Taking only a few minutes to download and get started (at least on my pretty damn swift Internet connection), We Are Doomed is a diminutive arcade game that very much takes things back to basics. Indeed, its roots can be traced all the way back to 1982 – because it's to all intents and purposes an abstract version of Robotron 2084.
It's a single-screen, twin-stick shooter, just in case if you need reminding what first-of-its-kind Robotron 2084 is all about, and it's as stripped-down and as minimal as you can get. Yes, even more pared down than the already-simplistic arcade original from which it takes its cues.
The objective is simple: take control of an abstract polygonal avatar that's capable of spitting a flame-like laser of destructive energy, and destroy everything on the screen to complete a level. Oh, and pick up floating, flashing blocks to advance your score multiplier and slowly build up a one-shot, screen-clearing super-beam. A-a-a-a-nd… that's pretty much it.
The game has two modes, one gives you an objective – to clear 30 increasingly hectic screens – while the other is an "endless" mode that is exactly as described: keep on going until you die.
Of course, while its concept is about as arcade basic as you can get, We Are Doomed is not easy, as you might have guessed from its name. From the get-go, swarms of enemies appear and make a bee-line straight towards you. Most enemies don't actually fire at you, but there are so many things zooming around that the enemies themselves ostensibly become projectiles, making We Are Doomed feel as much of a bullet hell as any other game in the genre, despite there barely being any actual bullets.
As you progress, different kinds of enemies start to appear. Some are large, glitchy polygonal shapes that require multiple laser blasts to shrink them enough so they can be destroyed. Some appear in formations and follow tracks around the screen, essentially cutting off areas of the arena. Others are simply large, indestructible hazards that need to be avoided at all costs. All conspire to create a game that's dynamic and intense, and you need top-class arcade reflexes to survive the onslaught – especially at higher levels.
We Are Doomed is very simple, but it's also addictive - for short periods of time. The action tends to get a little repetititve over the long-term because it essentially recycles similar gameplay mechanics repeatedly, making this a game that you'll tend to play in short bursts. It looks good though, with neon-bright and colorful graphics, and it has a strange, but enjoyable techno-ish soundtrack that's strangely chilled-out. Indeed, this is part of the game's appeal: it's phenomenally hectic and you're almost always up against overwhelming odds, but at the same time it has a certain trippy laid back nature to the way it looks and sounds. In a way, the audio-visuals and the cadence of the action are in opposition: as close to a chilled-out version of Robotron 2084 as you're going to get. It doesn't exactly make sense, but it does work well.
My biggest beef with the game is its price. At $9.99 it seems to be a little on the expensive side for such a simple game. The gameplay is timeless for sure – but it just doesn't quite hold your attention for protracted periods of time. It's the sort of game you'll dip in and out of when you're in the mood, but compared to similarly-priced games like Super Stardust Ultra, it definitely feels a little too basic. If you're an arcade fan, it's probably worth a shot if you can pick it up at a discount. Otherwise check out the likes of Resogun and Super Stardust Ultra before taking the plunge.
Like the rest of the game, it's stripped down and minimal, but it gets the job done.
The endless mode gives plenty of long-term challenge, but the limited nature of the gameplay dampens the appeal somewhat.
Excellent, chilled-out tunes and effects help add atmosphere to the game.
Abstract, bright and colorful. Not a huge amount of variety, but it looks cool nevertheless.
A good-looking, minimalist twin stick shooter that delivers intense, if somewhat repetitive action at a price that feels a little too steep.