Demon of the Well
Map 26 -- Blood Siege - 103% kills / 83% secrets
Another grandiose and challenging offering from Pottus. Like 'Abyssmal Affliction', this is another fine-looking map on a large scale, using a lot more red (red rocks, red cobblestones, and of course blood) and a lot less ashy rock than its sibling. As is often true of Hell themes, just what is being depicted is largely up to the imagination; I imagined the central structure, where play begins and where the exiting teleporter is found, to be a ritual gate to the inner reaches of the Hell-dimension, possessed of such magical potency that it requires a great quantity of dark energies to function, said energy being supplied by the confluence of several rivers of the blood of the ancient damned (the deathblood, as BlackFish calls it, found throughout the map). As an aesthetic aside, though, I felt that the reused music track here didn't fit the map very well.
Much like map 24, the immediate proceedings are rather pitiless for the pistol-starter, as again the supplies that are immediately accessible are woefully insufficient to combat the considerable forces lined up against you at the start. And again, much like map 24, much of the challenge on an initial experience with the map consists of exploring the early parts, dying a gruesome--but educative--death, and eventually figuring out a good itinerary for developing a solid foothoold in the early going, from which point you are led on a generally linear tour of some pitched arena-based battles for keys and, indirectly, weapons. Again, I feel that most of these big brawls were less difficult than the map's outset, and pretty manageable for one reason or another--for example, the fight in the area overlooked by the huge bleeding cross, where the blue skull can be had, can readily become a case of chokepoint management as long as you're able to dispose of the early-appearing arch-vile in a timely fashion (although the fight in the caged, pillared area immediately preceding it gets pretty nasty). On the whole, I felt that this map was less difficult than map 24 (or at least I died a lot less), as the scheme of things in the early going--e. g. don't try to take everything in the main area on at first/hit the face-switches on the cold iron slabs to open up weapon chambers in the central structure--seemed a lot more intuitive to me this time....and I also got a lot of help from the first cyberdemon, who disposed of a lot of the monsters populating/repopulating that central area over the course of several revisits, until he finally crapped out at some point during the baron/HK wave.
This brings me to why I'd say that this is a more satisfying map overall than 24 was (though I did quite like the overwhelming early-game puzzle aspect of that one)--it has a stronger feeling of progression. The theme of hitting face switches in the side areas to unlock new implements of destruction (and demonic reinforcements) in the central area helped to tie these areas--some of which are large enough to be small challenge maps in their own right--together and make them feel like a more coherent experience, as opposed to a disjointed handful of big brawls. Similarly, I always like to see an author get a lot of mileage in the action department out of a big, roomy central hub like the pentagram/blood chamber, and Pottus does just that by reseeding it with progressively stronger waves of monsters as more weapons are unlocked, capped off with the viles who'll likely end up resurrecting a bunch of the many corpses in the area during the finale. Finally, I think the overall pacing is better, with some solid breather battles to contrast with the key arena fights and the ongoing ruckus in the pentagram chamber, like the quite easy yet satisfying battle against the imp hordes in the blood-duct. Overall, while I don't feel that every fight was as interesting as it might have optimally been, as a whole I think the map works very well, by dint of the aforementioned progression style. And of course, as was also the case with 24, I liked the difficulty spike here. Felt invigorating.
Cannonball: The 'leaky' rad suit is one of the weird little featurebugs of the original Doom engine--20% damage floor, like the pernicious blood in the main chamber, will occasionally penetrate the protection of the suit. In Eternity, the port I most often use, this doesn't happen at a set interval--sometimes you can stand on the floor for quite some time and suffer no ill effects, while it's also possible (though unlikely) that you might take two hits in rapid succession. Other ports, and maybe even the original engine, might handle that a bit differently (e.g. maybe in some cases it will happen at a regular interval)....not really sure about that. It's not something that's seen very often, since use of 20% damage floor in the capacity that it appears in this map is uncommon in a lot of WADs.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on Feb 25 2013 at 09:01