The first-person shooter genre is filled with franchises trying to reel in players by introducing gameplay aspects and mechanics that other games do not offer.
Of course, after receiving high-quality games for over 2 decades, there are many games that took upon an idea first, and others inspired by their success followed suit. The greatest of these examples is DOOM.
DOOM is widely regarded as the most significant FPS title ever and also one of the oldest at that. Spanning years of amazing titles, awful movies, and a community as large as any other.
But with a franchise this large, there are bound to be those games influenced by what it achieved, and pretty soon, we would have a game surpassing all expectations, and it would become the next cornerstone in the fps genre.
Well, after the original DOOM trilogy came and went, it spawned a plethora of new franchises following in its footsteps. Some took new approaches by using a 2D platforming system, while some lept forward with the same drive the original games had, and one title launched itself straight towards the DOOM SLAYER.
4 years ago, a user by the name of Hakita uploaded a rather small video that showcased a game so early in development that it was probably a gag project someone had an impulse to start on. No doubt this video was unmemorable, but it would spark a flame that would not soon go out.
Ultrakill is an absolute blast on demon-slaying, weapon-wielding, and a story so simple that even a toddler would get it, but in all truth, no child should play this game. Humanity has been slayed; you need fuel, blood is fuel, and hell is fuel; that is the basic gist of it.
But why is an indie game made by one person above a franchise that spawned so many new games and so many new sources of media? Well, it is best to explain this by breaking different categories into pieces and then deciding what reigns supreme.
Story and Lore
To me, a good story is the most important aspect of any game. Sure, gameplay and combat do matter, but a memorable story is what people usually tend to remember.
Take God Of War as an example; of course, the gameplay was an absolute spectacle, and the weapons were also flexible and unique; the thing people think about whenever they discuss the game is almost always its memorable and one-of-a-kind story.
The story that DOOM took place in all those years ago was something people were very afraid to touch upon due to its sensitive nature, but when the game came out, people praised it wholeheartedly.
Of course, the story in the original trilogy was pretty minor, the real ones start in DOOM 2016 and Eternal, where the demon incursion has pretty much started, and we slay beasts as ungodly as they come.
Apart from the Doomslayer, there are not many other important characters in the game, apart from Samuel Hayden and a few others barely worth mentioning. The story is too linear for a game as grand as this, so it definitely falls flat on its face. Also the pacing for its story was also pretty variable at times.
But the narrative for Ultrakill has a lot of meanings and terminologies associated with the characters. From the corrupted angels and the layers of hell being torn apart, it definitely strikes as impressive.
In this game, humanity is dead; the only living beings are demons and angels. But the essence of humanity resides in the machines that they once made. Here, we arrive at V2, the protagonist.
V2 is an inquisitive character; it seems the internal coding within him is his only drive. Consume blood and destroy Hell, and well, until now, he’s been pretty successful.
Along the trip to hell, he fights against major angels such as Gabriel and his own machine brethren, namely V1. The story revolves around the angel Gabriel and his realization of the lies of the angel council.
I will not spoil much of the story, but it is extremely enjoyable and surprising. This category definitely goes to Ultrakill for having a straightforward story with barely a handful of characters, but the overachieving reach of the story is what gives it absolute glamor.
Gameplay and Combat
Now a good story makes the game memorable, but when there are no cutscenes in the mix, what remains of any game is its gameplay. And, dare I say, both of these games have some explosive gameplay.
Now, this might feel like a very controversial take, but this point goes to Ultrakill solely because the game forces innovation. Not to say that DOOM is a mindless shooter, but in some aspects, it is actually very simple.
Eternal has a simple formula, every enemy in the game has a specific weakness and one specific weapon that is most effective against it.
The game also gets repetitive fast; even though the arrival of new weapons is pretty consistent, more weapons do not necessarily mean more of a more dynamic gameplay experience.
If players end up using one weapon for the majority of the game, then why even make others that require more skill or a more specific playstyle? This forces the players to come out of their comfort zone, something many players will never do.
Now Ultrakill, on the other hand, is a very open-minded game when it comes to its weapons. The first thing to add is that you cannot take every variant of your weapons; you may take only one or none at all.
Out of the handful of weapons in the game, Ultrakill definitely does not succeed when it comes to its overall weapon variety, but that is not the edge of its gameplay; it gets much more interesting.
Where Ultrakill shines is how weapons and the game’s mechanics react with each other. For starters, one variant of the pistol allows you to toss a coin and shoot at it to do an intense amount of damage to one enemy, no matter where they are.
Now would you believe that different weapons can actually reflect this coin? Take the railgun, for example. You can quite literally throw 4 coins in the air, fire one shot from the railgun, and extinguish an enemy from existence. And that is the simplest tech for this out there.
The game also has a parry mechanic, which, apart from parrying other enemy projectiles, can parry your shots from your shotgun right as you shoot it to make the shot much more powerful. You can also charge your shotgun to the extent that it explodes in front of you, launching you extremely far away, a true marvel in speedrunning.
This part is subjective to each player. Maybe someone likes to play like an unkillable individual and absolutely slay every demon in their path, and maybe someone wants to be on a much more par with their enemies, but for my money, Ultrakill wins this round, though barely.
Graphics and Level Design
Whenever I review a certain game or compare two of them together, I keep it completely unbiased and use only facts to further prove my points, and by seeing the amazing detail on the levels, environments, enemies, and extreme graphical fidelity, the newer DOOM games are definitely on the top by miles.
Every level, every structure, and every weapon looks so meticulously details and extremely satisfying. The game takes leaps in its entire design philosophy giving the game a true identity of hell and the doom of those who enter its face.
The level design is also spectacular. For a game where you jump around a lot, the need for having open areas where the player can stay in control is definitely what the team behind the level design had in mind the entire time.
Ultrakill lacks all of this. The levels are very unpredictable and narrow, and some are extremely forgettable. The overall setting for each stage is amazing, but the actual combat execution is done very poorly.
No matter the competition, DOOM ETERNAL definitely takes the cake when it comes to its spectacular design and overall graphical prowess.
Both Ultrakill and DOOM are of the same category, and while many would enjoy one title over another one, I personally believe that what one person working alone for over 4 years achieved in Ultrakill is something many other games of the genre will never even get close to.
These titles are something to admire, one went on to inspire, and one went on to achieve. Only time will tell what new and improved titles we will see in the future, but till then, these two franchises will reign supreme.
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