So, I gave a bit of an overview of why I liked Golden Souls 2 in my last article. Today we’re going to take a deeper look at it. Because I wanted people to experience it for themselves, my brief review didn’t touch on a lot of finer details. That’s what this article will be doing, but I gotta be honest. Golden Souls 2 is HUGE! So huge this is gonna be a multiparter! I figure this will prevent spoiling the entirety of the experience for those who want to get a more in depth idea of what to expect, but leave a chunk of the experience unspoiled. For now, we’re going to cover the first two worlds.
Today we’ll be taking a more in depth look at Golden Souls 2, with a look at its weapons, worlds, and monsters. So that said, SPOILER WARNINGS! I did say this is best experienced yourself first, but if you want to know more before playing, I’ll be covering things in order. So you can choose to stop before hitting a new world if you want to avoid being spoiled on its stuff. That said, we’ll only be covering the first half in this part, with part 2 covering the latter half and endgame. Ready to read on? Then hit that jump like Mario-Err…Doomguy…?
So before we start, have you read the initial review? If not, GO DO THAT.
Okay, caught up? Good. Let’s get down to brass tacks then, and take a look at the experience that is Golden Souls 2.
As mentioned in the review, it opens up with Cyberdemon kidnapping our beloved Daisy, so of course we gotta go get her back. Several themed worlds sit between us and Cyberdemon, with the first being the Grasslands, a biome any Mario player knows serves best as the start to any good Mario-esque platformer.
You’ll start out only armed with your sidearm and fists, though it’s more than enough to deal with the first few threats. Doomguy’s fists are actually a two in one deal, offering the usual jab, but also the ability to hold altfire to charge up a Berserk Uppercut that will wreck face. It takes a bit to ready, but once it’s charged, this uppercut will decimate lesser enemies, making it a great way to save ammo against up close threats like pinkies, or even Cacodemons if you’re feeling brave enough. Yes, on a good damage roll, this thing can oneshot a caco. Your pistol isn’t the fastest, or the strongest, but it *is* accurate, making it good for picking off weaker threats from a distance. It does have to reload every 10 shots though, so keep that in mind.
Not very far into the very first level of Green Plains, we get introduced to a Golden Souls exclusive staple: The mutant plant. It comes in multiple varieties, with the small mobile version having a rather interesting quirk…It only takes full damage if you shoot it during its attack animation, with your weaponry doing almost nothing to its health otherwise! Plus side though: Hitting it during the attack animation also stops it from spitting fire at you, meaning with some well timed shots, you can take it out with minimal ammo spent, and no fire coming your way. It’ll take several bullets if you don’t do this, versus around 2-3 if you do, so it makes a difference!
Golden Souls 2 is thankfully quick to give you a newer, stronger toy to play with. An inversion on the usual Super Shotgun! The hunting shotgun, while indeed a double barrel, has a fairly tight spread for a scattergun, making it great for close to midrange encounters. It also can be fired one barrel at a time if you don’t need 2 shots to do your current job, making it a great, flexible weapon for the early game. Good thing you get it too, because you’ve got Cacodemons to worry about now.
It takes around 5 shells to get through a cacodemon, though 2 tops will deal with the killer plants and imps depending on how many pellets connect, so yeah, it’s a good early workhorse. While it does have to reload every 2 shots, it’s a quick enough reload that you won’t feel too pressured, so yeah, I like it. Good early shotgun, easily up there with Doom’s original shotguns.
And this world isn’t even done giving you new toys yet, as one of the levels right after Green Plains will give you another good weapon! Next stop, Groovy Grotto.
Groovy Grotto is more or less your classic cavern level from Super Mario World, but with hellspawn in place of Koopa minions. You’ll be introduced to a lot of staples of Golden Souls 2 here, crusher traps, floating platform jumps, all good stuff. You’ll also be introduced to your new rapid fire option: the Assault Rifle. While it’s not a chaingun, it still rapidly fires with only a slight bit of shot spread, making it good for longer ranges. If you end up needing bullets for really long range, your pistol is still the way to go due to superior accuracy, but in most cases if you want to shoot bullets? This is your gun for doing it now.
Groovy Grotto also serves as an introduction to a somewhat rare, but extremely fun powerup serving as the Berserk replacement: the Fire Orb! With this, you’ll shoot bouncing fireballs much like Mario, but also have a secondary shot that turns your hand into a personal flamethrower. Sadly, it’s time limited in use, but it’s fun as heck while you have it.
Another enemy you’ll be seeing a lot makes itself known as you arrive in the Water Cave map: Sniffits.
Sniffits replace the various Zombie types, and unlike those firearm toting undead, Sniffits aren’t hitscanners. They use fast projectiles that you actually *can* dodge, so they’re far less annoying to deal with. They do come in various flavors, with Reds being single shot, green firing a 3 way spread, and blue firing a burst of shots. Having what are basically projectile based zombie replacements is another reason I love this mod: You don’t need to constantly hide behind a wall because of some stupid chaingunner.
From here on out, it’s basically more of what you’d expect from the early levels of Doom and Mario, though I do have to give a shoutout to my favorite level of World 1 due to its visual appeal: Oriental Garden.
Oriental Gardens functionally doesn’t do anything too special, just doing more of what Golden Souls 2 does best. But I love it because visually it’s just such a nice, pleasing level. You have particle effects to simulate fireflies in a dark Japanese style garden, complete with appropriate architecture. As someone who loves this kind of thing, this level’s just a treat. Plus it uses a good music track from the SNES classic Legend of the Mystical Ninja to set the mood. So yeah, good level.
One rather interesting thing about Golden Souls 2 is that you don’t have keys per map. Several Skull Palaces are hidden throughout the world that each have a Skull Key, and these Skull Keys can then be brought to maps with matching locked doors. The keys themselves are unlimited in use, essentially meaning they’re an excuse to go back and re-explore any level you found a locked door in previously. Since enemies don’t respawn when you re-visit old levels, you don’t have to worry about burning through health and ammo in the process, and you can always grab extra coins too. I personally love this idea of being able to replay old levels to grab things you missed, or maybe didn’t need the first time through.
And guess what? That Yellow Key’s got a pretty immediate use in a level you can find past the Oriental Garden: Spider Mansion! Every World’s got a level full of Golden Spiders you’ll be hunting for. You may eventually find someone interested in all the spider tokens these golden critters drop upon death, so you’d best get searching! But there’s another good reason to visit this level: the Energy Blaster!
The Energy Blaster is essentially Samus’ arm cannon from Metroid in pistol form, minus the missile function. Its ammo supply recharges over time, meaning it’ll always be ready to shoot if you give it a second or two, and thus gives you a way to deal with weaker threats from a distance while conserving ammo. The Energy Blaster pacts a respectable punch, with its charged shot being able to oneshot most low tier threats like Imps and similar. The only downside being that the weapon isn’t hitscan, so you have to lead your shots from a distance. It can also be fired even if its ammo is 0, but you’ll find the range somewhat lacking in this case…That said, this is a great weapon and one I tend to rely on a lot in situations where I don’t need to quickly kill things, and would rather conserve my ammo so it’s handy for bigger fights or situations I need something dead faster. Speaking of that, our next stop has plenty of things to kill.
The first fortress of Golden Souls 2 is definitely a case of ‘Oldie, but a goodie.’ It’s a good old fashioned stone castle with lava everywhere, just the kind of thing Bowser would employ. What keeps this one interesting is segments where the lava rises and falls, meaning you have to move through spots quickly while it’s low and reach high ground before the lava rises back up and melts you. It keeps you on your toes, and it’s just another great example of why this megawad’s maps work so well: They blend shooting and platforming together in a way you don’t usually see in Doom that’s really, REALLY fun.
But what would a fortress be without a good boss fight…?
Each Fortress has its own boss with its own gimmick, and while there’s a lot of good ol Doom style circle strafe to be done, there’s a few things that’ll keep you on your toes during boss encounters, such as arenas changing shape. As far as first bosses go, Afrit is fine. Dodge, shoot, grab ammo if you need it, y’know the drill. Just think of him as a Baron that’s extra fast and flies.
Once you conquer Afrit, it’s onto the Desert! …Which means Golden Souls 2 can now join Diablo 2, Diablo 3, and Torchlight 2 on the “Why is the second act always a desert!?” list. It’s not all bad though, the first level of said Desert gives us an explosive new weapon use!
The TrumpetBuss, because someone thought we needed a trumpet on the end of a blunderbuss. The result however speaks for itself: explosive musical notes that serve as a great way to take out heavier targets, or quickly remove a group of weaker enemies clustered together. It’s a great twist on the rocket launcher, and it fires a bit faster than Doom’s vanilla launcher too. And music blocks are plentiful, so you can afford to be generous in your dispensing of Doots when you’ve got groups of enemies or bigger boys like Hell Knights and Barons to worry about.
It’s here in the first Desert level we also get introduced to another baddie we know and hate: Spike Imp! Based on Spike from the Mario series, he chucks an endless supply of bouncing spike balls at you. Think of them as big grenades that don’t explode but instead rely on their sheer size and weight.
The Desert also introduces us to another powerup: The Protection Sphere. Essentially it’s just the Radsuit, but you spawn them by finding switches which dispense one nearby for you to use, and use them you will. The Relic Ruins you find these in has quicksand tunnels that will quickly drain your health unless you’ve got a Protection Sphere shielding you.
You’ll also be introduced to another Mario staple here: Spooky houses full of ghosts! Every world’s got at least one “Haunted” Location to worry about, full of spooky enemies, but also rewarding Golden Spiders that give you Spider Tokens like those you found in Spider Mansion! More immediately important though, we get introduced to Golden Souls 2’s take on the Lost Soul, or as I call it, The Boo Soul.
Boo Souls are immune to damage when transparent, but also just sit where they are. This is the state they’ll be in when you’re staring them down, while looking away makes them solid, and leaves them that way for a precious moment when you turn back around. The trick is to look away, quickly whip your head back around, and shoot! But be quick, looking away from one for too long will cause it to charge you and attack. I have to say this was a pretty clever way to implement Boos as an enemy in Golden Souls, and using the Lost Soul as the monster template just makes sense. Plus seeing Lost Souls doing Boo esque things like sticking their tongues out is just kinda silly and I love it. This level also has a secret exit, but I’m leaving that one for you guys to find, along with the level it unlocks. Get searching!
A few more ghostly enemies make themselves known here too: Disembodied hands, bouncing flaming skulls (not to be confused with lost souls), big muscular mummies, and my least favorite…Lantern ghosts. They’re fast, they spray tons of fire that does a lot of damage. It’s like a chaingunner but they can fly and have a flamethrower.
Even after you leave the haunted Arid Abode, you’ll find pain is still ever present as you discover a 2D platformer staple I hate, but admit this wouldn’t be the same without.
Why’d it have to be spikes!?
Much like any good platformer, spikes in this are instant death. They’ll often retract briefly, giving you precious seconds to try and get to another spike free area before they pop back up to impale you. I hate them, but let’s be honest: It wouldn’t be the same without them.
The next fortress ends up bringing in some cool new gameplay twists of its own. Welcome to Pyro Pyramid!
First thing’s first, shoutout to the music of this fortress. It’s just clever. It’s an Egyptian style take on the fortress theme of the original Super Mario Bros, making it very thematically appropriate for the level. Speaking of Super Mario Bros, you’ll notice some of the Hell Knights now have shelled helmets and hammers.
The other unique thing you’ll be introduced to in this level is the Flight Sphere, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Many of the lava filled corridors lack any solid ground to use, so you’ll have to grab one of these powerups and fly through before it wears off. There’s also some secrets you’ll only be able to reach with quick flying, so expect to give this more than one shot: Thankfully the Flight Spheres can be respawned and recollected if you don’t get it right on the first try.
Once you hit the end, it’s time for the next boss, Anubeast!
Quick on his feet compared to a regular Baron, Anubeast also sports a homing projectile he can fire fairly quick, meaning you may have to make use of the arena’s cover to evade his shots versus just running circles around him. You’ll also need to make sure you maintain distance so you can safely use the TrumpetBuss, as this is the weapon they give you a ton of ammo for before the fight itself. It’s very much a cat and mouse kind of fight that’s all about spacing and cover, and helps break the usual “Just circle strafe it” formula one sees in Doom boss encounters.
With the Desert conquered, it’s onto another Mario staple world type: The water world, which will be where we start off on Part 2.
Stay tuned and come back next week if you want to see more of this! Or if you’ve seen enough and think you want to give it a try, go do that!