Selaco is an extraordinary shooter that does backflips with the Doom engine

June 7, 2024
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Selaco describes itself as a first-person shooter inspired by 1993’s Doom and 2005’s F.E.A.R. But to be perfectly honest, I think that undersells it. This wildly ambitious retro FPS plays like a potted history of the genre’s golden age, melding all manner of ideas that emerged between the two key texts it cites as inspiration. The holistic worldbuilding of System Shock. The playful interactivity of Duke Nukem 3D. The crisp set-piece design of Half-Life. Selaco blends them all into a smooth, unctuous action experience. It’s already one of the best retro shooters out there, and the damn thing’s only a third finished.

You play as Dawn, a Security Captain aboard the titular Selaco (which I think is pronounced Sell-a-co, but I habitually say Sil Acko because I am irredeemably northern). Selaco is a gargantuan space station designed to look, sound, and smell exactly like Earth in the year 2255, because actual Earth has been devastated by some unspecified cataclysm. Selaco is the primary home of the surviving human race, then, but now it has been struck with a disaster of its own, as it’s attacked by a force of purple-blooded supersoldiers.

None of this is clear at the game’s start, however, with Dawn awakening in the guts of Selaco’s Pathfinder Memorial hospital (following treatment for, amusingly, a pulled hamstring), which is already under heavy assault by heavily armed goons. The abrupt and somewhat unforgiving introduction sees you scrambling through the hospital’s corridors as they rattle with nearby explosions, dodging gunfire as your enemies hunt you down. After a minute or two of breathless evasion, you finally pick up a weapon, moments before the soldiers kick down the door of the room you’ve just crawled into.

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