In 1994, I played Doom, as did most of the computerized world. Isolation, despair, and horrific demons rushing through a trans-dimensional vortex to devour a remote military/research installation.
Fairly standard sci-fi tropes, as well as an amazing technological achievement. Doom was the revolution, was, even if not the first game, the first major achievement of first-person shooters.
It was terrifying, when I was young. Flickering lights, evil scratching noises. Giant levels, covered in darkness. Around the next corner could be anything, and often it was hard to take that next step.
Doom doesn’t really hold up; the levels are too easily memorised, encouraged by years of Deathmatch. The monsters, while swarming, never really hold that same level of danger or fear that they once did.
It’s nostalgia, now. A brilliant memory, but the reality lacks so much sparkle, so much amazement.
But, what if the levels could always be new? What if every corner was always terrifying?
Rogue1 came out in the early 80s, a terminal-driven game of dungeon delving. Storage was a precious commodity in those days; memory far more so. Rogue bypassed these constraints by only generating a level, randomly, when you entered.
Infinite replay, indefinite gameplay.
Hack, and later NetHack extended this idea; the long dungeon crawl, randomisation as the core strength. For a very long time, NetHack was my roguelike of choice; over 20 years I’ve played it.
I’ve never won.
Doom + Rogue
Where this all goes is the idea of taking the randomisation, the brutal unfairness of a roguelike and merging it with the horrific darkness of Doom. Lost in a remote installation, terrible monsters hunting you. Being unable to see around the next corner, lighting keeping you guessing.
Waiting for you to stumble.
This game, exists, and it’s called Teleglitch. A top-down horror-based shooter, Teleglitch’s random number generator delights in making you squirm; making you afraid to enter a room.
Making you afraid to shoot your gun, to enter open spaces. Makes you afraid to explore wings of the massive levels.
Makes you more afraid not to, ammunition and supplies as scarce as they are.
It’s a brutal experience, like all Roguelikes; but it plays by rules. Keep your head and you can survive. Death teaches tactics, how to be cautious, paranoid.
How to yell in frustration, because you should not have died there.
$14USD, and as of this writing available for Windows and Linux. And so worth it.