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The day is finally here, Selaco from Altered Orbit Studios has now entered Early Access so you can see what absolute insanity they've been able to do with the GZDoom code.

Not a GZDoom "mod" though, this is a proper game. It's also easily one of the absolute best shooters I've played in a long time. I don't say that lightly either. In a time where we have big developers focusing ever-more on photo-realism, Selaco pulls it back to focus a lot more on the gameplay. That said, it still looks damn good though and it absolutely kicks-ass.

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Since it's in Early Access and not technically finished, I'm not giving it a full review (yet), more of just general thoughts. Although, the game is as big as some full releases, bigger even. The game right now now has 31 action-packed maps, which the developers say they "consider the entirety of the Base Campaign and covers the majority of the game". The point is, they wanted the Early Access release to be as big as possible and worth the price. Well, it certainly is. They're planning a second chapter before launch, and a third chapter as a free update after launch. So lots to look forward to.

Once you finish what's there, that's not the end, since it's also launching with Steam Workshop support right away. There's also various gameplay modifiers to play through it differently including a much more punishing hardcore mode, with more modifiers planned to be added in.

Inspired by F.E.A.R, Half-Life, QUAKE and DOOM it's very clear in the gameplay. From the smart AI that will constantly surprise you and actually react to you, to the level layouts with the coloured key hunting to open doors. Personally, I just can't get over how satisfying it is filling up a room with all the purple goo that oozes out of enemies when you annihilate them with the various 11 weapons you're given. Sliding into enemies to send them flying into a wall, and then filling them with hot lead — it's bloody glorious.

The gunplay as well, gosh, it really hits the spot. The weapons feel like they have some real power to them, and as a more tactical shooter they've clearly put a lot of thought and polish into the actual action, which is consistently completely over the top in every section. You do get brief moments to breathe, but most of the time it's on-rails action where you're dancing around levels filling them up with bodies.

The level of world interactions on show here are constantly impressive too. From simple things like picking up objects and smashing them, turning lights on and off, to turning computers on and just emptying a trash bin because why not, the level of detail is downright silly. Smash through glass windows, flip things over for cover from bullets and turn them to face enemies. Or how about throwing and shooting a fire extinguisher for some smoke cover. There's just so much of everything! It's useful though, and sometimes essential to throw stuff around, so almost everything has meaning.

One of my favourites: opening a pizza box, and eating each individual slice of pizza for some needed HP.

Turns out, you might not get as lucky as me on the pizza.

Also, please don't tell the janitor, but I flushed a bottle of bleach down a toilet which caused it to overflow with bubbles and eventually completely explode. That was genuinely hilarious. I didn't expect it to actually do anything, especially not flush the bottle down but this was stupidly brilliant, a proper laugh out loud moment.

I wonder how many of these little silly but awesome touches I've missed during my play-through. I might have to go back and play with every little thing just a bit more to see what I can find.

As you play through and progress the enemies will of course get new tricks to combat you. This is done through Invasion Tiers. Now and then it will pop up noting the Tier level has been bumped up where enemies will suddenly have grenades, smoke grenades, deployable shields, personal mobile shields...and more that I won't directly spoil for you. 

For those of you who like following the lore, there's plenty of that to uncover. There's no cut-scenes or anything to actually get in the way of the action though. As you progress, and if you actually slow down enough to take a look around, there's a lot of datapads to find that will sprinkle in plenty of paragraphs of what's been going on. Emails between people talking about the world, their issues and strange happenings. A good few fun secrets to find too.

Of course, what's a shooter (and a retro-styled one) without a little platforming? Yes, Selaco has that too. It's probably the only part of the game I didn't overly enjoy, mainly because I don't like 3D platforming really at all in any game that I can remember (especially terrible in the newer DOOM). Although here, thankfully, it's not too annoying. These sections actually add to the experience overall, with you hunting down buttons to activate things. Shout out to the yellow-paint markers, Selaco has a little of that too, but sparingly and they kind-of joke about it in the emails you read.

The list of what Selaco offers you just keeps on growing. There's all the action, the puzzling, and then you even get various safe rooms too which you can use to customize and upgrade weapons, buy ammo and more to come. Although, you don't get to use it properly right away, as you need to find some upgrades for the safe room to then be able to upgrade your weapons. There's a lot of options there too for each individual weapon from fire rate to magazine size, ammo to smash through cracks in walls and so on.

There's just so much to talk about when it comes to Selaco, that I really have no idea where to end this. As I went through it the game was just surprise after surprise. The levels themselves are so incredibly detailed and well thought-out, the set-pieces are fantastic to see in action when you having different types of enemies dropping into the map in various ways from blowing doors open, to cutting through the roof to drop down on you and more.

That is one of the interesting things about Selaco, not everything is just a run and gun fight. It is a tactical game. So there will be sections where you need to hunker down a bit, find some cover and potentially a position a friendly turret to help you out. 

Main advice here overall: F6 quick-save is your friend, so use it often. Even on the Lieutenant difficulty, which they say is "Medium", lots of it was quite a challenge and I died — a lot. There's three higher main difficulty options after that (and two below) and even one more special difficulty after that's supposed to be quite impossible. So if you love a challenge, you'll get it. Or not, the easier difficulties are just fine for people who aren't quite so good at FPS games.

Considering all the door key and door code hunting you'll be doing, I was a bit worried I might get a bit lost as I do in other similarly-styled shooters. Thankfully, Selaco has a map you can bring up any time. Gameplay continues with the map up though, which means you can walk around with the map up and it shows the direction you're facing as you turn around making it actually pretty easy to find your way around overall. At least I thought so. Downside? Enemies can sneak up on you, so don't keep it up. It also nicely marks the doors, stairs and more for you. It's a pretty good map system overall actually. All that said, I did still manage to get entirely lost a couple of times, as some level layouts are a bit labyrinthine.

The good thing about some backtracking though? Finding all those darn secrets. They've sprinkled quite a few across each level, and some of them are genuinely difficult to find, a good few I found entirely by accident by trying different things out in the levels and just trying to access areas I didn't think I could get to. But there's always a way…

I've mentioned how it's a tactical shooter right? So, you can sneak up on people. And I've also mentioned all the object interactions you can do too. When I realised you could pick up a knife from a kitchen, you can bet I carried around that damn thing until I found another enemy to use it on, who just so happened to have their back turned. Great success. I wasn't expecting it to really work, but it was worth the nuisance of carrying it around to test out.

Want to know how truly crazy this GZDoom-powered game is? It even has a working train system, for you travel between safe houses across the levels, so you can easily go back and secret-hunt. This isn't some fancy loading screen either, it's a working train that you ride on and watch as you go through the area. Absolute madness. 

I haven't even talked about the enemy variety yet. There's I believe 14 unique enemies in the game from your standard foot soldiers, to flying enemies and explosive scary spider-bots that make me jump every time I'm not expecting those damn things. Death to all spider bots. They all work together too, they will attempt to surround you and come up behind you, and some even buff up others to become even more of a nuisance. The AI here is actually really good, much better than various other FPS I've played.

The commentary you get from the soldiers is great too, giving out orders or panicking a little when you start taking them out one by one. I'm hoping (and I imagine they will) keep upgrading the AI to make it even smarter, because they have such an incredible foundation here.

You even get mini-games! There's a space shooter arcade machine! But, by far the best thing in the game? Their Cookie Clicker knock-off called Burger Flipper. The question is, how long before Burger Flipper becomes its own real standalone sci-fi clicker game? Asking the important questions here of course. Clearly…I spent far too long on it and I can feel you judging me already.

For research purposes of course, for work, I needed to see how far I could push Burger Flipper. Sure did make me hungry.

Some nice customisation of the UI is available too. If you prefer to have it as if you're actually in the special suit, you can keep the visor UI on, but you can turn it off so it entirely fills your screen without the borders. You can go further, and also remove most of the UI too. You can also adjust HUD screen-shake, change the display scale to be bigger or smaller (nice touch), move the HUD closer to the middle of the screen and so on. They seem to have thought of almost everything putting a lot of other developers to shame.

First shot default, second shot HUD Visor Opacity set to zero.

Whoever did the music and atmospheric sounds as well deserves a chef's kiss. It really helps get the blood flowing and fits in beautifully with the setting and design of the game. And in other sections, it helps keep the tension, especially when things often get dark, it can be a little on the spooky side. Especially so when enemies appear you're not expecting, it made me jump a good few times. Some elements of the soundtrack even sound a bit Blade Runner. Wonderful.

Performance for me hasn't been an issue either. On my admittedly pretty powerful Kubuntu 24.04 system with an AMD Ryzen 5800X and AMD Radeon 6800XT at 1440p with mostly maximum settings, along with turning on the extra settings of Permanent Destruction and Flashlight Shadows, it's been almost always above 100FPS apart from some loading-blips. Somehow they also squeezed all of it into a 1.1GB package, madness.

The current plan is to leave Early Access in 2026. However, they have big ideas to keep expanding the game, and no doubt there will be a lot of player feedback, and due to the modding support they will likely make lots of tweaks and upgrades there so it may take longer. The point they're making is they're in no rush, and it's quite feature and content-filled already.

If you're after a retro-inspired shooter that seems to just have a bit of everything, right now Selaco is your best bet, it feels like a game from another time. Selaco has a lot of the charm I feel has been lost by all the modern-generation shooters and is a ridiculously easy recommendation. Selaco is so much fun to blast through! Perhaps my top release of 2024.

Selaco has Native Linux support and is playable on Steam Deck but no rating from Valve yet.

You can buy Selaco on Steam priced at $24.99 / €24.50 / £20.99. There's also a 10% discount for two weeks.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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Jarmer May 31
Wonderful write up! I had no idea how fully fleshed out this EA would be. Seems crazy that it won't leave EA for another two years, but it certainly seems that they have a good roadmap, so I'll definitely keep an eye on this one.
Peter May 31
Looks amazing, have to check it out!
Hamtarotaro May 31
Instabuy, this game is awesome!
Pengling May 31
View PC info
  • Supporter
QuoteOne of my favourites: opening a pizza box, and eating each individual slice of pizza for some needed HP.
That is ridiculously charming.

QuoteFor those of you who like following the lore, there's plenty of that to uncover. There's no cut-scenes or anything to actually get in the way of the action though. As you progress, and if you actually slow down enough to take a look around, there's a lot of datapads to find that will sprinkle in plenty of paragraphs of what's been going on. Emails between people talking about the world, their issues and strange happenings. A good few fun secrets to find too.
My ideal approach to narrative in games is a handful of brief cutscenes where necessary so you can take a breather (the form those take depends on what's most fitting for the genre or franchise), plus in-game lore like this. Sounds fab.

QuoteOr not, the easier difficulties are just fine for people who aren't quite so good at FPS games.
Since I get terrible motion-sickness from first-person games (unless they're very abstract - think GoldenEye 007 for the N64, or Minetest), keeping the play-sessions short is a necessity for me, which the lower difficulties do quite nicely.

Quoteit feels like a game from another time.
And that is exactly what I want out of a game.

Last edited by Pengling on 31 May 2024 at 3:53 pm UTC
Julius May 31
Anyone spotted the GPL source-code for this already? Would be nice to see what modifications their did to GZdoom.
JustinWood May 31
I'm so pleased that you mentioned the train system, as that's how I first encountered Selaco, and it's such a delightful feature. I'll have to pick the game up soon, though I've got plenty on my plate as is, particularly Ghost of Tsushima and the recently released Nine Sols (Highly recommend fans of Hollow Knight, Sekiro, and 2D platformers check it out, it's by Red Candle, the studio behind Devotion and Detention!)
Raaben May 31
I'm very very tempted to break my "No Early Access" rule for this one... the demo itself felt so damn good.
Shooters typically aren't really my jam, and I haven't really played any of the older games this is modeled after, but this engaging review not-a-review has actually got me somewhat interested.
Early access, huh? I'll give it a look once it's actually finished.

Last edited by Mountain Man on 31 May 2024 at 7:01 pm UTC
jrt May 31
Quoting: JuliusAnyone spotted the GPL source-code for this already? Would be nice to see what modifications their did to GZdoom.

It's a zip archive within the game installation folder. All the assets can be easily unpacked too!

It's called

Last edited by jrt on 31 May 2024 at 6:59 pm UTC
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