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Days Of Doom Review

It’s on random

Days of Doom is an unusual beast. It desperately wants to follow in the footsteps of Darkest Dungeon, a tactical turn-based roguelike that deals with the dreaded consequences of sending your chosen characters out on expeditions, where death means back to square one. Lithuanian studio SneakyBox crafted solid foundations in the process, but Days of Doom constantly feels as though there’s something missing compared to what it mimics. That’s not a slight on its attempt, more a harsh reality of the finer details needed to forge a title worthy of recommendation, and the consequences of falling short therein.

Zombie apocalypse clichés aside (survive, scavenge, reach sanctuary, etc.), the purpose of Days of Doom is to guide your chosen team of survivors across randomly created maps of various environments. You’ll be charting your own path through potential pitstops, keeping everyone alive and building up an inventory of items to return to camp with. If any (or all) of your chosen team die, then it’s back to the camp to start over with a new lot. Rinse and repeat as often as necessary. If, however, your clan returns, they’ll level up and prove a greater chance to survive future runs, leaving you with a choice. Do you gamble and go further in or play it safe and escape.

There are eight flavours of survivor to fight with, though only a small handful are available from the off. Each provide unique weapons, abilities, or bonuses when you take to the field of battle in turn-based combat,  with traditional gun and melee variety and a few others that dabble in magical properties. The Hydromancer, for example, can make use of their Aang inspired water physics to drown an area to slow enemies, while the Priestess can summon a shield to protect anyone from harm for a few turns. Every attacking mechanic can be used against the environment to destroy fire or acid barrels, and the more you work in tandem to make the most of every opportunity, the more likely you’ll survive to the next encounter.

Form ’em up, take ’em down

Enemies can come in a variety of interesting styles, from your typical garden zombie to a host of punk, magic, and monster variations. The further you go within a particular run, the more likely you’ll come across some devilish foes that will push your strategy to the limit. Luckily there are plenty of opportunities to uncover healing items and other such objects of worth to aid you. Though you’ll do better in the early runs to avoid too many enemy encounters, instead trying your luck with random situations involving empty camps, caves and the like. There’s every chance they may turn into a surprise attack, though a wise choice can result in some quality loot too.

A death run doesn’t spell disaster either. Every decision you make results in a splash of Renown, which can be spent on upgrades to a handful of buildings back at base. These can improve the amount of loot you can carry, how many survivors you can have in your party at one time, and general improvements to make life easier in later runs. Combined with whatever coin you can scrounge up, you’ll eventually have a good thing going to make future runs more cunning, taking a few extra chances on the right kind of incentives.

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Mechanically, Days of Doom is sound. Everything works as you would expect, and each battle you face will have you thinking instead of throwing caution to the wind. Visuals are ripped straight from the pages of a comic, with plenty of detail both in character and background elements, but this leads me back to that missing piece conundrum. All the while playing this, I couldn’t help but consider what might have been if a little more finesse, a splash of creativity, had enveloped the final package. The soundscape is also strangely barren, outside of a few grunts and a handful of backing tracks across each environment.

Be mindful, not all decisions made result in good things

Each of the eight classes, by design, are perfectly capable and provide enough differentiation, until you realise that every future rendition of said character class, that appear once your pre-existing one succumbs to the afterlife, change in name only. You might see a slight alteration here or there, in crit chance or speed, and maybe a collected rune or two will buff them in places, otherwise they all look, act and play the exact same no matter how many times they die. That might mean every future run will maintain a level of consistency, but I would have adored the chance to play with something truly different each run. I’m reminded of Void Bastards, where every death would lead to an entirely new character with quirks that could both help or hinder your next run. Something similar here may have done wonders.

The tone of the game never really knows what to settle on either, elements of grunge and darker themes permeated by metal-headbanger villains and magic. A step or two further in either direction, light-hearted or nightmare fuel, may have pulled Days of Doom up by the bootstraps and thrown it into a more inviting light. That’s not to take away from what’s otherwise a strategy title that has plenty to offer, but thematically it never leans far enough forward for it to engage the way it could have.

Final Thoughts

The missing ingredients within Days of Doom don’t spell disaster, as its strategy and randomised quests still hold plenty within. With a little added spice, it would have been an easy recommendation. As it stands, its solid but uninspiring tactical gameplay will appease those who pick it up, but Days of Doom can only float haphazardly across the sea of familiarity.

Reviewed on PS5 // Review code supplied by publisher

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Days Of Doom Review
These are the days of our zombie lives
A solid strategy experience isn’t quite enough to elevate Days of Doom past its more varied competition on the indie market, but there’s just enough meat on the zombie bones.
The Good
Impressive comic inspired visuals
Solid strategy gameplay
Randomised level design means plenty of replayability
The Bad
Just missing that spark of creativity
Classes are varied but not varied enough
Surprisingly dull audio landscape
7
Solid
  • SneakyBox
  • Atari, Inc.
  • PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Switch / PC
  • September 21, 2023

Days Of Doom Review
These are the days of our zombie lives
A solid strategy experience isn’t quite enough to elevate Days of Doom past its more varied competition on the indie market, but there’s just enough meat on the zombie bones.
The Good
Impressive comic inspired visuals
Solid strategy gameplay
Randomised level design means plenty of replayability
The Bad
Just missing that spark of creativity
Classes are varied but not varied enough
Surprisingly dull audio landscape
7
Solid
Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.

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