Do not let the title alarm you, my friends. Sure, there are a lot of dangerous things going on in the world, but I’m an optimist. A depressive optimist, but an optimist. Everything will be okay.
WE ARE DOOMED is not another fatalist creed, but the name of a game! I was going through my stuff from itch.io’s A Good Bundle and decided to pick this up for review. Hey, remember when this bundle and a bunch of other game stuff helped raise the ACLU like millions of dollars and then they went on to help give white supremacists a big platform that resulted in injuries and a death? Anyway.
So, We Are Doomed is a game by Vertex Pop, normally available for $10 on itch.io and Steam. If the studio’s name and visual style seem familiar, maybe you’ve heard of Graceful Explosion Machine, a recent release of theirs. In some ways, We Are Doomed could be considered a precursor.
There’s no story or any sort of theme to the game, flat out advertised as a pure arcade action. You’re just shooting shapes in a trippy neon void and sometimes that’s all you need for a game. We Are Doomed‘s base gameplay is familiar to anyone that’s played a twin-stick shooter, though instead of shooting bullets, you fire a short ranged beam that tears through anyone you swing it toward. Spawning into the arena are artifacts, which builds up your score multiplier and charges up a super beam. After collecting enough, you can unleash the beam, your short-range burst turning into a long-range shredder that clears through enemies and previously unbreakable asteroids, also temporarily boosting your score multiplier to award your use. Get hit, you’ll lose a life and lower your score multiplier. Lose all your lives and obviously it’s game over; the number of lives you have is set and I’m not sure if it’s possible to rack up more.
The game offers two modes to play. The first one, Waves, has you going through 30 waves of enemies, with brief breaks between each. Even if you’re kinda bad at the game, each wave has fixed spawns, so you at least know what to expect on future tries and can practice up. You get the option of starting at the 11th and 21st waves after you clear them, which is handy if you kinda just want to see the challenges toward the end. Of course, if you’re gunning for score, starting all the way at the beginning and fighting your way up is the best way to do so.
As for the other mode, Endless Mode, it’s exactly as the title says. No stages, no breaks, just never-ending enemies. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from an endless mode for a score attack game.
All this comes wrapped in a colorful, vibrant presentation. The art style is presented in such a flashy and stylish way that it makes the game’s action feel satisfying. Kill an enemy and they explode into pointed bright polygons, a score number ejected from their body. Kill a whole bunch in the same place and it’s a firework show, the arena underneath rippling and distorted from the violence. Enemies spawn in through distortions in the game’s space, a certain class of enemies being unnatural shifting prisms, an embrace toward glitchy aesthetics. Tying it together is an energetic techno soundtrack that feels befitting of the game’s vibe, a soundtrack that doesn’t get old as you force yourself to keep on trying.
While I praise the game’s flashiness when it comes to presentation, I see it as a problem gameplay-wise – though this aspect may be subjective. As I played through the game and got better at it, I found myself overwhelmed not by the hordes of enemies, but by the flashing colors and the animations. It got to the point of being distracting, which usually resulted in me standing on top of a spawn that got lost in all the pizzazz. I’m not saying that I would be a master at the game if its effects were toned down (as you can clearly see me make amateur mistakes in that video), but it would certainly be easier.
Most of We Are Doomed‘s value comes from replaying it and if something’s doomed, it’s going to be your time. Even with my senses getting overwhelmed, I couldn’t help but keep trying over and over to get to the next wave and top past scores. There isn’t a lot of content, which may turn some people off, but the content that is there is pretty engaging. I definitely think fans of twin-stick shooters will enjoy this game and for the ones that aren’t fans, well, there is that video I recorded to help decide if this game is good for you.