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Umbra of Fate

   (6 reviews)

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About This File

A man is on vacation and is out enjoying a day of hunting while his wife and infant son are at home. After a long and boring day, he starts walking back to his car, only to discover a ravine that wasn't there before. Feeling an unusually strong urge to find out what lurks beyond the ravine, he jumps down into it and heads out into the dark, foggy forest night.

Umbra of Fate is something of a personal experiment where I try to push the type of gameplay I enjoy to the limit.


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Zalewa

  

Even though I agree with other reviewers that this map is not flawless, it still gets plenty of stuff exactly right. The truly dark and gloomy atmosphere (instead of Doom64 crap), the architecture, the dynamic lighting, the journey, the story bits, the action packed gameplay that still does fit the theme of the level and the great soundtrack.

 

I've went through the map on normal difficulty and I think that it's fair. It's not exactly easy, but except for the second cyberdemon fight (in the moving lava room) I rarely had problems. I can agree with other reviewers that the map could offer a bit more rocket ammunition, but I exploited the respawning ammo during the fight with the first cyberdemon to stockpile.

 

Anyway, this now becomes one of my most favourite WADs. I would use it to show a non-doomer what the GZDoom engine and the mappers are capable of.

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NuMetalManiak

  

Umbra of Fate is an example of a story-driven single map. it's very interesting to see the story unfold in media res as you go through, although some are probably gonna be inclined to skip the story scenes for the gameplay. well, the gameplay is good enough, enemies spawn in ZDoom style and are generally challenging in most cases, look out for the pyro-succubus enemies as well as several more ambushes around. the secrets are something else, got 12/16 so far but I'm not able to document all of the non-sector ones. the boss fights, like the two cyberdemon ones, are pretty good. and the final fight with the Avatar is certainly challenging, but in a way not unlike fighting Hexen's Heresiarch (he even has an invulnerability move, souped up to just summon four bruiser demons into the map making life really hard). the boss honestly is the biggest highlight of the whole map, and is one of the harder boss fights I've seen in a ZDoom map. add to it the brooding atmosphere and detail, the linear but still workable combat, and you got yourself something well done.

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faad3e

· Edited by faad3e

  

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Denim Destroyer

  

Absolutely amazing looking level that manages fuses Quake and Doom aesthetic into one colorful yet gloomy nightmare. The music and detailing is outstanding however, like other people, I managed to get stuck on a piece of trim or oddly placed pillar that almost ended in my death.

Gameplay wise this level can be rather challenging in a few spots. Few of the custom enemies present can drain massive amounts of your health in one or two shots which would not be an issue if those particular monsters were placed with less monsters around them. For instance the Pyrosuccubus can drain massive amounts of your health in one shot and they are never by themselves. On the topic of monsters, the Hell Knight and Barons have faster moving projectiles which is an unexpected change that proves to be annoying in a few instances. The last topic I want to touch upon is the final boss. Without spoilers I will mention that I had to enable cheats in order to kill a supporting enemy allowing me to defeat the boss. The reason for this usage of cheats is that the supporting enemy was stuck inside a pillar causing it to not take damage.

Overall I give this four out of five stars due to the graphics, music, and the level being a decent challenge. The reason it isn't a five is the couple instances of annoying monster encounters and the issue with the boss, I do concede that last part isn't necessarily the mappers fault but is something I found annoying. In spite of the few issues present I still highly recommend Umbra of Fate to any person looking to see what GZDoom could do.

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Nine Inch Heels

  

Four stars (Read: 7/10) and here's why:

Aesthetically, this is as good as you would expect after Shadows of the Nightmare Realm: Dense atmosphere, fitting soundtrack, detailed environments and striking use of colours create a place that is both believeable yet surreal. There really isn't anything else to say other than it looks spectacular.

 

Unfortunately some of these details come with a cost of their own: There are several occasions in which details or placed objects are either mildly annoying or even dangerously intrusive at the worst possible time. I think that some "smoothening" here and there would have helped.

 

The gameplay marches to the beat of its own drum, whether for better or for worse is definitely subject to the eye of the beholder. There are some things that just don't work with my "palate", because quite frankly some encounters overstayed their welcome a good deal. So much for the TL;DR, here's some things that sprung at me:

The lack of higher grade ammunition over certain stretches in this map, especially on the higher difficulties, is something I find hard to digest. Whenever you get your hands on some rockets or cells, think twice about using them right away. The "player output" to monster health ratio leans a lot towards meaty and (borderline) grindy situations in spite of the relatively low monster count. SSG fights against (slightly buffed) Barons of Hell at varying distances, chaingun-tap-sniping at distant enemies, and the occasional cornercamp are something you're gonna have to deal with. For the purpose of seeing all the content in a timely fashion, I ended up trying to skip basically everything that wasn't a hitscanner, and also most other things that aren't tied to a "kill trigger" whenever I could. It saved me some higher grade ammo for when I actually could make good use of it. If you're a die-hard completionist, you will need to love the SSG even more than a decadent breakfast in bed. Personally I think the higher difficulties here are asking for some more rockets in order to make shorter work of the trivial albeit meaty fights.

 

There are some conceptually interesting fights in this map, in particular the first Cyberdemon and the actual boss come to mind, and there are some setpiece-based fights which have a nuance of their own.

 

As for the first Cyberdemon: That one I have really mixed feelings about. It's sort of like a "miniboss" fight that has two phases to it which loop. The first phase you get to fight the Cybie (watch out for the faster rockets), and during the second phase the Cybie becomes invulnerable and you have to deal with "fodder" instead. Kill all the fodder, and then get back at the Cybie.

 

The idea is cool, because -conceptually speaking- you get a fight that basically shifts between one larger threat, and several smaller ones. The problem I have with the fight is that the time at which the Cybie warps away is based on a timer, rather than on damage dealt by the player. If you play this one too defensively, you're in for a lot of meat, and to make matters worse there is a chance the Cybie warps out and turns invulnerable shortly before you deal the death blow, which happened to me the first time I played this map. Depending on how ballsy you are or how merciful the Cyberdemon is, this fight can either be over really quickly, or you're gonna be dealing with the fodder more often than you may enjoy.

 

The actual boss fight lends itself to either playing it safe at the cost of grinding (unfortunately repetitive) phases, or perhaps taking some minor risks here and there in favour of point-blank BFG action. In a way it's somewhat similar to the first Cyberdemon. Not gonna say more about that, you'll see it when you get there.

 

If you wanna see the latest hotness in terms of GZDoom based detailing, this is where you can get your fix, just don't be surprised if you can hear the rhythm of the SSG for the next several days no matter where you are and what you do.

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Kristian Nebula

  

Great map, stunning visuals and very atmospheric music! Played it on hard and the boss proved a bit too much... so I IDDQD'd it after a few tries and saving in the wrong place to have a try to BFG him down right in the beginning. :D MDK was also found a good use there...

Well done!

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  • File Reviews

    • 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.
    • By Ranger Qwerty · Posted
      I like the part where I pay for the numerous murders I committed by getting beaten up by either a Mancubus or an Arachnotron, it changed my outlook on Monster Priority. Thank you "Problematic" Revenant #7, I have yet to find a way to repay him.
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