Cacodemon

Top Ten - Page 1


Sunlust - Ribbiks and Dannebubinga

Sunlust Sunder is dead. Long live Sunder. If insane_gazebo is still checking in on the community, I assume that he is happy with his legacy. Sunder began something of a renaissance, a marriage of slaughter gameplay with impressive, striking macrotecture worthy of the finest album covers. Sunlust, by kindred spirits Ribbiks and dannebubinga, does not share Sunder's overwhelming sense of scale except in a few instances, but its environments are just as gorgeous and - truth be told - more varied. Of course, I can't give IG all the credit. By the authors' own admission, the gameplay inherits just as much from community expatriate Death-Destiny, another phantom that has left its own indelible stamp. Most importantly, these inspirations would amount to nothing were it not for the hard work and ingenuity of Sunlust's authors.

This megawad cannot help but be a challenge. Anyone remotely familiar with the pedigree of the danne and Ribbiks would have to know that. Victory seems to be in a perpetual state of just beyond your grasp until you make that final stretch and grab the brass ring, and your trials are full of triple threats - tests of endurance, skill, and ingenuity - as carefully orchestrated chaos erupts time and time again. It would be easy to leave this experience confined to the realm of the mythical Doom gods, since everyone knows that no one plays on anything but Ultra-Violence, but Ribbiks and danne took the hard way out and implemented all of the difficulty settings (well, maybe not Nightmare). Of course, when the upper tier is reserved for the best of the best, any attempt at accommodating the vast range of skill levels is bound to come up short. What's important, I think, is that they tried.

Both authors have earned a reputation through their solo releases and community submissions, and they do not disappoint here. danne and Ribbiks offer a dazzling array of vistas that explore settings that have never been before seen, and a few that will probably seem familiar. Refreshingly, the final leg of the journey abandons the usual pretensions of red rock Hell, instead targeting a sinister yet brilliant green atmosphere that eventually gives way to a sickly yellow. Every moment is steeped in wonder, aided along by some of the most painstaking lighting - both static and dynamic - you'll ever see in the Doom engine. Just check out those random blinking track lights in "Proxyon", or... just about any scene, really.

I could write for hours to tell you how beautiful Sunlust is, or how the ingenuity of its authors keeps your brain fully engaged while you fight for your life. Some people reading this have and will. There were a lot of moments that made Sunlust an outstanding experience to me, but the one that will be forever crystallized in my brain is the circular raceway in "Go Fuck Yourself", where you must keep yourself behind a moving wave of raising and lowering lifts while clearing the track of imps lest you be nuked into oblivion by a central column of arch-viles. It just goes to show that there's still more novelty to be wrung from the base kinetics of Doom... with a little help from Boom, of course. What will they think of next?

-kmxexii

Erkattäññe - Nicholas Monti

Erkattäññe The Doom community has exploded past the boundaries of the original executable, but it has never lost sight of its origins. Of course, many members have a baleful eye fixed on those early days of Doom modding, preferring the more... professional, for lack of a better word, products that make their way to the archives. Nicholas Monti is more of a purveyor of past, poised as a curator of that elusive 90s feel with his careful approximations of texture misalignment and soundtracks steeped in MIDI renditions of popular music both past and present. To most people, that's all you really to make a 90s WAD, and Monti's wild and abstract layouts and architecture will further mark this as another failed experiment, a trashed aircraft to avoid. If so, well, you're missing out.

Monti has gotten some heat for his... aggressive encounter design in his Doom episodes. Erkattäññe takes things in a slightly more accessible direction. I wouldn't say that it's on par with Doom II, but it's a far cry from the deathtrap dungeons I've read about. In some ways, it DOES echo the IWAD; there's the strictly vanilla textures, of course, as the intent was to produce an episode of Doom II techbases, and 2013's Doom II the Way id Did is cited as a major influence, along with that protean '94-'96 era. The biggest mechanical parallel is the way Monti introduces enemies, ramping up the bestiary at a similar pace, with addition of the Spiderdemon and Cyberdemon to the roster of regulars. It's almost comforting.

I can't help but admire the author's level layouts, which is where you'll find the biggest break with Doom II. Monti eschews the right angles of the corrupted starbase, favoring highly interconnected and organic maps that use a limited loadout to push the player deeper into the installation in search of ammo and bigger guns, and usually with a bunch of handy but tricky secrets to discover. It ticks pretty much everything on the list that I'd make if I were reminiscing about the things I loved about the original Doom II, but with a flourish that's uniquely Monti's, and a presentation that shows nothing but love for the community's early days. I can only hope that I get to see more Doom II the way Nicholas Monti likes it.

-kmxexii

Skulldash - Joshua "Dragonfly" O'Sullivan

Skulldash I think that you could argue that Skulldash takes some pre-existing aspects of Doom's gameplay and takes them to one of their logical ends. id already included a timer and par times, of course, so having a level timer that kills the player once it expires is just the next step. You've also got all those little health and armor bonuses laying all over the place and contributing to your items percentage, so why not require players to pick them up in order to exit? Except, uh, they're floating coins called Skull tokens, and their bonuses vary by color.They could give you health, armor, or even more time on the clock. Throw it all together in the UAC base equivalent of Princess Peach's castle and you've got Skulldash.

O'Sullivan's level design excels in fast, fun, and disposable gameplay. The positioning of the tokens naturally draws you through the maps and suggests the routes you'll be taking as you zip around the place. It isn't quite as easy as that, though. While you only need 75% of the tokens to leave the levels, a number of them will be hemmed up in secrets or hard-to-reach places, and accessing the bonus maps (and, ultimately, the secret level) requires getting every token in the megawad. Skulldash's death timer and collectibles deliberately evoke a sort of Doom - meets - platforming environment that feels like the other side of the same coin that The Golden Souls explored in 2014, but with a greater emphasis on action and speed over exploration.

There's also a wide variety of environments and level gimmicks to experience as you make your way toward the final challenge, from low gravity to frozen time, slippery floors, rocket jumping, underwater submersibles, treetop villages, medieval castles, and even some boss maps. Dragonfly does a great job at making his big bads feel less like overpowered bullet sponges and more integrated into the world in which you fight them, even if it's as simple as gradually opening the environment and introducing some backup monsters. The way he exploits the "Rage" rune in the battle against the gate keeper shows that he's well aware of how the different elements of a battle can interact, regardless of how straightforward the rest of Skulldash may seem.

And that's part of what makes this release such a splash. O'Sullivan worked this thing over for the past seven years, enduring the death and rebirth of his chosen port, and kicked out this sleek and sinewy beast. Most instances of Doom speedrunning rely on a certain mindset independent of the levels themselves; Skulldash puts the player there by enforcing a death timer, and then cloaks the process with the bells and whistles of an arcade. It may not be essential to the process of Doom, but it certainly feels good.

-kmxexii

2015 Cacowards


Espi Award for Lifetime Achievement

Top Ten - Page 1

  • Sunlust
  • Erkattäññe
  • Skulldash

Top Ten - Page 2

  • Swift Death
  • Breach
  • Valiant

Top Ten - Page 3

  • 50 Shades of Graytall
  • Sheer Poison
  • dead.wire
  • Return to Hadron

Multiplayer Awards

  • Don't Be A Bitch Remastered
  • ChaosCore CTF

Other Awards

  • Best Gameplay Mod
  • Mordeth Award
  • Mockaward
  • Mapper of the Year

 


RUNNERS UP


Doomed Space Wars
Paul Corfiatis

Doomed Space Wars

If you've ever wanted to blow away demons on an Imperial starbase, well, here's your chance! Paul combines Star Wars: Dark Forces textures and wild, colored lighting for this surreal trip through the vast cavities of Empirical architecture... and the inevitable Wolf3D easter eggs, of course. While there aren't any new weapons, you get a bunch of new monsters, the best of which is the ubiquitous spy - I mean, security droid, a fast-moving flier that also shoots projectiles. Lest you think that this is some sort of horrid "Doom But with Dark Forces Textures" hybrid, rest assured that there are plenty of moments where you will be aware of the enormous scale of Space Station Ondor and its oppressive laser lighting.

Crumpets
Ribbiks

Crumpets

Delicious. Ribbiks, now known for his vibrant color themes, decided to tackle a more earthy mix of beige, brown and green while crafting Sunlust. The result: a series of Satanic strongholds suspended in Earl Grey tea. Crumpets is hard, of course, distilling the oppressive, exacting gameplay the author is known for into bite-sized chunks. The smaller size leaves the difficulty feeling slightly more manageable, not that you're forced to play on UV. It's there, though, if you want to take the puzzle-like combat to the extreme. Altogether, it's another immaculate lightshow with a more down-to-earth setting, solidifying a well-deserved reputation.


WHAT ARE WE STILL WAITING FOR?


Does this enormous list suggest the boundless enthusiasm for Doom and its relations, or the hubris that will inevitably lead to the community's downfall? Is this the same boilerplate text as last year's column? The answer to at least one of these questions is "yes."

Adventures of Square
Back to Saturn X E3
Bloodstain
Curse of Blood
Deus Vult II-2
Doom the Way id Did: The Lost Episodes
Doom 2 the Way id Did: The Lost Episodes
Doom: The Golden Souls 2
Doom64 For Doom II
DoomX
Favillesco E3
Final Doom the Way id Did
Fortune's Run
Heretic: Curse of Darkness
Hexen: Curse of the Demon Lord
HPack
HocusDoom
Kama Sutra 2
Mayhem 1500
Mordeth
Necromantic Thirst
No End in Sight
Reticula
Revelations of Doom
Scroll Down For Screenshots
Slaughterfest 2013
S.U.P.E.R.N.A.T.U.R.A.L.
Supplice
Tarnsman's Projectile Hell
The Shores of ZDoom
The Space Pirate
Threshold of Pain 2
TNT Revilution
TNT 2: Devilution
UAC Ultra 2
Ultimate Doom In Name Only
Ultimate Doom The Way id Did
Vela Pax
WolvenDoom: Blade of Agony