Wrath: Aeon of Ruin Review

Check out our review of Wrath: Aeon of Ruin to find out what we thought about shooting and stabbing our way through a Quake-style romp.

The first hour or so of Wrath: Aeon of Ruin feels like being grabbed by a giant hand and tossed back into the mid-90s. id Software has released Quake, unleashing a whole new kind of hellish carnage that’s distinct from its call-to-fame Doom. If you were to tell me that Wrath: Aeon of Ruin came out a year or two after Quake, I’d believe you.

There’s good reason to believe so, any way. Wrath: Aeon of Ruin runs on a modified version of the very same engine as Quake – that ancient thing – so that you have the most authentic 90s experience imaginable, right down to having the game’s abstract name.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin Review

The classic shooter influence includes, of course, the ludicrous movement speed of your main character – a masculine shell called ‘the Outlander’ – who zips around at breakneck speeds to gun down distorted and disgusting enemies. So with that in mind, gone are the more modern worries of having to reload weapons, replaced by the very old worry of hunting for health items and armor to keep yourself alive.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin Review

Soon after your arrival at ‘The Isle of the Dead’, you are greeted by a strange being, who guides you to obtaining a sword. By presumably wrathful magic, the sword lets you lunge forward as if you’re being catapulted. This becomes a key aspect of the game’s platforming, which means that you frequently have to switch down to your sword and awkwardly clear platforming sections in first-person, all while enemies try to kill you.

When it comes to the real meat of the gameplay (and there’s a lot of meat, both literally and figuratively), Wrath: Aeon of Ruin hands you a variety of weapons and tosses you into gothic-slash-metal environs like medieval ruins and mystical desert tombs. In each of the game’s hub areas, you have access to five levels that you can play in any order. After beating these areas, you get to fight a boss, and then you move on to the next hub.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin Review

Your enemies range from the shambling undead to giant green pus-filled frog monsters to flying sting rays that shoot plasma balls at you, and of course, what looks like a multi-headed cacodemon. 

They’re all quite squishy to shoot and take a considerable bit of punishment before going down, even on easier difficulties. The lack of feedback for shooting them often makes it feel like they’re shrugging off your bullets, but if you truly believe in the power of friendship firepower, you can take them down and blitz across their corpses.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin Review

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin plays pretty much as you’d expect a Quake successor to play – you run and you gun until the gunning stops and then the running stops. There is, however, a modern twist to the affairs with an unorthodox save system. Quick saving in the game is tied to a consumable item that you can pick up while exploring the world, called the ‘Soul Tether’. This system is paired with ‘shrines’, which are single-use checkpoints you can activate at will in the game.

It’s an interesting system in theory, but a pain in practice. Save too frequently, and you’ll run out of Soul Tethers, jeopardizing future saving. Save too sparingly, and you’ll end up losing a lot of progress when you die. As the game only autosaves when you enter a level, you risk losing up to 45-60 minutes of gameplay time depending on when you saved.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin Review

Furthermore, when I say ‘save’, I mean ‘save’, not checkpoint. Your health, armor, and ammo are saved too, so when if you happened to save at a particularly bad time, you’ll have to go back to the Shrine save before that, or worse, to the last autosave.

It’s a mentally cumbersome system, but thankfully the game allows you an option in its settings that lets you save whenever you wish. This transforms the game, and so I suggest playing the game with the setting both on and off to see which version you prefer.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin Review

For all its ambition in scope, as well as its meticulous and elaborate level design, Wrath: Aeon of Ruin feels quite simple once the novelty wears off. There are only so many enemies in the game and only so many weapons.

You enter a level, you shoot, you check it off, and then you repeat for over a dozen other levels. This may have sufficed in the 90s, when Wrath: Aeon of Ruin’s graphics could have been considered groundbreaking enough to carry the game. In 2024, however, you’re looking at a very by-the-numbers boomer shooter experience.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin Review

I can only recommend Wrath: Aeon of Ruin to fans of 90s shooters who aren’t demanding much more than the experience they enjoyed back in the day. If you’d like that throwback, Wrath provides a solid shooting challenge with lovingly retro visuals.

Developer: KillPixel Games, Slipgate Ironworks
Country of Origin: United States, Denmark
Publisher: Whalestork Interactive, Fulqrum Publishing
Release Date: February 27, 2024 (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, Switch)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This review of Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher. The PC version of Wrath: Aeon of Ruin was played for this review.

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This Article was written by: Rahul Shirke