We Are Doomed: Hands on with a giant laser [Preview]

We Are Doomed: Hands on with a giant laser [Preview]


Interesting game visuals will always stop me dead in my tracks at trade shows. That was the case with We Are Doomed at PAX East; no sooner did I walk past the small booth where it was located at that I pivoted off of my right foot like Jordan under the net to get a better look at the game. It was bright, it was colorful, and it looked like total anarchy taking place during an acid trip.

Yes, it was right up my alley.

We Are Doomed, by one-man developer Vertex Pop, is at its base a twin stick shooter. Instead of launching projectiles we’re tasked with wielding a giant laser beam to wipe out enemies. As we collect the trinkets and powerups that remain behind, our beam becomes longer and more powerful. It’s not a new concept, yet we approach it far differently than other genre games. Doomed isn’t a bullet hell game, instead forcing us to balance avoidance with attack.

The demo forces me to be much more aggressive than in similar games. I’m seeking out enemies to destroy, as opposed to staying back and shooting blindly. My movements are deliberate, my management of the space around me is of maximum importance. With my shorter laser I’m forced in close, and as I grow it I can start to back off and play defensively. The game plans for this, altering enemy behaviors to keep me moving around the screen. Every once in a while, when I’ve saved up enough power, I can unleash a Super Beam, wiping out mass numbers of enemies at once to clear the board.

But then they start again, and I’m back to trying to survive. Thankfully, Waves Mode allows me to restart a checkpoint when I most definitely get overwhelmed, but the game’s other play mode, Endless, isn’t so forgiving.

What makes the game really interesting is how everything from gameplay to visuals ties together thematically, and how that affects me. In fact, I joke during my demo that Doomed may be perfect for coming home from a long office day, getting a little inebriated, and chilling out.

The visual design is best described as “Lo-Fi”, not necessarily “retro”. It still feels like playing a classic arcade game, but not one that is purposely trying to recreate those aesthetics. Instead, it uses procedurally generated polygons and shapes to create the world and enemies. This makes the game lightweight, quick and smooth, and by letting the code do the work it also lets it be as colorful as it wants to. That means each play session will be unique. Couple that with synthy chill music and sound effects, and the game seems to put us in an almost Tron-like world.


We Are Doomed — which, by the way, is a fantastic name for a game — seems like it could end up being an enjoyable twin stick experience. It offers minimal padding, instead focusing on the essentials of the genre while asking us to balance aggression and defense. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it again, hopefully with a beer or two next to me for full effect.

We Are Doomed arrives in April on PS4, Xbox One and the Humble Store.