“Mighty Doom” Review
Under normal circumstances, there’s no reason to read a review of a free game (and thus no reason to write one). Reviews are supposed to tell you whether you should spend your money on something. If a game is free, you can just try it for yourself.
But along with advising you to buy something that’s good, or warning you not to buy something that’s bad, reviews are also supposed to expose you to good things you might not know about. Which is why I wrote this review of Mighty Doom (iOS, Android). After the debacle that was Diablo Immortal — by which I mean the way people overreacted to its monetary aspects, not the game itself, the game was good — I worry that some people view think this arcade shooter, which is also a mobile version of a console / PC game, is just as a cash grab, and thus miss out on all of its gun-ny goodness.
Inspired as much by the original Doom…
and the recent Doom and Doom Eternal as it is by such classic arcade games as Robotron, et al., Mighty Doom is a linear, top-down arcade shooter that has you killing any and all of the demonic creatures that made the mistake of being in the same rectangular space as you.
But while it’s as bloody and gory as Doom Eternal, and in some of the same ways (which we’ll get to), the character designs are cutesy, like a Funko toy. Or, more accurately, one by Numskull.
Similarly, the action is deceptively simple. The Mini Slayer shoots non-stop, and always towards the nearest enemy. But you also have secondary and tertiary attacks, which need to recharge. In the case of the former, this takes time, but gives you a powerful gun like a rocket launcher to splatter your enemies. In the case of the latter, your Ultimate Attack, this takes bodies, with every demon you kill bringing you closer and closer to the moment when you can, say, jump from enemy to enemy, sword first, like you’re Batman fighting bad guys in Arkham City…if Batman used swords…and killed people.
Adding some challenge to all of this bloodshed, you only gain health mid-battle if you stun an enemy and then use your wrist-mounted blade to perform a Glory Kill (which, of course, happens automatically when you’re in close proximity). Otherwise, you have to wait until you’ve cleared a level and reaped the rewards, or you meet a Night Sentinel, who grants you your choice of boosts, which can include restoring some of your health. Or, if you don’t need it, increasing your damage.
These kind of power upgrades happen a lot in Mighty Doom, and you’re often given a choice of which to utilize. Sometimes, like in old arcade shooters, they will cause you to shoot dual bullets, or a wide spread of them, while others make them bounce around or chase after specific enemies.
Though if given the option, pick “Pierce,” which makes bullets pass through enemies and into anyone standing behind them. Unless, of course, you prefer demons who don’t look like Swiss cheese.
It also helps that the levels in Mighty Doom,
though narrow (they’re as wide as the screen), can get rather elaborate. Not only do some have built-in hazards — moving saw blades, spiked floor panels — but they also have mini-portals that transport you to different spots, as well as those platforms that fling you across the room. There are even barriers that can keep you, and your enemies, apart, making some levels a bit maze-like…unless, of course, you shoot them until they break apart.
You also only see part of the battlefield at any given time, as each level is much longer than your screen can accommodate. As a result, you cay be attacked from all sides if you’re not careful. Thankfully, though, your bullets don’t have an “out of sight, out of mind” approach, which means that if you move away from an enemy, you can still hit them, and kill them, when you lose line of sight.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Doom if it didn’t also have the usual cast of characters. By which I mean all the weird demonic creatures we’ve been shooting from the first-person perspective since 1993. And while the Mighty Doom‘s viewpoint may be aerial, and the character designs are cutesy, you’ll still recognize such familiar faces as the imp, the Mancubus, and everyone’s favorite Madball, the Cacodemon, all of whom act the same here as they do in the bigger games.
Mighty Doom gets mighty bloody. When performing a Glory Kill, the Mini Slayer turns into Jackson Pollack, splattering blood and body parts anywhere and everywhere. And it gets even more artistic when you run into one of the bosses, who are so strong they don’t need any help from their minions. Which may be why, when you defeat them, you’re rewarded with a quick video of you showing the studio audience how your wrist-mounted blade is as sharp as a Ginsu knife.
Oh, and this is cool. Enemies drop coins when they die, as well as boosters. But you don’t have to pick them up. In fact, you can’t. Instead, they come to you when the coast is clear.
As for how it’s structured, Mighty Doom has nine chapters, with 40 levels each, save for the fifth, “Nekravol,” which is just 20. When you play, you start at the beginning of a chapter, and work your way through all 40 (or 20) levels; doing so, unlocks the next chapter. Fail to reach the end, though, and the next time you start back at level 1. Of the chapter; not the game. The developers just hang out with demons, they’re not demons themselves.
Of course, all of this would be moot if Mighty Doom‘s controls didn’t work right, which is not always a given when it comes to mobile games and virtual joysticks. By giving you just one, and not requiring you to reload or grab ammo or even aim, this may simplify things quite a bit, but it also makes it work rather well.
So much so, in fact, that Mighty Doom quickly becomes a rather frantic but additive arcade shooter, one that will scratch any itch you may have for old school gun games, or modern ones (this is very Fastlane: Road To Revenge), as well as that hard-to-reach spot on your back where your Cacodemon tattoo would go if you ever got one. Especially when you’ve got a bunch of boosts all loaded up and are mowing guys down like, uh, you’re a lawnmower and they’re blades of grass.
This, of course,
brings us to the monetary aspects. As you’d expect from a free-to-play mobile game, Mighty Doom has microtransactions. Using coins and gems, you upgrade your Mini Slayer, his weapons, and his armor, or keep going when you die and want to keep going, or when you die a second time and want to play again. And said currency can be earned by playing, watching optional ads, or bought with real money, save for the one used to start a new game, they recharge over time.
But while this might sound like a lot of expenditures to someone who doesn’t play mobile games, and is used to paying once for a game and then never again until, say 18 years later, they put out a kick ass upgraded version, Mighty Doom isn’t all that greedy. But take it from a professional — by which I mean someone who reviews mobile games for a living, and for a site that makes me note all the ways they can take your money — this ain’t greedy at all. Your game is never interrupted by an ad you can’t skip, there’s no banner ads running along the top or bottom of the gameplay screen, and no ads pop up when you go from one part of the menu to another. All of which I’ve seen in other mobile games; often in the same game. Compared to them, Mighty Doom is downright polite. Which is funny when you consider that the narrator sounds like General Grievous if he was trying to sound tough to impress Padme.
It’s why I was able to play Mighty Doom for hours on end without once feeling pressured, or the need, to spend any money on it. Y’know, like I did with Diablo Immortal.
Now, as much fun as I had playing Mighty Doom, there were times I wished things had been different. For starters, while I appreciate the single virtual joystick and “shoot everything that moves” approach, I think it might’ve been more exciting, and interesting, if this used the dual control approach of a twin stick shooter, with one controlling the direction he’s moving, and the other controlling the direction he’s shooting. Or at least offered it as an option.
Similarly, as good as the virtual joystick may work, a real controller — like, say, the one that comes with a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S — would’ve been even better. Though I’m not holding my breath; I’m still waiting for 2015’s Halo: Spartan Strike to make that jump.
I also wish most of the chapters weren’t 40 levels long, but instead that there were fewer levels but more chapters. Though I say that as someone who’s rather Lisa Simpson-ish when it comes to difficulty: I want a challenge, but a challenge I can do. (And as someone who, at the time he wrote his review, didn’t have access to the “Events” section, in which runs are just 20 levels long, and reset after a couple hours.)
But as is so often the case with a game I really like,
mobile or otherwise, these are just minor quibbles, ones that didn’t stop me from playing Mighty Doom when I should’ve been working or sleeping or reading a book. Thanks to some fun power-ups, some intricate battlefields, and some familiar faces, this arcade shooter is full of fast and frantic firefights that, yeah, rival those of its older, bigger siblings.