Demon of the Well
Map 15 -- Septic Underbelly - 97% Kills / 100% Secrets
Like Dobugabumaru, I liked this map, although it doesn't top map 10 for me. This sticks pretty well to its theme of a utilitarian toxic waste disposal system, and continues the theme of inexplicable flesh/organic substances plopped down into otherwise mundane manmade settings, earlier explored a bit in maps 05 and 06. The prevalence of cement, rock, and dark iron plating, with a relatively limited amount of full-on tech stuff in evidence helps to create the impression that the area was dug directly out of the living rock on a limited budget/purely pragmatic basis; it gives the setting a certain verisimilitude without having to reign in the abstractness of structure that suits DooM so well. Combat-wise, it's a well-paced affair with a few different climaxes--the spiderdemon battle in the large toxic settling pool; the cluster of gasbags on the route to the normal exit; the arch-vile/teleportation assault in the strange hell-industrial 'human processing' room with the soulsphere, etc. There are quite a few teleportation ambushes, which some might find overused, but for my part persistent use of this kind of monster delivery is not something I generally find distasteful; regardless, combats are also laid out many other ways as well, the sheer variety of which makes for a satisfying excursion. Actually, I think the variety and distinctness of different discrete areas is the map's greatest asset; despite what I said about verisimilitude earlier, this one isn't afraid to try out some pretty abstract setups for the sake of doing so, ala the aforementioned zombieman/soulsphere room (just what the hell is really going on in that room?), or the zany lap-running "PFCP" secret. Being openly presented with a choice of which exit to take seemed kind of odd to me, but I guess that's probably in large part because I'm so used to the secret exit being handled in a different way (e.g. being secret)...fortunately, you can explore each path to its end before picking which final switch to actually throw, so there's no maxrun issue. Wait, yes there is, I'm afraid...a handful of monsters failed to teleport in again here; in fact, my posted kill percentage is slightly inflated on account of arch-viles. The only other technical issue I noticed is not really much of an issue: if the player for some reason decides to run back into the generator room from the previous map, the ooze surrounding it does no damage.
Map 31 -- Hell's Armory - 113% Kills / 100% Secrets
"Dammit, you picked the most obnoxious music track from TNT for this one." This was my first thought upon loading this one up...that track really grates on my nerves after a few minutes. Boorish music aside, I also felt that this one was a bit on the homely side, with a lot of big, boxy rooms where the task of creating visual interest was left more to placement of props like torches, skull lanterns, and whatnot than to things like structure or texture consideration. There's also a noticeable aspect of symmetry in both structure and the aforementioned prop-based detailing, which tends to make the map (or indeed, most other maps where this is the case) feel a bit....artificial? I was going to complain about the lighting again, as well, but looking at it again, I guess it's not all that bad or all that monotone throughout--it's just that some of the ugliest areas (the main hub, the hell-fort, etc.) are also the most brightly-lit; some dimmer lighting would've helped most of these out, I feel. There were a couple of aesthetic touches I liked, though, like the fleshy, irregular imp cells in the corridor behind the blue door, or that narrow flesh tunnel section in the later parts of the map (where lighting was well-done, incidentally). As aforementioned, this map also marks a comeback for the keydoor hub progression type we saw so much of in 2002:ADO, but since it's the first time I've seen it lately it didn't really bother me. Now, for all the time I've spent harping on the aesthetics, I do want to say that the map mostly still played alright. The early going here was the first time in Hadephobia where I felt any ammo real pressure, although this naturally dissipated as soon as I got to the armory proper. It has an extremely direct style, with few real traps--you just open a door or walk down a corridor and hell breaks loose, as epitomized by the surprisingly large mob of vicious creatures with a couple of arch-vile overseers inhabiting the actual 'armory' itself. Flip a switch, and three fastdoors fly open: the one behind you is full of shit screaming for your blood, and the other two off to the sides contain big, scary, masculine weapons that you frantically use to shut them up. Like I said, pretty direct. If combat is handled this way throughout a mapset it tends to get pretty old pretty quickly, but in small doses like this it's a nice shot in the arm. I also liked the way the end of the map (or that part leading back to map 16) loops around to the normal exit area with map 15, complete with new (albeit simplistic) fights against some big bads. Two final things I wanted to mention: One, I literally stood around in disbelief for several seconds when picking up the BFG sprung no trap of any kind; talk about "playing against player expectations"....maybe a vile could've beamed into the pile of fresh corpses outside, or something? The second thing is that, unless I somehow missed a free one somewhere, I believe there is no armor anywhere in the map. This seems odd in a narrative sense, given that this is a storehouse for combat gear; in a gameplay sense, it didn't keep me from finishing on my first attempt, but I suspect a lot of players would appreciate it if you'd at least throw them a security armor or something, since the map uses a lot of mid-tier monsters with high-damage attacks.
Map 32 -- Sirenum Scopuli - 100% Kills / 71% Secrets
Apart from another somewhat irritating music track (this one a remix of a TNT original), I quite liked this one, much moreso than map 05 by the same author. More than any other author who has had a map in the set thus far, I feel that Magicsofa might be trying to tell us that, despite what the story file and intermission texts say, Hadephobia really is just going on in this DoomGuy's head....this map is utterly wacky, full of completely abstract, nonsensical environments riddled with references to mental insanity, like the trapped hadephobics at the tail end of the second section, the secret crazy 'backpack dimension', the space-bending secret corridor in the barrel runway, or the circle of brains on the small island in the final section. Generally, the map looks pretty good (the first segment being the best, I'd say), painted in broad brushstrokes that rely more on effective texture/color combinations and the sheer strangeness of the structures than on fine detailing. Lighting is generally handled in a similarly broad, utilitarian manner, but the generally large bright(ish) areas are occasionally punctuated by large dark areas (e.g. the cyberdemon maze with the trapped hadephobics), preventing the whole from seeming too flat. The action here is also quite robust; the map has a starting monster count that's at least 200 or so bodies larger than any other map thus far. These tend to come at you en masse in large, highly heterogeneous groups (especially in the second section); in a simpler map, infighting and the ample amount of heavy ammo available would render combat a relatively ordinary affair. The single most defining aspect of the action here, however, is that it tends to take place in highly dynamic environments--the angular crusher nest in the first section, the barrel-laden runways in the second, the combination of floating rocks and crushing pillars over deadly lava in the last, and other setups all make each big fight feel unique. Some players will probably find this approach to be little more than artificial difficulty created through environmental gimmickry, but I myself really enjoy this kind of thing; it makes you appreciate and use the marine's agility that much more. While I feel that the map succeeded in many different areas of consideration, the use of dynamic environments as part of serious combats is its main virtue; kudos to Magicsofa for being willing to commit to the idea to this degree, as this is the most pronounced iteration of it that I've seen in a recent WAD since "Recall", A. L. T.'s map 11.
Edit: Sorry for the text-nuke, I didn't realize I'd written so much about maps 15 and 31 (wrote about map 32 at a different time).
Last edited by Demon of the Well on 04-15-13 at 19:30