Demon of the Well
Map 24 - Abyssmal Affliction - 101% kills / 80% secrets
Here we are, a Hell map that plays a mite more hellishly than its predecessors, representing the biggest spike in difficulty thus far in the WAD (or even in the WAD, period, in fact). The marine begins in a quiet marble tower situated on a large island rising out of a massive bloody sinkhole surrounded on all sides by jagged, ash-caked hills honeycombed with spacious imp-infested tunnels. The final goal is a teleportation gate resting in the inner reaches of a large marble fortress across a gorge to the north. Between you and this gate are a slew of pitched battles in assorted infernal locales, from a marble dais floating in a lake of lava in a subterranean cavern so vast that its walls and ceiling are lost in darkness, the inexplicably fleshy bowels of the mountainside the marble fortress is built against, and the great stone keep at the heart of the fortress itself. So, in sum....it's rather a large map, with a notable sense of theater and scope in its construction.
Kristian has already done an excellent job of laying out the nuts and bolts of the map's flow and general style of play, so I'll just make a few comments on my particular experience, and perhaps add a little detail about some of the odd set-pieces he mentioned. Note that if you've not played yet, my next comments will be more spoiler-heavy than usual.
Now, as he said, it is a challenging map, and it took me a significant number of gruesome deaths to come out the other side, but it strikes me that the lion's share of this hardship is frontloaded--that is, by far the most difficult task is gaining a foothold in the map in the first place, as the starting area is extremely dangerous for a pistol-starter's unarmored and woefully underarmed self. Whether you take the main exit from the starting tower or the secret alternative, at first all you can really do is run from the hordes of angry creatures slavering for your blood, until you can grab a shotgun from a freshly-pulped sergeant and retreat to the relative safety of the imp tunnels, which early on house the majority of the shells you'll have access to, as well as a relatively toothless soulsphere trap and the route to the leap for the SSG. But, I felt that once I finally had figured out a good itinerary for the first 10 minutes or so of play, most of the rest of the action, while intense at points, was not nearly as demanding--there are a number of bloody mass-teleportation ambushes, but within the context of this particular breed of gameplay, they are quite manageable, and I feel, legitimately beatable for a person seeing them for the first time....for example, the bloodbath in the keep gave me no trouble, as a combination of an infighting clusterfuck and the BFG cleared it up pretty promptly. So really, I suppose what the map really is is a sort of punishing puzzle early on--looking at all the different ways you can go, learning where things are, how the secrets work, etc--followed by some euphoric vengeance for its later two-thirds. I did feel the ammo pressure a bit early on, especially on the first couple of attempts, but I stopped noticing it about halfway through on my successful attempt....it's actually shells and especially bullets that feel like they're in limited supply, whereas if you live long enough to get a rocket launcher and the BFG, they generally stay pretty well-stocked.
But that start--well, it's a doozy, and it'll probably frustrate some. At first sight the secret exit to the beginning chamber seems more like Pottus is taunting you than anything, as the secret contains no material reward and deposits you in a very dangerous situation, point-blank in close quarters with a group of HKs, with an arch-vile behind some bars nearby, and a squad of angry mancubi outside the building. All you can realistically do here is run, and the only really viable route here takes you out to where you would have been if you'd used the starting tower's main exit--but, if you've tried it both ways, you'll notice that the cyberdemon won't be present if you come at his cage from this side, as he only appears when you cross a trigger just outside of the first tower's main exit. This means taking the secret route makes the starting area significantly less dangerous (though it's still pretty damned dangerous!), making your fight for a foothold and gambit for the SSG on that metal pillar significantly more consistently doable. But wait, there's more! The secret route is actually the first part of a two-part secret that results in that cyber's eventual death (although it's all the same to you if you never cross the trigger that raises him up)--the second part involves the chainsaw. If you can find a way to lower the bars that the arch-vile mentioned earlier is hiding behind, the switch behind him builds a staircase up to the platform, behind which is a door back into the starting tower. This is trying to guide you to cross the trigger which raises the first cyb into the play area; if you've done everything else right up to this point, when you do so, he will be able to cross a teleport line seconds after appearing, which results in his being taken to a distant crusher-box where he meets a most undignified end. This whole setup underscores what I said earlier--despite all of the violence, the first third of this outing is really a sort of puzzle where monsters and the interconnected layout of the area are the pieces. Other examples of this same theme are the cyb which gets smooshed near the BFG, or the weird camouflaged revenant/arch-vile setup in the tunnel to the flesh cave that Kristian mentioned, which you can actually defuse by shooting an exposed bit of red pillar through a crack in the wall, which results in the two of them being crushed somehow. I found the whole thing to be another fascinating change of pace, myself, and I'm glad I played it, though it does feel clunky at times (like the arch-viles behind the rocket-proof torches K. R. mentioned), and it definitely climaxes early.
On a technical note, it's apparently pretty easy to pass through the secret outlet from the first tower without the engine registering your presence in the smaller/thinner of the secret sectors comprising it--reading through Kristian's enumeration of the secrets, this is apparently what happened to me, hence my 80% in that field.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on 02-22-13 at 04:48