Vomitoreum

PC, Linux

I am just made of wow. This game is something else, an astonishing creation, and it blows my mind how little coverage this game has received. Vomitoreum (and yes, it is spelt like that) is a grotesque first-person Metroidvania, made at the speed of Doom, featuring some extraordinary 2.5D sprite work inspired by the art of Polish painter, Zdzisław Beksiński.

It oozes with atmosphere from the very opening seconds, and for once that’s not a clumsy aphorism – this game is oozing from everywhere. Its chunky low-res backgrounds are remarkably evocative, contrasted with the 2D pixel weapons and enemies, all made far more sinister by a deeply uncomfortable score. It’s great.

While this controls like a classic 90s FPS, albeit with mouse-look and some special moves, the game itself avoids a few of the more traditional Doom-like aspects. Ammo is infinite, for instance, and remains so for all the new weapons you discover. Health isn’t picked up on the fly, nor restored by staying still, but rather recovered using rechargeable “batteries”, your collection of them growing as you explore and find secrets. Health also goes up in Metroid-like increments of 100, better equipping you for the tougher fights.

Exploration is also incremental, as you gain new abilities, from the inevitable (and welcome) double-jump, to the ability to change to a larval form to enter smaller spaces. Across its few hours, it delivers so well on that sense of progression, areas that were once scrupulously negotiated later leapt through with nary a care, as you dash about looking for new paths to advance.

Mercifully, enemies do not restore when you re-enter areas, which sounds like an omission given the format, but actually means the game simply never frustrates. You’re not dependent upon drops for health or ammo, so clearing an area turns it from gauntlet to pathway. The game is designed to be completed in just a handful of hours, and so this all leans into that sense of rapidity that is at the core.

Upgrades come thick and fast, but it’s still a game that merits not rushing to the end. There are many hidden secrets, and honestly, it’d be a crime not to take your time to take in how extraordinary it all looks. There’s such a range of locations, enemy types, and details of arcane horror.

A vomitorium, as you educated types will know, was not a place Romans liked to barf, but an entranceway that allowed a large number of people to pass. Vomitoreum, to the best of my extremely limited knowledge, would mean a place made of barf, and that seems extremely apposite here. It’s wondrously unpleasant, and a bloody fantastic shooter, with zippy movement and gruesome enemies. This is completely stunning. Oh, and the console command for godmode is just “god”, so God bless them for that.

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