Just before the end of the year, Tegan and I played through a bunch of indies from PAX Australia on the Kotaku Twitch channel. One of those games was a New Zealand-developed shooter called Amid Evil, which looked like a fun bit of nostalgia.
And that’s pretty much what it is: a modern indie retake on Heretic, complete with giant blocky pixels to remind you of the ’90s.
Developed by the same team responsible for the Return of the Triad mod for ZDoom, Amid Evil is basically a retro shooter at heart. For instance, you can't choose the harder difficulty levels without knowing how to strafejump. There's nooks and crannies in every level that lead to secrets, or seemingly nowhere, and the main strategy to move around as quickly as possible, baiting attacks without taking blows.
It's basically a game for anyone who loved Heretic, Quake or DOOM. It's a gibfest, an explosion of effects and blood, and the kind of lightning quick gameplay unfettered by cut-scenes or linear set pieces.
In the first few levels, you'll have around four or five weapons to play with. Apart from the base melee axe (which transforms into a spinning blade of death after you've killed enough enemies), weapons use either blue or green mana. They play on the fantasy tropes well enough too, without seeming like your stock standard reskins of modern military weapons.
Your base weapon is a homing attack staff, which fires spurts of blue shards out at the nearest enemy. You've then got a sword, which is actually a range weapon that fires a green projectile that pierces multiple enemies while diffusing incoming projectiles.
By the third level you'll find what looks like a crystal ball, which turns out to be Amid Evil's equivalent of the rocket launcher. And there's something that looks like Poseidon's spear, which electrocutes everything in range. And on the most powerful side, there's a gun that basically lays a series of electric webs that fries everything in range.
There's also the occasional boss fight, with giant enemies that have a range of AOE attack patterns. Each of the levels are a good size as well, taking about ten or fifteen minutes on the first playthrough.
My main complaint with the visuals is that enemies can sometimes blend into the background a little too much. The early levels have a good mix of darkness, underwater caverns and outdoor areas that make it easy enough to identify enemies. But there can be the odd instance where the action gets a little grainy - in part borne by the technique used to replicate that pixelated retro look. But it's a minor gripe and not one that stops the flow of gameplay by any means. Once you've bound jump to the mousewheel, you'll be bouncing around enemies so fast you probably won't even notice.
Amid Evil is due out in Early Access sometime this year. It'll run on basically any modern system, with Intel HD graphics, any quad core (2.5GHz+) CPU and a measly 4GB RAM the minimum requirements.