Mighty Doom is a new mobile game from Bethesda, and it's currently in testing in select regions like New Zealand. Since this shooter is still in Early Access, thus unavailable in most territories, I've sideloaded the title (v 0.5.0) to take a closer look to report on my findings. Now that I've spent some time with the game, it's clear that Mighty Doom is basically a clone of Archero, and so it's a free-to-play casual top-down shooter that has little to do with the Doom franchise beyond the ham-fisted skin. As you can guess, Bethesda is looking to cash in, and so I'm here to let you know if this blatant shovelware is worth playing.
Mighty Doom only just entered into Early Access, so it's still a work in progress. As is, the onboarding is short and sweet, which I appreciate. This is a one-handed game that's played in portrait, and so the first level teaches you how to control your character with the virtual thumbstick placed at the bottom center of the screen. This control setup is intuitive and easy to pick up, so if you've ever played any portrait SHMUPs on Android (or Archero), Mighty Doom should be familiar territory. This is a title designed for casual play, and it shows.
Start screen is nice enough, but the game is pretty bare-bones
I wouldn't call Mighty Doom's graphics impressive, but I suppose they get the job done — think Archero, but with a Doom skin, and that's exactly what Mighty Doom offers. Things are a bit too bright and happy for my taste, which is not what the Doom series is known for. There's no grit, no gore. It's like some corporate suit took the Doom we all love and know and sanitized it for mass casual appeal. Nothing about the graphics of Mighty Doom impress me. Sure, familiar characters, bosses, and locales are included, and yet the game just doesn't look or feel like a Doom property.
Above you can watch a 15-minute gameplay video I recorded that shows the game's tutorial, a bunch of gameplay, and the current menus available. This video offers an authentic first look at what the Early Access release for Mighty Doom brings to Android.
Sadly the gameplay in Mighty Doom is a repetitive slog. At its core, it's a top-down shooter that feels and plays a lot like a SHMUP, especially once you advance a bit where things start to get really hectic. Roguelike mechanics are also in the mix, which means death is a constant as you slowly upgrade your character.
Things start out incredibly easy, and as you mow down enemies, you'll unlock rewards that boost your character during their run, such as faster bullet speed or more powerful shots, so you'll slowly build up your skills as you move forward during each run. Once you die, you'll have to start back at the beginning, but you'll unlock upgrades that are permanent between runs, which is where the game's true progression is to be found.
Your typical time traps rebranded as upgrade systems
You'll earn gear and the materials that will be useful for upgrading this gear, and yes, there is a fuse system, something gacha fans should be more than familiar with, a mechanic that exists to extend the grind. There is also a talent upgrade system that you'll upgrade piecemeal with the currency you earn as you play, providing the player with yet another upgrade path to grind through.
Ultimately this all boils down to extremely repetitive gameplay built around grindy mechanics. This means you'll rerun the game over and over and over until you've grinded enough for the permanent upgrades necessary for true advancement. This is a problem Archero suffers from, and so it's hardly surprising to see that Mighty Doom is also mind-numbingly boring.
Since Mighty Doom is in Early Access in select regions, it's still a work in progress, which means certain features aren't active during this testing phase. Monetization is one of those features, but the current Play Store listing for New Zealand does reveal the game will contain in-app purchases that reach up to $174.99 per item (in NZ dollars), which isn't a good sign of things to come.
No store yet
It seems pretty clear that Bethesda has cloned Archero to create Mighty Doom. Why Bethesda is too lazy to develop original mobile games with their properties, I do not know. What I do know is that Mighty Doom is just about what I would expect from the studio after we saw what the company was willing to do with the Elder Scrolls franchise. Mighty Doom is clearly designed for casual gamers to sink money into, not for fans to have a good time. So as it turns out, slapping a famous brand on top of the exact same mechanics found in a successful mobile game is a fairly transparent money grab. This is something you'd think a studio at Bethesda's level would avoid, but has instead sickeningly embraced as the entire industry slides further into a gaping pit of greed. Mighty Doom is a low effort clone that will inevitably be monetized to the hilt, which is precisely why it should be avoided. It's cynical trash vying to make money off a well-known brand.