One of the most influential first-person shooter games of all time is the original DOOM from 1993. The game was not only a critical and commercial success, but it inspired many developers at a variety of studios to develop their own video games. Because of how popular DOOM was, there were a ton of games that copied many of its mechanics and overall design. These came to be known as doom clones, for very obvious reasons. Gastro Force is a doom clone that has many similarities to the classic DOOM games, for better or worse.
Gastro Force on PlayStation 5 (also for Xbox, Switch, and PC) is a run-and-gun shooter that puts you into the suit of a space marine that is trying to survive an onslaught of aliens taking over a starship. It’s a simple concept for a story, much like the game that inspired it, which keeps the focus on the action. Even in a recycled fashion, the foundational aspects of DOOM can still work out very well when executed right and given a twist. For some, it won’t be enough for the game to differentiate itself from other doom clones, but for others, it’s just enough to get by. Just don’t go in expecting deep lore to latch onto.
Gameplay is exactly what you might expect if you’ve played any of the original DOOM games. Straight-forward shooting in first-person, with various alien enemies lurking around every corner. You’ll be finding new weapons to use, hitting switches to open new areas, and discovering secret locations by interacting with your surroundings. It’s about as basic for an FPS game as you can get, without doing anything inherently wrong. It definitely appeals to the nostalgia of those who have had plenty of experience playing games that were similar.
But unfortunately, Gastro Force has all of the quirks and stumbles that came with all of those games from back in the day. Moving around and aiming your weapons is very stiff, which can be troublesome for those looking to be precise when aiming their weapons at a target. Luckily, Gastro Force has the same kind of auto-aiming that every other doom clone had, allowing you to hit enemies without needing to be super accurate. You can just aim in the general direction of an enemy and nail all of your shots without an issue. It might take away the skill needed to be competent with first-person shooters, but it gets the job done.
The biggest stumble that Gastro Force suffers from is how quickly it becomes overly repetitive. There are three main areas with multiple stages in them that you’ll have to traverse and complete. They each fall into the same rhythm throughout. Each area gets tougher with variations on enemies you face beforehand, but the general objective remains the same in each area. All you have to do is reach the final platform at the end of the stage in order to move on. There are some boss battles with stronger enemies toward the later sections of an area, but they don’t mix up the gameplay all that much.
A lot of the difficulty in most sections of Gastro Force will come from having a lack of ammo or health pickups around. You’ll need to find where everything is located if you want to be resourced enough in some encounters, especially with how hard enemies will damage you. Although enemy behavior isn’t complex or difficult to deal with at heart, their damage output can feel often inconsistent. Some attacks will hurt you mildly while others much more severe, but all of it will add up quickly if you’re not paying attention.
The stages also don’t have checkpoints to restart from upon death. If you end up getting killed right before the end of a stage, then you’re out of luck. You’ll have to redo the entire stage from the beginning, which can get frustrating. Some stages are complex with the number of switches you need to hit in order to progress, along with backtracking you need to do in order to open up places to move forward. It’s not difficult overall, but definitely tedious. Some people will look at that as old-school game design, which is true, but it’s still archaic compared to what is possible now.
Gastro Force will stand out to those who love the classic DOOM games or anything that was similar. It follows the same beats and has the same problems of those games, which may not be for everyone. There’s very little here to make it stand out as something unique or more interesting than any of the games that inspired it, which is a shame. For those that crave an old-school FPS to tinker with, what you get here will be fun to tinker with. But for others who don’t, you’re better off spending more time with something else instead.
Have you played Gastro Force before? What do you think of old-school FPS games? Which are your favorite DOOM clones? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
This game will definitely appeal to those who are nostalgic for retro-style FPS games. It has all of the bells and whistles that made those games popular years ago. However, stiff controls and aiming won’t be too appealing to some players, while the over-repetitiveness will wear down others. There’s not much here that’s very different from other doom clones that follow a similar formula.
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