Selaco Early Access Review: The Magic of GZDoom delivers a refined FPS experience reminiscent of FEAR


Do you like FEAR? Do you like DOOM? Yeah, I bet you like first-person shooters where you outwit soldiers in offices with a nail gun and spew demons like you’re driving a Hummer through a row of pheasants in an alternate Evil Somerset universe. No, it doesn’t boast an all-caps title, but Selaco’s early access version more than deserves its place as a must-have for those who crave a bit of sophistication with its ultra-violent nature.

- Advertisement -

Like many retro-inspired shooters, Selaco is based on a straightforward premise that’s so obvious that you can vaguely understand what’s going on without even trying. And if you care about knowledge, you can find plenty of data logs that will give you insight into email back and forth that is escalating with urgency. We’re not talking about the increasingly nonsensical captions, from “Best” to “Warm, not very polite” to “At a loss for words.” We’re talking about emails sent when an alien invasion begins and everyone goes from “Medicine supplies are good” to “The aliens have destroyed our drug supplies.”

Shooting enemies behind cover in Selaco.

Image source: Rock Paper Shotgun/Altered Orbit Studios

Hitting a soldier in the air with a rifle butt at Selaco.
Image source: Rock Paper Shotgun/Altered Orbit Studios

You play as the security captain of Selaco, a huge facility that houses humanity’s last bastion in a science fiction future where the Earth has exploded. With this invasion, your mission is to do one thing: kill the aliens and explore Selaco – while killing more aliens. This is an objectively good and reasonable setup.

Selaco itself is a dense map divided into several levels, which I got used to a bit. At first I didn’t like all the gray offices, brown boxes and even grayer medical facilities, but I was drawn into them. I think it’s because they strike a good balance between apartment and video game, fully engaging with the somewhat mundane spaces that can definitely be found in the human conservation area, while forever transporting you to a fresh challenge before boredom sets in work.

Please note that these sophisticated maps can be challenging to navigate. Because corridors and rooms can sometimes blend into one, it can be challenging to know which way to turn next. Most of the time, it’s pretty clear because a series of enemies indicate that you’re at least in the right place, or the map clearly indicates the colored door you’re looking for. There are moments, however, where backtracking through quieter areas becomes downright frustrating, as the game doesn’t do enough to dissuade you from re-examining the plethora of previous paths or support direct you to a compact vent hidden in a network of corridors that gives you a bout of déjà vu made you reject this offer. I once spent about an hour circling a hydroelectric plant trying to find a way to deelectrify some of the water, but I gave up and watched some gameplay on YouTube. Solution? Jump across the gap and through the glass window, which I didn’t even think was breakable, or a way forward.

Throwing a grenade at an enemy in Selaco.
Selaco’s maps are full of secrets, many of which – I watched YouTube videos showing how to find them – I completely missed. This is where immersion simulation comes into play, as clever manipulation can lead to very powerful upgrades to your weapon. | Image source: Rock Paper Shotgun/Altered Orbit Studios

However, these spaces at least feel like Selaco, thanks to the GZDoom magic the developers have cast throughout the greyness. The way the lighting is arranged on the surfaces gives the abandoned control rooms an incredible glow and provides a pleasant warmth. Toggle the crosshair down in the menu and when you right-click on the assault rifle, it will display a crosshair with a blue dot. The billboards display detailed, often humorous advertisements, and even the shine of the medicine cabinets is a pleasant beam of featherlight. Many of these little touches come in handy while exploring, especially when you’re spitting lead at alien troops.

Shootouts are a garbage fest, with printer paper raining down and computer monitors crackling and alien soldiers covering everything in sticky purple goo when you explode them. While the results of your bullets can be quite messy, I think the gunfights really well walk the line between a tactical shooter and a boomer, ball-to-the-wall shooter. At least on Commander difficulty (intended for those familiar with FPS games), you’ll need to look out from behind cover and keep an eye on your ammo because enemies can kill you tough. The enforced restraint makes these crazy moments even sweeter as you carefully choose those moments to slip between cover and fire at some of the soldiers with your submachine gun. Maybe hit them with a slide kick and then a revolver to the head. Maybe a shotgun blast, a quick swap, a little sidedash – and then blap with a few choice punches that dig into the concrete.

As you’d expect, the weapons are equally hefty, and each has its own personality and strengths. The shotgun is chef’s kiss material, with a broad “ch chnk” reload and the ability to grind enemies into paste. If you find weapon kits in hard-to-reach places, they will modify your weapon to do chilly things. Let’s say you can dual-task your revolver, or add a double tap to give it a close-range buff. And if you find a sheltered room, you can cash in on weapon parts and tech add-ons to further upgrade your weapon. The early recoil suppression system on my assault rifle made an immediate difference, so while each upgrade may be exorbitant, the hit to the wallet is offset by a usability cushion.

Selaco invasion levels, showing how enemies get smarter as you progress.
Image source: Rock Paper Shotgun/Altered Orbit Studios

When it comes to using the environment to your advantage, I wouldn’t say Selaco’s addictive SIMs are all that forceful. While it’s undoubtedly GOTY because it lets you flush the toilet or open pizza boxes and then snack on the pizza inside, the game doesn’t give average thinkers like me many obvious tips for optimal home alone decor. It’s true that you can cleverly arrange boxes or flip items to discover hidden secrets. For the most part, though, your environmental tricks won’t go any further than smashing turrets in useful places and maybe erecting a barricade.

On the other hand, when the finished parts come in, they pulsate with electro or drums and bass, which really puts you in the mood of violence. Even if all you do is set up one or two turrets, there will be a sequence at the beginning where soldiers periodically break through walls and you’re faced with a challenge where it’s just you and your robotic buddies fighting a mini army. It does everything it needs to do and for God’s sake it gives you a rush.

Smashing an enemy into pink paste with the Selaco Shotgun.
Image source: Rock Paper Shotgun/Altered Orbit Studios

And they become even more wonderful thanks to the clever behavior of the enemies, which intensifies as you progress through Selaco. Early on, you’ll have enemies that will try to flank you, a la FEAR, and then develop techniques to fit your growing arsenal. Some will start putting up shields, and some will even become designated squad leaders (marked with an icon), so you’ll want to shoot them first to reduce the strength of their allies. The overall variety is spot on too, with standard soldiers and heavier soldiers with miniguns and flying bastards that fly around. Again, this affects the combat, which is more than just a boomer shooter meat grinder, as you really have to consider where you are and what the best tool is to break down your opponent’s defense.

For an Early Access release, Selaco is in really good shape. You have a long campaign consisting of 30 maps and much more in terms of weapons and enemies. There are also modifiers that make subsequent playthroughs more challenging, such as one that causes you to start from scratch after beating a level. And everything seems polished – I haven’t encountered any problems or bugs. The developers say they plan to release version 1.0 of Selaco in early 2026, but honestly, if you’re a fan of a good FPS game, it’s worth it now.

This review is based on the test version of the game provided by the developer.

Related articles