Demon of the Well
Nothing terribly insightful from me, just throwing in my two cents here via some mini-reviews (mostly the usual suspects). My favorites from this year were:
Hellbound - Expansive, moody maps that are aesthetically very pleasing, largely through scale and lighting, with a satisfying blend of heavy bloodshed and exploration. A very immersive WAD. My one main complaint: map 32 will have you groaning 'this again?'
Stardate 20X6 - While 'Swim with the Whales' was a fun (if somewhat sadomasochistic) play and was visually very enchanting, I'd still say this was Ribbiks' best release this year, simply for its endless procession of mostly well-planned setpiece encounters, broken up nicely by some casual aspects of non-linearity that emerge in several of the maps. Map 06 here is one of my single favorite discrete levels from this year.
BTSX E1: Get Out of My Stations - A complete package here, an aesthetically very rich mapset with a fresh texture set and some of the best BGM to come out this year. While I felt that the version the DWMC played was perhaps a mite too gentle or restrained in its handling of the player at points, this is a minor qualm in the big picture, more than compensated for by the overall variety in encounters and mapping styles evinced by its many authors. One of the most consistently on-point WADs of its length this year.
Unholy Realms - Another very consistently well-built set, this does what it says on the tin--an offering of mostly concise and mostly-engaging, fast-paced little romps of an obviously Scythe-ian cast. The little cameos by guest mappers afford it just enough stylistic outliers to make it a well-balanced package overall; my only personal qualm is that there's really only ~1.5 maps that have any kind of really substantial expanse to them, which is something I personally always enjoy, and would've augmented the feeling of variety.
Plutonium Winds E1 - Maybe a little bit lesser known than the others (probably due to being released without much fanfare), Darkreaver's (not-particularly-Plutonic) paean to Plutonia is a short series of tightly-balanced scenario-oriented challenge maps that should see almost any player work up a sweat with all of the dipping and rolling and jucking and shiving their playfully malicious encounters offer. A good WAD to get the blood flowing, in more ways than one.
For honorable mention, I'm inclined to give a nod towards Interception from earlier in the year. While apparently the current 'final' version has some unfortunate technical issues, and not all of the maps are exactly sterling to say the least, there's a lot of very interesting and worthwhile stuff in here (particularly in E2, with ProcessingControl's maps being my favorite), and the sort of whimsical approach it takes to establishing setting and progression and the patchwork quality of the mapping styles really does remind me of the overall atmosphere of old standbys like Memento Mori and Requiem and the like, a nice nostalgic feeling.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on 12-05-13 at 07:03