Impaler Review: A Good Retro Shooter for Busy People

Feels like playing retro Doom in less than 30 minutes.

Alec Padua
Alec Padua
5 Min Read
7 Good
Review Overview

Retro dungeon-crawler shooters have been one of the most underrated genres we’ve seen so far. Here’s a short but replayable FPS shooter called Impaler that you can get on Steam for only $2.99. Developed by Apptivus and published by Retrovibe, this game brings us back to when Doom was starting out in the early 90s.

For a game that’s developed in a custom engine in C and OpenGL, I am quite impressed by the team’s effort to create such a nostalgic shooter with modern gameplay mechanics. Here’s a short but sweet review of Impaler.

Presentation & Gameplay

Impaler brings us into a simple pixel castle dungeon with ten levels plus a boss level. Your main goal is to survive against hordes of enemies while taking advantage of the environment, such as exploding barrels and jump pads to wreak havoc. You can also summon spikes to skewer demons and heal yourself.

Dark dungeon gameplay presentation
Dark atmospheric vibes that remind us of Doom

I liked that they’ve put so much detail in a simple shooter, adding some fog and lighting effects to enhance Impaler’s atmosphere. Plus, the gunplay almost feels like I’m playing a 3D shooter but only using 2D (or 2.5D) pixel art.

Skewer enemies with your spike
Hold right-click to activate your spike (this might be where they got the name Impaler)

The devs also implemented the soft particles, volumetric effects, bullet penetrations, and ricochets pretty well. And don’t get me started with the soundtrack. It was one of the reasons that I got hooked on Impaler, even if I hop in for a short playthrough session.

What it looks like when you die in Impaler.
This is what it looks like when you die. Feel the gore.

Weapons & Upgrades

For every level you clear, Impaler gives you a chance to receive one or two upgrades depending on how much gold you collect from the level. Each upgrade color has its corresponding upgrade category, and these are the following:

  • Yellow: Gold upgrade
  • Orange: Gun upgrade
  • Green: Spike upgrade
  • Purple: Mind upgrade
  • Blue: Crate upgrade
  • Pink: Body upgrade
Choosing between two random upgrades
Choose one of two random upgrades once you have at least 50 gold.

You are also treated to several unlockable weapons as long as you accomplish the objectives. Currently, you can have six primary weapons to choose from, with your Impaler as your secondary. These weapons are pretty easy to unlock after a few hours of running and gunning:

Weapon list
  • SMG
  • Rocket Launcher
  • Harvester
  • Plasma Gun
  • Assault Rifle
  • Cannon

Did I also mention that this game also has bullet time? I’m honestly amazed at this price point you’ll get to feel like playing Max Payne or Neo at some point, and I liked how they added this mechanic to Impaler.

Bullet time mechanics
It’s time for some slow-mo action!

Activating bullet time requires you to be on a killing streak. If you pick up upgrades along the way, you can be an unstoppable slayer. It’s not Devil May Cry, but I’ll take it. The boss fight is pretty easy to beat, too, once you get used to the loop.

The Verdict

Impaler is one of this year’s underrated gems in the retro shooter category. The mix of old-school Doom with a hint of roguelike mechanics is a perfect recipe for gamers to hop in for a quick shooting session. I just wish they would add more content in the future, but it’s also understandable if they don’t.

Impaler boss fight
Boss fight!

After all, it’s only less than $2.99. If only they could pull off similar game loops to Vampire Survivors, Impaler could’ve gotten a higher rating.

We hope you enjoyed our review of Impaler. If you want to get this retro shooter to go about your busy days at work, get it on Steam.

This review is based on the PC version of Impaler. The key was provided by Apptivus and Retrovibe.

Review Overview
Good 7
Overall Score 7 out of 10
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Annyeong, my name's Alec and I’m a full-stack content creator where I focus on producing videos and gaming articles – I get mistaken for a Korean. I rebranded my YouTube channel to "Oppa Lec" in 2023 and turned it into a content sandbox around gaming, music, tech, and video editing tutorials. I’ve also been a YouTuber since 2009 as a one-man production team who has built four channels around piano covers, singing, gaming, and finance niches. You can also catch me streaming occasionally on Twitch and I have music released on platforms like Spotify. While I do enjoy playing mainstream games, I love reviewing indie or “hidden gem” titles. Some of my favorites that stood out are Eternal Return, Oblivion Override, Hades, Risk of Rain 2, Battlebit Remastered, and more. I always believe that you don’t need fancy graphics to make a fantastic game.
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