Demon of the Well
Map 12 -- Abstraction Complex - 100% Kills / 100% Secrets
Membrain's second offering is rendered in the same aesthetic style as the first (newsprint textures, a white/grey base structure with a lot of black support beams/platforms), and evinces a lot of the same tendencies in flow and structure, as well. I personally didn't think it was as good or memorable as map 09, but it's a decent offering nonetheless, even if not one likely to draw many replays.
In terms of layout, this is really not too much more than one long corridor. Sounds dull, but it's disguised quite well, obscured by innumerable twists, turns, bends, staircases, and most importantly, a great deal of overlap. That is to say, one minute you'll enter a room and fight with some zombies on an elevated platform on one side, and then a few minutes later you'll find yourself on that platform, collecting a key and being shuttled by the perspective towards the locked door the key goes to. So, it's actually quite linear, but the way the route loops back on itself at several points mitigates the fact to the point where it's not a problem. This clearly well-planned map flow is probably Abstraction Complex's greatest virtue, relatively humble though it is.
The reason I don't rate this as highly as Coagulation is that the proceedings simply aren't as interesting. Coagulation didn't have much in the way of standout fights, and nor does this map, although neither is problematically empty or saddled with awkward, grindy battles. Coagulation, with its open spaces and gradually shifting terrain, is simply more interesting to navigate.
I guess what I'm saying is that, while there's nothing really wrong with this map, it doesn't have any real hook to it, either in terms of gameplay or aesthetic (and again, I suspect this map might actually GAIN something by being done outside the monochrome constraint). It's above average within the context of this particular mapset, but viewed in a vacuum I reckon it'd be very average, albeit a clean, competent 'average.'
Map 13 -- Tan Temple - 100% kills / 85% Secrets
A hamfisted 'experimental' map. I really don't know how else to characterize this. It doesn't look so great and doesn't play too well, but some of its ideas are worth talking about in more depth.
As the name suggests, the theme here is 'tan'--tan rock in this case, although there is some grey rock and ash for contrast, as well as some extraneous tri-color torches that sort of defeat the 'monochrome' idea. The most memorable aspect to the visuals would be the massive, looming ashwall sky (which I sort of liked, actually), and the flowing 'rivers' of ash cutting through the landscape in a couple of places, flowing down towards strange scrolling processions of the aforementioned torches. All of this is not unreasonable in and of itself, but the structure itself is pretty ugly, replete with bland corridors, flat, boxy rooms, and really tacky 1994-grade stuff like the giant letters spelling out the word 'Cliché' in the exit room. There are also some more ostentatious visual gaffes. Many will probably point out the HOMs that are visible 'behind' the aforementioned scrolling torch-teleporters, but I suspect this may be a port issue (this is supposedly a BooM map, and I played in GZDooM). No, I'm thinking of things like the three-key door facade, which lacks midtex bars on one side (and the side that has the bars would probably be better without them, as the ash texture looks wrong used that way), the horrid texture-blur in the secret soulsphere closet, or the way some of those black cross-shaped wall 'switches' are drawn slightly off-kilter (the one you're looking at as soon as the map loads is a prime example).
As aforesaid, this is 'experimental', meaning that it denigrates engaging combat in favor of a number of progression-based puzzle set-pieces. Some of these many players will probably have seen before; for example, the crusher room (where the crushers are largely irrelevant to anything you're actually supposed to do in there, oddly) lifts its puzzle setup directly out of 'Guardian of Ice', from the first hub in Hexen. Others are a bit less common (though all are ideas I've seen in PWADs before), ala the floor-tile teleporter 'maze' in a different area. Solving each of these puzzles ultimately nets you a skull key, all three of which are necessary to unlock the exiting chamber. This chamber, as aforesaid, has the giant cornball 'Cliché' callout. It's not entirely inaccurate, as the room is otherwise just a giant rectangle where you are invited to get a lone cyberdemon to infight with a single spiderdemon, but not very endearing regardless. The best aspect to the map would be the potential for secret-hunting; a couple of them are rather clever, and the BFG secret is useful for dispatching whichever party survives the cyber/spider duel.
The map passes the time, but does little else, as it is clearly one that values being 'different' over being well-paced or fun.
Last edited by Demon of the Well on 06-19-13 at 09:11