Wrath: Aeon of Ruin review – a retro shooter of unprecedented scope, for better and worse

Like a demon summoned by fresh blood on its altar, Wrath: Aeon of Ruin first arose at the height of the retro-shooter revival. Developed in a modified Quake engine with levels designed by contributors to mods like Arcane Dimensions, it looked set to conquer all in its path when it arrived in 2019. Its Early Access showcased amazing weapons, splattering enemies, a knotty, secret-filled hubworld, and maps you’d sell your soul for.

Then it went back to sleep for five years. In 2021, developer KillPixel admitted the project had been sorely hindered by the Covid 19 pandemic. But the full game would be out in Summer 2022. That became Spring 2023, which then became February 2024. In that time the retro shooter continued to evolve, giving us its Doom (Prodeus), its Duke Nukem (Ion Fury) and its Hexen (AMID EVIL). All the while Wrath’s presence faded, looking less like a spiritual successor to Quake, and more like a rerun of Daikatana.

Now though, Wrath is finished, and unlike John Romero’s white elephant, you can see why it took so long. This isn’t so much a first-person shooter as it is an ode to 3D level design, a dimension-hopping adventure of colossal scale and variety that bends the Quake engine into frankly obscene positions. Sadly, this is as much a criticism as it is a compliment, for in its strive to provide the grandest shooting galleries in existence, the shooting itself gets a little lost along the way.

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