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Maskim Xul

   (1 review)
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A set of Boom-compatible maps for Doom II with a decidedly Lovecraftian theme to the second and third and a fourth to stop the player from advancing. Also a MAP30 to avoid DeHackEd shenanigans.


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galileo31dos01

  

First review woo!! anyway...

 

 

Done with these settings:

 

- GLBoom+ 2.5.1.4. complevel 9.

- Ultra-Violence.

- Continuous, basically.

- Saves every 10 minutes or so.

 

Maskim Xul is a masterpiece of a wad, designed for an experience beyond the classic shooter-action style, with its extraordinary puzzle-oriented gameplay. It has a huge emphasis on creepy atmosphere to consistently accompany the adventure and give it a sense of horror/realism, even though it's all mere fictional. In Doom, I could think of "horror" as the most organic theme in the original game, which is flesh. This is where the author expects us to dive in, literally speaking. The player has to escape a techbase, traverse a massive maze of demonic libraries in hope to survive the guardians, immerse into the stomach of something to finally find the source of evil, and defeat it. What makes this wad live for its theme, or at least incredibly creepy, is all the extensive detailing and custom stuff, such as dynamic scenery in the form of pools of flesh, objects you have to interact with like a bell, and floating symbols indicating something special, as well as ingenious ways to darken areas to simulate the transition of one place to another. Besides, multiple sound effects, a great addition to the gameplay. My favourite was the constant sound of flesh stirring, which added a component in combat, making it trickier to keep track of monsters spawning. Of course, not to forget a set of amazing midis, perfect for the mood. 

 

But the wad is not only spooky visuals and dark voices, there's plenty of action to face assuming you're in the mood to take it step by step. It includes the kind of maps that eases you into the core of the gameplay, by introducing the player into an apparently deserted area to encourage exploration, in order to find out the initial task, which gives a general idea of the mapper's design intentions, then the first encounters as warm ups, and continues to open to more and more missions. While the wad has only four maps, each differs from the other in aspects like progression and length, among difficulty. Progression can be described as a tad between vague linearity and faux non-linearity, particularly in the second map, since it's a massive key-hunt full of setpieces in a specific sequence, only requiring heavy exploration instead or room after room. The first and third map are a bit more straightforward, however. The first map is monsterless but not harmless, it's an atypical stunts map where your only enemies are turrets and laser beans, an innovating idea. It's the second map where you meet the new forces of evil, a whole roster of enemies including some of the stock monsters, a few reskinned and modified ones like the cacolich (not as cute as the cacodemon), variations of hell nobles and lost souls, magicians or disciples who might be fragile but own powerful attacks, and more. They aren't hard to figure out if you take your time, I'd say it didn't took much to understand their behavior since their usage is limited to the best, or that's what it seemed to me. The only enemies that were sometimes hard to distinguish were each of the disciples at first sight in darker areas. There're also a few new weapons and pickups: double pistols are always a welcome change; the rocket launcher is now the "Hand of Afrit", it throws mana which deals more damage and feels quite satisfying to steal one from a disciple; jackbombs are hilarious, while powerful they're tricky to use effectively, thus I didn't spend them often enough; finally, the Grimoire is an usual replacement, it's not charged by the typical way, and it's not favorable to abuse of its power, honestly clever design. I should mention that this wad was designed for continuous and balanced in case one chooses to pistol start, the balance seemed to be fine, never felt any starvation. For pickups, keycards are now crystals, the night googles are a torch, and I loved the new Roulette Sphere, an item that will give a random power depending on when you touch it. On another side, combat scenarios include generally incidental ambushes via teleportation, and several set piece battles usually in the context of mini-boss, like the introduction of the lord of heresy, or else in traps involving interesting tricks like surprise jackbombs and explosive skulls together. As I mentioned way above, Maskim Xul comes with ingenious puzzles, of all of them I have to praise the labyrinths of libraries and skull switches, with solutions that require your mind rather than your eyes. None of the puzzles will put in an urge to find cryptic switches, that's left to secrets. 

 

Talking about secrets, in maps like these I'm always glad to explore for high number of hidden goodies. They do require a good eye to catch the hint, you may want to find the super secret fight, it's amazing by the way. I'm not going to talk about the final boss, there're already enough spoilers in this review so far, I'll only say the setup could be a little bit more devilish on ultra-violence, but otherwise an impressive memorable finale. 

 

Overall, this is a piece of uniqueness in the community no one should overlook. I'm hoping someday Obsidian finds time and motivation to deliver another product of this kind, since I'm not aware of many other pwads in Boom format that make extensive use of dehacked in a consistent theme. My rate is going to be a straight 10/10, and I don't care. 

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  • File Reviews

    • By Chipchase · Posted
      Superb firework display of thousands of fireballs seeming in slow motion because of the vastness - mostly avoidable as they land where you were ages ago; but worth playing just to see it. A HUGE square surrounded by tiers with hundreds of imps and a few others, plus a blockhouse you can enter first to collect ammo.  Fighting through the hundreds of monsters when you get onto the tiers is another matter, overwhelming at UV. I cheated to finish so at least I could review.  Some HOM bugs.
    • By CountArchvile · Posted
      Terrence For fucks sake...
    • By Yura04kizel · Posted
      Laggy hell with 32k monsters and too much invulnerability spheres. Just... total vomit.
    • By Chipchase · Posted
      Insanity, with voodoo dolls (see second screenshot).  I get the idea of a shooting gallery if that rocks your boat, but 6000 monsters behind railings- as far as the eye can see, FFS! My PC crawled when I looked towards the invuln spheres (someone said 32 k of them and you can't avoid picking up thousands at a time). In the end I cheated with god mode and no-clipping, and waded in among the chaingunners until I got bored.  
    • By Chipchase · Posted
      Simple, clearly a first wad.  All on the flat with big, brightly lit, and architecturally implausible rooms. The first map has two rooms, the second map one, and the third map one plus a kind of exit lobby. You can do one of two things - just run past the monsters and finish (I did it in 35 seconds), or have a bit of fun killing the monsters first. No noticable bugs. I hope the author will go on (or went on) to greater things.
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