Interesting - I was unimpressed then, and having returned to it a couple of times over the years to see if I was just in a bad mood or something, I remained profoundly unimpressed aside from the art. It felt to me like it had weak gameplay, half-arsed ideas that it didn’t really commit to, but truly excellent visual design and a relatively original setting, both of which very much set it apart from most games of the era. It does definitely get points for creativity though, both in the visual design/setting, and in trying out a lot of gameplay-design stuff (as much as other elements were utterly staid and “1994”-ish), even though some of the latter actually just undermined the overall gameplay.
This got me thinking, as an aside, I feel another word than nostalgia for liking the specifics of older games, because nostalgia isn’t at all the right word in a lot of cases.
Nostalgia is very much a real thing, and is very much a feeling, a very specific one - some games absolutely do provoke it. If I went back and played Dark Age of Camelot, one of my most beloved games, but which I’ve barely played since 2006/7, I’d get massive nostalgia, and I think I’d enjoy the gameplay a lot less than I remembered. But I’d be sent back in time to this whole other era, and the ancient feelings and so on.
With Doom (1994), it’s not like that. I don’t really feel the '90s playing it. I don’t have super-fond memories coming up. I don’t feel this ancient era. But I do like the very specific gameplay, the particular way the character moves, the enemies move, the way the weapons respond and so on. That doesn’t mean, however, that I think it’s necessarily a brilliant game by modern standards, but it’s more like, that gameplay burned itself into my soul or something. For me it will always be a brilliant game.
I think for a lot of people, especially ones slightly younger than me, other games did that - Baldur’s Gate, Half-Life, Bioshock and so on. I think discussions of them often devolve into “is this nostalgia” etc. but I think it’s maybe something else, some un-named thing where that gameplay really spoke to you when you were younger, and is never going to not speak to you.