Review – Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition

Rise of the Triad is not a particularly well-known first-person shooter from the dawn of the genre (back when they were still called “DOOM clones”), but it has had a following for nearly three decades. It was the game that kickstarted the career of the makers of Duke Nukem 3D, and it even garnered a reboot ten years ago. I had never played it before, but when I heard of Nightdive doing one of their trademark remastering treatments on this “classic”, I instantly wanted to give it a try and see what the fuss was all about.

Rise of the Triad Pistol

The good old days of “if I’m pointing my gun sprite towards it, it will count as a shot”.

This is an odd duck. Despite being released a few years after DOOM, Rise of the Triad feels a lot more like its spiritual predecessor, Wolfenstein 3D. In fact, it was first designed to be a straight follow-up to Wolfenstein, as it even uses a heavily modified version of that game’s engine. It features more verticality, especially with the usage of bounce pads and floating platforms, but there’s no actual level geometry. These floating platforms are just mere floating props you can walk on top of. This feels massively dated from the get-go, even for 1995 standards. I don’t think I have properly enjoyed a single level in Rise of the Triad, at least design-wise.

As for the combat, it’s pretty much the same as Wolfenstein 3D. If you’re wielding a gun, you will hit a target if you align your gun’s sprite with the enemy sprite in front of you (the one that, mysteriously enough, is usually a mobster in a trench coat, even though we have to fight cultists in later levels). If you are wielding a rocket launcher, then it just works like a projectile launcher in a DOOM game. Nothing particularly fancy, but functional. The game is too fast for its own good as well, with the small platforms being a terrible fit for a playable character that runs faster than a stabbed badger at all times.

Rise of the Triad Machine Gun

When wielding the machine gun, you might as well just play the entire level holding down the fire button.

Still, I am pretty sure I am playing the absolute best version of Rise of the Triad that has ever been released. Nightdive did not disappoint in terms of remastering to more modern standards. Its MIDI songs have received some extra care in order to sound somewhat decent, even for today’s standards. New control options, HUDs, the possibility of looking up and down with the mouse (severely distorting everything around you in the process), it’s all… fine.

Nightdive even made sure to add a level editor, with an impressive array of assets and editing tools at your disposal. I can only assume this is basically what the original developers of Rise of the Triad had at their disposal back in 1995. I can safely say this will actually allow for the game to become way more appealing than its original release later down the line, once some fans with some actual level design chops come up with vastly superior stages to tackle, since the vast majority of the levels featured in this package, which even includes previously released expansions, is average at the very best.

Rise of the Triad Level Design

You will see a lot of these floaty platforms, a lot of brown floor tiles, and a lot of dudes in robes.

Once again, this review has very little to complain when it comes to Nightdive’s ability to remaster older games into something accessible and enjoyable for today’s standards. When it comes to their work in this Rise of the Triad remaster, I have nothing but the utmost respect. The problem is that Rise of the Triad is very underwhelming, even for shooters of its time. Boring level design, nearly nonexistent geometry, excessively fast-paced gameplay, an emphasis on platforming when there isn’t even a dedicated means to jump, average-at-best weaponry… this is a game that wouldn’t have impressed me that much in 1995, let alone today. I do appreciate the inclusion of a level editor, however.


Graphics: 6.0

Impressive for 1995 standards, even if DOOM predates it. The problem lies in its mundane assets and boring level design. The remaster does it job making the game look somewhat decent for modern standards.

Gameplay: 6.0

It’s incredibly fast, almost to a fault. It heavily relies on precise platforming, despite not even having a jump button. The shooting mechanics are just decent.

Sound: 6.5

It’s not a particularly bad MIDI-based soundtrack, considering the game’s age, but the voice samples are truly annoying.

Fun Factor: 5.5

Rise of the Triad just isn’t as fun as DOOM or Wolfenstein 3D. There’s nothing particularly bad about Nightdive’s efforts in this remaster. The problem lies in the source material not being very appealing. I do appreciate the inclusion of a map editor, however.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.

A copy of Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition was provided by the publisher.