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The Rebirth

   (141 reviews)
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Total Conversation for Doom2, replaces all of the 32 Maps


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Arena Chess

  

Solid. Worth a play and addition to your personal DOOM archive. Interesting custom monsters. Creative construction and some exciting encounters, especially in the late stages. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Would recommend.

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Book Lord

· Edited by Book Lord

  

The Rebirth is a one-man megaWAD from an era when such big efforts were no commonplace. Nowadays the editor utilities have been upgraded with user-friendly features that facilitated both testing and troubleshooting; in 2003, half his lifetime ago, the German author Björn Ostmann (a.k.a. Vader or Bobjet) had less sophisticated tools at his disposal. He was not short of ambition and determination though, as he did not settle for stock resources and predictable IWAD homages, but he wanted to add something new and personal to his first submission to the community.

 

He used a DOS programme called Doom Construction Kit (DCK) to build the maps, WinTex utility to edit textures and sprites, and an obscure software named Capella800 to compose his own MIDIs. I have tried building Doom levels with a DOS editor myself, and I know how difficult and time-consuming it can be. The language barrier from German to English was another obstacle that Vader overcame quite proficiently, despite his disclaimer in the info file and a few oddities in the level names. I am not forgetting that he started working on The Rebirth when he was 17 or 18 years old, which is undoubtedly an adequate age with lots of free time that you might dedicate to modding, but it neither implies the maturity to bring such a long and cross-disciplinary work to completion, nor does it guarantee that it will feature consistent quality and solid gameplay.

 

The young Ostmann showed his talent by uploading a full megaWAD of small to medium-sized levels, sure to not overstay their welcome while featuring a nice challenge, at least on continuous play. The awkward weapon, ammo and resource distributions on most maps suggest that pistol start was not considered a standard approach, ideally reserved to speed runners that wanted to record demos. Beating The Rebirth on pistol start requires foreknowledge of map layout, encounters, and secrets, and it promises to be a miserable experience for contemporary Doomers facing it blind and with a casual attitude. June was a short month with not much free time, so I opted for a relaxed continuous play on Ultra-Violence, with savegames mid-level (not during encounters to cheat the RNG or to facilitate anything). I got pistol-start sensations by self-restraining my weapons (I used only weapons provided in each map, after acquiring them), and sometimes I found myself in trouble because of this choice. Some maps in the second and third episode hid crucial armaments out of sight or in the secrets, therefore I ran out of ammo just like a blind pistol starter.

 

The Rebirth was set 12 years after Doom II: Hell on Earth and the defeat of the Overlord of Hell. While humankind slowly repopulated the planet, a small part of the Overlord’s brain had survived and reanimated itself. Our Doomguy woke up one day in Starbase Omega2 (maybe a reference to Space Station Omega released in early 2003), he learnt that a new invasion has begun, so he grabbed his pistol and got ready to kill some ugly creatures from hell. His journey followed the customary progression through a first episode consisting of different types of tech-bases, followed by a streak of urban maps that was diluted by brown and abstract/generic settings in the second half. These entries might have been influenced by The Plutonia Experiment, although they did not strike the same balance between fair challenge and wickedness, due to scarce and unevenly distributed resources. The third episode brought the protagonist to hellish places, offering a decent variety of settings, gradually increasing the complexity of the layout and the use of the beautiful textures created by Vader himself.

 

The custom artwork, dominated by grey and vibrant red hues that reminded me of Quake, must have raised some interest in a time when quality textures and sprites were not plentiful. His accurate touch up of the Baron of Hell, called Lord of Heresy, is still used today in the Doom community, and the headless Former Human was both silly and creepy. I enjoyed the exaggerated sound of the pistol, replaced by a loud shotgun blast without the pump action, also turning the chaingun into a badass weapon like the Commando’s. Other audio changes included an unsettling Arch-Vile alert noise, and a few midis composed by Vader himself (used on MAP 03, 10, 12, 15, 30, 32) that add a unique feeling to the megaWAD. Despite having a nice midi pack made by the community, I chose to play with the original soundtrack lo listen at the author’s music selection, and to have the bespoke tracks stand out a bit more. Considering that each map took between 5 and 20 minutes to complete, I never got bored of a song, even if it was D_RUNNIN. The whole playthrough lasted 6 ½ hours, one of the shortest experiences I had with a 32-map megaWAD.

 

Beyond the graphic adjustments and the sound personalisation, The Rebirth shapes up as a classic Doom II megaWAD, a journey down the memory lane to an era when standards were still set by the original games, and not by ground-breaking community projects released after 2010. The monsters were used adequately, but still followed the IWAD tropes and mandates; the maps were suitable for both exploration and incidental combat, but they lacked a few big and fast encounters to spice up the routine; the secret design was traditional, and the only innovation was that they were often mandatory for pistol starters. Vader was surely aware of the Doom modding scene of his time, as proved by the Toxic Touch-y looks of MAP09 and by the involvement of none less than Vincent Catalaà in the playtesting, but he chose to stay true to his original ideas. A glaring first attempt with the editor like Operator was not a proper introduction for The Rebirth and in hindsight it should have been replaced, but the author left it there and chose to show everybody his humble beginnings.

 

I appreciate this kind of artistic honesty, and the amazing technical gap between MAP01 and MAP29 is the true abyss that Björn Ostmann crossed on his own, working for more than one year on a solo project. For contemporary Doomers, The Rebirth has less appeal than recent, more streamlined releases, especially if pistol starting is a must. Sticking to this approach will probably sour the blind attempts; on the other hand, pistol starting with foreknowledge was an interesting challenge that I tried on a couple of times, just to confirm my impressions.

 

While it had not been forgotten by the Doom community, as proven by The Rebirth Midi Pack compiled in 2019, Vader’s debut was not included in any shortlist of relevant PWADs from 2003, maybe because that year featured fundamental opuses such as Scythe, Phobos: Anomaly Reborn, and spectacular ZDoom mods. The Rebirth might have felt old-fashioned even at the time of its release, but it still has some historical significance as an attempt by a single author at modifying all the game features at the same time. Probably Vader did not plan everything since the beginning and he added new features as he gained expertise, resulting in a slightly incoherent work from the thematic standpoint. The player clearly perceives the author’s progress as they advance towards the end of the megaWAD, and I find it a fascinating way to establish a connection with another individual from another time and place. If you like the IWADs, you do not expect to beat the maps on first try when pistol starting, and you have always dreamed of making your own vanilla megaWAD with custom resources, The Rebirth is well worth a few hours of your time.

 

Best maps:

MAP 09 – The Depot

MAP 14 – The Undertown

MAP 20 – The Gateway

MAP 27 – Wired Hive

MAP 29 – The Abyss

 

Other standout maps:

MAP 11 – Teleport Center

MAP 31 – Snowed-in Mansion

MAP 16 – The Musty Ones

MAP 22 – Withered Fields

MAP 28 – Netherworld

 

Detailed commentary of each map can be found in the June 2023 DWMC thread.

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netcurse2000

  

Decent old school megawad. The maps are small, there are many cramped corridors. The gameplay is reminiscent of Doom 2. Many implicit secrets, armor is often only in secrets. On some maps, for example 07, without finding secrets, there is a clear shortage of ammunition. Overall a good megawad, but nothing special.

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VoanHead

  

On second thought, this wad is kinda mid if you ask me. After playing through all of it on pistol-start I wasn't really blown away by it. The midi pack that was made for this in 2020 was very nice if you ask me, but why this wad ever deserves a midi pack when it's so bland is what makes me scratch my head. Idk man, I didn't like this one as much as others do :/.

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Gato606

  

It's an enjoyable and decent megawad, nice texture placement, nice level design overall.  My only complain would be a little couple of secrets doesn't have clear hints to find them

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galileo31dos01

  

Done with these settings:

 

- Crispy Doom 4.2

- Ultra-Violence.

- Continuous combined with a pistol start mindset, and some actual pistol starts.

- Saves every 10 minutes or so.

 

A generally solid old-school style mapset. One that brought me those days where I got back to the game years ago and not so long ago too. The set is like your typical Doom II maps replacement, with a theme progression almost exactly like in the iwad. Includes many new textures to add something extra to the experience, a bit similar to the gothic/ancient theme part of Requiem, which was one of the earliest megawads I've played. In that regards, I enjoyed the aesthetics, more specifically from the later maps where it became notorious the author improved a lot on this side. I'd also noticed a decent usage of light variation as part of detailing, I always welcome darkness as a feature of the gameplay, and it never became unfair from my experience. Originally it comes with a few new tracks by the same author, so I strongly recommend to load this midi pack, it contains not only a great number of very cool midis but also the automap names. It isn't complete, reason why I added random tracks from other wads for myself, so that's also a recommendation (or else, PM me if you want the list). 

 

It's kinda old-school in what it provides, but at the same time is very consistent. Nothing about abrupt changes in the monster count or general progression, if anything, it only gets better from a layout design view. And this having short-medium sized maps with simple progression should accommodate to any speedrunner, who specifically develop d2all runs. Its offerings are more well-suited to continuous players, because the thing placement can be, at times, baffling, or not very well balanced for casual blind pistol starts. I can tell since I tested a few maps with short ammunition available, without secrets the monsters became more bullet-spongy than usual, or I had to rely on the initial state of the fist against packs of pinkies/spectres, which didn't look fun at all. Therefore, if the player insists in playing each map separately, I'd suggest to look for secrets, at least to achieve kills in the least time possible... Returning to the combat topic, it's similar to the style of the iwad (Doom II), which means that you don't have to overthink what to do since monsters appear generally in front of the player in varied proportions. A few traps here and there, in relatively tight rooms, that can surprise the player from the back if they don't act quickly. I'd say the start is usually the most decisive part, where you need to decide what to kill and what should be left for later. If only this restriction was accompanied with a better distribution of weapons (e.g. not giving the plasma rifle when there's only one monster left), but that's my perception, of course this won't be a matter for players that opt to play with more leeway. However, even in several cases the monsters were begging to be ignored, such as barons in cages or spectres in pits you never need to explore. Talking about barons of hell, they have wings here, as a mere cosmetic change, I liked that more than their usage. Troopers are headless, but don't be fooled by the sound of their guns, they're still the same ol' silly guys. There's a also custom sprite replacement for the nazi, pretty funny to gib, honestly. 

 

Secret-wise, while not mandatory, they are crucial to get 100% kills, as said above, or else to tank damage from hitscan attrition and tight encounters, because armor sometimes only exists in secrets. A few require wall-hump, which doesn't help. They all provide a decent amount of necessities though, if you happen to find them... Favourite maps, perhaps 20 and 27, stuff from the last episode, I can't really pick many maps that stood out for me in every single way, unfortunately, either good-looking or interesting gameplay, but rarely both in the same map. For example, the super secret map has an interesting concept not seen very often, but the layout design was dull to my eyes. I'll add that in map 29 it's possible to get stuck in the room with four doors, one of them refused to open from one side, no idea why. 

 

Overall, while not a hidden gem, it's another option to consider if you are a fan of "classic" combat style and design. Just don't pick pistol starts on UV if you're not good at secret hunts. My rate is 6,5/10. 

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Guest

Unknown date

  
very nice job :)

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Guest

Unknown date

  
An incredible one-man megawad. I especially liked some of the enemy replacements.

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Incredible quality for a one man megawad!!! Great architecture, great gameplay, a lot of fun... What else?... Oh yes: a must!!! ;-) - Jive

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Guest

Unknown date

  
decent classic

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Decent megawad, but nothing special. 3/5

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Great wad! Nice title screen and headless human sprites. 4/5!

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Good,solid megawad.Worth the d/l and playthru.

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mrthejoshmon

Unknown date

  
this is good, real good!

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Excellent! Map31 pwns

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Guest

Unknown date

  
^^^^ I've played most of the violent, manliest games in the universe, used phrases like "prepare your colon, Imma fucking stomp it" casually at church, and still live a happy life. Jelly? BTW, 4/5 for the wad, map06 is a huge letdown - I mean, what the fuck was that all about?

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Incredible. - BBG

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Great job, I've always loved this wad, excellent gameplay and sweet maps, also, I love ya man because you let us use the resources! :D anyways, great wad, 5/5 -deathknight

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Aldaraia

Unknown date

  
Real solid megawad that promises an arcade-like experience. Levels don't drag on like in some megawads, thoughtful level design and great gameplay. 5/5

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Good level set. Its design and texturing theme is reminiscent of DOOM II but with its own "ancient" theme. The difficulty is medium but gets tougher at some points (Map09, the 2nd half of the 3rd episode). You can get stuck in Map29, and Map30 is broken in Doom2. Map28 has a superb layout and game play. Oddities: the Baron has wings but won't fly, and the rifle zombie is headless but screams! [3/5] ~Chain Mail

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Guest

Unknown date

  
This is awesome. Attractive location, great variation in design, tricky traps and consistently tough gameplay without being stupidly difficult like so many others. Almost no annoying crap like chaingunner spam or Revenant snipers. Some of the best outdoor areas I've ever played, way better than Doom 2's efforts. Most definitely my favorite megawad of all time. 5/5

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Guest

Unknown date

  
just great... a classic

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Guest

Unknown date

  
5 stars, especiallt for the author's 1st wad. One of the great megawads of 2003, the others are Scythe 1, Daudelus (TC/Megawad), Com. Chest 1, and HR2 (almost an 04 wad), but the great megawads from 04 still include Vile Flesh, Com. Chest 2, and Super Sonic Doom (TC/Megawad). From 05 (so far through 6/19) we have already seen two great ones, Kame Sutra and Scythe 2 (real shame Scythe 2 was released at only 29 levels, but it's fantastic anyway). Enjoy!

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Guest

Unknown date

  
This an awesome one-man megawad, definitely among the better in that category, so 5/5 is a given. Ironically, however, these maps pale in comparison to his ZPack/standalone maps, Thunderpeak and Blackrock (and his other map, Castle Nevermore, is every bit as good as the best Rebirth maps). Still, I always judge wads separately, and as such, this megawad is awesome. Mostly nice to look at, and the gameplay is hard to fault. A must download, provided you aren't spoiled by his later maps.

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Guest

Unknown date

  
Fun fights that scale up as you go. Lots of ambushes. Levels that are interesting and aren't too complicated. It's a perfect wad and the best I've played so far.

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  • File Reviews

    • By Cinnamon · Posted
      It's a good-looking map that requires some spatial thinking and makes some use of being "a ZDoom map." It did not have to be that, but it elected to (not surprising given its release date) but I'd rather wish it didn't, since the few times it actually comes up it feels jarring.  And while the environment is memorable, and the references are well-crafted and not too on the nose, the combat is as often lackluster as it's enticing, only the outdoor arena towards the end is somewhat memorable.   Worth a play for sure, but not worth replaying once beaten.
    • By D3rpyD00dlez · Posted
      I genuinely enjoyed this mod with its level design and music. It was challenging and interesting and it kept me playing a while after beating it to try to find anything. though I would say it was slightly repetitive and overwhelming with enemies at some moments.
    • By LouigiVerona · Posted
      Writing a review for Darkening 2 is tough. It's a beloved megawad, and for good reason. As many other reviewers have said, it is historically a very important project.   It was an important megawad for me personally. I fell in love with the first level in particular. The music, the realistic architecture, so reminiscent of the video games of the 90s... It all left a lasting impression. And it was one of the most beautiful wads I've seen at the time.   But I rarely played anything beyond MAP01. So this time I decided to go through the whole megawad and answer the following question: has Darkening 2 stood the test of time?   Obviously, you see what my rating is. So, in my opinion, the answer is "no". But why? Let's dive in. I'll start with the good.   First, the new textures and level design in general are very good. Obviously, as the Doom mapping craft is evolving, there are far more impressive wads these days, but some things in Darkening 2 are timeless.   Ola Bjorling's intro level is a classic. It creates such promise for the rest of the megawad, boasting both vast, mid and tiny areas, realistic objects (if that's your thing) and good gameplay. Exactly the kind of intro gameplay you would expect - not too intense, not too slow. The monster placement is solid, the progression is robust, some clever ideas scattered throughout the map, with many little side-tasks for the player, like the ending door which requires you to quickly hit the two switches. There are some annoying bits, like getting the yellow key requires one to swivel around a crate, but we'll get to that in a bit.   MAP05 is amazing. I played it two or three times in a row. It's one of those things that might be personal, but I just connected with that map. Not only is the design cozy and varied, but the final boss area is so well designed! The blue armor secret is just exquisitely devious. A very memorable level! Totally playable from pistol start, btw, which is not necessarily true for every stage of this megawad.   Even levels the gameplay of which I disliked, all had exemplary design. Everyone used the new textures to their full potential, and I liked the feel from the majority of contributions.   The music seems to be a point of contention. I am actually quite puzzled by this. I didn't feel that the music is bad at all. In fact, the MAP01 music and MAP05 music could be some of my favorite tunes from all of Doom. The previous reviewer complains about MAP09's music. I just listened to it, it's a lovely electronic track. I think I know what he means by a piano, but on my system it sounds like this very quiet arpeggiating organ. Nothing annoying, all very soft and well written. I am currently playing it on GZDoom, and also on Linux, so my experience might be different, but I played it on Windows on vanilla Doom back in the day, and as far as I remember, the music sounded the same. So, not sure what's going on there.   But that's where the good stuff ends. There might've been more points to discuss had there been new monsters and weapons, but those parts are stock.   Now, for what felt bad and/or outdated, because I suspect that in 2000 this wad offered acceptable gameplay. I played Darkening 2 on UV difficulty. And this could have been my first mistake. The balance on UV is generally very poor. MAP01 is fine, but as I said, it's not that intense to begin with. But starting MAP02, the only level that managed UV well was only the aforementioned MAP05. Yes, literally a single level.   The problem is the low amounts of ammo and health. Especially health. On some levels medikits are so sparse that I was on less than 20% health throughout most of the run. It's a pervasive problem, especially given that there are a lot of traps, liquid floors and lifts from which you could easily fall onto said liquid. And thing is, some of those could have been interesting little romps, but because of the medikit scarcity I had to nervously save before entering a new area.   The second problem, somehow more annoying to me, is that Darkening 2 demands loads of platforming. With all due respect and love that I have for Ola's MAP01, getting that yellow key was a huge pain for me when I first played it. These days I get it almost always on the first try, but back in the day I remember spending ten, twenty attempts trying to swivel around that crate in order to get to it. I even wondered, am I missing something? Is there a teleporter somewhere?   note: actually, you can get the key if you simply accelerate and jump from the opposing ledge. I think I remember trying it as a kid and not being able to get it, and I guess I assumed it was impossible. Maybe I didn't accelerate enough. For some reason I easily get it now. Either way, I don't think that it's a great idea to make the player work so much for a key that's necessary to progress. Just allow me to take it without having to spend years figuring out the best way to pick it up!   I do understand platforming as an additional effort to get to a bonus. I don't want it as part of the main gameplay. Doom is not Mario. And the game's physics, controls and camera are not designed for precision jumps and acrobatic tricks. It's tedious and frustrating, and too often in Darkening 2 you need to run across a thin ledge or swivel around something. And that's just so unnecessary. Maybe it was normal in 2000.   There is also an over-reliance on switches. You've got a door right in front of you or a lift, but no, go press a switch first.   One level in particular, MAP10, is especially bad at this. Almost every lift requires you to hit a switch and then run through a room and a couple of corridors to get to it. Why? Especially given how you then have to backtrack there several times and go through the same exercise over and over again.   Speaking of backtracking, boy, there's lots of it! In recent years the overall quality of level design has risen considerably. It's been a while since I was seriously stuck. In Darkening 2 this happened all the time. I constantly found myself not knowing where to go next. You grab a key and then run around, trying to painfully remember which door required it and where is it.   For some unclear reason, most doors are not color coded. A silver door requires a red key, a brown door requires a red key, and then some other door requires a blue key, only that door IS color coded. Why the inconsistency?   There is another thing to note about doors. Many levels exhibit an inordinate amount of fake doors. Perhaps, this is the realism angle that this megawad exhibits, but again and again you'll see a door, it won't open and is not supposed to be opened, and then a door that looks exactly like it will.   And, of course, when you find a key, it usually won't be near the door that actually needs it. In many modern levels you get the key, jump off the ledge - and voila, you're in front of the relevant door.   All of this makes you get stuck a lot, especially on later levels which are larger.   Unlike the promising MAP01, with its opening vista of the mysterious base, all other levels are cramped beyond belief. It's as if it was a competition on how to use less space. You get to MAP02 and see these tiny corridors. Well, that will be the rule throughout the whole wad. That's what most levels will look like, with very rare larger areas, many of which are still going to be mostly blocked off to the player by railings or filled with liquids. And within these tiny areas you'd have to fight off monsters.   The monster placement would've been satisfactory had it not been for those tiny rooms and corridors. Again and again you get a baron or a cacodemon right in your face, and there's nowhere to go. You are also constantly low on ammo, so it pays off to pace your supplies, making it plain boring to shoot down barons and cacos with merely a shotgun or a chaingun, while having to strafe around them in narrow spaces.   I have also forgotten how annoying lost souls could be, as I'm not seeing them as much in modern wads, but to be fair, in some levels they are used well, like in MAP05, where they notice you from afar and then come charging through the windows.   There is an underwhelming cyberdemon fight in MAP011, which is kind of baffling. It's not at all challenging, the area is again small, but you can run away into another room and come back at will. I was bored taking out the cyberdemon with my shotgun (cause the rest of the ammo was gone by this point), so I just ran past it into the exit.   The last level, MAP12, is probably one of the most disappointing levels I've ever played in my life. It might sound like an exaggeration, but notice I am not saying it's my worst - instead, it's my most disappointing. And it's disappointing because it's so beautifully made and is again designed by Ola Bjorling. I should've loved this level, which is meant to be the closing level to the saga. But it's really-really bad. It's like MAP12 takes all the problems of the previous levels and dials them up to eleven.   First, the level is poorly designed for pistol start. It took me many-many tries to get through the first encounters relatively unscathed, given my understanding that medikits are going to be few and far between. The very first room you're deposited in is a tiny room with two imps and with a cacodemon shooting through the window, while you have nothing but a gun. And the only way through this room is to shoot a switch, making it impossible to do it without basically getting killed in the first several seconds. So you have to dance around and try to tediously shoot down the imps with your puny gun, while avoiding their projectiles and the cacodemon in the back. And when you finally get through this, with your almost depleted gun, the very next narrow corridor features a baron. Of course.   You do get a shotgun and a chaingun fairly quickly, but whether you get a super shotgun quickly will depend on how you go about the map. You can get it quickly, or you can get it midway into the level. The placement of that super shotgun is very bad, in my opinion.   The second big problem is that the level chooses to make you navigate it through liquid floors: the stage consists of several areas which are mostly connected through nukage tunnels. So, you are given a bunch of radiation suits.   This adds literally nothing to the gameplay. If anything, it actually subtracts from it, and subtracts substantially, because first you use up your suits to navigate the level back and forth to even understand where you need to go. By the time you more or less figure out where's what, all your suits are gone. And given how low you are on health, you're basically forced to restart. Which means that there is no chance to beat MAP12 on your first try, it's just impossible due to how convoluted everything is.   At some point I gave up and entered the level with a nomonsters flag and iddqd, so that I could map out where everything was. And I have to tell you, I spent no less than twenty minutes finding all the keys and the exit. Think about it - twenty minutes on nomonsters and iddqd, and it still took me forever to find my way around. There was obviously no or inconsistent color coding of the doors, and many of them were far from where you got the key. In fact, between you and the door stood passages with nukage, so you would have to grab a radiation suit first.   One of the most frustrating things about this level is getting the blue key. If I complained about getting the yellow key on MAP01, this blows it completely out of the water. The key is in a room full of crates. And the amount of platforming you need to do is beyond reasonable. Ola positioned those crates at nearly impossible angles, forcing you to attempt it again and again and again. One bit is so difficult that even after playing through the level three times, I still cannot get it reliably. I counted that the average amount of attempts to get through that spot alone was over ten. And I am a pretty experienced Doom player. I dislike platforming, but I can do it. MAP12 challenges that notion.   Another problem with that specific part is that the crate with the blue key serves two purposes: it gets you the key, but it also let's you jump into the next area. And that's the ONLY way to get there. And if you would need to backtrack - and in a moment I'll explain that you might need to - you would have to go through all that horrible platforming AGAIN. There is no shortcut.   If previous levels put you in cramped spaces, MAP12 decides to turn it into torture. You are constantly in tight quarters, fighting barons, cacodemons and hell knights.   Once you go into that area from the blue key crate, you have to walk along a narrow ledge which oversees nukage you've traversed previously, and there's the opposite ledge which you can theoretically jump onto, but that would place you in the previous area of the map. As you pass through that ledge, to the side large sections open up, releasing six cacodemons right behind you. You turn through a narrow staircase - and bump into a baron. The staircase is too narrow for you to go around him, so it's either a health tax, shooting at him and powering through, or else you go back. Your retreat is blocked by a crowd of cacodemons, so if you want to spare your health, your only bet is to jump down to that opposite ledge and kill all the cacos. And then you have to go back and go through those crates again, spending fifteen, twenty tries to get through. Knowing all this, the most optimal solution is to walk through that ledge carefully, and as soon as cacos are released, run back. It's a beginner's trap, just like so many things on this map.   But these traps have only just begun. The march towards the end is a series of these traps, so the best advice is to save every single step.   Immediately after this ordeal you get into a room with yet more crates. This time the platforming is easy, but as you jump off into a tiny-tiny corner, you see a baron right in front of you. AGAIN. There is no way to kill him without dying or losing most of your health. The trick that I found is to platform your way onto another crate and wake the baron up from there, then kill it from a distance.   And, by the way, not only does taking out these barons and cacos takes time, it depletes most of your carefully saved ammo. I was finally in a good place at that stage, but these three encounters foced me to enter the final several rooms with barely anything, but cells.   As you enter the final areas, you see an invisibility power up. Don't take it! It's another beginner's trap, designed for you to lose even more health: there will be no more hitscan enemies, instead only revenants and barons, and using invisibility with barons is a bad idea.   The final battle is bizarre. By this time you get the BFG (through that room with the crates and the baron). You then get stuck with a cyberdemon on a relatively tight ledge (yes, again, large monster, little space), but it's wide enough that you can navigate around him, grab some ammo and use the lift to get to the final area, where for the first time since MAP01 you again get a relatively large area. The battle is trivial, you just run around, shoot you BFG and the monsters kill each other. There is the Spider Mastermind which you won't even notice, cause it's surrounded by Arachnotrons who quickly kill it.   The cyberdemon is stuck on that ledge. It cannot shoot you from there, so you just kill it either with the leftovers of the BFG or rockets from the outside. It's tedious. I don't understand the reasoning behind that. Why put a cyberdemon there? Unless the expectation was that the player kills them on that narrow ledge?   And then comes the very final area. You drop into a cave. Deeper and deeper you go, through a claustrophobic passage. At one point I thought it was a dead end, but you can actually squeeze yourself into a corner and drop further down. Then there's a panel with the Darkening logo. You open it and a tiny room full of imps greets you. Imps fire multiple projectiles at you, but you are stuck, there's nowhere to run, so you have to kill them before they kill you. The obvious thing, of course, is to use the BFG, but the problem is that in that claustrophobic cave had to be a specter, of course. So, you are very likely to enter that final room with a shotgun. Again, it's trap after trap after trap. As you enter the room, an archvile is lowered and more imps will come out. The room is tiny and the only way to hide from the archvile is to have the bars that surround it stand between you. One small mistake - and you're likely dead, because you lost so much taking hits from the imps. If you get lucky, you'll kill it, and you're done.   So, it's tiny spaces with lots of monsters till the very end.   Now, obviously, when you know all that, the level is not that hard. In fact, after mostly writing up this review, I went back and beat the level in exactly thirty minutes, with 100%+ health. But that was after studying this map for hours. And yes, I still got stuck on the platforming bit, I still had to backtrack, and the second time around I just jumped it over, because jumping is not blocked.   In conclusion.   Darkening 2 is definitely staying on my computer forever. It's got sentimental value for me. But it's not the wad I'm likely to replay much. MAP01 and MAP05 are great, and I've got this morbid love for MAP12, having had to dissect it for so long, but the rest is forgettable.   It's an important era of Doom mapping, and a huge step up aesthetically from previous megawads. It also has character. The gameplay, for what it's worth, is done in a similar vein. It feels like a megawad.   But it's also vastly outdated, and its gameplay and even functional level design is no longer on par.

      It's absolutely fine if you enjoy it anyway, I know I do. But if you are completely new to this, do enter the dungeons with open eyes.
    • By Ofisil · Posted
      A competently made map, for sure, but fun? It's way too long and repetitive, with same-y combat & ambush scenarios used again and again, and with way too much enemies, and not that much of a challenge, even for me who isn't exactly fond of "SUPER HARD WAD #9263!!!!11!. You can cut the whole thing in half, and then cut THAT half in half, and it would be a better map. Is it bad? No, just a little bit above average, mostly because it drags a bit too long.
    • By MrSkeltal · Posted
      Generally good map design, but the difficulty as is the case with pwads tends to be uneven even on HMP, especially when you mix them with what slaughtermaps tend to be (monster spam). Too many parts where, after pressing a switch, you'll spend some time killing enemies only to realise the map maker tried to get cute and spawned a bunch of hidden archviles somewhere to start reviving everyone while you were busy wasting ammo. This is especially unfun in parts with very little cover where you'll be praying to the RNG gods during that Xth quickload as the entire thing devolves into an endurance test.
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