Probably one of the most anticipated games of the year for me. Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition, by devs Nightdive Studios and Apogee Software, is an insane first-person shooter that was first released back in 1994 for the PC.
I’m a Freight Train O’ Death
The reason that I got excited at this remastered 4K version was not only for all of the included content, but for the nostalgia that it was hopefully going to bring back to me. Back in the 90’s my PC could just about run Rise of the Triad using MS-DOS. Furthermore, I had fond memories of my father playing it constantly due to the multiple weapons, gore and intricate puzzle-solving level design. You have to remember that back then, these kinds of games were still groundbreaking. The market for 3D shooters was on the rise following the success of Wolfenstein 3D and subsequently, Doom.
Apogee was the first publisher of indie games, and also the founder of the shareware model. Apogee would release an episodic game demo that was playable for free, and then advertised the full version in order to continue. I really wish more game companies still did this! On Steam, you can play a demo before you buy.
Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is available now on PC with console versions coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox on September 29th.
Welcome to H.U.N.T, short for High-Risk United Nations Taskforce. Your mission is to pick a character out of the 5 available and investigate a deadly cult, who want to destroy a nearby city.
Each character has slightly different traits such as speed and accuracy, but ultimately it’s your skill, shooting and ability to solve puzzles that will get you the win!
The gameplay is fast whereby the goal is to collect keys in order to unlock doors and reach the exit to the next level and progress the storyline. It sounds easy, however between you and the exit is a multitude of enemy soldiers that will fire at you, play dead, chase you or even ambush you. When it isn’t people after you then it is the devilish traps such as rotating spikes, fireballs, moving walls, and gas clouds that lurk from room to room.
At your disposal are a number of weapons to help level out the playing field a little. From the trusty pistol and MP40 to some inventive (and gruesomely destructive) items such as the Flamewall, Heatseeker, Dark Staff and Excalibat. You can hold 4 weapons at any one time and ammo is limited!
Kill & Seek
While “Ludicrous Gibs!” fly across the screen and burnt-out skeletons tinkle to the floor in a powdery heap, you must not forget that you too can easily be killed. Armour and health can be collected as well as power-ups that can allow a multitude of perks such as flying. While speedrunning is good fun, it is certainly worth checking out whether jump pads can launch you onto secret platforms or search for hidden doors that can be triggered by floor plates.
The Ludicrous Edition contains all of the previously released expansion packs for Rise of the Triad as well as the original episodes and an all-new episode. There is also the bonus of Return of the Triad, a fan-made sequel that was released in 2006 and has a couple of episodes worth of levels and additional deathmatch levels.
Multiplayer, known as COMM-BAT, was a big feature of Rise of the Triad and is also included in the Ludicrous Edition. There is online, both public and private lobbies, and LAN play, that includes up to 11 players and 4 multiplayer modes. When I took a look there were not any servers currently being hosted. The type of game modes range from death match to (the first ever) capture the flag mode.
Finally, there is also a level editor whereby you can run your imagination riot to create your own levels. This can be either for single-player or multiplayer experiences. You start by setting a floor and ceiling texture and then provide a level height. Next, you choose a background track and then begin deploying the scenery/item tiles onto the grid. While it can all look daunting, there are plenty of helpful guides available for anyone who wishes to get involved.
Death Becomes You
Oh, I nearly forgot, and it did make me smile as I remembered it when I saw it again. When trying to exit the game, you are threatened as to what will happen to you. From an electric chair to a firing squad, closing the game is seen as a big no-no. When you click to continue and quit you are then met with the sound effects that accompany the threat! In my last case, it was a black screen with a man saying “Ready, Aim, Fire!” followed by a few shots and the sound of you dropping to the floor.
Graphics & Audio
Despite the 4K overhaul, the graphics are fairly faithful to the original iteration of Rise of the Triad. The scenery is pixelly and repetitive, however, this is how I remembered it. The lighting has been enhanced and the frame rate increased to the type of level you would expect a modern graphics card to be when running a game of this caliber. It is a breeze to run without any issues at all.
There are lots of optional extras that you can turn on and off. For example, within the menu, you can choose a holiday mode to play the game to as well as a tweak to the HUD that shows your health by how bloody your face is, such as in Doom.
My father rung me up, having bought him this game for his birthday when it first launched, to tell me that he never remembered the female enemy soldiers. Lo and behold he was correct. They had been added to this edition, having been restored from past characters that didn’t make the original cut. Good memory pa!
The soundtracks are selectable from the original digitized and midi versions through to the far clubbier 2013 iterations. Just sitting back and listening to the jukebox is fun enough, although my dog really hated the “Here boy” track!
The sound effects in Rise of the Triad are how you would imagine. Digitized shooting and explosions mixed with the odd one-liner from the enemy and yourself. Alternate SFX are also available. I love the comedic, but dark sound of the charred skeletons falling to the floor once they have succumbed to a firey death.
There are serious hours of gameplay to be had with Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition. This is due to the many episodes and levels to play through as well as boss battles. On top of that, there are secrets to find on each level. You are shown how many there are at the summary screen of each level completion.
Cheating is Rewarding
While the level editor and multiplayer modes add some more ways to spend time on this game. For both myself and my father, it is a couple of cheat codes that make this game so hilarious and satisfying to play. I will not spoil it for you, but these are easily available on the net. They are possibly also etched into your brain if you have played Rise of the Triad before. Unlocking all of the weapons immediately and becoming invulnerable. While Dog Mode has you chomping enemies to bits, God Mode is where it’s at. There is something calming when your hand gets raised and a ball of light proceeds to vanquish the enemy one fizz after another in a chain, leaving nothing behind!
While I am a massive lover of Rise of the Triad, I feel that the Ludicrous Edition will possibly only appeal to die-hard fans and those who enjoy retro gaming. It is tough at times playing games that you loved yesteryear to find that the pizzaz that enthralled you has long been superseded by today’s games, therefore not luring modern gamers. I do hope that I am wrong, and I also hope that the online crossplay works well so that there are many multiplayer lobbies available in the future when it launches on console.
I give Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition a Thumb Culture Gold Award. Have a play and de-stress!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.