When the original Doom was released on Switch a little over a month ago I immediately picked it up. My memories of playing Doom are entrenched in my mind - at the time it was a true technological magic. On top of that it was gory, puzzle-fueled pandemonium and playing was always an intense and incredibly fun experience. $5 to relive those days seemed like a total steal.
As I’ve been playing Doom over the last several weeks I am consistently amazed at how polished, smooth, fun, and awesome the game still is. The level designs are wild - secret doors, hidden switches, loops, sudden demon enclaves, rivers of poison, labyrinthine hallways. The maps, flat as they are, show an intricate web of pure chaos waiting to be explored. The level designs in the original Doom are some of the best I’ve played of any game in the past several years. The combination of simplicity and complexity is truly mind boggling.
The gameplay feels even better than I remember, which shocked me for a 25+ year old game. The lack of a vertical aim is easily solved by automatically accounting for where enemies are, a design decision likely made at the time due to technological restrictions, but built so well that it outshines many of the clunkier first person shooters of today. By today’s standards there is a tiny array of weaponry, but that works for the game because the feeling of each gun is so captured by its design that the differences stand out more than in a modern shooter. Each enemy is so memorable and presents a different style of fighting and danger. The difficulty scales incredibly well and always feels fair and manageable (at least on the regular settings!).
I’m not one to look back at the days of yore and lament these damn kids today with their Fortnites and what not. I think video games today are better than they ever have been and I envy youth not having to deal with pointlessly difficult dreck with no save points. However, going and playing a game like Doom really reminds me that some games are truly timeless. The developers hit some kind of magic sweet spot balancing technological limitations, design brilliance, and endless fun to produce one of the most memorable and re-playable games ever made. I am really looking forward to beating it and moving on to Doom II.