Doom and Gloom
Doomblade takes place in a world that has been conquered by a cabal of extra-dimensional entities called The Dreadlords. Long before the events of the game, the Dreadlords came to your world, poisoned your lands, slaughtered your people (the Gloomlings), and enslaved their souls to power their machines. Now you are the last Gloomling, a tiny little creature alone in the world and facing up against a vast system of oppression and control created by the Dreadlords.
You're not helpless though, as you have found a potent weapon: The Doomblade, a sentient weapon fashioned by the Dreadlords from the tooth of the planet-destroying God that originally forced them into exile. The blade has the power to rip through dimensions, and once the Dreadlords used it to make their way into your world they locked it away. Now the blade wants vengeance on the Dreadlords as well, and it's more than willing to team up with you to destroy your mutual adversaries.
As the description of the plot implies, Doomblade is a delightfully grimdark story and world. Every creature and environment is ugly or disturbing in some way, and whenever you get into any serious combat the soundtrack starts blaring out heavy metal music. In a world of pastel-colored indie games the stress how cozy and none-threatening they are, Doomblade is a welcome change of pace.
Soaring Through the Air
As Metroidvanias are all about combat and traversal, Doomblade takes the clever step of combining its primary combat move with its primary means of locomotion. Once you have the titular sword you will be able to target any enemy on screen, and with the press of a button fly towards them and attack. Levels are littered with harmless, respawning enemies so you can quickly leap from one to the other and jet across the screen. It makes the mere act of traversal somewhat cathartic. Combat mostly takes place in dedicated arenas where hordes of enemies spawn in increasingly numerous waves.
These combat arenas are great fun, only the first few are just rooms where different enemies turn up, in almost all subsequent arenas the rooms themselves become deadly in some form. You will find yourself playing a dangerous game of the floor is lava, having to avoid sections of the screen that are filled with poisonous gas, or in one particularly memorable moment, dodging the rotating blades of what resembles a particularly deadly Ferris wheel.
Each combat builds on the last, becoming more dangerous and more deadly at a steady rate. At the same time, the game drip-feeds you upgrades and new abilities making your initial attack more effective while giving you a few fun new traversal methods as well. Generally speaking, I found combat to be an ongoing joy, and as I played I found myself gladly seeking out optional challenges and encounters. Sure, the first couple of attempts would end with me getting absolutely creamed by whatever new monster or hazard the game threw at me, but it was almost always the sort of fun challenge that had me willing and eager to try again.
That said, the controls for this combat are occasionally a little wonky. If you use a keyboard and mouse it can be difficult to select a target quickly enough in the hectic chaos of combat, especially in later encounters when the screen is filled with enemies. Expect your mouse arm to be grossly overdeveloped from constantly jumping from enemy to enemy. The controller is much faster and easier to handle generally (especially if you have played a lot of twin-stick shooters), but you lose a degree of precision that can send you careening into hazards instead of the enemy you wanted to hit.
These issues are not game-breaking, a reasonably patient gamer will be able to clear the game with either mouse or controller, but in a game where combat is this demanding, taking an unfair hit is more than a little infuriating.
Error: Game Not Found
While on the whole Doomblade is a delightful game, I would be remiss if I didn't mention to occasional crashes I experienced while playing. It was never enough to render the game unplayable but occasionally the game would just freeze and force me to manually close it down and restart it. In a small indie game, the occasional crash is forgivable, and it does seem like the development team is still working on patching and revising the game. Indeed, my other complaint, the lack of custom markers on the game's map screen, was patched in while I was writing this review!
As always, follow Hooked Gamers on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.
Fun, inventive combat that still feels intuitive, Memorable, albeit, bleak world, Thunderous, heavy metal soundtrack, Probably the best Metroidvania we'll get until Silksong is released.
Some issues with control on both mouse & keyboard, and controller, A bit unstable, with occasional crashes