2013’s reboot of Rise of the Triad is a bit of a mixed bag. It certainly stands out among its first-person shooter peers, but its attempt at fusing old-school gameplay with modern technology didn’t quite hit the right notes. Die-hard fans have taken to the task of reinterpreting the game in their own way, and one of the better results is Return of the Triad.
Presented as an unofficial sequel, it’s a standalone mod running on a highly customised version of the ZDoom engine. The gameplay rules and settings have been adjusted to more closely mimic Rise of the Triad, with lots of graphics, sounds and textures lifted to induce the feeling that this is a lost product of the classic Apogee / 3D Realms catalogue.
Almost everything you know and love from the original Rise of the Triad is present and accounted for, with a slightly more refined look which nonetheless keeps in line with its retro roots. The ZDoom engine supports higher resolutions, mouselook and jumping, creating a far more accessible experience than the original game. You’re also not restricted to four weapons, allowing your character to carry a pretty impressive and devastating arsenal.
Remember those traps that released mustard gas, requiring the player to don a gas mask? They’re back. Remember the sneaky guards who’d play dead and then get up and shout “drop it!” as you approached? They’re here too. Remember the priest porridge, the jump pads and the elevators made out of silver disks? Well, they’re all gleefully and faithfully implemented.
It’s a right lark and lots of fun to play, but be warned that the experience gets rather tricky. I don’t mean in terms of shooting – mowing down waves of dumb Triad enforcers, especially with the absurd weapons available, is a breeze. No, the difficulty comes in the level design, which is an appropriate homage to how shooters were done in the ’90s. Levels are sprawling, complex and maze-y, with lots of key-hunting and getting lost in corridors. There are no checkpoints and auto-saving only occurs when a new level is loaded, so you’ll have to get into the habit of quick-saving often in order to avoid having to restart a level all over. Although the level count is small – nine maps split over two episodes – their size and scope ensures a good chunk of playtime.
You can get it by visiting the official site here. You don’t need Doom or Rise of the Triad to run it, as it’s completely standalone. The package offered above is catered to Windows users, but those of the Mac and Linux persuasion can also get it running if they’re willing to fiddle and use custom builds of ZDoom for their OSes.