WRATH: Aeon of Ruin – Revisiting an early access boomer shooter.

Have you ever written a critique about something, then come back to it years later to see if it still holds up? I have that feeling with a lot of things I’ve played. Since I try to improve myself as a person, sometimes I have to reassess my opinions on something or if I’ve changed. With how games change from day one to day 365 thanks to the wonders of patches and Early Access, it has me occasionally revisiting stuff to see if it’s gotten better. And in this case, it’s going back roughly 4 ½ years ago… when the boomer shooter craze wasn’t at a fever pitch. I’m gonna look back at WRATH: Aeon of Ruin.

Developed between small indie studio KillPixel Games and slightly larger studio Slipgate Ironworks, and published by 3D Realms – the new one ran by Fredrik Schrieber, not the old one that gave us Duke Nukem Forever – the game initially came out in Steam early access in November 2019, the game went through a dormant dry spell before finally being released in February of 2024, nearly five years later.

A friend had gifted me the game back during that early access period, and I was… pretty darn harsh on the game. To quote my now out of date Steam review from that time:

This game, on the other hand, has problems. Lots of questionable design decisions that don’t make sense. Enemies that take too much damage, on arenas where circlestrafing is not an option. An unwieldy inventory system which is counter-intuitive to the style of gameplay this wants to emulate. And whoever thought that reviving the “save gem” concept from Daikatana was a good idea needs to be smacked in the head with a baseball bat […] I cannot recommend the game in the current state it’s in. It needs some balancing adjustments to be mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned retro FPS throwbacks.

This game definitely didn’t have it’s balance set correctly in 2019. (Taken from the Early Access period.)

Basically I lauded the look and style of the game, while also feeling the gameplay needed some improvement. By 2019, the concept of a retro FPS/boomer shooter requires a type of finesse to make it stand out from the others. A lot of New Blood’s work, like DUSK or Amid Evil, is a good example of this. This is more important 2024, when we’re in peak Boomer Shooter Heaven, where everybody’s getting in on the craze. So let’s see how KillPixel and Slipgate Ironworks did to improve from their early access version.

I feel like I’m crossing the River Styx.

A quick story primer: You play as the Outlander, an unknown figure who meets with The Shepherd of Wayward Souls, where one must find the sigils of an area before fighting a big boss at the end of three episodes. The Outlander transports to levels and defeats any monsters in their way to get the sigil at the end. Basically a little bit HeXen, a little bit Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, with a pinch of Blood and Quake for flavor. (Fitting, since WRATH is made on DarkPlaces, a source port of Quake’s engine.)

Sharp. Pointy. Zoomy.

Much like other boomer shooters, the Outlander has a myriad of weapons at their disposal. First is the Blade of Ruination, a good go-to melee that also has an alternate fire where you lunge forward, which is great for getting past gaps and doing massive damage to certain foes. Then there’s your usual FPS arsenal of a handgun, a double-barrel shotgun, a “Fang Spitter,” which amounts to the game’s rapid-fire automatic weapon, an acid-spitting launcher and even a railgun equivalent. There’s other weapons too, but most of these are in those early episodes. All the weapons have an alternate fire that can be useful in sticky situations.

Celeste and my frustration with puzzle platformers.

You know, there’s a kind of genre I don’t quite get why people like it: The puzzle platformer. I’ve tried playing some of the ones so highly recommended to me, only to leave with frustration and disappointment. A lot of puzzle platformers get me so frustrated that it soured the overall experience for me. But there’s one I played recently that got me rethinking my outlook on this genre, transgender memes notwithstanding.

Celeste. The puzzle platformer from EXOK Games that came out on 2018 that has become a transgender allegory in recent years, due to some of the plot relating a lot to trans folk. Lead designer Maddy Thorson realizing her own trans journey through the game after the release probably helped a bit too. We always need more queer game designers, after all.

I’m not gonna get too much into the non-gameplay elements here. The art style’s cool by using pixel art in a way that’s unique without feeling too much like deliberate retro bait, Lena Raine’s soundtrack is tense yet touching at the right moments (and I never got to play any of the B-sides which also sound like a bunch of bangers), and the story is rather touching and something I can relate to as someone who struggles through life. But I wanna talk about this game further cementing my belief on puzzle platformers.

This part from Blood of the Werewolf still haunts me to this day.

When I mention I get frustrated by these kind of games, I’m not kidding. When I think about some of the action/puzzle platformers I played for the blog last year, like Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit and Blood of the Werewolf, I leave those games with frustration and anger. How one mistake will usually result in death, with little chance to redeem yourself. Some parts of these games are so malicious to the player that requires so much perfect timing that I’m surprised I haven’t thrown my controller into my computer screen after some of the bullshit I had to go through to beat it.

This is apparently the only screenshot of VVVVVV I took. Rather fitting, really.

But it doesn’t just apply to those mostly-forgotten niche platformers. It applies to the more popular ones as well. For example, I never finished the critically acclaimed VVVVVV. The gravity-shifting puzzle platformer with a pseudo-DOS art style and catchy chiptune music was an absolute chore to play at spots. A lot of hazards and pixel-perfect precision to make it across made it maddeningly to play, so much so that I only got about halfway through it before giving up on it.

Avenged Sevenfold’s “Free For All” in Fortnite, and a story about modern crossovers.

You know, for a few years I had no interest in Fortnite. I played it a bit here and there, but mostly thought of it as a thing that wasn’t really for me, that whole building-while-shooting being the biggest barrier to entry for me. Shoot a guy and suddenly they’ve built a whole castle for defense just feels old. Then developer Epic Games introduced Zero Build, which got rid of that. That, combined with Chapter 4: Season 1 introducing the Doom Slayer from Doom and Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher, were the moments whereme and my friends got hooked on Fortnite.

With Chapter 5: Season 1 currently going as I write this, where they introduced LEGO Fortnite (their rival to Mojang’s Minecraft), Rocket Racing (a racing mode by Psyonix, the makers of Rocket League) and Fortnite Festival (Harmonix bringing the Rock Band formula to Fortnite), I’ve basically abandoned my nature of being a gaming hipster and not following the current gaming trends to go for what amounts to the new hotness. Granted, Fortnite is 7 years old as of this writing, but I still think it’s the “in-thing”.

While Epic (and the myriad of studios they own) have been creating their own unique games within the system, I’d been curious what the Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN) worlds are like, where people can make their own creations within the Fortnite universe. Most of the time it’s ripoffs of existing games like Deathrun and Gun Game, but other times it’s filled with promotions by notable brands. Honda had a driving experience for one of their cars, for example. I remember playing an experience based on hip hop musician THE KID LAROI that was mostly forgettable. In this case, we get to talk about another notable musician who capitalizes on the hottest trends.

Avenged Sevenfold’s “We Love You” is what it says on the tin: A map featuring an arena from the music video of the titular song, released by the band back around summer 2023. This was hyped up through the band’s social media pages, with it being announced on January 12, 2024.

Now, Avenged Sevenfold is a band that I’m really only familiar with because of their ubiquitous appearances in rhythm games. I swear, every Guitar Hero and Rock Band game came with an Avenged Sevenfold song on the set list, which means I got to hear songs like “Almost Easy” and “Beast and the Harlot” a billion times. They’re a perfectly fine metal band otherwise, probably the modern day equivalent to what Metallica was back in the ‘90s: A metal band that’s just mainstream enough that even people not into the genre can enjoy them, but otherwise very shallow for anyone really well versed in the metal genre.

Some Stuff I Bought: The rest of 2023 edition.

Well, 2023 is almost over. It’s been a tough time around in my neck of the woods, which has affected me writing any substantial articles, and I apologize for this. I’ll try to get back into the swing of things in the new year.

For many years, I’ve documented the stuff I bought because I find it interesting. Around 2022 I started a new format where I post updates every June and December. Naturally, I’ve been keeping tabs of the stuff I bought throughout the year, and since we’re near the end I thought I’d give a recap. Lots of games and really… interesting things. At least to me, anyway.


My collection story resumes in August. My partner and I went to a fancy little restaurant for brunch with a few friends that used to be the home of a pharmacy long ago. So much so that the current owners have embraced that location’s past, which is pretty neat. Better than the sports bar motif it used to hold for a few years. After having brunch with a few friends downtown, me and my partner went to a nearby thrift store that’s about a block or two away from the nearby restaurant we went to. Sadly I didn’t grab a whole lot, but I did grab something that caught my eye:

50¢: Alistair MacLean’s Death Train by Alistair MacNeill

Okay, this one’s a doozy. Alistair MacLean was one of those notable thriller novelists. He passed away in 1987, but before he passed on, he made an outline for a new series of books about UNACO: the “United Nations Anti-Crime Organization.” He wrote the story ideas, of which other authors would put them into actual books. I thought this was unusual, but this is surprisingly more common than I thought. Such as novels in the Ubisoft Tom Clancy games would be written by other writers; or for a more recent example, William W. Johnstone’s books being continued by his daughter J. A. Johnstone.

I am not much of a fan of thriller novels, but I bought this book because I remember a TV movie adaptation released around 1993 called Detonator: Death Train. It starred a pre-James Bond Pierce Brosnan, Patrick Stewart towards the tail-end of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Alexandra Paul, Ted Levine, and freakin’ Christopher Lee. Pretty decent cast for a TV movie, honestly.

A trailer for the film that aired on USA Network around April 1993 (shown above) was being repeatedly promoted during USA Network’s 4-hour game show block that I had recorded around this time. Since I watched these tapes religiously when I was young, this particular promo has been burned into my brain. I eventually picked up a DVD copy of the film many years later and it’s a surprisingly alright movie, all things considered. It even got a sequel, Night Watch, which features a long-haired, handlebar mustachioed Pierce Brosnan. Bet it’s just as goofy as the first.

I bet the book itself is a decent read. If not, hey, it’s a paperback I spent fifty cents on. I’m always looking for things to read when I’m bored, and need something to pass the time besides scrolling on social media all day.

Mountain Dew Game Fuel: The triumphant return edition.

I never thought I’d ever come back to this again. The last article I ever wrote about video game food and drink was 2016, covering the previous iteration of this specific drink. I mostly left these behind because I felt like I was being a dime store Dinosaur Dracula with these kind of articles, and decided to write things of more substance.

But if Mountain Dew – sorry, MTN Dew – is gonna go for a throwback, then I will too. Only because it was once a time-honored tradition on my blog. In 2023, as a throwback to slightly better times, Mtn Dew brought back Game Fuel as a proper soda.

After 2017, which featured promotional flavors to advertise Forza Motorsport 7 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War, they temporarily retired the Game Fuel soda flavors. Around 2018, PepsiCo tried a stab at the burgeoning energy drink market. The new Game Fuel, now under their AMP brand, kept the yearly game promotional tradition, but I didn’t really dabble with those as I’m not really an energy drink person, if the two times I tried both Monster Energy and Red Bull are any indication. Though admittedly, I was tempted to grab them a few times. These did keep things going with yearly promotions with games like Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and the yearly Call of Duty installment, of which I really couldn’t tell you what they were like.

Presumably realizing the whole AMP Game Fuel thing was kind of a bust, Game Fuel returned as a special seasonal Mtn Dew flavor, much like LiveWire and WhiteOut before it. I was honestly surprised they were bringing it back, but with how the drink industry is, there’s always gonna be an audience who wants companies to bring back the Old Thing They Liked.

Now, the journey I went through to get these flavors was… quite an ordeal. While technology has gotten better in making it easier to find things like special flavors, getting both Game Fuel flavors was quite a challenge for me. After a thrift store trip earlier in the month, I waltzed into a 7-Eleven, expecting to grab the two flavors and be done with it. Sadly, the place only had one of the two flavors: The fan favorite Citrus Cherry. Using that fancy “Find your Dew” thing on the Mtn Dew website lead me to places pretty far away from where I lived.

Cut to a few days later. I check a local mom’n’pop convenience store and sure enough, they had both flavors. I grabbed a few bottles, of which the clerk had to use barcodes from Code Red to scan them in as Game Fuel wasn’t “in their system,” but it didn’t matter. I had finally grabbed the Game Fuel bottles for 2023, as you can see.

Just like old times.