I can still remember anxiously paging through my 1995 issue of PC Gamer, the front cover of which declared Interplay’s groundbreaking shooter as “The Doom Killer.” My nostalgia muscle is squealing with glee right now.
Descent is now available for purchase on Steam, and for half price at $3.49/£2.49 until February 18th.
At a time when id Software’s Doom was the first-person shooter (and arguably, the video game, period), Descent shareware 3.5” disks started making their rounds at computer conventions. It took the popularized FPS genre and removed gravity. As a result, Descent was utterly disorienting at first, but ultimately mind-blowing.
Descent’s hook was sitting the player in a small ship, and rather than blast out into open space, you’d be tasked with navigating the tight corridors of mine shafts in mind-bending mazes. It’s standard “find key, open door” fare, but with a bevy of weapons and enemy robots around every corner – all freely moveable within the 360 degree space.
Perhaps the coolest twist of the gameplay in Descent was what happened when you finished a level. After destroying a boss at the end of each mine, you had a limited amount of time to escape before the whole mine caved in and took you with it. It was an interesting balance to plan your escape route as you approached the boss, lest your efforts be wasted.
Let’s not forget the multiplayer gameplay. You want to know how old school this thing is? From Steam’s own description of the game:
Descent invites you and your buddies to dive into the action together with head-to-head combat and cooperative two-player modem and eight-player network support.
Two-player modem support! Break out that 9600 baud and busy up the phone line, guys! Time for some 1-on-1 deathmatch with full second pings!
The price on Steam is an awfully cheap ask to experience one of the landmarks of PC gaming, but be wary: while the game is satisfactory with a mouse, it plays best with a joystick (yeah, one of those antiquated things). Make sure that your system meets the steep system requirements, too. 1Ghz processors, 32MB of hard drive space, and Sound Blaster-compatible sound cards don’t grow on trees, you know.
For those of you who grew up during this title’s heyday, you likely didn’t need any convincing to head to Steam and add this bad boy to your cart right now. For the rest of you, take advantage of the 50% off sale this week and find out what all the fuss was about 20 years ago.
Last Updated: February 12, 2014