There is a distinction between bad art and media that simply isn’t for you. This can be a difficult lesson to learn, as shocking imagery or complex flavors can often be used to mask a poorly constructed experience. Playing a graphically violent video game with crumby mechanics or drinking an unbalanced hoppy brew can cause knee-jerk reactions that quickly calcify into unwavering opinions.
But once you start to notice the discrepancy between sub-par products and excellent creations that are not your jam, a new appreciation for other experiences can bloom.
For this rather obvious pairing, I choose a beer and video game that share a grim name and each have rather off-putting elements. However, both of these items offer engaging experiences that are at the top of their respective crafts.
Doom is not the first of Founders Brewing Company’s Barrel-Aged Series that I have sampled. As each of these limited releases hits shelves, I try my best to scoop up at least a single bottle. For this particular brew, Founders took their imperial IPA and aged it in bourbon barrels. While the darker/sweeter beers like porters and stouts are typically barrel-aged, some brewers are experimenting with aging hoppier beers to bring out the malt character and impart some oak notes to mingle with the hop flavors. This is certainly the case with the third release in Founders’ Barrel-Aged Series.
Doom pours a rich honey color with bright golden hues and a frothy bone white head. There is a pungent resin hop nose that emanates from the glass, with a hint of sweet oak. Doom has not lost any of its bite from the barrel. The first taste is bitter piney hops that continues throughout. A malty body of biscuit dough and vanilla follows, with notes of tobacco in the background. Finishes dry with a herbal hop flavor, which is cut short by a lingering boozy sweetness.
Of the Barrel-Aged series I have sampled so far, Doom is the most difficult to approach. It has an intense hop profile that covers both herbal and resinous flavors. The sweeter characteristics of bourbon carry into the beer, but at 12.4% ABV, the aggressive bite of the whiskey also makes an appearance. I can say with confidence that this brew is not for me. However, Doom is well-balanced and showcases the success of mingling the stronger tastes of hoppy beer and oaky bourbon. I would recommend folks who enjoy either of those particular styles of beverage to seek out this unique brew. Plus, the aggressive elements and well-crafted execution of liquid Doom pair nicely with its digital namesake.
There is a moment in Doom where my potentially evil cybernetic handler chastises the protagonist for destroying multiple energy filtration systems. He explains that these filters purify Argent energy (which is syphoned from Hell) as a means to provide a near-limitless energy source (from Hell) to Earth. On the final (Hell energy) filtration system, my handler urges Doomguy to leave the system intact, lest I cast the Earth back to the Dark Ages of an unsolvable energy crisis.
Mid-soliloquy, Doomguy kicks the filtration system to pieces, removing any option for the player to decide if an energy source from Hell is the right path for humanity. As far as Doomguy is concerned, there is a bad lady to kill before she unleashes demon hordes into our world, and that’s all that matters. If nothing else, Doomguy is very clear on its stance concerning the Clean Hell Energy™ platform.
Now that you have an idea of just how un-subtle Doom can be, let’s take a step back to look at this reboot on a more macro scale.
Often described as Doom (2016) to differentiate from its ancestor, the first incarnation of this title was announced as Doom 4 in 2007 at QuakeCon. Originally, the game was to be set on Earth and feature more scripted and cinematic qualities, similar to the style of first-person shooter titles at the time. After several staffing shifts and rounds through development hell, Doom was reworked to take place on Mars and be more akin to the mechanics found in the first two titles in the Doom series.
The resulting game feels like a hyperventilated breath of fresh air from the cover-based shooters of the last decade. Instead of relying on regular protected pit stops to recharge your health/shield, players are encouraged (both through gameplay and in-game hints) to never stop moving. Doing so means never getting corned by the aggressive demons who hound your Doomguy, as well as being regularly rewarded with health pick-ups and power-ups.
This frenetic action is balanced with well-designed levels that incentivize exploration. There are plenty of worthwhile secrets to find in the game, many of which are lasting upgrades to your weapons and available actions. Best of all, there is a highly concealed switch in each level that provides access to an equally secret door. These doors open to levels from the first two titles in the Doom series, complete with original graphics and power-ups. Uncovering these hidden rooms unlocks the entire classic level as a playable option in a separate menu.
Nearly all of this content is optional, which not only provides replay value, but also gives players the route of simply speeding through Doom as quickly (and violently) as possible.
Above all, playing Doom feels good. The controls are straightforward and the game design creates spaces for players to learn each new weapon or technique as they are introduced. Combat and movement are equally fluid, matching the fast-paced action built into the world. Later in the game, a double-jump is added to the Doomguy’s set of verbs, which allows for even more options in combat arenas and map exploration. Every button press and resulting action feel in-sync and satisfying, which is emphasized by some truly excellent sound design.
Of course, Doom would not live up to its legacy if it didn’t have an aggressive and violent aesthetic. The latest title in the series continues the blending of the infernal, industrial, and medieval, but includes some too-clean science fiction settings as an intentional contrast. Above all, there is gore. Buckets, fountains, and rivers of gore. Every enemy is a potential geyser of blood and there are literal piles of steaming remains strewn about every level.
A particular game mechanic serves to further this gruesome imagery. Aptly named Glory Kills are executed when an enemy is low on health. Once the demon starts flashing, players can mash a particular button. This snaps the Doomguy to his prey, which he violently executes, often tearing them apart in a spray of viscera.
This is where my engagement with the game breaks down. Despite once being a teenager who reveled in the over-the-top gore of campy horror movies, I simply don’t enjoy watching such graphic violence in any media, even when played for hyperbole. The constant stream of blood and violence in Doom unsettled me until the last boss fight with the primary researcher and antagonist in the game, whose loyalty to the demonic hordes is rewarded with her being transformed into a twisted abomination of cybernetics.
But…I did play to the last encounter of Doom. Not out of some obligation to finish a video game, as I have long since abandoned that completionist streak. What kept me playing Doom was realizing that this media may not be for me, but it is such a well-crafted experience that I wanted to see it through.
Yes, the Glory Kill system is over-the-top and graphic. But it serves as a means to traverse through the game at an advanced pace and reach areas that would otherwise be unavailable by grappling to enemies. Every weapon causes massive amounts of disturbing damage and violence. But the design and mechanics of each weapon is so detailed, and nearly all of them remain effective throughout the experience (providing the player with options that most shooters abandoned over the course of play). Every single environment in Doom is a literal horror show, but traversing them feels great. Player exploration and ingenuity are regularly rewarded in Doom, which is sorely lacking in so many big budget titles of our time.
So what I have found is a beer and video game pairing that I do not want to experience again, but I can undoubtedly recommend. This new title from id Software is out of my wheelhouse and I found it difficult to stomach at times, but it is such a damn good game that I couldn’t tear myself away. The barrel-aged IPA from Founders is too hoppy and boozy for my tastes, but it is well-balanced brew that displays the creators’ expertise and love for their craft. I would encourage readers to give Doom a chance. If nothing else, you will experience two well-crafted creations (and maybe have some nightmares about demons and hops).
You may have noticed earlier in this post that there is a link to a purchasing page for Doom on various systems. That link (along with the one directly above) is an affiliate link to help maintain the costs of running this site.
Clicking through the affiliate link will direct you to the Amazon page for the specific product, but you can support Digital Draughts by purchasing ANYTHING on Amazon using these links. Just click through the link above and buy any items, which will provide support to keep Digital Draughts chugging along! Many thanks and happy hunting!