The demo for upcoming boomer shooter They Came From Dimension X is a blast from start to finish. Less than a minute in, I hooted so loud I startled my girlfriend from across the apartment when I stepped into the first room and started walking straight up a wall. The experience felt like it needed to be accompanied by that dude from the old Sega Saturn ads talking about the new millennium.
First spotted by Alpha Beta Gamer, Dimension X immediately resembles Quake or Dusk with its chunky, lo-fi presentation. It sets itself apart aesthetically with a 1950s Forbidden Planet raygun look and eerie soundtrack. Dimension X's official page explains its central mechanic well: "gravity is only as consistent as the ground your boots are stepping on." You can't jump and magnetize to a wall, but any contiguous path can be followed in contravention of the rules of gravity, with sloped surfaces letting you seamlessly transition from the floor to the ceiling and back again.
A highlight set piece for me was a fight in a drum-shaped room against a gaggle of Dimension X's aggressive melee monsters, a Great Race of Yith-style flower-serpent-abomination. I was constantly backpedaling, blasting the guys with the dark laundry machine room tumbling around us illuminated by the projectiles of the game's ray gun.
The mechanical and aesthetic innovation immediately make Dimension X feel fresh and surprising, despite having retro inspirations and coming in the midst of a renaissance of classic shooters. It promises to turn the one-off level design experiments of other shooters like Dusk's fantastic Escher Labs level into a full game.
The wall-walking antics feel like a revelation to me, similar to how Valve's Portal and Gravity Guns took first person shooting in such unexpected directions. I'm excited to see how nutty developer Blue Key Games gets with its level design in the full release.
There are some kinks I hope get ironed out by that time. The lighting in the demo's a bit dark at times, making it hard to parse the action. At the same time, it paid off big for me as a stylistic choice when I encountered a pitch black room absolutely full of those cthuloid enemies, patiently staring at me out of the dark with their beady red eyes. It was a striking scene for sure, and some of the later levels featured in the trailer look more vibrant, giving me hope that Blue Key will strike a good balance.
The enemies in this demo were a bit bullet spongey for my taste, but additional weapon variety in the later game could certainly refocus the balance. I do appreciate that Dimension X has a more methodical pace than other retro shooters, enhancing its horror vibe. Unfortunately, the game's framerate was quite rough on an i5 12600K and RTX 3070 at 1440p, and I'm hopeful further development time can iron that out.
They Came From Dimension X has shot to near the top of my personal "most anticipated games" list, and I only hope that we get to see and sample a bit more of it before its faraway release date. 2024 just feels like such a long way off. For now, you can check out its demo for yourself and wishlist it on Steam.