Like Doom, it’s good, dumb fun… but not that dumb. The plot is still pencil thin, the demons are mostly the same as in the original. There is quite a bit of killing, and only slightly less dying.
However, unlike the groundbreaking 3-D shooter, DoomRL is rendered completely in text. Like any good roguelike, this means randomly generated levels, lots of weapon drops, and buckets of blood.
Probably the best thing about DoomRL, what makes it compelling at all, is its departure from the roguelike trend of growing complication. In ADOM, you have dozens of race and class combinations, an overmap, quests, a whole world to keep you busy. Dwarf Fortress is so complicated that it’s arguably not even a roguelike. In Nethack, you have ascension kits to build, endless spoilers to search, and enemies that you can cut into little pieces and store in tin cans for later consumption.
You don’t eat anything in DoomRL, unless you count the consumption of lightning and the defecation of thunder shortly thereafter. See a demon, kill a demon. Run. Do more of the thing you just did a few seconds ago.
In DoomRL, you run, you gun. All upgrades you make to your character have either to do with how you shoot, or how you run. (Okay, there are a few that have something to do with health.) There are two classes in DoomRL: Marine and demon, and you’re never a demon. Unless you pick up a berserk pack.
To most persons interested in roguelikes, DoomRL is old news. The latest build is about a year old. Hell, even I’ve known about it for at least a year.
DoomRL is simple enough for a beginner roguelike – let’s say streamlined instead – but its randomly generated levels, upgradeable weapons, bonus levels, and an overall novel approach (this roguelike has sound!) make it worth playing for those of us who walked away from other roguelikes out of a fear of lifetime commitment.