A Classic Shooter With a Modern Twist
Welcome to another story of how I was introduced to an awesome game by random during a convention or expo. I was at The Mix (an indie game vent during GDC 2022) and one of the games on display was Scathe. Its look got my attention but the gameplay and action made me keep playing.
Back in 2016; Doom taught a lesson to the games industry on how you make a shooter. Scathe feels like a byproduct of that lesson while staying true to the genre’s classic roots. It’s a simple shooter that allows you to blast legions of demons alone or with friends. However; it also took that lesson of keeping it old school a little too far.
The Chosen Ones
Players take on the role of the titular hero, the Enforcer of Hell. You are tasked by the Creator to prove your worth. To do so, you will need to navigate your way through the mazes of hell and blast every demon you encounter. You could go it alone or work in a team of four. That is the plot right there, simple, to the point and you don’t need to think about it.
Unleash the Hell Hammer
The gameplay is the standard one you have seen in almost every shooter in which you’re a walking personification of death. You have a gun (with unlimited bullets) and you go around blasting waves of demons. Enemies range from zombies to demon foot soldiers and more (the standard seen in such a game). Along the way, you pick up new weapons along with artifacts and magic that will boost your character.
At first glance, it plays like a standard shooter until you realize there is a catch. You have a limited number of attempts to complete the game. After you have used up all your lives, you will have to start from the beginning. No not the beginning of the level, the beginning of the entire game. That means you will have to fight all those demons again and navigate all those mazes like it’s your first time. But do turn up the difficulty if you really want to put your skills to the test.
Another unique deviation from the standard formula is the non-linear path. You can take different paths to different levels, each with its own challenge. Thus creating a unique experience that adds to the games overall replay value.
This is not to say the game will go out of its way to punish inexperienced players. One could enjoy the game solo or with three other players in co-op. There is also the option of lowering the difficulty, which I would recommend just to have an easy time getting a feel for the overall world. But do turn up the difficulty if you really want to put your skills to the test.
A Journey of Agony
When I say Scathe stays true to the genre roots, it can be both a compliment and a critique. It’s a compliment when it wants you to have fun like it’s 1995. It’s a critique when referring to the inclusion of outdated mechanics or design choices that have long been abandoned.
The games biggest problem comes from its lack of direction. It’s supposed to be a simple first-person shooter but it completely abandoned even the most basic concept of guidance. It tells you what the controls are and that is about it. You have no idea where to go, what you need to do, or how to find weapons and spells. Basically, you’re running around trying to figure it out all on your own. Common among games back in the day but it was a concept abandoned by the time of the Fifth Generation.
I must note that this game admires the classics too much. It’s to the point that there is nothing original about the design of the demons. They all look like copies of demons you will encounter in Doom and Quake. I understand if one or two were like that as a homage but not 90% of the roster.
The Mazes of Hell
This is a game that does so much right and also so much wrong. It hits all the right marks when it comes to being an old-school shooter with a modern look. It also falls short when it embraces too much nostalgia. Overall; it’s a fun game that has its charm but you must also accept its faults. Do expect a brutal experience that is going to put your skills to the test.
In all the right and wrong ways, Scathe is an old-school shooter with a modern look plus a brutal experience. If you have a few friends and a free weekend, get online and start blasting like it’s the 90’s.
Disclaimer: PR Ltd. provided the game used for this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
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- An old school inspired shooter with a modern look.
- You could enjoy the game alone or in a group of 4.
- Diffculty setting eases you into the game or puts your skills to the test.
- A killer soundtrack that sets the mood of the entire game.
- No guidance or a sense of direction regarding anything.
- Almost all the demons are copies of those from Doom and Quake.