Also available on SNES, 32X, Jaguar, 3DO, PlayStation, Saturn, Acorn Archimedes, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Gameboy Advance, iOS, Android, and MS-DOS
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 03/07/2020 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Doom is one of those games that pretty much everyone has played. Part of that is because it’s just a damn amazing game, but it’s also largely because it’s been released on almost every system imaginable. Doom has been released, if I’m not mistaken, on fifteen different platforms since its original release 27 years ago. While most versions, especially the early versions, have their own inclusions and exclusions that make each somewhat distinct, this port to Switch has propelled itself to the position of my favorite Doom port without a doubt.
The story of Doom is pretty simple. You play as an unnamed space marine (usually referred to by fans as Doomguy) who was transferred to Mars after assaulting a superior officer who ordered his unit to fire on civilians. Doomguy acts as security for a company experimenting with a transporter to instantly move people between Mars’s two moons, Phobos and Deimos. Unfortunately, what they did was open a portal to Hell, and next thing you know you’ve got demons and possessed marines running around and killing. Time to kill.
Depending on the version of the game you play, the game is broken into either three or four parts; the Switch port that I played has the fourth chapter. The first three chapters, “Knee-Deep in the Dead,” “The Shores of Hell,” and “Inferno,” are the chapters that tell the story and the part of the game that I personally feel is most worth playing. The fourth chapter, “Thy Flesh Consumed,” wasn’t available until the release of Ultimate Doom and has very little in the way of story content. Between the lack of story elements in Thy Flesh Consumed and the bizarre difficulty curve (more on that later), I personally only found the first three parts to be truly worthwhile.
Doom definitely hasn’t aged well in the visuals department – after all, it was released before 3D technology was really a common thing – but man, the gameplay holds up just as well today as it did in the 90s, at least in my opinion. The fast and fluid gameplay, the simple point and shoot gameplay, and the hordes of demons and undead to slay make for an amazing experience even in 2020. The relatively short length of the levels makes it a perfect game to pick up and play a little at a time. Gotta take a poop? Kill some demons. Waiting in a doctor’s office waiting room? Slaughter some barons of Hell. Wife shopping for purses? Massacre some imps.
Knee-Deep in the Dead, The Shores of Hell, and Inferno all have a pretty standard, reasonable difficulty curve. Except for the boss level, Knee-Deep in the Dead is generally pretty easy once you get a feel for the controls. Shores of Hell definitely ratchets things up, and it gets a lot harder to start from just a pistol if you die and have to respawn, but with some effort and practice, it’s a challenge you can definitely overcome. Inferno, however, gets tough. Environmental hazards and hordes of increasingly powerful enemies make those levels a seriously tough endeavor. It always feels like a natural progression, though. Thy Flesh Consumed is another matter entirely. That episode feels like a pack of random levels thrown together haphazardly. Not only is it a huge difficulty spike, but it’s not an even difficulty curve at all. With the exception of the boss level, the first level was the hardest one, in my opinion, meanwhile, the third level felt like the easiest.
Whether you dust off the red SNES cartridge, rock the silent glory of the Atari Jaguar port, or kill on the go with last year’s Switch port, Doom is a damn good time. It’s violent as hell (pun intended) with gore for days, but it’s endlessly satisfying to play. It’s a definite challenge as you get on in the levels, but it’s a challenge worth tackling and feels so satisfying when you finish. I found myself getting HOPELESSLY lost in a lot of these levels and ended up with times easily 10x the par, but at no point did it stop being fun. Frustrating? Sure. But it was always fun.