Some games emerge as the first thing we think of in a certain gaming niche. When it comes to digging up materials and building things, for instance, Minecraft stands out. Capturing little monsters for battle bouts? Pokémon leaps to mind.
And there’s really only one franchise that corners the market on gory, gloppy demon-butchering: Doom.
We’ve seen lots of different iterations and spinoffs in this gaming series, but the bestselling Doom Eternal is considered the fifth “main” story entry. Though to be truthful, the story of the series is pretty convoluted. It not only involves the necessary slaughter of demons streaming straight from hell, but giving battle to virulent angel-like invading aliens called Makyrs and another group of space alien knights called the Sentinels.
I could go on and on and probably still not make all the unholy war/demonic Titan yada-yada understandable.
The key element here is that gamers play as an unnamed former human space marine who got sucked up into the diobolical happenings way back when, and he is now infused with something that has made him superpowered.
Known as the Doom Slayer, it’s his job to (as we’re told from the game’s outset) “rip and tear until it is done.” And that’s exactly what this game is really all about: ripping, gouging, blasting, burning, gutting, and otherwise pureeing demonic, space alien and undead flesh until your eyes dry out and your fingers twitch.
Is it a challenge? Oh, yes. The game is essentially a series of combat puzzles stacked on top of each other. As you wade through hellscapes filled with packed-in writhing human forms and blazing, burning torment, you’re faced with a never-ending stream of grotesqueries that want to rip you limb from limb.
As a gamer, you’re forced to constantly evaluate and prioritize which of the different enemies you should kill in what order; and how you should duck, hack, slash and out-maneuver to fulfill that objective. You must keep your character always moving, always driving forward. Force a spiked foot into a creature’s own face here, and rip out a giant eyeball there.
And beneath the first-person shooting and guts-tearing carnage is a very deliberate resource-management challenge. Your character is always on the verge of death and just short of running out of ammo. So you’ll stun a demon and perform a Glory Kill (a blade gorily jammed into a screaming face, a skull and backbone crushed with prodigious force, or a ribcage ripped open and heart squished) to regain a few bits of health. Or you’ll savagely hack a shambling corpse thing in half with a chainsaw to regain a few necessary shotgun shells. The flesh tears and blood perpetually spews and each gush might drop resources you direly need. Since you’re never more than seconds away from being slain, you’re gruesomely shredding skin and entrails just to survive.
And the numbers of opponents and the difficulties to surpass ramp up and up from there.
Frankly, there’s not much else to say about this game. It is well-crafted, in the sense that it always feels more and more challenging. And in a way you could see it as a “hero’s” story, since the dregs of a devastated humanity are being saved from the blood-drinking horrors of hell. But this is no biblical tale. The hero here is every bit as rage-filled and insane as his quarry. And from a gory, ferocious and brutal perspective, Doom Eternal is likely one of the most stomach-turning and mind-numbing games you can plunk down your hard-earned cash for.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.