedon

A (mostly) Well Considered FPS

This game starts out pretty rough. It dishes out new weapons extremely slowly. I don't think you get a single barrel shotgun until the third level or so, and for a while ammo is tight and it incentivizes you to use your melee weapon with stick and move tactics like it's King's Field or something. Stick with Project Warlock, though, because this is a pretty good game. The last two episodes in particular get pretty crazy, and once you've got weapons they all feel good to use. There's a ton of enemy variety (each episode has a whole new set). I found myself constantly juggling between all of my weapons (15 in total) for different situations, like any quality FPS from back in the day. Maps are mostly well made. Don't let the Wolfenstein 3D-style lack of height mapping fool you, there's plenty of Doom-ish level design techniques, and they aren't half as mazelike as in Wolf3D.

I have a few gripes. I found magic to be practically worthless, which kind of ruins the point of the character progression system. You earn level ups by killing monsters and collecting treasure, but the only stats I found useful were for increasing my max HP and Ammo Capacity. There are also two stats for magic and one for melee strength. You can forget those. Every 5 levels you can select a perk, but none of the perks are creative or game-changing. The weapon upgrades are awesome and definitely make a difference, but some of them are almost too good. You can cheese a lot of the game with the proximity bombs, and adding fire damage to certain guns makes them very overpowered.

I complimented the level design, but there's a problem there, too. The graphical style is unique and the monsters animate very well, but everything has a habit of blending together. Enemies bleed into the environment, switches can be hard to spot, textures lack variety making every corridor look the same, and some maps are filled with low-light and clutter that don't help matters. I was also on the verge of motion sickness a lot of the time while playing, and I think it's owed to the art style above anything else.

Still, it's a good game. In some ways it seems like a very promising early access title rather than a finished product, but the creators do seem to be taking care of things for the time being. There's been a bunch of indie retro FPS revivals lately, and I think Project Warlock is definitely near the head of the pack. It's no DUSK or Ion Maiden, but it's comfortably one tier below. There's a good understanding of what makes games like Doom fun here, it just stumbles a bit on the balancing. And the visuals killing my eyes sometimes. And the final boss, which is a piece of crap bullet sponge with 4 forms that literally took all of my ammo to kill even though I ignored all of the stats except for Health and Ammo Capacity.

TL;DR:
The first few levels are a drag, but it gets up to speed before long. All in all a great indie FPS that has some problems with balancing its RPG side. If you're susceptible to motion sickness, maybe give it a pass.

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