There are few games out there with such a prolific modding community as Doom. The timeless classic stands proud with 30 years of community-created source ports, maps, hacks and total conversions. Of these source ports, GZDoom remains the most popular. GZDoom has come a long way since its release in 2005. Now, 18 years later, GZDoom is the go-to sourceport for most modders and users alike, with mods like Trench Foot, Bloom, Blade of Agony, the Ashes series, Shrine and more completely revamping the Doom experience and taking the 30-year-old game to new heights. Enter Supplice.
Supplice is the latest big chonk FPS to join this list. What started out as total conversion 14 years ago has turned into a full-fledged game, pushing the GZDoom engine to its limits. Now, backed by the awesome folks at Hyperstrange, the Supplice has been released into Steam Early Access on April 6, 2023. Being an avid Doom and boomer shooter fanboy, it would be criminal if I didn’t check out the game myself. So, coolass name aside, what else does the game pack?
Plenty of Reading
Supplice does something which is not common in a lot of boomer shooters. It’s got an actual fleshed out story with plenty of worldbuilding to go along with it. You play as Zorah Null, an engineer of a terraformed colony thousands of lightyears away from the Earth. One day, you’re awakened to a colony-wide alert. Extra terrestrials have launched an invasion on the colony, and you’re the last line of defense. Helped by an AI not designed for combat, and armed to the teeth, you take the fight to the space invaders – multiple bullets at a time.
Chunks of the main story as well as optional lore are told through the various terminals scattered around the maps. While it doesn’t deviate from the usual ‘corporations in control’ trope, each extra tidbit of lore serves to flesh out the world and make Supplice stand out in terms of storytelling among other boomer shooters. Some of the character’s interactions with Charon (the AI) are genuinely funny as well. Of course, all of this is optional, and you can enjoy the game without paying attention to any of the terminal entries.
Plenty of Gibs
This being a GZDoom game, you already know what to expect. Supplice stays true to the Doom formula involving navigating big maps, searching for color-coded doors while gibbing hundreds of bad guys. The gunplay, as usual, is beefy and satisfying. There are plenty of fun weapons as well as a variety of bad guys to test them out on. However, Supplice combat is also very formulaic and doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before. It’s not something I’d hold against the game but at a time when boomer shooters are coming up with new creative design choices (Hellscreen, Ultrakill), Supplice feels a bit too by the book.
It also doesn’t help that the introductory level is not very engaging. If you ask me, the first level of a game should always leave the player wanting more, while giving a whiff of what the game has to offer. Supplice starts off in a very rudimentary manner and forces the player to use the “highly effective but super bland” power drill for a large majority of the level. Enemy placements in this level also feels pretty off. Thankfully, Supplice picks up by the second map when you get access to the rotary shotgun, and it only gets better from there. Majority of the weapons included in the early access period, are fun to use and even the starting drill (while not fun to use), remain useful throughout the game due to its mob clearing alt fire. I did find the game to be a bit stingy with ammo at higher difficulties, especially the first three levels. Overall, Supplice retains the essence of what makes Doom fun to play, even though it doesn’t go places with it.
Plenty of Craft
As mentioned above, Supplice makes great use of the GZDoom engine. The maps are intricately designed with lots of verticality and complex layout, all the while being easy to navigate. It’s hard to get lost in Supplice thanks to the useful automap with waypoints and visual landmark featuring a clean art style. From objects in the environment to weapon sprites, everything is crafted with utmost care and a serious attention to detail, resulting in locations that are equally attractive and believable.
While the Early Access version only comes with 6 maps (5+1 bonus map), the last 3 levels are pretty massive and make for some intense combat encounters. Another notable feature of the game is the soundtrack. While most boomer shooters feature heart-throbbing metal riffs, Supplice opts for a more atmospheric jazzy music that surprisingly blends in with the gameplay. The level design, the art and the music screams years of experience of making and playing these sorts of games. It’s quality stuff all around.
Plenty of Content…on its Way
Now we come to the brass tacks. Is it worth buying Supplice in its Early Access state? Well, yes and no. On the positive side, it’s got everything you’d want in a boomer shooter. At the same time, Supplice still feels like a total conversion mod, especially compared to some of the hard-hitting boomer shooters. Paying $14.99/₹ 690 for a such game, especially one that’s in Early Access, puts the game in a compromising position
At a time when there are plenty of free Doom total conversions floating around on the web, Supplice comes across as a tough sell. However, that doesn’t diminish the qualities of Supplice in any way. It’s a good game, no two ways about it. It will be an even better game with more content updates. That’s why I’m recommending that you pick up Supplice once it exists Early Access (Note that the price will also go up once the game leaves Early Access). Of course, we’ll be doing a review of the 1.0 version when it launches. Until then, keep a close eye on this one!