Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition Review – This Boomer Has Still Got It

Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition Review - This Boomer Has Still Got It

Resurrecting a classic game can go one of two ways: simply giving it a tune-up for modern machines, or going all out on a reboot, reinterpreting it for a new age. Rise of the Triad offers an interesting case, as it’s already had that reboot (released back in 2013), but with Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition, we get something that is less a tune-up and more a turbo-charged overhaul.

From the outset, there’s a lot of game, in fact, more than 100 levels of it! This is grouped across 4 Campaigns. The first three cover what was released back in the day – The HUNT Begins being the original shareware campaign, Dark War its registered counterpart and Extreme ROTT an additional set offering a challenge aimed at advanced players. Joining those is a brand new episode: The HUNT Continues, which applies a lot of modern design challenges to this older game.

The story is as simple as any other 90s shooter. You take the role of a member of a HUNT task force, tasked with taking the fight to a mysterious cult and stopping their nefarious scheme. Each level is about working your way to the exit, whilst taking on the cult’s forces which includes the occasion heavily armed and armoured boss at the end of a chapter.

So, it’s the typical 90’s FPS experience you might say? But you’ll be oh so wrong on that account. Even amongst the crowd of Boomer Shooters hitting the market, I’m thrilled to say Rise of the Triad manages to carve out its own unique place and this all comes from a few key gameplay mechanics.

Firstly: platforms. While its peers relied on flat levels or sections separated by elevators, Rise of the Triad has areas of its levels built from platforms. These aren’t just static, but can also move about. The result introduces some old-school platforming into the challenge, and while I’m sure some of you might be dreading the thought, messing up a jump here won’t send you hurtling into the void, or taking fall damage. I guess small mercies can be the best ones after all.

Something else which surprised me with the levels was just how large they were, as they took quite some time to clear. Maybe it was because the hunt for secrets was less tedious, making me want to find as many as I could. Or perhaps it was how they happened to take advantage of the space to make for some complex twists and turns.

This is why I strongly believe the in-built map is incredibly useful! It not only shows the level’s layout but also where any items are. It got plenty of use, particularly when I needed to scramble about for extra health.

But it’s the traps and tricks which truly make them thrilling and challenging, especially as you get further in. With the presence of various types of flame traps, alongside moving walls and some nasty spike pits, you can’t just zip along these levels like a bat out of hell.

Oh no. You need patience. I mean, you don’t want to end up singed from a flame-spouting wall. Or running head-first into one of those spikes. Or crushed by a moving wall after all.

The ultimate expression of Rise of the Triad’s energy for me is in its pickups. There’s the usual assortment of health pickups, alongside the keys. The real fun comes from the wilder ones available – being able to smite your enemy with the post of a God is a source of great joy after all!

With the fun comes the pain, and nothing says that like the Shrooms one, which wobbled the screen to such an extent that I found myself feeling motion sick, something which is kind of rare in my case. I get the idea was to bump the challenge up when trying to take on enemies here, but I found myself just sitting still until it wore off.

It’s funny: Rise of the Triad was one of the first PC games I remember playing on our family’s first PC, and at the time, its oddball nature made it stand out, even if it felt a little behind the times in other ways.

Here in 2023, what once made it feel out of place now makes it stand out amongst the shooter revival crowd. Its frenetic pacing and its vast levels featuring platforms and multiple layers truly give it a charm that helps it stand out for me.

What also helps seal the deal is all the extra content included – not only the new episode set (along with Steam Workshop support), but also the addition of content cut from the original game. This goes a long way to making it feel like a long-awaited director’s cut, and I’m all here for it.

Even though there are some aspects I’m not a fan of like those fancy pickups like the Shrooms one, or the way some enemies take way too many hits from your guns, I found they didn’t get in the way of the chaos which it brings to the table.

On release, Rise of the Triad wasn’t one which really stuck with me, but coming back to give it another pass with the Ludicrous Edition, I found myself having a great deal of fun with it, and so I’m incredibly glad it exists for that above all else.

I guess sometimes, you just need to find yourself in the right headspace to tackle a game. Even if that means coming back to it with a reissue nearly 30 years later.

Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by the publisher. 

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