Over 25 years after Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM blasted it into the mainstream, the 90s FPS is revived by Project Warlock, a slick genre homage that benefits from modern improvements that make it near impossible to put down. Such additions include a between-level workshop where RPG upgrade points can be used to improve stats, which nicely encourages organic progression. Weapon upgrades and spells can also be purchased, and you’ll certainly need the help.
Don’t expect this warlock to mollycoddle you; its difficulty is unforgiving, and perhaps a tad too steep during the beginning. Project Warlock assumes you’re a veteran FPS player picking up where your last Heretic save file finished off, and even the easiest difficulty is punishing. User interfaces like managing RPG elements are basic yet smooth, but the weapon wheel is clunky and tends to result in cheap deaths thanks to stiff inputs.
However, such niggles quickly become second nature and do nothing to distract from the game's fast-paced grit. Enemies implode in gory geysers of blood and screech with frightening demonic flare, creating a tense tone supported by an excellent retro soundtrack and stunning pixel art. Each distinct and non-linear level is impressively detailed, down to the last fire-breathing 2D devil and destructible environments. The plot is enjoyably basic; "you good warlock, they bad beasties; kill".
With five worlds, each with five sub-levels consisting of between one and four stages, as well as a plethora of secrets to find, there’s enough here to keep any FPS fanatic entertained for hours. Each stage quickly becomes a repetitious dance which somehow never becomes dull, and reaching its end is euphoric and rewarding. Project Warlock is great; a pastiche of brutally tough and charmingly gritty 90s first-person shooters, with only a few quality of life improvements to be made.