I played Doom VFR for an hour while wearing a US Air Force cold-weather flight jacket in a room with poor ventilation. I was deep in the third circle of game heck: I was hot, I had a torture contraption on my face, and I was playing Doom. To cap it all off, the room was soundproof, meaning no one could hear me scream.
Did I enjoy Doom VFR? Well, no. I did not. The game’s controls are ridiculous. Doom is as much about turbo-fast movement as it is about pulling shotgun triggers. Wrangling Doomguy’s sprint-hungry lower body into a point-and-click teleportation movement scheme is a hobbling of criminal proportions. Combine this with the necessity to physically rotate your body to look at enemies – looking at them being the first step in the three-step “recognise, point, shoot” method of noob-owning – and you’ve thrown the proverbial phonebook-sized Doom movement bible out the window of a hot rod doing 160 down a midnight freeway.
If you’ve played Doom, you know that evil is everywhere, especially all around you. Half a minute into my first fight in Doom VFR, my corporeal form was wrapped up in cords. As the HTC Vive controllers vibrated with every pull of a trigger, rubberised electricity vessels hugged and tugged me this way and that. Every once in a while, my nose grazed the green screen. Getting shot at from behind within this layer cake of nightmares was especially gruesome. Gone was the muscle memory of my mousing hand, born was a new discombobulation. Slowly and without grace, the huge guts that were ripped and torn were my own. Here was a fourth circle of heck: The circle of no longer knowing thyself.
Doom VFR is a nightmare inside a nightmare. It ices its own devilish pastry by way of asking you to find a whole darn deck of key cards right at the beginning of the experience, letting the player’s murder-hunger congeal and fester. In 1993, with Doom on the family PC and The Lawnmower Man in the family VCR, teenage me had only one dream, and it was disgusting: To lie in a hospital bed with cyber-goggles shutting out stupid reality, cackling again and again as demon freaks burst into simmering chunks upon witnessing my gun. Twenty-four years later, here I am, hot in a soundproof box, scouring the floor for key cards.
Do you want to watch me suffer? Do you want to hear the petty complaints of a human individual who has just had everything they know about a game shredded like so many sensitive documents? Do you just want to ogle my museum-grade reproduction of a 1963 USAF MA-1 flight jacket? If any of these apply to you, click play on the video above and enjoy your treat.
In closing, Doom (2016) is one of my favourite games of the last decade, and I strongly recommend you play it on a nicely-sized computer monitor or a massive television.