I saw a video for the planned remake of System Shock in which they talked about changing the control scheme to fit modern sensibilities. This got me thinking about how it was to use all the old weird control schemes back in the day before WASD and mouse became ubiquitous. So I installed the System Shock demo on DOSBox and tried it out for starters.
It uses S and X to walk forwards and back, A and D to turn, Z and C strafes and Q and E leans. It was somewhat common back then to use a lot of specialized keys spread all over the keyboard and sometimes numpad for movement. Though in this case the keys are still at the three left most columns of the keyboard at a time when most games used the arrow keys for movement. Pretty forward thinking and almost like proto WASD controls.
The mouse is used more as in a traditional adventure game were you have a cursor that you freely move around to click on things to pick up and use the HUD with. At the same time the mouse can also be used to move around with by moving it to different parts of the circumference of the screen and click dragging. Indeed the entire game appears to be able to be controlled exclusively by the mouse should you so choose.
Crouch and lean also isn't handled by pressing a single key, instead you have keys for standing, crouch and prone and three different lean levels that can be cycled. Though convoluted it certainly makes things more tense when you have to constantly think about what you're doing and it really makes it feel like you're sneaking around.
It's a bit of history revisionism when these "retro" FPS games flooding Steam are mostly the same where you're in some abstract maze level running at full speed constantly and mowing down monsters.
In Doom you can't even do circle strafing. The arrow keys move the player back and forth and pivots and moving the mouse just mimics these inputs. There aren't even dedicated strafe keys, you have to hold down Alt and then use the arrow keys.
Things first started moving towards what we'd recognize as modern WASD with Quake but even then most people I knew still played it using keyboard only. By default in Quake the mouse directions moves the player backwards, forwards and rotates him just like in Doom. Difference being that strafing can now be tied to it's own keys so circle strafing works except you can't stop the mouse moving the player backwards and forwards without going into the console and typing +mlook. "mlook" being short for "mouse look" which at the time was the exotic concept of allowing the player to look up and down using the mouse. The fact that this could not be turned off without going into the console indicates that WASD and mouse movement wasn't common at the time. Also evidenced by the fact that Quake had auto-aim in the vertical direction just like Doom.
From what I recall it wasn't until Quake 2 that using the mouse for aiming really became the norm.
Though cumbersome these old control schemes were a lot more realistic in their own way. Forcing the player to move primarily forward and stop and turn. Most people move forwards more often than backwards or sideways and circle strafing is not something I think humans can even do.
Old FPS games are known for their ludicrous running speeds - something often latched on to by retro revival games - but that becomes less noticeable with keyboard only input. You end up doing short sprints then stopping and shooting then sprinting again. Compared to WASD where you're always moving at top speed. You can get pretty proficient at using keyboard only in Doom but it wont ever be as fluid as WASD.
In a similar vein people malign "tank" controls in things like the original Resident Evil games but I think if you're willing to give it the time and patience to get used to it really adds to the horror feel compared to WASD which always skews it more towards an action game.
I forgot where I was going with this but basically my premise is:
The nature of older FPS titles like Doom is somewhat misunderstood as being primarily action games whereas in their day the horror aspect was a much more pronounced part of the experience. This largely thanks to the keyboard focused control scheme making movement much slower and I'd say dreamlike, were you sometimes felt panic from being stuck and not able to get away.
I feel somewhat conflicted because I like WASD a lot and it makes it easier to get into games when you always know the controls without looking at a manual. At the same time it's just that I wish there was a little more experimentation with controls. If there's a wave of retro games why not try retro controls? You get a bit dismayed when finding out that the latest Mechwarrior game uses WASD for controls. It just seems wrong that a game about one hundred ton killer robots should control the same as any FPS.
Though I must admit I don't really play modern games and this whole thing has just been an idle observation so I could be completely off. Maybe this homogenization has not had any deleterious effect whatsoever on game design? Maybe subtle differences in controls are able to avoid the sameyness?
Still I'd argue that circle strafing makes everything less threatening. With modern controls you never have to turn your back to the monsters, something that sometimes becomes necessary in the original games and of course a monster is a lot scarier when you have your back turned to it.
Maybe going back to the era of using every key on the keyboard for controls isn't viable because of modern attention spans but it'd be fun to see a control scheme that made the player feel clumsier in some way.