Terrible Templar it’s like stepping into a time machine. There’s nothing new about modern shooters copying their ’90s forebears, but Dread Templar seems like it was released in that golden age, and just the way your enemies turn into blood-soaked body parts hints at modern technology at work under the hood.
It’s a love letter to the shooters of the 90s, and it was developed by someone aged 12, right after you played Doom (or Hexen) for the first time. All the weapons are what a 90’s kid would consider cool: dual katanas, ultrasound with silencer on the side, super rifle, cool bow, fire splattered rocket launcher. Enemies are made of the same cloth, flying eyeballs that spew acid, giant spiders that spew acid, other enemies that may or may not spew acid.
Weapons are a big part of the reason for success. Uzi with a silencer and a super shotgun it’s a hell of a lot of fun, which is what you’d expect from a game where everyone’s shooting people and dropping projectiles. The Black Bow is surprisingly fun though, and having to draw the bow and fire in time for maximum damage adds a nice thrill to combat. It also has a launch trap, a trap fired from your gauntlet that electrifies and stuns enemies, giving you little time to reposition yourself. I also found a strange love for twin katanas, your primary melee weapon, which had an alternate fire mode that stuck them together and allowed you to throw them like a spear. Hit an enemy with this and they’ll most likely immediately go to pieces, but lining up a shot and hitting multiple enemies at the same time is exhilarating.
You’ll also walk through tight arenas designed to pit you and your enemies in hand-to-hand combat to the death, and search for secrets – as a reward for the text “found a secret” appearing on the screen – to receive updates.
These improvements, along with the short time feature, Terrible Templars, they largely seem redundant and the game was better when I ignored them. Upgrades require you to find both a rune and a resource to unlock a slot where an ability can be placed. This can increase the amount of ammo you can carry for a particular weapon, reduce cooldowns, or increase damage or rate of fire. These are silver runes—they’re all pretty mundane. Gold runes can let you, say, turn a shotgun into a sniper rifle. However, getting access to these gold runes – which require a special, more expensive gold slot – is so much work that many may not even bother.
The pace of the battle remains pretty decent throughout. Every once in a while, during melee skirmishes, I find myself wishing certain enemies would die a little faster since I’m in a place where everything is dead except for one big, ineffective monster, and I just i pump it round after round, generally risk free for me.. In arenas it just gets in the way of pacing, while in corridors it can lead to some deaths that seem unfair.
However, some players may be disappointed by the lack of combat feedback from the player. Aside from the main character moaning, there’s very little to indicate that you’ve been hit, meaning that death can sometimes seem like it comes out of nowhere, even though you’ve actually been dealing with a handful of hit points for several minutes.
It’s a forgivable problem and didn’t stop me from having fun at all while Terrible Templar the soundtrack made me go straight to the sound parameters. During the first hour the soundtrack became very annoying and I found myself turning the volume down. The music seems repetitive, but it’s also pretty generic. However, these are minor drawbacks to a fairly well-rounded shooter, and Dread Templar has a lot to offer.
Terrible Templar comes out for PC on January 26th.
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