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Game Info:

Amid Evil
Developed By: Indefatigable
Published By: New Blood Interactive
Released: June 20, 2019 (PC); coming 2020 (Switch)
Available On: Switch, Windows
Genre: Action-Adventure; First-Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: M for Mature: Blood and Gore; Intense Violence
Number of Players: single player
Price: $19.99
(Humble Store Link)

We’re in the timeline where people are starting to make spiritual successors to all of those retro first-person shooter games that shaped the genre to what it is today. Don’t get me wrong, I do love many modern shooters out there, but there is something special about the ones that were released back in the distant ‘90s. They just scratch that itch that games like Halo, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, Counter-Strike, and so on just miss out on. There are dozens upon dozens of Doom homages and Doom WADs (Wheres All the Data?) out there but Doom wasn’t the only retro FPS out there. What about Quake, or Hexen/Heretic, or even Blood?

Amid Evil remembers that it wasn’t just Doom that shaped the FPS genre. Amid Evil, by Indefatigable, is a retro-inspired FPS that blends the movement and feel of Quake and taking the setting and scenery of Hexen and manages to do something of its own. The narrative starts with evil (dubbed the Evil Force) having already won. They’ve taken over the seven sacred worlds. Many heroes and warriors have attempted to save them—all have failed. Recently, a distinct warrior from a distant world has successfully traversed the Black Labyrinth and obtained its prize, the Axe of the Black Labyrinth, acing as a symbol and key allowing him to travel to and from the corrupt worlds. The Ancients have dubbed thee, The Champion.

The Gateway of the Ancients acts as the hub world of Amid Evil. You will choose the difficulty by walking through specific gates, with each path acting as an interesting obstacle as to what to expect. Easy is a simple path to the portal that will lead you to the levels, while Hard is a small platforming section. Each difficulty either increases or decreases the number of enemies in a level. There is a fourth semi-secret Evil difficulty that does require some finesse to find the secret entrance to it. It’s for a good reason too because not only does Evil further increase the number of enemies in a level, it also increases enemy movement and a few other things. It’s no wonder they tucked it away.

Each world is divided into an episode that includes three levels and a boss. The first two levels must be done in order, while the other four can be done in any order of your choosing. The last world is only accessible by completing the six previous worlds. Worlds and levels start rather simple and start to get complex and huge in the later parts. Every world looks different from each other as well. Astral Equinox, the first world you access has you going through temples and caves, while The Forges starts in a murky and foggy outside and ends with you in an industrial refinery. Every level is wonderfully crafted and contains huge arenas where you get swarmed by enemies and tight corridors with enemy placements that halt your progress. Most levels have switches that you simply run into to activate platforms or bridges, and keys that unlock doors, giving you a valid excuse to explore these wonderfully-crafted levels.

Amid Evil
Highlights:

Strong Points: Huge expansive levels; every weapon is a joy to use and unique from each other; enemies are wonderfully designed; great sound design in both music and sound effects
Weak Points: Some of the later platforming sections can be a bit bothersome; the Star of Torment weapon can be a bit overpowered against bosses
Moral Warnings: Incredibly violent, ranging from body explosions, the staining of the enemies blood to the walls, bisecting, decapitation, and impalement of enemies to walls; huge usage of magic with some being occult (in the context of the game)

Amid Evil wouldn’t be a Quake spiritual successor if it didn’t have a bunch of secrets to find. Some of these secrets can range from pretty simple finds to “How did he even think of that?” I still haven’t found every secret. Most secrets give you earlier access to weapons that you would find later on in a level, health pickups, or the scarce powerups, which only a few are found throughout the entire journey, and even less so on higher difficulties. Even the boss levels have secrets to find.

Taking queues from Hexen and Heretic, Amid Evil’s weapons are different from the average FPS. Instead of guns like a pistol, machine gun, shotgun, and rocket launcher, The Champion uses mystical weapons of great power because a mere bullet isn’t going to stop some of these nasty enemies. The introduction weapon is the Axe of the Black Labyrinth. The very prize that The Champion received from the Black Labyrinth is his go-to melee weapon. What makes this melee weapon useful beyond the first level compared to may other weapons is that it “senses evil.” With the swing of the weapon, it will bring enemies right in front of your face to be swiftly chopped down. The enemies will come to you, making the axe an ever-useful tool for more situations than you realize.

The second weapon obtained is the Staff of the Azure Orb, a staff that shoots homing orbs. It does decent damage but is best used against flying enemies. The third weapon obtained is the Whisper’s Edge, a sword that shoots wide beams that have a bit of crowd-control with it striking multiple enemies. The fourth weapon is the Voltride, a trident that shoots lightning and has the unique property of being able to overcharge an enemy. Every weapon has an overkill feature, which for the most part is just a more exaggerated form of killing. The Voltride is pretty unique in that regard that its overkill serves a purpose. Any enemy overkilled by the Voltride will have the lightning dispersed to nearby enemies, also making them explode.

The fifth weapon obtained is the Celestial Claw, a creepy dark staff that pulls planets from random timelines and dimensions, shrinks them down, and shoots them at the enemy. If that isn’t the absolute coolest thing any piece of media has done, I don’t know what else to say. It’s pretty much the rocket launcher of Amid Evil—and with it being Quake inspired that does mean you can rocket jump. I guess, in this case, it would be “planet hopping” instead. The sixth weapon (and my personal favorite), is the Star of Torment. Anyone familiar with the Flak Cannon will understand its function. This mace-like weapon shoots dense crystal shards at enemies, being very devastating at close ranges. The final weapon, and the strongest of them all, is the Aeturnum. It’s the strangest looking weapon out of the bunch too. It’s more or less the BFG9000. If you want a lot of enemies dead, it will not disappoint, but its ammo is also the rarest to come across.

It doesn’t end there with these crazy weapons! Each weapon has an alt-fire, activated with Soul Power. Every enemy in the game when killed drops souls, and when you have enough, with the simple press of the right mouse button, actives Soul Mode, empowering all of your weapons. Your Axe of the Black Labyrinth becomes this mashup of a drill and chainsaw, tearing through anyone in its path. The staff of the Azure Orb releases a stream of orbs that liquify enemies into water. Whisper’s Edge’s projectiles become larger, pierces through enemies, and bounces off of walls. Voltride lets out a continuous beam of electricity and automatically overcharges every enemy. Celestial Claw decides it needs slightly more power and instead shoots [i]Suns[/i] that also have a much larger explosion radius. Star of Torment takes a page from the Azure Orb and gains homing properties. These shots also split into shards that target more enemies. And now you’re wondering how can the Aeturnum be powered up, it already kills everything, right? Well, in this case, Aeturnum now shoots [b]black holes[/b]. It’s when you want enemies to become extra dead—and believe me, it does come in handy.

Enemies are a cornerstone of almost any FPS. Bad enemy design or bad AI can sour the experience. Amid Evil has unique enemies for every world, which not even Doom or Quake have. One world has a melee enemy called the Sun Seeker that is pretty similar to the first enemy you encounter in the game, but this enemy instead jumps towards you. Alone, these enemies are weak and die very easily, but it is when they are either in packs or combined with other enemy types that they become the most dangerous enemies in the game. The enemy AI from what I’ve seen also actively tries to dodge your attacks. In most cases, enemies would simply run headfirst into certain death but there are many instances in which these enemies will sidestep your weapons. The fact that each world has different enemies and the combinations of these enemy placements are done with such care and thought that makes every encounter just as enjoyable (or heart-racing) as the last.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 96%
Gameplay 19/20
Graphics 9/10
Sound 10/10
Stability 5/5
Controls 5/5

Morality Score - 60%
Violence 0/10
Language 10/10
Sexual Content 10/10
Occult/Supernatural 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

Another thing that I cannot stress enough is the sound design for enemies. Every enemy has unique sounds for their movement, their attacks, and even their deaths. Distinct sound is crucial for fast-paced games as people react faster to sound queues than they do for visual queues and the fact that Indefatigable understood this shows that he knows his work. The musical score is also great. It isn’t a heart-pumping soundtrack like most of its genre, instead aiming for ambiance. These are strange, mystical worlds that The Champion is going through so the music echos through your speakers, immersing you in its magic.

Now with it being a retro FPS means that its visual style will reflect it. Yes, Amid Evil uses low polygon textures— and yes it is a cost-cutting measure, but just because it doesn’t have the graphical fidelity of modern FPS's out there doesn’t mean that it is bad. Amid Evil is a colorful game and the low-quality textures work out in its favor. The enemies may not be any more detailed than an N64 game, but I think it makes the enemies feel all that more alien. The usage of lighting and shading are expertly done, and when you look closer, all of the weapons are spites—and they look amazing. The developer is also implementing RTX (ray tracing) features for people with more modern Nvidia graphics cards so the shading and textures look even better. As of the moment of this review, the RTX is in its beta features and only available for Steam. The later levels also get ridiculous in its design and are a spectacle to behold.

Getting to the moral warnings, Amid Evil is a hyper-violent game, not to the surprise of many. Enemies that you wouldn’t even expect to bleed can potentially explode into a bloody mess with stains left on the walls and pools of blood on the ground. With the overkill feature, enemies explode, are decapitated, bisected from the torso, crucified to walls, and disintegrated. The Champion can be on the receiving end of violent deaths too. He can be squished or crushed, burned, sliced in half, and explode.

When going through the lore, there are many statements to magic, supernatural elements, and occult mentions, in the context of Amid Evil. Pretty much everything, either used by the enemy or yourself is imbued with magic. An entire world has The Champion face off against mages and wizards, as well as their crystal beasts created by alchemy. The first world accessed is one half of the planet Astronmica, where inhabitants on the dark side worship the moon god. The other half is where the worshipers of the light side worship the sun god. The level of The Sacred Path contains wraiths as well as a being called shrubniggurath, which is not only a humorous plant-based pun but also a reference to the similarly-named deity of the Cthulhu mythos. Then there are the demons of the void, creatures of pure darkness and chaos. And a bit of a minor spoiler, after you defeat the final boss, The Ancients overseeing the whole thing invite you to chill with them for the rest of eternity.

I only wish I played Amid Evil sooner. Made mostly by one guy, with some assistance from his publishing team New Blood Interaction, Amid Evil is an excellent entry to the FPS genre and will gain a cult following if it already hasn’t done so. Nearly every part of this game is crafted with such care, love, and attention that it’s really hard to be unimpressed by it all if you have even the slightest interest in first-person shooters. Of course, it isn’t a perfect game with some platforming sections in the latter half being iffy and the Star of Torment being able to turn bosses into a joke. They are but very minor weak points in such a joyous adventure and there are many reasons to come back to it, from epic fights, finding the rest of the secrets (not just secret locations, but secrets as to how weapons interact with enemies too), trying out Evil difficulty which can prove to be a worthy challenge to even the best players, a horde mode where they shove you in an area and have you fight against every enemy in the game in random assortments for as long as possible, and a secret level that’s worth experiencing for the sheer hilarity of it all. There is also free DLC available called the "Ancient Alphas" that let you explore alpha levels and areas, as well as levels that were removed from the final product.

I love Amid Evil and could honestly say even more about it, but I think I’ve gone on long enough. For $20, it offers more than enough for the ride. I completely understand if the brutal violence and the multitude of supernatural elements happen to turn you away as it is quite a lot to take in. However, if you can get past that, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you like shooters and skip over this gem. Keep an eye out for the Switch version coming out sometime in 2020 if you’d prefer a more portable experience.

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Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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