New Blood Interactive kicked off with a premise that’s equal parts fitting and paradoxical. This new company was not in it to make wholly new games. Instead, it was aiming to publish new takes on old classics. Two throwback shooters led the charge in this endeavor, setting the tone for what was to come. Dusk was the first and served as an ultraviolent mix of Redneck Rampage and Blood. The second aims to accomplish a similar feat in revamping the vibes of Hexen and Heretic. Now out of Early Access, AMID EVIL is moody, dark and action-packed, basically everything you could ask for.
In the grand traditions of the best ’90s FPS games, Amid Evil doesn’t have much in the way of a story. Sure, there’s plenty of lore in the codex to go through if that’s your thing, but it’s not important. Atmosphere is more important, and there’s plenty here to go around. The campaign splits into seven distinct chapters, each with their own unique aesthetics, musical score, and rogues gallery. You may start off in an ancient tomb fighting off giant golems and floating rock faces. In moments, you’ll end up in an eternally twilight fortress guarded by mages riding crystal steeds. The variety is visually impressive, but it also impacts the gameplay since you are forced to master every aspect of its expansive arsenal.
Amid Evil Review | Ramparts of perdition
Each of Amid Evil‘s seven weapons boasts both a novel design and diverse functionality. You have a mace that shoots spikes that pins enemies to walls. Your sword delivers thin whips of green energy that slice multiple opponents. The Celestial Claw shrinks planets down to size and then launches them to their doom. Even the starting ax is more than just a fallback option, cleaving enemies near and far with a single swing. It goes all the way up to the BFG equivalent, an abstract collection of purple ribbons that fires a screen-clearing lightning blast.
Just learning the ropes with these implements can be a satisfying challenge, but that’s not the end. Each weapon also has an alt-fire Soul Power that activates when you kill enough foes. For example, the Celestial Claw trades in planets for suns when charged up, giving you projectiles that literally go supernova. This doubles the available options and ensures that everything feels useful throughout your entire playthrough. Even in some of the best shooters of all time, you’ll likely never use the starting pistol once you pick up a shotgun. Here, the homing orbs of the starter staff continually prove useful against foes who lurk just around the corner. Everything in the gameplay feels considered and refined, and nothing gets in the way of your magical carnage. Well, almost nothing.
Amid Evil Review | Heading into the cesspool
Amid Evil does stumble in a place where most of its peers also falter. While the level design is undoubtedly impressive in its diversity, there are quite a few sections where navigation becomes unreasonably fiddly. Swimming through pockets of water in midair feels less than precise. Balancing on thin wooden tracks while fending off enemies can be downright frustrating at low health. There are simply too many times throughout a playthrough where simply moving forward feels like a chore. Thanks to each world housing a unique set of mechanics and enemies, this isn’t a universal problem. These issues make it a little easy to reach for cheat codes every now and again.
Yes, this means it is proudly a PC-ass PC game. There’s a full suite of cheat codes available if you want to break things wide open, and they’re all even listed in the menu for your convenience. Quicksaving is a downright necessity, which makes it a bit annoying that there aren’t sensible checkpoints and a modern save system. Sure, it wouldn’t feel genuine to the ’90s, but having to replay long stretches because of a surprise Cthulhu monster made it easy to quit more than a few times.
It’s also worth noting that Amid Evil is optimized as only a PC game can be. The store page says that it can run on a toaster and it’s believable. On both my main gaming rig and my rinky-dink laptop, Amid Evil was a fluid shooter experience. The graphics are bold and stylistic while also not breaking the bank, making this an experience that can run just about anywhere. It will even fit in perfectly on a console should the stars align. Even in the current version, the seamlessly integrated controller support felt just as accurate as a mouse and a keyboard.
Amid Evil Review | Field of judgment
Whenever Amid Evil pushed me away, it was already in the process of hooking me right back in. Much like Dusk before it, Amid Evil captures the authentic experience of games gone by without feeling like a throwback. Each chapter has so many rad concepts for levels and enemies that I never wanted it to end. While it lacks a deathmatch mode, the endless horde experience does allow players to test their mettle, as do the three scaling difficulty modes for the campaign.
No matter whether you’re just touring through these realms of magic or going for full mastery, Amid Evil is a blast from start to finish. Everything from the moody soundtrack to the heart-pounding circle strafing just clicks. Even if you’ve already tired yourself out on retro shooters, Amid Evil deserves your attention as a well-crafted and unique entry in the genre. Whatever New Blood Interactive ends up doing next for FPS, it’s going to be hard to top this opening one-two punch.
GameRevolution reviewed Amid Evil on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.