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Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition (PC) Review

Apogee’s iconic, and absolutely insane first-person shooter returns in remastered form, with Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition.

Let’s get ludicrous

Have you ever heard the term ‘ludicrous gibs’, and wondered where it came from? Well if you did, then you’re obviously unfamiliar with Rise of the Triad. From classic PC developer Apogee, the first-person shooter pioneered that term with its (at the time) crazy blood and gore.

Aside from the exploding enemies, the game has also been billed as a spiritual successor to the grandfather of the genre, Wolfenstein 3D. Originally, that might’ve been the intent, though it’s worth noting that its final form only vaguely fits that bill. Even though it features a somewhat WWII(ish) arsenal, RotT takes place in (presumably) 1994. The villains aren’t Nazis either, but cultists. Also unlike Wolf3D, it was completely and totally insane… and yes, I realize I’m calling Wolfenstein ‘sane’.

Whatever the case might’ve been though, the classic shooter is back, remastered by the retro-masters at Nightdive Studios. This latest version of RotT is packed as well, and seeks to be the marquee version of the title. Though even with all that, Rise of the Triad remains something of a niche experience, and most definitely an acquired taste.

The story thus far… wait, there’s a story?

Rise of the Triad originally came out in 1994. That was after Doom, just after Doom II, and before Duke Nukem 3D came along to truly evolve the genre. So with that in mind, you can kind of understand that RotT is more akin to the Dooms of the world than more modern FPS’ in terms of story elements (among other things).

Things start off with the arrival of HUNT, which stands for High-risk United Nations Task-force, on the shoreline of a remote island. This isn’t a vacation spot though, as it’s home to a strange cult that, as mentioned, may or may not have links to the bad guys from WWII.

And… that’s just about all there is. After they get there, the good guys and gals’ boat is destroyed, taking their only means of escape with it. As you might’ve guessed, that leaves plunging into the enemy facility and taking on its army as their only option.

Ludicrous… uh something. Can’t quite remember the phrase

Players can choose between five different members of HUNT in the game, and shockingly it actually does matter who you pick. Each character has a different set of strengths and weaknesses, which even today is something fairly unique.

The Ludicrous Edition of RotT includes the original game that we’ve been talking about of course, but you get a heck of a bang for your buck here. Additional content includes a bunch of extra mission packs, highlighted by the “Return of the Triad” campaign.

That’s basically a completely different, fan-made game built with GZDoom. This is going to be a hot take, so fair warning, but it’s much better designed than the main campaign. Return is a ton of fun and a lot less… weird, though I did have some pretty epic crashes with it. So just a heads up there.

One of the wildest FPS’ of all time

While the Ludicrous Edition is the most complete Rise of the Triad ever issued, in any form this game is an acquired taste. I don’t think anyone who’s played it would argue that point, even its biggest fans. Unlike in that previous section, it’s not a controversial take. RotT revels in its weirdness too, and that includes both the design of its maps and its gameplay.

We’ll get to the latter in a second, but I’ve gotta talk about the design first, as I ended the previous section with it. Rise of the Triad has no native verticality, so its levels are limited in build. That’s to say, it is at first blush. Once you actually start to play though, you’ll see inventive workarounds for the engine’s flaws.

Those include floating platforms, which are totally out of place for the themes of the game, and other tricks to give the impression that things like elevators actually function. The stages are loaded with traps like spikes from the floors and jets of flame too. It’s stuff that would feel more at home in a side-scroller from the 8bit age than in an FPS from any era.

Enemies can do some very cool things, like tossing nets and even playing dead

As to that gameplay though, it’s solid stuff starring some quality shooting action. You can chew through foes with unlimited ammo, and more strategically blast them to little bits with heavy duty hardware in showers of… ludicrous gibs. But as with everything else in RotT, it’s got some ‘weird’ chucked in for good measure. Power-ups give players everything from tripped-out visuals to flight, and there’s even a dog mode.

The arsenal is also handled a little on the unconventional side. There’s a small core of traditional hardware, but as you read above, it all has unlimited ammo. Then on top of that, there are bazookas (with different ammo types) and even magic, but with the twist that you have very limited shots.

Great retro looks and sound

Unlike everything else, Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition’s AV package is sharp all around. It’s ‘retro’, so don’t go expecting modern flash, but Nightdive Studios once again proves it just ‘knows’ how to do quality remasters. I’m a huge fan of the development house, and with a reason, as everything that spins out of it is (typically) on target.

That’s not to say that Rise of the Triad’s Ludicrous Edition looks all that much different from the classic game however, because it doesn’t. This basically is the original, as it was meant to be, just with some little touches here and there thrown in.

Oooh magic missile!

Players will find the levels and digitized (I think?) enemies all present and accounted for, and all looking like they did in decades gone by. If you’re a fan of the game to begin with though, that’s a good thing indeed, as its overall look counts for a good deal of Rise of the Triad’s charm.

If you’re a fan of Nightdive as well, and you haven’t played RotT before though, just be aware of what the game serves up. You’re probably not going to play through it and think about some big set piece or cool little detail in a stage. While the overall design is a standout in the genre, it’s all kind of same-y too.


If you can’t tell, Rise of the Triad didn’t really hit the mark for me. But I mean that as a game, not as a retro package. And that’s how the Ludicrous Edition is going to be scored, as a “retro package”. In that latter way, the Ludicrous Edition is a tremendous deal, and is loaded with content for those who are long time fans.

I think you’d have a pretty tough time trying to fond some official piece of content that’s not included. Heck, even a great formerly-unofficial piece of content is included. Bottom line, if you’re a RotTer from way back, you probably don’t want to miss this game.

Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition
Releas date:
July 31st, 2023
Platforms: PC (reviewed) at the above date, also out now for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher: Apogee, New Blood
Developer: Nightdive Studios, Apogee Software
MSRP: $19.99 USD

Great revival, niche game

Premise - 80%
Gameplay - 80%
Presentation - 70%


Yes, gibs

This is really the story of two reviews. First, if you're a Rise of the Triad neophyte, then you have to know that it might not be for everyone before you play. However on that second note, if you are a fan, then you're going to eat this game up. The Ludicrous Edition of RotT delivers a massive amount of content, loaded with everything (and more) that you remember from the classic PC FPS.

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About Jason

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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