Nostalgia is a strange thing. Not only does it create a longing for the things that were, but it also makes you feel familiarity when encountering things that might have been. At least that’s what playing AMID EVIL feels like.
This fast-paced FPS takes the best parts – aesthetics, level design, gameplay – of genre greats Unreal and Quake, then mixes them together with a hefty dose of Heretic. The end result is a game that feels both eerily familiar and new. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this game’s origins can be traced back to an unreleased Doom mod from 1997.
In AMID EVIL, you traverse grainy, labyrinthine nightmares and dreamscapes while fending off a multitude of gruesome creatures with outlandish weaponry. A huge spinning axe. A trident shooting lightning. A mace that sends deadly shards hurtling towards your foes, pinning them to the walls. These weapons sound and feel ridiculous. They are even more deadly when you have gathered enough souls to activate their secondary firepower.
Monstrous knights, tentacled monstrosities and other delightful hosts eagerly await your arrival. To be fair, it would have been nice to see more enemy types, but alas. It’s not like they live very long, anyway.
Spread across seven distinct episodes, connected by a hub world, you visit some truly weird places. These feel massive and… somehow important, utterly defying a sense of logic in regards to their very existence. It’s not quite cosmic horror, but it certainly veers in the same direction.
Some of these places seem to be inspired by metal cover aesthetics (or something like Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, if you will), others are endlessly winding, claustrophobic labyrinths. Their whole sense of scale is out of whack. This looks and feels glorious.
You know that a game is a keeper when the worst thing you can say about it is that the font is sometimes hard to read. AMID EVIL is a keeper with its no-nonsense approach to relentless action and its utter disregard for logic or story.
It wants you to have a good, messy time in outlandish locales, just like back in the day. It’s pretty awesome is what I’m saying. And that’s not just the nostalgia speaking.