About a week ago, I saw Turbo Overkill was leaving early access on Steam. I decided to buy it because it looked cool, and played it for about 15 minutes. I then wondered why the heck I hadn’t written about one of the best styles of games yet? I’m talking about Boomer shooters of course. So I thought I’d put together a top 10, and it wouldn’t be hard. I’ve played some amazing games over the years, but it actually was a massive pain in the *** (forgive me but we are back in the 90s after all with boomer shooters). I didn’t want to cut any of the games in this list because they are all awesome and worth buying.
Instead of stressing over cutting a game or two to hit some arbitrary number for better Google search isn’t really something I’m going to do with boomer shooters. Screw that. This list features every single boomer shooter I’ve enjoyed playing on Steam Deck over the years, and I hope you end up discovering something new to play on Steam Deck or PC. I’ve even discovered some new ones as recently as last month, and they have become mainstays on my Steam Deck.
I also wanted to highlight a few revivals and remasters of the classics that inspired many of these games, and this feature is going to be longer than expected so strap in for this journey.
So what is a boomer shooter?
I grew up playing DOOM, DOOM II, Wolf 3D, and getting spooked by Heretic. I missed out on the Quake games until the remasters if you believe that, but before digressing further, I think of boomer shooters as first-person shooters designed to feel and look like the cream of the crop from the 90s. So do I consider DOOM a boomer shooter? It is complicated, but if you did enjoy DOOM, I think you’re going to love the games I’ve highlighted today.
DUSK from David Szymanski, New Blood Interactive, and Andrew Hulshult is a game I’ve been thinking about for a long time actually. I only really fell in love with it on Switch, but have since played it on PC. It feels authentic, full of love, sublime gameplay, amazing atmosphere, and has a deep respect for the player and the genre. Not only do I think DUSK is one of the best Switch ports of all time, but it shines on Steam Deck, and is shockingly underpriced at just $19.99 on Steam. My only issue with DUSK is that I can’t buy a PC big box version of it and can’t find a physical copy of it on Switch now.
Prodeus from Bounding Box Software and Humble Games caught my attention for its visuals and Andrew Hulshult’s music. Get used to me talking about Andrew because it is going to happen a lot in this feature. Back to Prodeus, it feels more like a weird but good blend of a modern big budget shooter but with retro-styled visuals. I’ve been playing it quite a bit on consoles and Steam Deck because it has syncing and a nice set of custom levels available online in addition to more campaigns. The final moments falter a bit, but Prodeus is a joy to play, and it has one of my favorite soundtracks in years. Having originally played it on Steam Deck and Switch mainly, I’m replaying Prodeus on PS5 and damn it holds up brilliantly. This is another game I’d love to see get a PC big box release. One of Humble’s best releases by far.
AMID EVIL ($19.99)
AMID EVIL feels like a modern and polished successor to Heretic and Hexen. Indefatigable and New Blood Interactive’s release is more fantasy, and it proved to me that the latter was a top tier publisher. AMID EVIL’s level design, aesthetic, and weapon usage come together brilliantly making it a game I wish was on more platforms so I could gift it to more people. AMID EVIL also features music by, you guessed it, Andrew Hulshult. I’ve been replaying this one because it just got a big new expansion a few hours ago. I’ll save my full thoughts on the expansion for a later article, but I can safely say that AMID EVIL with its new expansion, The Black Labyrinth, is a must play, and it needs to come to console so I can throw money at it again.
Ion Fury ($24.99)
If you know what 3D Realms or Apogee Software mean, you’re in the right place, and have good taste in general. Ion Fury from 3D Realms is a massive technical achievement, and an amazing shooter with a kickass protagonist. It feels like a modern Duke Nukem 3D in all aspects, but I adore playing Ion Fury despite how long it is. The way Ion Fury uses this classic game engine in the modern era is worth watching (on Digital Foundry) even if you don’t plan on buying it. I can’t wait to play the Ion Fury DLC whenever it does release.
Warhammer 40k: Boltgun ($21.99)
Warhammer 40k: Boltgun is set in the Warhammer 40k universe, but it is basically a blend of a boomer shooter and modern DOOM. I love the gameplay, aesthetic, and most of the levels, but it sometimes feels like it relies on modern shooters too much. Despite the Warhammer 40k universe setting, Warhammer 40k: Boltgun is approachable by anyone looking for a classic shooter fix, and I can’t get over how well some of the weapons and sounds come together. This is top tier stuff despite its issues, and I hope we get a follow up or DLC.
ULTRAKILL ($24.99) (Early Access)
Yes yes yes. I know ULTRAKILL isn’t a traditional boomer shooter, but it blends in the best bits of boomer shooters with character action games. I love Devil May Cry and I love boomer shooters so why would I not like ULTRAKILL, published by New Blood Interactive? Even in early access, ULTRAKILL is an unbelievably polished experience that blends in the fast-paced violent gameplay from boomer shooters with skill-based action game scoring. This blend of genres makes so much sense after playing just a bit of ULTRAKILL, but I don’t even want to think of how much work went into nailing everything about it. ULTRAKILL better get a console release and vinyl soundtrack or Dave Oshry is getting an angry email from yours truly.
Turbo Overkill ($19.99)
Turbo Overkill is why this boomer shooter feature on TouchArcade exists at all. The opening moments of this cyberpunk setting into your chainsaw and the music all come together to make this one of the best shooters available today. Yes, it is immediately in the top tier of the boomer shooter subgenre, and the gameplay variety and level design are stunning. I’m glad Turbo Overkill exists not only because it is a fantastic game, but also because it got me to discover more great games. The boss fights are also a highlight in Turbo Overkill.
Nightmare Reaper ($24.99)
Nightmare Reaper is one of those games that makes you go Cosmo Kramer mindblown.gif. It blends in classic shooters, looters, and rogue-lites together with a (say it Bart) soundtrack from Andrew Hulshult to honestly just question how things work so well. The procedurally generated aspects might turn some off, but I’m impressed with how the developers Blazing Bit Games managed pulling this off. This one has a demo as well, and I’d recommend trying it out.
Someone I know through Shaun recommended HROT when I asked him for his favorite boomer shooter. HROT is a game I didn’t know about two weeks ago, but I’m glad I bought it on the recommendation. This one has a demo, but I just took a chance on the full game. The single-player retro FPS is set in a small Slavic country set after a disaster in the late 80s. HROT’s gameplay is great, but the atmosphere and aesthetic are the highlights. It is incredible that HROT was done by one person, and I urge you to try the demo at least. It will be unlike anything you likely have experienced so far in shooters.
CULTIC Chapter One ($9.99)
CULTIC is another 3D Realms release, but this one as far as I can tell, has been completely done by one person, Jason Smith. It feels almost too good for a one person release, and it is currently available as “Chapter One”, but don’t start thinking this is a demo or early access. This is a complete, polished, and superb shooter experience that I adore. It also perfectly swaps between keeping you on your toes with its gameplay, having you soak in the style, and even throws in some horror to spice things up. I cannot wait for CULTIC Chapter Two, and to see how that builds on the current game modes and lore. In a lot of ways CULTIC reminded me of one of those games you’d see someone post about that was too good to be true, but this one exists, and is incredible.
GRAVEN ($24.99) (Early Access)
So GRAVEN is an early access release, and with that comes the usual caveats about the state of the game and content. It blends in boomer shooter elements with puzzles in a dark fantasy world. I wasn’t sure if I should include this until it gets more content, but the atmosphere and gameplay right now justified it. I’d wait for a demo on this one before jumping in, but I like what I’ve played of GRAVEN a lot.
Selaco (Free demo)
While GRAVEN had the caveat of being an early access release, Selaco is only available as a free demo on Steam right now. It also aims to blend in the best of the classic 90s shooters with modern features, but it feels unlike anything else I’ve played so far. The destruction, enemy design, encounter design, and more come together to only annoy me that I can’t play the full game right now. This demo is free so just try it out for yourself. You will not regret it.
I like Project Warlock II a lot more than the first game even in its early access state right now, but I still think the first game is worth playing if you’re ok with the aesthetic. The reason I’m featuring Project Warlock II here, is because I trusted a friend and just blindly bought both but started playing Project Warlock II first. The first game has bite-sized levels and some great designs across the board, but it is a bit easy. Project Warlock II is a huge upgrade that almost reminds me of what I experienced going from Nioh to Nioh 2, but this one does more. The first game feels like it channels some Wolfenstein 3D as well, but the second one’s verticality and movement are good enough that I almost embedded a chef’s kiss gif here.
Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer ($16.99)
Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer is the most 90s media I’ve experienced since well, the 90s. Playing it felt like I was back in school trying to sneak in some time playing a WWF game on my PlayStation. Big Z Studios’ release here is one of the most “designed just for me for sure” releases I’ve played with its humor, visuals, awesome gameplay, and great music. It is almost criminal that I know people who skipped this because they thought they needed to play Hypnospace Outlaw first. I never got around to it around launch because of time reasons, but I love Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer with all its faults. It is a release in which I wouldn’t change a thing. It is pure art.
I originally didn’t feel right calling or categorizing the games that literally inspired what people consider boomer shooters in a list about boomer shooters, but they are absolutely still worth playing or revisiting if you already own them. That’s why the games below are ones you might’ve already played, but with a story from me on how I discovered or finally played them.
Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition ($19.99)
When I played Rise of the Triad back in the day, I liked it, but it didn’t stick with me like Heretic or DOOM did. When Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition was revealed, I was only interested in it because I saw Nightdive Studio and New Blood Interactive involved. The only things missing based on how this feature on boomer shooters has gone thus far would be Apogee and Andrew Hulshult. Well they’re both involved. Yes, you can use Andrew Hulshult’s 2013 Rise of the Triad soundtrack in Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition. So this basically feels like the boomer shooter dream team working on one of the OGs, but is Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition worth getting? Yes it is. Even if you didn’t play it before, a ton of love and care has gone into this package and I’ve enjoyed it enough to gift it to three people so far in the last week.
Quake II and Quake ($9.99 each)
Would you believe me if I said I never played the original Quake and Quake II until Nightdive Studio’s enhanced remasters? Back in the day, I fell out of shooters and missed the whole Quake wave. I loved Nightdive’s work on Quake I and the incredible soundtrack, so was curious to see how I’d find Quake II. Quake II isn’t as good as the first game, but this re-release sure is amazing at how much content has been crammed into its low asking price package. The madmen even included Quake 64. How can you not buy it when they do things like that?
DOOM AND DOOM II BUT NOT DOOM 3 ($4.99 each)
I still remember convincing my dad to get me DOOM II when he was on holiday abroad. Back then I had only played DOOM through its shareware release and didn’t know that wasn’t the complete game. When I got DOOM II, I was blown away by how much it had in it, and while I prefer DOOM to DOOM II, they are both legendary and available on literally everything including mobile with superb conversions that I’ve been writing about for years now. DOOM and DOOM II feel like the perfect finale to this feature on boomer shooters because the genre wouldn’t exist without DOOM.
If you made it this far, I hope you found at least one game you’re going to buy because I’ve adored the ones featured here. If someone saying “boomer shooter” made you think of just Doom or Quake, I hope this feature makes you now also think of New Blood Interactive, Andrew Hulshult, Nightdive, 3D Realms, and Apogee (again). Also AMID EVIL’s DLC delayed this a bit more because why would I not want to play new content for one of the best games in years? I’d like to write about the ones I didn’t get time to check out as well in the future like PowerSlave Exhumed, so think of this as the Best Boomer Shooters on Steam Deck Chapter One (like Cultic) with Chapter Two hopefully coming later this year featuring music by Andrew Hulshult.
Interested in more Steam Deck coverage? Check out our Steam Deck recommendations!