Nostalgia is becoming a true video game seller when you think about all of the remade games coming out lately, and Voidpoint is no stranger to this. The development studio has paired up with 3D Realms, the publisher behind games such as Duke Nukem 3D and Max Payne, to create Ion Fury; the brand new game attempting to capture that same style, reminiscent of the iconic first person shooters that led the genre to be where it is today.
Ion Fury, initially known as Ion Miden before litigation concerns, puts you in the shoes of Shelly, the badass female protagonist who must defeat an evil cult leader bent out to take over Neo D.C. You are tasked with traversing through this futuristic environment to defeat a seemingly endless wave of cyber baddies to save your city. The depth of the narrative pretty much ends there, but the story is obviously not the main focus for this game. This is, instead, more about the combat and exploration of the world itself.
For those who are familiar with titles such as the original Doom or Wolfenstien, this will feel right at home. Visually, it is the most obvious way these titles parallel each other. The game is in a 3D space that you can walk through but still has a very 2D look and feel. Objects in the game will feel very flat at times but in an almost charming sort of way. It showcases an impressive technique for games back in that era. However, cut back to 2019 and the game does not offer much more than that from a visual perspective. To an avid fan of the titles mentioned previously, this can seem quite appealing (I know first hand) but for those not familiar, it can be a bit gritty or lackluster when compared to capabilities today.
From a combat perspective, this is a fairly straight forward shooter that can have some challenging moments when playing on the highest difficulty. But with a number of difficulties to choose from, it does give you options for those who might not want too much of a challenge. There is also a fairly broken pistol that you have at the start which can automatically shoot headshots when charged. Ease of game aspects aside, the game does contain a variety of weapons from shotguns to grenades that you throw like a bowling ball. Pair this with a number of enemy types that contain all the same weapons; as well as a few uncommon foes equipped with weapons such as drones with creepy heads shooting lasers and savage beasts that will get right in your face. This combination makes for a great variety of opportunities to have a fun time and experiment with all the different weapon types, finding ways to mow down the competition.
Another call back to those older games is the placement of secrets throughout each level, and man are there a lot of them! These can sometimes be obvious with visual cues like cracks in the walls, or more hidden such as a door opening on the other side of the map when pressing a switch. Regardless of where they are, rest assured; it is no walk in the park to find all of them. It felt pretty rewarding when finding one since I would often leave levels with a reminder stating that I had more than 10 secrets still waiting for me to discover. It pushes you to look at vents and air ducts with suspicion and an eagerness to search through every nook and cranny.
Unfortunately, even though there were a number of great elements to this game, I think one of the things I struggled the most with was its pacing. The game had such an odd placement for when you would find new weapons or enemies, that it can often times feel quite stale. The end of zone 1 is a great example when you end up finding a majority of the guns in the game right before the first boss fight. There are a few other weapons, and through the game you also find new enemy types scattered about, but it just did not feel like it was spaced out well enough to really keep my interest. The later levels felt way too long for me to just kill more and more of the same enemies with the same endless loop of find a key card, triggering more enemies to spawn.
This lack of variation was a true shame because for the first couple of hours I really enjoyed playing through the game and exploring this world. The environment is riddled with interesting jokes and story elements hidden in posters and notes on desks that kept me searching the area for awhile. But as things started to repeat, I felt myself rushing through areas just to get to the next boss, which is where I had the most fun. These parts felt much more challenging and unique in comparison to the level exploration. Perhaps spreading more bosses throughout levels or shorter zones could have made the pace between each area feel less arduous.
Cheats and the audio did add to this game positively though. As much as I love a good challenge, one of my favorite parts of old school games like this is the God Mode cheat. Replaying a section where my character is invincible and seeing how fast I can zip through a level was actually pretty fun. Pair that with the rocking soundtrack and I often found myself jamming out and having a good time in between the levels that went on a tad long.
For those who are already hardcore fans of similiar games to this genre, this is exactly what you are looking for; more of the same game to love and explore with a new environment and story. However if you don’t have the same nostalgic feeling, this might be a bit of a different story. This is not a bad game by any means but it does not do anything to add to the genre that it is inspired by. I had a good time with many elements of the game but overall I felt it could have been a bit more polished in variation and pacing.