When you think of a fast-paced retro FPS game set to a heavy metal soundtrack, you’ll usually find yourself at the center of your mind with Doom or Wolfenstein. The series developed by id Software inspired an entire subgenre of video games, and since then we’ve had all sorts of clones, as well as fancy reboot series from the creative studio itself. But the reason I bring this up is that I’ve been digging into Dread Templar for the past few days as the game prepares for its official release and leaves Early Access behind. With that in mind, this clearly Doom-inspired title will soon be bolstered by a new batch of levels, weapons, enemies, and more, and I’ve seen it all.
While there’s a story at the heart of this game, all you really need to know is that Dread Templar requires players to shoot and blast hordes of nasty demons in order to reach the end of the level. Unlike Doom and Doom Eternal, this title trades gimmicky high-res graphics for primitive 3D elements, making it more of a 90s product, if not for the fact that you can get the game to run ridiculously smooth with the right hardware , you’d think that developer T19 Games would just rip it off a dusty game cartridge that’s been sitting in a box in someone’s garage for the past 30 years.
The gameplay itself is very simple. All you need to do is manage your ammo, use the first person aiming kit to hit your shots while avoiding damage from attacking monsters. There are collectibles and secrets to add to it, as well as doors you need to unlock by finding the right key, but for the most part, this game is all about blasting Hell Reborn into thousands of tiny pieces.
In that spirit, it nails the concept. It’s a truly satisfying and fast-paced shooter that will challenge and entertain anyone who enjoys this type of video game. It also has a delightful selection of weapons to find and use, as well as a wide range of enemies to understand and overcome, all of which combine to make for a truly thrilling ride. The best part is, it doesn’t throw all of this stuff at you at once. No, you’ll have to acquire new weapons and face new enemies in new biomes as you progress through the storyline, though given the secrets you’ll be able to discover by exploring the levels (admittedly the names are dull) side areas to jumpstart some of them for an early chance of getting weapon prototypes.
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Since this is a retro 3D game, the visuals can be a bit drab and monotonous, especially since this is a game mostly about demons and spawning from hell – Doom, for example, has an enduring love-hate relationship with red. So while a graphics product will never really grab your attention, the performance allowed by the low-res visuals definitely will.
I’ve tried Dread Templar on a desktop powered by an Intel i9-11900KF, RTX 3090, 64GB of RAM, as well as an MSI Pulse GL76, and both devices can run the game at such high frame rates that the connected monitor doesn’t No chance to catch up – usually over 700 frames per second. This means that regardless of the components inside the computer, Fear the Templar should play incredibly smoothly, which is a huge boon for a game that prides itself on the pace of combat.
But just because performance is great doesn’t mean the game’s armor doesn’t have some cracks. Terror Templar supports controller play, but some menus are clearly not built for controller input. Some levels are so dry in color that it’s hard to tell where you’re supposed to go. The narrative is so loosely integrated that it’s conveyed mostly through still images, with voice-over dialogue at the end of each of the five chapters. But then again, you come to Fear the Templars to shoot monsters, and for that alone, it does a great job.
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Here’s the key to take away: Dread Templar is a really fun retro FPS. It’s straightforward, simple, thrilling, action-packed, and exciting, making it the perfect game for anyone just looking for an old-school Doom game – complete with a heart-pounding metal soundtrack – to delve into.