SULFUR is a pulpy first-person dungeon crawler with roguelike sensibilities

A cartoony, dungeon-diving shooter, SULFUR is both unpredicatable and fun in equal measures.

If you turn back time several years you couldn’t move for first-person, roguelike dungeon-crawlers. There were some real gems out, and by the end of the genre’s time in the spotlight it didn’t really feel like anything was going to come along and shake that up: Rogue Shooter hit sci-fi; Delver, fantasy, Eldritch hit, well eldritch. SULFER, almost a decade after each of them, comes complete with a great visual flair, some quirky overanimation and a fun, pulpy vibe, combined into an experience that makes me wonder if we could be about to see a great genre revival.

SULFUR‘s premise is simple, which is precisely all it needs. A witch has blown up your church, you’ve raced after it in your car, smashed into a tree, clambered out with your holy amulet and are about to stumble into a massive cave system to seek your revenge. Your handy amulet explains that it can channel the evil goo within the caves to rewind time and fix your church. It also adds that it’s a kind of ‘return to base’ item, and that it can send you back above the surface if things are getting too tough.

That’s it, that’s the premise. After that, you find a cartridge-loading revolver and a sword, and you’re on your way.  Each floor is randomised and starts off as simple, goblin-possessed cave systems but you end up travelling through twisted towns, dusty deserts and more as you quest off after the witch.

Combat itself isn’t too hard, but if you get overconfident or don’t pay full attention then it’s relatively easy to be mauled to death. Instead, you’ll want to carefully manage your inventory, use ranged weapons when you can and keep an eye out for opportunities to trade and upgrade your possessions. Simple, block-coloured enemies occupy most levels, however, their animations, attack tells and when they overreact to being shot one too many times all add an unexpected level of quality and charm.

I’ve spent a couple of hours with SULFUR now, from first playing it as part of a GDC fringe event to now playing through an early, unreleased version. So far the only times I’ve had any loss of patience, or feeling to step away from it was when I kept missing a jump, losing a lot of health as I tried to explore an empty hovel. Beyond that, it’s continued to surprise me as I’ve reached further and further into its twisted world and as I’ve unlocked and refined more and more weapons.

SULFUR might just bring back the popularity of the first-person dungeon crawler, but regardless, I’m excited to see its final release version.

SULFUR is coming to Windows, but doesn’t currently have a release date.

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