Project Warlock (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 17.06.2020

Review for Project Warlock on Nintendo Switch

All the retro-inspired greats of the current gaming era manage to blend the old with the new, borrowing the good elements of the past, and adding some helpful modernisms. The bad ones just add pixel art and 8-bit music, and call it a day. Project Warlock, Buckshot Software's ultra-old-school first-person shooter, where some light RPG elements are fused with Wolfenstein 3D, is in no way one of the bad ones, but it's not one of the great ones either. It seems that going too far into the past just isn't always a good idea.

Project Warlock goes for a Wolfenstein 3D, pixel-y look, with simple levels made out of rectangles, and low-res textures. It nails that, and goes a little bit further, by adding more variety, rather than just a single type of setting. It goes even further by letting you play with a pretty impressive assortment of settings, and gives you the option to choose from a collection of colour presets, with the greyish-green Game Boy one being a definite recommendation to - old - Nintendo fans. Concerning the variety mentioned before, this is fused with a little bit of Quake II, Heretic, Serious Sam, and, of course, Doom, as you'll be shooting down undead and demon girls, soldiers and mechas, monsters and mutants, mummies and Egyptian cat ladies, and, as expected, lots and lots of demons.

Screenshot for Project Warlock on Nintendo Switch

Does it nail that as well? Well, while the variety is nice and all, it is here that the problems with the game begin. It beats the competition with having five distinct worlds, with each one adding new sets of enemies, but in the end they are all the same - a variation of the basic two-three, projectile-throwing or melee foes, with the only major differences between them besides their look being how strong or durable they are. Their AI is simplistic as hell too, although, to be honest, that's expected from the era this pays homage too. What about the shooting business, though?

Luckily things are better when it comes to the actual gunfights. For starters there's an impressive variety in weapons, as the arsenal ranges from pistols, shotguns, and dual Uzis, to plasma rifles, explosives, and even magic staffs that shoot out concentrated beams of energy. While not very balanced, with some, like the double-barrelled shotgun, being noticeably better than the rest, filling enemies with bullets feels good - the action is fast, the challenge more than decent, and the sound effects are excellent.

Screenshot for Project Warlock on Nintendo Switch

Sadly, this part isn't without issues. For starters the weapon wheel is somewhat glitchy, which can lead to plenty of aggravation since opening it up doesn't stop time but slows it down, meaning that not being able to quickly choose the tool of the trade you need in time can occasionally cost you a hefty amount of health. Explosives are also a major source of annoyance, as they can blow just by touching an "invisible" pixel of a prop, like a rope hanging from the ceiling, leading to lots of unfair deaths. Surprisingly, even with those things considered, this remains quite the enjoyable title. Project Warlock is a really fun game... but then it's not. The problem? What else: the fact that many developers of first-person shooters still don't understand that what really made the classics of the past what they are, was none other than their excellent level design.

Screenshot for Project Warlock on Nintendo Switch

Feeling like a very good Wolfenstein 3D mod, all maps are simplistic beyond belief - essentially an assortment of rectangular eras blended together, with no height differences available, and plenty of spots where you don't even have any room to move. Add to that how enemies can shoot through each other, and you won't even know how the heck you died. Speaking of death, it should be noted that, apart from the Casual mode where you get infinite lives, this uses a permadeath system, with failure sending you back to zero, which can be quite the discouraging thing due to how long the Warlock's quest is.

Combined with all the flaws mentioned before, and the fact that there are more than 50 levels to beat here, and things are bound to get repetitive and extremely irritating way too soon. To spice things up, Project Warlock provides a RPG-style system of upgrades, where one can use gathered EXP and upgrade points to improve innate stats, alter the way each weapon works, and even add perks, but these simply don't manage to do the trick. In the end, this doesn't really provide enough reason to choose this over its much more popular siblings. In other words, if you got a Switch, better go with Doom.

Screenshot for Project Warlock on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

By no means a bad game, Project Warlock can definitely be fun, but its many rough edges mar the experience, and fun soon gives way to annoyance. While the ultra-retro style is neat, and the gunplay is great, in the end these alone can't help much with the repetitive and simplistic level design, or how often bullets tend to hit thin air, and how unnecessary a permadeath system feels for such a game. Here's hoping the developer team understands what made titles like Doom so darn enjoyable, and create a much better sequel.

Developer

Buckshot Software

Publisher

Crunching Koalas

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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