Save it under “mods you probably thought already existed.” Of Voxel Doomyou can now play the legendary 1993 first person shooter demise with all monsters and items rendered in beautifully thick 3D voxels. While smaller voxel mods existed in the past, this one replaces just about all of the game’s old-school, 2D sprite-based enemies and items, bringing a fun new dimension to the classic shooter’s lo-fi goriness.
Released today on Mod DB by modder Daniel “Chello” Peterson, Voxel Doom 1.0 working on GZDooma popular resource port that is undergoing massive modernization demise‘s nearly 30 year old game engine. Veteran demise modders with directories and directories of WADs are no stranger to GZDoom, but if you are new to the world of demise mods, it’s an essential utility for adding more functionality to the original game (like mouse watching, jumping or crouching) and for playing really cool mods like the demise “go to church” Sigil from the game’s co-creator, John Romero.
So, voxels are like a three-dimensional view of typical 2D pixels. As “volumetric pixels”, voxels are simply points in 3D space that have been assigned a size and color. Throw thousands and thousands at once on the screen and you get a unique type of 3D graphics that, when you make them nice and thick, are reminiscent of classic 2D sprites, but with an extra dimension.
Recent games like No Man’s Sky, Valheim, and Cracks have used voxel techniques to achieve their unique appearance, and they are often preferred when creating destructive, malleable environments. The technology has been around for a while and famously appeared in games like Novalogic’s 1992 helicopter simulation ComancheLooking Glass’s Underrated 1996 New Landand the 1999 action adventure great outcast. In action, voxels can give off a slightly “retro” vibe, which makes it such a cool concept to add to classic sprite-based first-person shooters.
Of course, the sky is the limit with classic demise modifications. Some extend the original game while others try to add more modern gameplay features. What makes Voxel Doom so cool is that the change in graphics manages to keep the original feel of the game while “popping” it just a little bit more. That’s a far cry from more typical attempts to jam 3D models into these decades-old games, which tend to look gaudy rather than faithful to the original aesthetic.
The mod’s creator spoke about this phenomenon in a stream showcasing the new mod with fellow GZDoom developer Nash Muhandes, saying that “if you look at [the voxel models] at a certain angle it looks like the original sprite.” This cool illusory effect of voxels is what originally drew Cheello to them. On Muhandes’ stream, they talked about how the transformation of 2D sprites into 3D voxels results in a kind of mind-altering effect that doesn’t look out of place, but fits, especially in demise‘s case, very natural in the scene.
Stamping through the hallways of Martian Hell with this mod is bound to be a fun time. Everything from demons to pickup effects and equipment now comes to life, but still very much like the classic sprites. While your actual weapons will remain the regular 2D sprites, weapon pickups in the environment look particularly cool as they now spin in place. The mod currently only works on the original 1993 demisebut according to Cheello, “Downfall 2 samples will be completed in the very near future.”