Animal Crossing New Horizons and 2016’s Doom have something in common: they’re both perfect games for this moment in time. Also, both their soundtracks kick ass.

Recently, I was going through my backlog of games and came across id Software’s Doom reboot. I had picked up the game on release, but never got into it. I knew it reviewed well, but every time I got a few minutes in, I started getting motion sick — something that’s only happened with one other game (The Witness).

But I’m stuck inside without much to do and I wanted to give Doom a proper shot. So, I did some research and it turns out the developers updated the game with some visual settings to solve the motion sickness issue. All I had to do was crank the field of view option to 110 and turn the motion blur to the lowest possible setting. That seemed to do the trick, and I was free to wage Doom‘s particular brand of monster-slaying chaos from Mars to Hell and back again.

A Great Escape

Doom games
Source: Bethesda

What I discovered is that the original reviews of the game were correct and I’d been missing out. Id Software nailed the gameplay. Movement is fast and effortless, as are the light platforming elements. Action is satisfying and precise in a very classic arcade sort of way. Doom uses movement and momentum to drive the action and make the player feel like an expert. The levels are stuffed full of challenges, secret areas, and collectibles that perfectly walk the line between being well-hidden and not too difficult to find. Once you find each level’s map info, getting all the collectibles is just a matter of finding the right ledges to jump on.

When Animal Crossing came out, it was just when people were beginning to feel cooped up, isolated, and stressed. It provided a simple escape where players could design houses, meet up online with their friends, and explore an island all from the safety of their own home. Plus, the peaceful soundtrack provided a sense of calm and relaxation.

Now, months into quarantine with a major civil rights movement underway, I still need the occasional escape. Only this time, I want something a little different. What Doom provides is catharsis. It is pure, uninhibited nonsense and it gives players a sense of control when things feel like they’re uncontrollable.

A Relaxing Trip to Hell

Doom Games
Source: Bethesda

The game’s story is exactly the type that lets you turn your brain off and listen to a podcast while you play without losing the character’s main motivation (killing demons because demons are bad).

Essentially, a company has moved to Mars to search for a solution to Earth’s energy crisis (of course). They open a portal to Hell and discover they can refine pure Hell energy into clean, reliable Argent energy (obviously). But the company is betrayed by an employee and it’s up to a character named Doom Slayer to, well, slay the monsters (who could have guessed).

That’s not to say the writing is bad. It’s just that what you see is what you get. And what you get is pure, campy science fiction. I’s silly and it’s fun and it’s exactly the type of story I was craving.

Doom’s soundtrack fits its setting perfectly. Composed by Mick Gordon, it matches the gameplay to a tee. It’s as chaotic and fast as the action and it helps the player get lost in the game. In an interview with PC Gamer back when Doom was released, Gordon discussed trying to make a unique soundtrack for the game. It came down to a mix of classic metal, heavy synths, and kick drums. And it works.

Right now, the big game is The Last Of Us Part 2. It’s a game that tries to tell a nuanced story about complicated people in an apocalyptic setting. It’s one of the best-selling games of the year and it’s the last thing I want to play right now.

That’s not to say that I haven’t played games with stories that have had profound impacts on me. But right now, all I want out of a video game is an escape. And Doom provides.

Pick it up, listen to a podcast, and blast the hell out of demons. And for more news and features, check back at Mendax Games.




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