It might be running in the 19-year-old GZDoom engine, but new cyberpunk FPS Selaco stands head and shoulders above its boomer shooter brethren

Selaco protagonist taking cover from enemies
(Image credit: Altered Orbit Studios)

It's been a long time since a game came along that put this much effort into its bathrooms. Working sinks and flush mechanisms, yes⁠—standard fare. We've taken those for granted since 1998, but GZDoom FPS Selaco goes the extra mile: out of its dispensers come absurdly well-drawn and animated toilet paper sprites. Next to its sinks are bottles of toilet cleaner, and yes, both can be flushed down the cistern. Flushing the cleaner even makes the toilet explode. It goes without saying, then, that this is GOTY material.

That same granular detail and interactivity is all around you in Selaco, a shooter that just entered early access on Steam and whose retro game engine and graphics might initially trick you into sizing it up as mere nostalgia. Poke about in its gore-strewn corridors though, and you find some formidable level design to back up the surface-level flashiness.

Selaco - Launch Trailer (Early Access) - YouTube Selaco - Launch Trailer (Early Access) - YouTube
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You're ACE Security captain Dawn, fighting your way through the titular underground security facility that seems to be constantly exploding, and where gun-toting invaders roam. As you blast and knee-slide your way through corridors and F.E.A.R.-like offices, you pick up data logs that begin to tell a deeper story of Selaco's demise, and of the personal lives of its staffers. A classic bit of '90s environmental storytelling that reminds you that you're not playing a run-and-gun. 

Don't mistake it for an immersive sim either though, just because there are keypads and data logs. I tried entering 0451 into one of them and—genuinely—received an electric shock to remind me I wasn’t in Looking Glass territory. I've since learned that had I continued with this practice I would have received a fourth wall-breaking email telling me to stop.

You can whizz along for tens of metres like you’ve got roller skates permanently strapped to your knees.

Selaco sits somewhere in the middle, in one moment throwing you into a bombastic gunfight against deceptively smart AI and where every conceivable bit of scenery is smashed to bits in the most satisfying fashion that GZDoom's sprites can muster. In the next, a slow, considered walk through complex corridors where numerous secrets are nestled. I was taken aback by that downtime at first, expecting Selaco to canter along like Prodeus or Amid Evil. Actually, I felt that I must have gone wrong somewhere and that the next batch of bullet-spraying future soldiers must be tapping their feet and tutting as they waited for me to figure out the signposting. 

But then I really studied the automap and realised that no, this environment isn’t supposed to be taken at a sprint. Selaco wants you to slow down and appreciate the luxurious and ridiculous details it’s put into this world. The functional pool tables and the witty email exchanges. The secret rooms, and the remarkably interactive bathrooms. I was making slow progress through the Early Access build's 31 levels, but that was just how Selaco wanted it. 

Nothing to F.E.A.R.

It’s a different story in combat, of course. You're constantly dashing and sliding around the scenery. In fact hitting shift to slide might be the most powerful weapon in the game, stunning enemies when you hit them and letting you zip out of open areas into somewhere safer. It's a ridiculous mechanic really. You can whizz along for tens of metres like you’ve got roller skates permanently strapped to your knees, but it’s hard to repress the smile it puts on your face. 

The firefights escalate nicely as time goes on. Your foes gain new tricks and equipment through a system called Invasion Tiers, which means you actually have to pay attention in each new encounter in case someone lobs a grenade or puts a forcefield shield up. For your part, your arsenal of gorgeous weapon sprites steadily increases, but so does your fluency with the moveset. Every fight you're dashing and sliding around with that bit more precision, kicking and stunning enemies, shooting explosive objects in what feels like a constant thunderstorm of broken glass, feeling increasingly like the star of a carefully orchestrated Hollywood set-piece. 

There’s just about enough flexibility to impose a different approach to combat though, if you prefer to hunker down behind cover or sneak around. Enemies are vulnerable to one-hit melee kills before they're alerted to your presence, so in certain areas it pays to scope the surroundings out before you go in and make a mess of all the pretty pixels again. 

I’m already considering anything that arrives after this point to be bonus content.

However you approach the enemies, they telegraph their movements and plans to each other like the marines in Half-Life and F.E.A.R. And just like those games, the benefits of them doing this are twofold⁠—firstly you get to appreciate that they’re reacting to you in real-time, aware of each other's positions and able to hatch basic plans like flanking you, and secondly, you get to counter those plans. I thought I was fighting humans at first, until I stopped and looked around at all the pink gore left behind after my first major battle. 

The way they fall apart in a hail of your bullets though, those are the moments when it’s hardest to remember that this game engine was once Doom. Ace's magnum shots push enemies back across the room, into smashable windows. A well-placed shot might even cut an enemy in half, not quite killing them outright but giving them a few seconds to crawl away from you, oozing pink out over the floor as they go. 

So far I'm walking a tightrope in Selaco. I'm often so close to feeling overwhelmed by the knotty level design (and my own failing sense of pathfinding) and the multi-stage puzzles that I hit save and quit out. But then I don't. I keep finding just enough progression to keep me moving forwards, being rewarded by secret areas with supply stashes even when I veer off the critical path. And then I stumble into the next gunfight, the broken glass sprites fill the air once more, and I forget I was even considering ending my session. 

It's already feature-rich for an early access release, with one of the three planned campaigns completed, and several modifiers like a hardcore mode (waste the unspent ammo in the clip when you reload, manual saves from set locations only) available from the off. New features are planned between now and Selaco's full release in late 2026, including two new modes: Incursion and Randomizer. 

I'm already considering anything that arrives after this point to be bonus content. I've got everything I need to make me extremely happy in Selaco's current form, an unholy mashup of Brutal Doom and System Shock, and I'll be drenched in pink viscera for the foreseeable.  

Phil Iwaniuk

Phil 'the face' Iwaniuk used to work in magazines. Now he wanders the earth, stopping passers-by to tell them about PC games he remembers from 1998 until their polite smiles turn cold. He also makes ads. Veteran hardware smasher and game botherer of PC Format, Official PlayStation Magazine, PCGamesN, Guardian, Eurogamer, IGN, VG247, and What Gramophone? He won an award once, but he doesn't like to go on about it.

You can get rid of 'the face' bit if you like.

No -Ed.