3 out of 5. If you've been waiting for an FPS Metroidvania, Vomitoreum delivers, albeit in a small dose. As a first person shooter/platformer though it needs a lot more to stand out as competitive.
Share

How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. The game isn't long enough for exploration to be truly meaningful, but all of the Metroidvania tropes are present.
Primary Challenge: Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~3 hours
Review Info: Vomitoreum was played on Windows PC using the Steam version

More Info

Developer: Scumhead
Publisher: Scumhead
Sub-genre: 3D Metroidvania
Features: Map System, First Person, Ranged Combat, Narrative/Cutscenes Story Telling, Power Fantasy, Blood and Gore, Sexual Content/Suggestive Themes
Difficulty: Medium
Linearity/Openness: High Gating - No Handholding
Platforms: Windows, Itch.io, Steam
Release Date: 2021/07/30
Available Languages: English

Store Links

    Steam    itch.io    

Buy Vomitoreum if you like…

  • Grotesque Horrors
  • Dark Gothic Stories
  • Infinite Ammo
  • First Person Platforming
  • Circle Strafing

▼ Review continues below ▼

Ever since the release of Metroid Prime there has been a poor beleaguered fanbase that really hasn’t had much luck in the form of similar releases since then. Recently though, there has been a small boom “FPS Metroidvania” announcements and even a few releases, so there’s hope that a modern Metroid Prime could happen (outside of Metroid Prime 4 of course.) A few months ago I got to look at the self proclaimed FPS Metroidvania Paradox Vector, and unfortunately had to report that it didn’t really understand what I believe many are looking for when they hear the sub-genre name “Metroidvania”. With that history I sort of went into Vomitoreum expecting a similar problem, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it nailed the primary Metroidvania tropes quite nicely. Your progression is gated by abilities you have to acquire, and you sometimes have to backtrack to previous areas in order to discover new areas. If all you have been waiting for is another action-based FPS Metroidvania to play, Vomitoreum actually delivers, albeit in a small dose. As far as being an actually good game though it didn’t really do a whole lot to impress me. Vomitoreum is a good game, but if the FPS Metroidvania genre continues to grow it’s probably doomed to become a forgettable piece of history as time goes on.

Vomitoreum’s set of abilities aren’t groundbreaking, but honestly at this point a First-Person Metroidvania that goes back to some of the basic options isn’t a bad thing at all. The first ability you get is a glove that lets you smash blocks, which isn’t that interesting even in a 2D setting. Unless block smashing has a quirk like carving out your own platforms, or you can only do it while turned into a ball, it’s basically not any different than just giving the player a key. The second ability you get is a dash which can be used in the air and suddenly I started feeling a lot better about how this game was going to feel. You also get other staples like a double jump, the ability to travel across water that is otherwise lethal, and something that lights up dark rooms so you don’t go running off of cliffs – they’re all conceptually standard powers but there is a good variety. Vomitoreum includes very little guidance on where you should go next, so you do have to pay attention to where you can use your new abilities in order to navigate the game without too much repetitive wandering, though your mileage may vary with how interesting the application of powers actually ends up being.

Dashing is the most fun ability by far. Air dashing in an FPS setting added a special sense of freedom for me as I used the move as often as I could to clip corners or circumvent terrain that I didn’t even need to circumvent. Flying around in an imaginary first person point of view has a ton of potential, and of course the First Person Parkour genre is totally a thing that a Metroidvania could get some great ideas from. First person parkour is something that Vomitoreum is not however, since it uses an engine more similar to Doom II, which is an engine that initially didn’t even have jumping without further modding. This makes movement a slight bit too slippery for precise platforming, so when Vomitoreum does require you to leap across gaps, the area usually has safety net at the bottom of the cliffs which teleports you back to the nearest area entrance without you taking any damage at all. This makes platforming more of a distraction than a challenge, but it does also ensure that you can experiment with the movement while having very few consequences. Figuring out how to traverse rooms quickly is not only exhilarating but also important since Vomitoreum also doesn’t have a central fast travel system to make exploring the other side of the map any easier. Dying from falling would also have been incredibly frustrating with the save point system Vomitoreum employs, since dying loses all of your progress.

Other abilities besides the dash and double jump could be really clever, but unfortunately they don’t reach their full potential. One ability especially feels much more like an afterthought or a novelty, since only a couple of rooms after you get it you find another power that makes it almost completely obsolete. Your small gap traversal “Why can’t Metroid Crawl” ability has a unique theming and some properties that are just never used at all. There are a lot of mechanics that feel like they were the starting points of interesting ideas that just needed the content to support them, but perhaps time restrictions or other development pressures prevented them from being properly tested, and instead of cutting the features entirely they were just left in. One ability that probably should have had the content cut for its mechanic is the light power which creates a strange fluorescent creature that follows you around. This creature doesn’t follow you very well, so in the dark area where you must use it you spend a lot of time just waiting for it to catch up. I really wished I could have taken some rope and tied the little mongrel to my gun and just used it like a normal flashlight. I appreciate the attempts at creativity, but attempts are usually all they are. Vomitoreum just lacks the content needed for all of its ideas to really shine.

Lack of content is a general problem for Vomitoreum, and maybe the biggest detractor for anyone wanting to pay full price for it. I beat the game in just a little under 3 hours with about 75% of the items collected and 99% of the enemies killed. I don’t have any issues with short games, in fact I’m a pretty big defender of the “Mini-Metroidvania” genre, but when Vomitoreum does as much as it does so well it feels especially disappointing that we didn’t end up with something much more fleshed out. This also bleeds into its appeal as a “Metroidvania” since fewer areas gives more of a sense that the game is linear when it really isn’t; areas just stick out as being more in sequence because you have fewer areas to overpopulate your memory. The levels that do exist are actually quite well designed, with some areas including decent levels of verticality, and with a good number of secrets that are hidden in ways that will delight a strong observer. When you’ve played stronger Metroidvanias though you just might feel short changed with how much there actually is here.

Having a much larger Metroidvania world would have required an improvement to things like the map system, since the map system as-is is barely helpful. It’s basically just an overhead view of the places you’ve been with the same muddy textures and all. It makes the map visually chaotic. The map doesn’t even adequately convey the edges of areas that might lead to other areas, so typical Metroidvania cartography strategies can’t be applied here. There is one interesting and somewhat unique aspect of the map though. Like in Doom II the game also doesn’t pause when you’re in the map screen and you can even move around from as if from a top down perspective. This is actually kind of useful once you’ve cleared out all of the enemies in an area as you have less chance of getting lost – you can even jump and air dash while in this screen so it’s like a bizarre Metroidvania mini-game if you play it that way. You will still fall off cliffs and run into damaging terrain if you’re not careful though.

Enemy permadeath is also another interesting and unique feature of Vomitoreum, but – at the risk of repeating myself too much – it’s not really used in any way that matches its potential. The combat gameplay is unfortunately pretty straight forward, to the point that even an inexperienced FPS player like myself was a bit bored with how easy it is. Enemy AI is mostly innocuous wandering with the occasional shots fired in your direction, and if you take your foes out from a long enough distance away their slow moving projectiles are easy enough to simply sidestep. The fact that once you kill an enemy they are gone forever makes even incentivizes these kind of completely safe – and dull – strategies. Assuming you’re exploring even a little bit, you even get plenty of health to take all the shots to the face and still clear a room, and if you ever find yourself low on HP you can always wander back to a checkpoint and get a full refill. You also have infinite ammo, and you’ll likely only ever have three weapon types, so there isn’t any interest to be had from resource management or changing up what types of projectiles you attack with. Enemies are thus just another aspect of the exploration as it is one of two point counters the game gives you – the reason I knew I killed 99% of the enemies in the game because the game told me so. It’s really a shame because permanently killing enemies could have invited some really interesting game design, where each room could have been an action puzzle to solve. It wouldn’t really detract from the game’s exploration features since you have to deal with them anyway, so why not make each encounter a memorable thing? Instead what we get is the equivalent of taking a shotgun into a barn full of pigs that occasionally spit at you, and it’s slightly annoying to go back to the house and polish your shoes.

Bosses are where Vomitoreum could have redeemed itself, but most bosses are incapable of countering the ancient unholy art of circle strafing. As long as you’re walking to the right or left while still aiming at your foe you can often just kind of auto-dodge everything, and then it’s just a matter of waiting until their health bar hits zero. Even the final boss can’t seem to handle the circle strafe, although you might have to double jump sometimes to avoid some larger hitboxes. There are three or four bosses that are an exception to this circle strafing problem, and while some of those are my favorite bosses in the game, they just highlight another feature where Vomitoreum could just be better with more work. One of those exception bosses takes it to the opposite extreme though, where it’s almost impossible to dodge anything. However, that boss’ has a room with pillars it loves to shoot instead of finding a way to path around them, so finding a sweet angle where your shots can nick him in the shoulder while you’re completely safe just replaces the one boring strategy with another. The most interesting bosses forced me to actually use the dash move to dodge, and revealed that the dash has some interesting drawbacks to go with the benefits. When you dash you always go the direction you’re looking, so while you can avoid the boss’ attacks you’re forced to risk losing track of their position. Thus with some tight testing and smart AI, Vomitoreum could have been a really exciting and maybe even terrifying combat game. One or two bosses don’t redeem an entire game that’s utterly focused on its combat though, and while none of Vomitoreum’s combat is bad, it doesn’t do enough to help it stand the test of time.

Like most of my reviews where I’ve effectively lambasted the gameplay elements, I always turn to the game’s narrative last with hope I can report on something that makes it all worthwhile, but Vomitoreum is still kind forgettable in that aspect. I don’t really like the phrase “edgelord” because I think there is value in exploring the darker aspects of humanity, but if that phrase is meant to convey that the game is pretentiously being dark for the sake being dark alone, then maybe for Vomitoreum “edgelord” applies. The plot uses vile crimes including rape to establish how horrible mankind has become, but it doesn’t move beyond using it as an excuse to murder everything you come across. There are elements of interesting lore supporting the game’s setting, but a lot of it is literally found by reading books in someone’s library, so none of it moves beyond the conceptual level into something emotionally evocative, outside of the possible shock value. If you like just looking at [drawings of] topless crucified women or hearing about body horror laboratory experimentation, then you’ll probably like Vomitoreum’s setting just fine.

When I spend a good portion of a review criticizing a game’s shortcomings, I always fear I’m making it sound much worse than it actually is. Vomitoreum is a fairly basic FPS with some fun level design implementing Metroidvania features. It’s polished enough to have avoided the kind of frustrating jank that plagues other indie titles, so you’ll likely have a mostly fun time with it overall regardless of what type of player you are. In my humble opinion though it doesn’t take enough risks to really stand out as being anything other than a rare FPS Metroidvania that actually gets most of the “Metroidvania” part correct. Enemies are too dumb and your abilities are too strong to provide much of a combat challenge, the platforming is too slippery to provide a parkour challenge, and the story is too focused on shock value style-over-substance to be at all memorable beyond that. The metroidvania world you’re left with is good, but the wonky mapping system and short length prevent it from achieving greatness. Vomitoreum is going to have a hard time competing as more FPS Metroidvanias come out. In the meantime though it’s an easy recommendation if “FPS Metroidvania” is what you’ve been waiting for.


Final Score

3/5

Scoring system overview


Metroidvania Breakdown

Combat
– 3

Most enemies can be picked off from a distance with your infinite ammo and bosses only occasionally require you to actually dodge outside of circle strafing

Platforming
– 3

Designing First Person platforming is always going to be a bit tricky, and this game doesn't really solve any of the problems usually associated with it. Luckily it's not too frustrating when you fail.

Exploration
– 3

A lack of content is really what holds the exploration back. The movement upgrades are fun but their usefulness is fairly short-lived. The map is kind of useless

Puzzle
– 2

There aren't any puzzles

Story
– 3

The story provides enough reason for you to hate the things you're killing, but it doesn't really go beyond simple shock value

Graphics
– 3

Occasionally there's a great atmospheric scene, but generally speaking you're going to be looking at repeated textures and barebones rooms

Music
– 3

Fairly forgettable but appropriately used for dramatic effect in the cutscenes

Replayability
– 2.5

Being as short as it is, setting up challenge runs will be a fairly easy thing to do, but there aren't really any features to entice multiple playthroughs


Want a second opinion? See what other reviews say:

Steam Reviews
No reviews


TBD Metacritic
Read critic reviews