Rise of the Triad is a first-generation FPS that technologically sits somewhere between Wolfenstein 3-D and Doom. In fact, it started its development as a follow up to Wolf3D but eventually became its own thing. The map designs are somewhat limited because they are restricted to an orthogonal grid layout. But, on the positive side, the engine allows for the use of a lot of vertical space and overlap. There are raised catwalks, hovering platforms, and bouncy jump pads. The bulk of the gameplay is learning to navigate the various mazes of platforms, secret touch plates, deadly traps, and moving walls.
Of course the biggest innovation of this game was its excessive gore! It’s where the term gibs originated, which describes the flying body parts when an enemy is exploded.
I’ll admit that my love for this game is mostly nostalgia. The actual shootouts are a bit repetitive due to simple enemy A.I. and a lack of variety. Most of the time you are just mowing down everything with your infinite ammo machine gun (which sounds like an outboard motor). There are about half-a-dozen limited use missile weapons and they are all great and it’s always a thrill to pick one up and start blasting away. I wish more effort had been placed into creating these minion baddies. I know they could have been better because each of the four episodes ends with a fun and challenging boss fight that makes you realize how fast and fun the game can be.
Now I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the best and most creative part of ROTT: the insane power-ups. Namely God Mode which makes you taller, invulnerable, and able to shoot cosmic energy balls that kill everything on the screen. All the while you are moaning with god-like power!
The is also a Dog Mode which allows you to craw under some obstacles and a few negative power-ups too (shrooms mode and elastic mode).
All said, Rise of the Triad: Dark War remains playable and fun decades later. It can be purchased for 60¢ or so on a seasonal Gog.com sale. The best way to play it is to use the mod called WinRottGL which can easily be found on the ‘net for free.