Viscerafest — Pure Boomer (Zoomer?) Shooter done right
A challenging, faithful homage to the resurgence of fast-paced, pixelated arena shooters.
What is Viscerafest?
Move fast, shoot faster, dodge fastest. A brilliant neon purple alien opera where you bring the boot to a bunch of poor aliens before they bring it to you. And oh boy do they bring pain.
Difficulty and Enemy AI
Doesn’t do anything new, they beeline or hang back. But they do so at speeds cranked up to 13. I can’t stress this enough, this game is absolutely brutal at breakneck speeds.
hurr hurr me shoot and move fast boing boing.
Gun sounds are crunchy and punchy, visuals are bright neon pinks. A palatable selection to sample.
The problem with Boomer Shooters
To succulently put it, while other shooters encourage the practice of fast-circle strafing and constant movement, for Viscerfest, the difficulty is tuned such that the only alternative is death. Anything less than blistering speed and twitchy shots will result in grunts and lots of respawning.
It doggedly sticks to the template, bunny hopping is even integrated AS A MECHANIC. Not just an engine exploit but encouraged actively. That's about as old school homage as it gets.
Challengingly twitchy, punishing, tight and responsive movement as you weave in and out of cover, weaving melee attacks and tightly rationing your ammo while going berserk at the same time. The two parallels make for an oddly satisfying combat loop. Faithful to the mechanics of the time, what Viscerafest does is push the envelope to 13. It’s brutally challenging, and I found myself having to bring it down to the 2nd easiest difficulty (The normal one), just to keep my sanity. I know it sounds like hearsay. I play Doom on Nightmare and Ultrakill on Violent. But this thing kicks my ass. With a whole 3 extra difficulties above where I am, it’s definitely able to go even further beyond.
The game plays by its own drum. I was hot-swapping like a manic and doing fat DPS to the final boss, but because I didn’t stop to learn the patterns of how to avoid his damage, I still couldn’t beat him. I couldn’t just outskill the boss. I had to move to the beat of the game. I was pushed into a system of smart fast movement by the difficulty. It was definitely a challenge.
As you weave in and out of cover, sneak in melee attacks while you rain death from above. As you bunny hop your way through levels, eyes darting across the screen. This has to be the best pure, unfiltered Boomer shooter.
Doom and Ultrakill have loose roots in the genre by comparison, but purists would categorize Viscerafest in its own league. This is through and through a Boomer shooter, but this zoomer over here loves it as he zooms around.
Trial and error play a big role in the game, and there were some sections that were reminiscent of some early 90’s bullshit. Aka ambushed and dropped like a fly randomly. Walls that slide open and reveal… let’s just say I was sent back to my last checkpoint.
But despite ticking all the boxes and being faithful to the T to the Boomer shooter template, I still found the game lacking.
Don’t get it twisted, lacking doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun game. But it isn’t above criticism, and what it does right is not strong enough for me to ignore issues I have. But these issues stem from my personal take on the template the game sticks rigidly by. Circle strafing and holding down left click is why I had (Insert strong words) feelings on Amid Evil. Viscerafest is the best of an inherently flawed design.
Viscerafest reminds me of Dusk. Crunchy sound design and feedback can only go so far in hiding shallow gameplay. When circle strafing and holding left click is the most effective strategy, when enemies just beeline you without visibly interesting, gameplay altering differences in their AI, you have a mindless game. Aesthetically perhaps I’m growing weary of retro graphics, but paired with gameplay stuck in the old era, it just seems lazy to the untrained eye with no nostalgia from the past. It’s the “tried and true”, but tired template for a boomer shooter, with a fancy coat of paint. It’s an issue I take with most boomer shooters that try to relive the past without putting more thought into the combat. Amid evil was the most egregious between it and Dusk. Viscerafest is the best take I’ve seen, but the best of a flawed design.