Demon of the Well
it's curious that you mention this :p
Coming soon... in 2015...
Moving on, guess I'm ready for Monochrome now. Taking a look at the project thread and textfile, I reckon this is probably going to be a wildly mixed mapset--that is, I expect there'll be some maps that'll bug the piss out of me and some that I'll think are very cool. One thing's for certain, the project concept is definitely the kind of thing that's going to present a huge challenge for those with enough moxie to map for it, anyway. Incidentally, lots of authors I'm not very familiar with here, so it looks I'll get to become acquainted with some new styles.
For this playthrough, I'll be switching to GZDooM (as it appears to be the only port that can run every map in the set), but my modus operandi will remain otherwise unchanged--Ultra-violence, pistol-starts, few or no saves, etc. etc. etc. Without further ado....
Map 01 -- Dada - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Hmm......well, as a map 01, it does succeed as far as making an impression goes, anyway. My overall impression is pretty similar to what the majority of the other players thus far have said, that being that the map is interesting to look at but that the gameplay is lackluster. Hell, 'lackluster', to be honest, I think it's pretty dire. There are no traps or choreography of any kind; everything is placed directly in front of you, often in a rather haphazard way (e.g. the arachnotrons in that small room beyond some corridors after the revenants-on-platforms room). Not only can you stand and shotgun everything from the "doorways" if thus inclined, in most cases, you can stand there and let infighting thin things out, as well, although the revs/demons room does avoid this by dint of some slight-but-relevant height variation. There's no particular balance issue or anything....the action is just very trifling and unengaging. Seems like it was an afterthought, really. The best thing about it is the chainsaw in the opening room--in the name of fun, I played the map a second time using only the chainsaw (which is more viable in GZDooM with its tailored blockmaps), which made it more entertaining. I pretty much agree with Veinen--I think all of this would've worked better (though it's still not really a fight-conducive layout) if it had been mostly imps, demons/specters, and maybe the occasional zombie.
The stronger side of the map would be the visuals, of course, but in a rather perverse way. Layout/room structure is really quite boxy/bland in general form, but that's not really a crippling flaw in this case, as the strange strobing black/white custom texture comprising the entirety of the level seems like it more or less requires that kind of approach in order to achieve the intended effect. I think it works best in the narrow corridors, particularly where they bend or turn; even when standing still you can sometimes get a slight feeling of displacement, like you're slowly sliding down the corridor. The effect is less pronounced in the larger rooms (although this may have something to do with the combat-related chores that occur in them) and pretty spotty on the sloped surfaces, although it works fairly well in the exit chamber.
Overall: Obviously very experimental. Worth seeing once for the experiment's sake, but hardly worth playing for the combat's sake. Perhaps this was intentional, given the map's name, but from the end-user standpoint that's neither here nor there.
Map 02 -- Temple of Light - 100% Kills / 33% Secrets
This one moves in a different direction, which is good. I hope to see a wild degree of variation in overall style throughout Monochrome, to whit. That being said, I think that as a playing experience this has a similar overall impression as Dada did--notable aesthetic, mediocre gameplay--although I think it improves on both aspects, overall.
Again, combat is very simple and straightforward, although here it falls along more sensible/traditional lines--lots of imps and zombies, some pinkies in tight corridors, a few cacos and lost souls reasonably placed in some of the later cavernous areas. At first I thought this was going to be an ammo-starvation map, to the point where I started punching pinkies to death, but soon enough I came upon a cluster of shotgun guys and other zombies on an overlook that I was able to kill 2-3 at once per shell, and upon looting their corpses I never had an ammo issue for the rest of the proceedings. Things conclude with a fight against two Barons; but unless I'm delusional I believe they are custom Barons. They look and fight exactly the same as normal members of their ilk, but they seem to have even higher HP than usual....which isn't good. Fighting Barons in an open space like this, with just shotgun and chaingun to boot (although my poor secret-finding performance this time might have just deprived me of some better weapons) generally tends to feel like busywork in the first place, and their augmented resilience only prolongs this, without adding any additional danger or pressure. The best parts of the map are the red-lit ledge crawls leading up to the yellow key, where imps and zombies are used from distant firing positions to decent effect.
I did die once in this map, but this had nothing to do with combat; upon first entering the room with the red skull, I immediately noticed the candle placed near the dropoff on the far side. Since it was the first candle I'd seen, I thought it might have been a clue to a secret hidden at the bottom...turns out that candles near ledges are a standard aesthetic motif in later parts of the map, and all I did was fall to my death. Victory!
Aesthetically, this is an incredibly stark, joyless environment comprised of an endless expanse of unfeeling grey stone, with occasional pockets of colored light for ambience (and occasionally as a substitute for lock-identity textures). The earlier sections are blocky and bland, but eventually things pan out a bit, with a more natural cave environment behind the red door. It's minimalist, but I do like the atmosphere to this map--the introduction of red light in the red skull room looks surprisingly ominous (not that there's any payoff in gameplay terms), and I thought that hewn idol face in the last part of the temple was pretty striking. My favorite thing about the map's aesthetic is actually the skybox, though; it gives the impression being a tiny dust mote in an unthinkably vast stone labyrinth. The blinking light in one part of the 'sky' makes no sense whatsoever, and yet I think it works, somehow. I'd almost advocate doing away with the "door" and "button" floor text, as I think this would become evident to most (sentient) players in short order, and they sort of detract from the atmosphere a little.
This is more of what I'd like to see in the aesthetic/atmosphere vein, although there's still a great deal of room for improvement in the gameplay department. I saw a harmless bug as well--the imp on the highest firing position in the center rock formation in the cavern right before the yellow skull room is initially stuck/unable to fire (he's placed too close to the edge), although if you hit him with a bullet it knocks him into place and makes it so that he can move/fire again.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on 06-09-13 at 08:34