The thing about the Doom Guy, right, is that he travels to Hell and reduces everyone he meets there to gibs. The thing about Mario, right, is that he travels to a world that looks like a cupcake and then he collects a bunch of golden coins and hoots with happiness. No matter. I was stirred out of my Bethesda stupor about two thirds of the way through the publisher’s E3 conference last night when Doom Eternal had its moment. I had a moment at the same time, and the moment involved realising this: I know this is weird, but Doom Eternal really reminds me of Mario.
Firstly, Doom Eternal looks wonderful. It looks glorious. In amidst the rest of Bethesda’s stuff, some of which looked great, Doom Eternal felt like it might have been a product, not of a different publisher, but of a different universe. Everything was so smooth and brisk and colourful and cheerful. Forget trailers, here was the live game speaking for itself, and it was speaking of a world of endless movement and momentum, where no pleasure was reserved for the skill tree, where nothing was waiting for this unlock or that trigger point, where everything good was happening right now.
I think this is the first part of what makes Doom Eternal feel, to me at least, like a Nintendo joint. Sure Doom is about violence, but Doom Eternal is really about movement, I would suggest, about mantling and bouncing and swinging from one spar of scorched earth to the next, landing, occasionally, in the warm puddle of someone’s head. These are worlds that come to life when you are in motion, and when you are in motion you bring everything in the world into focus. Doom Guy, like Mario, is the conductor, the timeline racing through the notes and staves and turning it into music.
And then, look at the places you’re travelling through. Doom Eternal is so colourful. Sure, a lot of it is red, because Mars, because Hell, but it’s the red of tomato sauce, of luminous paint. Doom Eternal’s levels bubble and boil and spurt like the whole thing is made of cookery. There is a delight in colour and texture here that feels like the sort of thing you get in Mario. Damned fortresses look like they could be gingerbread floating in raspberry coulis. The enemies, who are the spawn of Satan, okay, look like they’re made of the same stuff Percy Pig is made of. They look like chews. It’s a pick ‘n’ mix apocalypse. An apocan’mix. (Sorry.)
I guess what’s really dawned on me is that id Software has followed the fun on Doom to the point where it’s all become kind of jolly and even cute. Sure you have a chainsaw and there are bullets flying all over the place and the lord of darkness approaches, but there’s no need to get down about it, right? Bounce onwards, grab a fresh enemy to pull apart, glory at the high colour UI and the stars glinting above and the magma bubbling below. Woo-hoo!