Calling all living and non-living individuals. Welcome to Gloom and Doom – a homage to 90’s slacker movies. Not exactly what most expect of a visual novel!
As far as visual novels go, it’s eye-catching to see one that strays from the anime aesthetic. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about that at all. It’s quite the contrary actually. Visual novels have the potential to be so much. By adapting history and themes, you can expand a genre that’s settled on a standard. Hopefully by doing so, it will bring attention to a variety in design and style when creating the story. Now, does this game hold its own weight or does it fall flat trying to stand out? Let’s see.
SPOOKY STORY SPACE!
Our story begins on a daily job for Gloom. He’s an ancient wraith with kill orders given to him by an angel called Michael. Gloom’s objective is to complete enough requests so he can ascend to heaven. Despite having done this job for hundreds of years, Gloom has yet to see any results. We then get to meet some of Gloom’s friends. Mr. Yesterday is an old-looking man that‘s basically Gloom’s player 2. Then there’s Lucia – a woman who he used to fight side by side with. Both have tirelessly told him to give up on Michael and learn to appreciate life. Gloom doesn’t listen and kills another demon on Michael’s list before reporting it. As he does, he learns there’s a chance one more job might be his ticket to heaven.
On another side of town, we meet Wynona – a normal girl with severe mental issues. She suffers from both depression and anxiety. Wynona has accepted that she needs to die. Although, no matter how much she tries to end her life, she just can’t. Since birth, her dreams have shown her as being destined to end the world. Because of that, she’s affectionately known as The Doom Bringer. Wynona’s daily routine consists of school, working at a DVD rental store, and having a hopeless attitude towards life. One day, upon hearing a rumor of a wraith living there, she seeks him out. She’ll hurry over to the house he lives in. As soon as she meets Gloom, the two surprisingly hit it off. They discuss their disappointments in life and the cards they’ve been dealt.
What she doesn’t expect is that Gloom’s final job is to actually end her life. The problem is Gloom isn’t comfortable killing someone that hasn’t done any evil. Not to mention that she’s asking to die over a possible future. To add insult to injury, he tries to end her life more than once. It fails because she feels the pain and stays alive. If that wasn’t enough, demons are out to kill Gloom due to his siding with the angels. He’s working with them to end the life of the one who can cause chaos. Our duo Gloom and Doom Bringer will have no rest, even if they wish for it.
UNDEAD WORLD & GAMEPLAY!
The supernatural and common world is intertwined in this story. For example, Gloom commonly plays video games. Lucia can be seen drinking something akin to Starbucks. This shows how much the other side has gotten used to living with humans. Demons can only appear to those they wish to. That doesn’t stop them from using the resources humans have created over the years though. We even get a chance to meet Nathaniel, an angel who spends his days skateboarding. He has a pet owl that acts as his eyes named Aristotle. Nathaniel was blinded during one of the wars he fought in. It’s cool seeing how Wynona’s reality shatters as she meets the supernatural. We see her go from wondering how god looks, to wondering if Keanu Reeves is the second coming of Christ.
It’s fun to see Gloom’s character as a whole. It might seem cliche for the beings from the underworld to try and change, but this time it felt so genuine and natural that I couldn’t help but support him. You can see it in the ways he expresses himself and talks about life in general; he is just tired of life. Wynona on the other hand is a girl slowly learning to appreciate herself while trying to end her own life. The story has a simple premise but such a good message on the debate of Nature VS. Nurture, basically weighing in if your upbringing impacts more than your own nature on your decisions. It’s a long-running question that has arguments for both sides. Also, when you can see a human and a wraith trying to squeeze themselves out of a situation by answering an old school culture quiz from two demons, you know they’ve done something right.
Speaking of answering, I have to give credit to this game for the amount of different choices you can make. Kill or not kill is a dilemma that summarizes Gloom’s evolution as a wraith and the choices reflect on the gameplay. While the consequences only affect the situation usually, the game does have seven endings and those can vary widely. I would definitely recommend that you save before some choices to see everything, but the game isn’t too long if you just want to replay. The world’s in your hands and they are quite spectral – make sure it doesn’t slip away!
ARTS & CRAFTS
This game lives and dies by its art design. It’s inspired by an old-school style in all ways. This extends from their rough layout to even the text font feeling like something out of a 90’s program. It also bathes itself in using various tropes from that decade. This is almost to the point of relying on nostalgia at times and if you don’t know the references, you might get a bit lost.
The music in this game also brings out the Noir feel to it, helping to immerse us in a time long forgotten for video games, with simpler assets and a rusty feel to it thanks to the hardware limitations at the time. I’ve seen Doom 1993 running on a digital camera, these are wild times compared to back then.
Overall, Gloom and Doom is a good visual novel even if it’s on the shorter side. It’s focused on a really good message of fighting what is determined to you in order to shape a future for yourself in the way you see fit. It does rely a bit on the nostalgia for the 90s in order to make sure you stay focused on some parts of the game, but if you are younger don’t cast this game aside. I truly feel like there’s a great story here.
GLOOM AND DOOM IS RECOMMENDED.
Many thanks go to Neo Tegoel Games for a PC review code for this title.
Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage
Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!
Nick has been gaming for quite a while, a decade now! His first console was the DS but the first one played extensively was the Nintendo 64. He loves a huge variety of games, favourite genres include RPG, platforming, metroidvanias and visual novels. No longer a member of the NookGaming team, but still here in spirit. Follow him on @NickMendz.