Gloomwood Game Review on PC

Gloomwood Game Review on PC

If you were a PC gamer in the late ’90s and your go-to games were called Thief or Deus Ex, then stick around, because Gloomwood could be rekindling a flame you thought had gone out. But the others can also keep us company, because they could well discover a title that, under its unappetizing airs, turns out to be a little gem of setting and level design.

IMPORTANT: About Early Access Trials

This Gloomwood review assesses the qualities and shortcomings of Early Access and is by no means a test of the definitive product. This text will be modified as the game evolves, before testing the final version.

I know you’re going to say when you see the footage and trailer that accompanies this test, “but what is this straight out of the early 2000s? So yes, Gloomwood is ugly, we are not going to lie. But this visual austerity is, as you can imagine, voluntary, and is totally in keeping with the theme and concept. It should also be noted that Gloomwood comes from the stables of New Blood Interactive, a small publisher specialized in “neo retro” games -and mainly FPS- from which pearls of the genre have emerged such as Amid Evil, ULTRAKILL or Dusk (one of the best FPS of the last 10 years, yes yes).

Gloomwood: What if Bloodborne was a stealth game released on PS2?

It’s good to make old with new

Also, Gloomwood is the new project of David Szymanski and Dillon Rogers, the creators of Dusk. And while Dusk is a wonderful homage to Doom and Quake, this new project follows in the footsteps of Thief: The Dark Project, a game released in the late 90s in which you were a thief in the middle ages. This is the accepted model of Gloomwood, at least in terms of gameplay, and we are therefore looking at a game of exploration and infiltration in the first person, “Immersive Sim” trend. If that genre doesn’t appeal to you, consider Dishonored, Deux Ex, or even Deathloop. Freedom of approach, open level design full of alternate paths : two essential aspects of this type of experience, which we find here.

Gloomwood: What if Bloodborne was a stealth game released on PS2?

In Gloomwood, you play as a prisoner languishing deep in a cell, who apparently calls himself “The Doctor.” A mysterious voice comes to speak to you and leaves you a key that will allow you to escape. After a few meters of crawling, you have in your hands your beloved cane-sword, a weapon that will get you out of many situations. On your finger, you also notice a ring whose stone begins to shine if you are too visible. A great way to manage your “invisibility” in the environment, darkness being your best friend.

A level design with small onions.

So here you are thrown into the world of Gloomwood, with the only indication: get to the lighthouse by all means. Seen from the dirty windows of the prison, it doesn’t seem very far, but the number of obstacles that stand in your way seems dizzying. So you are completely free to go where you want, but mostly free to be shot down by the first cross guard. Be careful, the first moments of the game are a bit difficult. We grope, we try to hide in some way, we get lost in the corridors… Before gradually taking possession of the place. Here we touch the biggest hit of the game. : A superbly mastered science of level design, which is inspired by both the best Immersive-Sim and a model less obvious at first glance: From Software games.

Gloomwood: What if Bloodborne was a stealth game released on PS2?

From Thief and Dishonored we find that almost sick desire to offer a multitude of more or less hidden paths, that desire to push us to explore more and more to find the best way to progress. From Dark Souls and Bloodborne we find this pleasure of unlocking a door, a rope or a ladder, which will give us access to a saving shortcut, even more important if it allows us to easily reach a gramophone, the only way to save in El game A design choice that can be frustrating at first, when you spend a lot of time getting killed and having to start over at the previous save point. There is, then, a way to learn by failure, which, however, has the positive side of learning architecture and the feeling of knowing, after a while, every corner.

Gloomwood: What if Bloodborne was a stealth game released on PS2?
Gloomwood: What if Bloodborne was a stealth game released on PS2?

And the further you progress in the game, the more levels open up: once you’ve broken out of the prison, you’ll explore a mine, a forest, the beginning of a town, always with the super-satisfying feeling that a thousand secrets are hidden there. It is also by progressing that the gameplay will gradually expand. Unlike Thief in particular, Gloomwood doesn’t prohibit the “head-on” approach, as you will have in your hands a barrel gun and then a rifle. However, ammo is scarce and you have to decide when you need to shoot, especially since it will inevitably attract guards. The game encourages more than ever the mischief of the player, with, for example, being able to place an explosive powder keg in a corner, throwing a bottle to attract a guard duo, before a well-aimed shot blows everything away.

You’re a little ugly, but you have a crazy charm

We mentioned it in the first lines of this text: Gloomwood deliberately uses an ultra retro style, giving the feeling of playing a PC game released in the late 90s or early 2000s. But that does not mean that it is devoid of artistic embellishments, far from there Here, it is again From Software that needs to be mentioned, as we sometimes have the impression of being in the Bloodborne universe. A Blooborne that would have been released at the PS2 launch, of course, but whose charm acts immediately if one is even slightly sensitive to the neo-retro style. The atmosphere is Victorian, steampunk, with a good dose of horror. Note also a lot of work on the sound, especially with the sometimes nasal, sometimes guttural voices of the guards, or the terrifying growls of the dogs lurking in the mine, who have the ability to smell you even if you’re in the dark. .

Gloomwood: What if Bloodborne was a stealth game released on PS2?Gloomwood: What if Bloodborne was a stealth game released on PS2?

However, do you have to spend €16 to buy early access to Gloomwood, knowing thatThis version will last between 4 and 6 hours depending on your desire to explore the map from top to bottom. ? The answer is yes if you are a fan of the genre and graphic style. It’s clearly a prologue, almost a grand demo, but everything is spotlessly clean, bug-free, and still has the feeling of having a beginning and an end. The game must remain in Early Access for at least a year and a half, though new portions will be added over time. The title also seems enticing enough to make you want to restart a game from scratch, to discover new subtleties.

conclusion

Strengths

  • A very open and elaborate level design.
  • A wide variety of approaches
  • A very successful gothic and terrifying setting
  • Weapons in a stealth game can work
  • Excellent work on the sound.

Weak points

  • Backup system that can be frustrating
  • The slow movement of the hero.
  • Visually, it can hurt if you’re not used to the neo-retro style.
  • Not much of a prologue at the moment.

If you like stealth/first person shooter games that leave a lot of room for creativity and the “retro” graphic style doesn’t scare you, you can try Gloomwood Early Access without any worries. This Victorian “Dishonored/Thief”, with a setting close to a survival-horror, already benefits from an exceptional level design, which allows widely varying approaches. The will to offer sensations of “early 2000s PC games” is there, very clearly, but with the necessary adjustments for a title that comes out in 2022. The result is a mixture of very pleasant sensations, as if our Pentium MMX would have miraculously crossed the centuries. , and that developers continued to release games there against all odds. However, we must be aware that this impeccably clean Early Access is just a great prologue and that the best is surely yet to come.

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