The less realistic side of the FPS genre has always been my favourite, from Doom and Hexen through to, well, Doom again. So I didn’t really need much convincing to revisit Project Warlock now that it’s found its way to console.
I reviewed the original Project Warlock PC release back in early 2019, and I was really taken with the way it combined vintage graphics and old school level design to produce a real love-letter to the genre. So how does it hold up on console and, perhaps more importantly, on a gamepad?
The meat and potatoes of Project Warlock has not been tampered with, featuring the bonkers original storyline of your Warlock character travelling through time to kill off a succession of big bad bosses from Lovecraftian behemoths to Satan himself. Old school gamers will be pleased to hear that this narrative all very much takes a backseat to the action itself, with the only real storytelling being found on victory screens between each stage. Stages are made up of a number of levels with regular breaks in the action to return to your workshop and level up.
At first, you’ll find Project Warlock a hard experience, as you learn the levels and select your first few upgrades. Every level is littered with secrets which are well worth seeking out as they often reward you with upgrade points and experience in the form of treasure. This approach really makes the collecting feel an integral part of the game and definitely encourages a thorough search of each level. I’d recommend upgrading your axe to heal with each hit as this can help both save ammo and keep your health topped up.
Your status as a warlock means that you don’t just have an arsenal of weapons to hand, but also a range of magic spells. I tended to favour the boomsticks over the broomsticks but there is clearly the potential for some very different builds. Even sticking to the guns gives you a good range of options, with a suitably meaty shotgun and more futuristic lasers to be found. The gradual unlock of these weapons keeps you interested and helps to give each level a more distinct feel; fighting through a medieval castle with a railgun would be a bit weird.
Now, the vintage visual stylings obviously weren’t going to pose much of a challenge for current gen consoles, and so the main concern was always going to be whether the jump from mouse and keyboard to controller would be a negative one. We’ve had plenty of first person shooters on console now that it shouldn’t be, but you never know. Thankfully, so long as you select the vertical lock in the options to keep your sights centred on a horizontal plane, it all works an absolute treat.
If you’re a fan of traditional FPS games, then Project Warlock is a must buy. I love the retro aesthetics but even if they aren’t your cup of tea, then the game itself contains more than enough fun and challenge to make it worth your while. All in all, a cracking port of a great game.