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The DWmegawad Club plays: A.L.T.

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MAP06: Sanctuary

 

So the start of this map seems to suggest that the train has just deposited you more-or-less where you were at the end of MAP04?  I see what @gaspe means about the sense of level-to-level progression being broken between MAP04 and MAP05 now, I wonder if the map order was shuffled about after all the levels were completed and submitted?  Also this appears to be the first map by an author other than Azamael, so we'll see what that means in terms of design and gameplay.  I'm looking forward to a few surprises here!

 

Overall this was a somewhat disconnected sort of experience, with an elaborate, claustrophobic city area and a similarly elaborate but much more open temple/Hell area stitched together with a brief romp through the wilderness and a couple of disconnected techbase/underground pockets.  Individually each part is pretty neat, but taken together they kind of left me with a sense that the mapper couldn't quite decide what they were doing, with the result that the whole map feels like less than the sum of its parts.  I think the concentration of the tagged secret sectors in the initial city part of the map contributes to that - there are items tucked away in the later parts of the map that are just as well-hidden as anything that might be found in the early secret areas, but they're not tagged as such, and so those later parts feel unfinished or unpolished.  As much as I was looking forward to a change of theme, the city area of this map was probably my favourite part; the clearly staged and artificial arena-temple just didn't do anything for me.

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I've never joined one of these before but I might do so this time because I need an excuse to replay this WAD. I actually finished it very recently, but I started it a very long time ago, having been forced to stop a couple of times due to normal megawad fatigue (I actually prefer the episode format in general for my Doom), but also because certain maps just lost me. I'm normally pretty good at keeping myself oriented in large, complex maps, but I have a harder time with puzzles and the like. There were also a couple of times I resorted to noclip--not to cheat through some labyrinth I couldn't navigate, but more because on certain levels it does seem you have to backtrack through some maze in order to progress (or if you just happen to fall off a ledge).

 

But from what I saw, and can remember from the earlier maps, this is a WAD that deserves a proper playthrough from me. I started playing it back in the day due to a combination of ella's advocacy (after reading her first article about the WAD) and because I had already played Sacrament, which I consider an all-time favorite WAD. If ALT isn't an all-time favorite, I want to give it another chance just in case my lower level of enthusiasm for it wasn't due my broken-up playthrough.

 

Looking over what been posted so far, I have to agree that the actual combat isn't the strongest suit of B0S WADs. It is what it is. I mean I would slightly prefer it if they were a bit more...hardcore?... I mean I imagine that if I made a sizeable Doom episode it'd maybe be something like Sacrament in spirit but with meatier combat, for sure. But on the other hand, there's something to be said for the nearly monster-less opening levels of Sacrament, for example, which do a better job of setting up the WAD's atmosphere and "story" (for what it is, anyway) than any amount of flavor text. Aside from things like that, even if the moment-by-moment gameplay is not terribly exciting at time time, there's usually something strange and exciting, if not downright uncanny, just around the bend. It's like those games that may not have terribly great gameplay but have strong art/sound/world design that keep you immersed. Only in this case it's not immersion but...something else.

 

I'll have to wait till tomorrow to actually get re-started, though.

 

One thing I'd like to see less of: "drugs"/"acid". Look, I'm not a prude, but there's plenty of wild stuff out there made by sober people, I assure you.

Edited by Lane Powell

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I've played A.L.T. before and have all sorts of scattered thoughts about it.  Opting to dive in again.  HMP continuous with frequent saving.  I'm anticipating lots of exhaustion or an exodus at Map 11.

 

Map 1: 96% kills, 1/3 secrets, no saves

 

  First class on this plane is quite swank with the carpet and the large seats.  With an unavoidable death exit at the end, I opted not to use midlevel saves and just try to blow through it rather quick.  I welcome the new sound effects and am not the least bit put off by the Wolfenstein guards.  They're the very first enemies encountered so it's not immediately noticeable if they share alert/death sounds with other former humans.

 

  This is a more cinematic map.  The main side feature to check out it the A.L.T. device that transports you to a hellish chamber with a strange symbol shape on the ground that will be a recurring presence in the WAD.  Having played through this before, I'm aware of the significance of this optional area and no, I'm not going to give it away here.  Death exit simulates plane crash.

 

  Did backtrack to the start sometime to try to snag the megaarmor and caught the guard that appears there later.  Still missed an enemy before ending the map and wasn't inclined to replay it for 100% kills.

 

Map 2: 100% kills, 5/5 secrets

 

  It is a cinematic continuation of the last map; the plane seats are the main feature that clued me in.  Also there's other bits of wreckage.  First thing I remember from this map is the gameplay.  If trying to get 100% secrets, two of them require jumping down from above and making a long climb back up to continue on the path forward.  So navigating the map can be kind of a pain.  There's also one monster that placed just so that when making a jump to progress further, it's in the way below and nibbles on your feet (if not taken out in advance).  My memory of the map is about how dickish it can be.  At least reaching the megasphere secret is not as dickish as it appears.

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18 hours ago, TheOrganGrinder said:

So the start of this map seems to suggest that the train has just deposited you more-or-less where you were at the end of MAP04?  I see what @gaspe means about the sense of level-to-level progression being broken between MAP04 and MAP05 now, I wonder if the map order was shuffled about after all the levels were completed and submitted?

Yes MAP06 starts at the end of MAP04. It's a neat thing that sets a twisted reality vibe (if we can call reality where ALT takes place), I don't know if it was Azamael's idea but he wasn't able to make MAP06 (he won't apper again until MAP13) or if it came later when the other authors stepped in. Now I don't remember in detail but I'm pretty sure most of the wad has a level-to-level progression and perhaps it's significant when that it's broken.

 

MAP06: This is one of the maps I remember the most. It does a good job at subverting your expectations with the rather long journey it offers, you don't know in what other different places the level will lead you. Initially it looks like a more tech-base driven affair but you are soon back to the city setting. There's more emphasis of the verticality of the place and some platforming bits. I liked the long 64-wide corridor that leads to the hilly area, which looks cool. I also appreciated how the teleport to the Sanctuary is suspended on the sky. From the marble Sanctuary there are other different areas to tackle. Creepy, dark semi-deserted tech-base areas, with one that has flowing blood that gets swallowed by pits on the floor, and the other with a cistern full of skulls (could it be a reference to Suburbs?). The cave with the yellow path and the TEKLITE maze are the other areas to explore and then you can go back to the Sanctuary with a not so exciting Spiderdemon encounter that guards a cave, which it explodes when you exit. Cool music.

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MAP07

Well, it certainly can't be labelled 'just another Dead Simple clone' since there's no 666 tag. Presumably the inclusion of mancubi is mostly to lure the player into spending resources wiping them all out?

 

Although some of the features of earlier maps are present here: lots of attention to directional shadows, parkour, switchapalooza, this level feels different. That's probably because it's got a lot more direct, straight ahead fighting in it. Probably too direct and straight ahead, really: the arachnotrons, demons and barons are basically just targets in a shooting gallery, which is not the most involving of gameplay. Things are a little more dynamic once you teleport out of the opening area, but only a little.

 

 

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Played the first three maps on UV, pistol starts. Some general comments:

 

- It was a good idea to start replaying the set right after playing the last several maps. 

- All three form a sort of narrative continuity. Plane-crash site-nearby city.

- They exemplify what I think of as distinctive of the Clain B0S stuff I've played: an uncanny mixture of "realism" and more abstract trad-Doom aesthetics. It's an "off" spin on the typical techbase progression where Hell's architecture progressively creeps into the grey techbase interiors. This time it's lo-fi Half-Life being invaded by techbase and Hell at the same time, as if the maps are playing in three keys.

- The plane wreckage in map02 is so weird. The damaged back end that you have to crawl over is as convincing as you can get in Doom, but then the rows of seats you see at the start of the level are laid out nice and tidy, like a part of the landscape.

- Wildly different layouts and progression throughout all three. It's pretty unusual to have a big sandbox level where it seems like half the map is skippable in the map03 slot but by map02 it's established that this WAD is thoroughly flouting established conventions of progression. After a big organic map that's deliberately time-consuming to explore thoroughly, I'm as ready as I'll ever be to plunge into a tricky interconnected downtown district.

- I normally dislike platforming in Doom but I like it here. It's interesting and makes progression feel somewhat organic, and so far isn't terribly tricky or difficult.

- Recurring pirate motifs?

 

I'm enjoying my return to A.L.T. Overall I feel like what I just played was the introductory sequence: two combat-light maps that introduce something of a narrative, but with a strange and possibly alienating mixture of aesthetic devices and progression sequences. If you've playing Sacrament, B0S Clan's previous WAD, it's very similar, but the first two maps of that WAD are more ghost-town.

 

More later.

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Map 3: 100% kills, 4/5 secrets

 

  The trek from the crash site leads to a city which the aliens take up residence.  Well, it's more like the player is the alien stumbling into their city.  Sure, there is a dead body that comes to life and pursues you but most of the inhabitants are content to go about their business unless disturbed.  Such as the caco getting a tan in a custom sized sauna who will shut the door on you if you back away.  There's no demon invasion; this is their home turf.  Lots of sector furniture and other real world representation with traces of the demonic.  Are the inhabitants trying to integrate human world sensibilities into their civilization designs?  Who knows?

 

  I remembered this as a city map.  Replaying this, I noticed just how few monsters there are roaming the streets.  Makes sense from a gameplay perspective (very easy to fight there so not much point in throwing meat at the player) but also makes sense from a narrative view.  Indeed, most of the map is optional and can be finished without alerting most of the inhabitants.  Even leaving the map with full ammo and 200/200 doesn't need to full clear the map; it's enough to clear the path to the exit and snag that megasphere when ready to move on.  The lecture hall is a memorable setpiece; in a less action oriented game, this would be a cutscene.  Other than some close quarters revenant fights or getting sniped by faraway chaingunners, threat level is low.  To be expected when dropping in on a day to day existence that's not panning an invasion.

 

Found a permastuck.  Up in the apartment with a SSG, it's possible to drop behind the bed it's on.  Spotted a skull switch while searching for a way out and inadvertantly found the Duke Nukem bikini poster that Spectre mentioned (along with fire textures, how cheeky).  Still stuck though.  Reload safety save.

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MAP07: Pirates

 

This one has a distinctly odd sense of pacing to it, with weapons and ammunitions piled up like a bloodthirsty Christmas morning to suggest a boss fight ahead, only for the player to face penned-in pillbox arachnotrons and a horde of utterly helpless and useless demons on the other side of a vast chasm, across which they can be pulverised with impunity.  It's only after clearing through that toothless initial area that the title of the map seems anything but random, as you're teleported to some kind of floating installation around which the monsters have moored their sailboats; the Jolly Roger that decorated the tailplane of your crashed aircraft in MAP02 makes a triumphant return here.  It's certainly a bloody map, but between the odd setup of its opening encounter and some peculiar design choices (uncomfortably steep stairwells and a prominent yellow skull key that, as far as I can tell, is both inaccessible and purposeless) it's one from which I felt a bit disconnected in terms of interface and interaction, as though the layer of weirdness that has pervaded the WAD thus far was placed here not within the level but between the player and the level.

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I think the transition from Map 04 to Map 06 is to suggest that the events of Map 05 didn't happen hee

I've always interpreted that bit as one big hallucination

my impression of teh Doomguy involves not only a certain amount of shellshock but a certain unstuckness in time and location based on him having gone to hell, a metaphysical idea of a place rather than a place. so Doomguy suddenly appearing in weird scenarios, or revisiting them unexpectedly is perfectly normal to me and ALT enables this viewpoint

 

(making it my favourite doom 2 megawad)

 

 

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MAP07: If you pistol start this level the ammo in the first part isn't enough for all the arachnotrons and demos, though there's a berserk pack that comes in handy for the hordes of pinkies. This level is split in two parts. Jumping out from the previous level exit tunnel we reach some cliffside with some caged arachnotrons and lots of pinkies, 2/3 of all the monsters of the level are here. The second part of the map is set inside a sort of fort built offshore. I don't if that's a den of the pirates or if they are attacking the building. It's nicely detailed inside with different environments as bedrooms, a control room and a dining hall. Like the previous level near the end there's a spiderdemon battle but here that is skippable. The exit is pretty cool, it makes you reach the shore on the other side and you have to jump down into a mysterious metal structure buried in the ground.

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MAP05 - All Hightmare Long

 

The action-packed episode is over, and we're back to exploration! It's another level that goes on for quite a while, but it wasn't that hard to find my way around... aside from the two little switches near the beginning, that is. Damn, that was a pain. But otherwise, it's a fairly linear progression and while it's often not obvious what you accomplished or if you accomplished anything at all, the confusion tends to clear once you backtrack a bit and see a newly open pathway. It's also very nice that you can see the train right away and then a few more times, so your goal is always clear, even if the path to reach it is pretty meandering.

 

My favorite part has to be the megasphere secret, it's like an entire adventure. I liked all the secrets though (got all of them!), and how natural the method to reach them often felt. Especially the blue armor was beautiful in its simplicity.

 

And then, after all those adventures, you open the door to the elevator and find the path inside blocked by some columns, so you end up having to take another path. Reminds me of Wolf3d's E4M5. Also it's pretty interesting that once you reach the room with the blue key, you can ignore it and exit through a one-way door instead. This would force you to travel through the entirety of the level again just to get your key back... unless you don't want the key, because it's already unnecessary at that point?

 

MAP06 - Sanctuary

 

I guess that's my least favorite level so far... even though it starts out nicely. Like others mentioned, it starts where MAP04 ended... but it ALSO starts where MAP05 ended! So which one was the hallucination, again?

 

It begins with a seemingly ordinary brown techbase that soon reveals itself to be a festival of expectation-defying cheekiness. To begin with, you reach it by trying to open a door which then collapses deep underground and turns out to be a lift. And then it continues. You try to open a door? It stays closed, but a passage elsewhere opens instead. You reach what's obviously a lift and press a nearby switch to lower it? Lower what? When you do find a lift switch, it only ends up lowering one quarter of the lift-like structure. Also, you get to meet one innocent imp in a cage who's just chilling out by the fire with his barrel and has no intent to hurt you unless you shoot him first, no matter how clearly you announce your presence otherwise.

 

Then you enter what could be called the main section of the level... starting with a street and some sort of switch storage area, with just a single functional one. After some running around, you go through an outstandingly boring long corridor to reach some grassy hills. It's kind of annoying that the level tricks you into entering the corridor prematurely, so that you have to backtrack to lower the barrier and then go through it again... but it's a pretty neat moment when the bright outdoors tease you from behind the standing barrier, letting your imagination run wild until you get to see more.

 

A hill or two later, you plunge into hell... and then it gets annoying. It would've been perfect if there was no confusingly-located teleporter right next to where you start, one of the branches was available right away and taking you to the cool gimmicky little arena with the spiral, and if completing the spiral arena would take you back to the hellish hub to take on the spider and leave. Instead, you need to fight your way through some annoyingly dark techbases and caves. It would probably work better if it was put somewhere in the town area, before teleporting to hell. Maybe it would be a good replacement for that long and stupid corridor? Oh well. Also, the blood in the hellish hub is harmless for some reason at least it allowed me to deal with the spider mastermind easily. I got zero secrets in the end, though.

 

My one last complaint is the music. As usual, it's great... but not for this map. It feels good at first, but then it turns out to be too upbeat, too action-y and too repetitive for this map that just keeps going without much sense of progression.

 

At last, we get a text screen... which mostly tells us what we already know. Aside from the fact that the crashing plane apparently caused a lot more damage than it seemed... no wonder everyone in the town is pissed at us.

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MAP08

The first half of this almost felt like a 'regular' Doom map and I was running around having a great time and feeling vaguely perplexed at not being perplexed ... and then I teleported into the revenant dark zone and things take a hard left turn into ALTsville, with the usual "I wonder what that switch did" malarkey and the platform puzzling you have to do to reach the red key fight.

 

I could really do without the switch malarkey, to be honest. It's not IMO fun to blindly wander around trying to work out what actually just happened. The puzzle elements at least put the elements all in front of you, you just have to work them out.

 

The red key fight mentioned above is the highlight of the map's second half, for me, with plenty of monsters to battle in a relatively open area. It's also a nicely heterogeneous group of bad guys so there's plenty of scope for in-fighting as a part of that encounter.

 

 

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It's fun reading these posts, which has prompted me to visit the OneManDoom review as well as some YouTube playthroughs to refresh my memory. I do love most of these maps. The worst part of the WAD so far (having finished the first 13 levels) is in MAP08: that dark outdoor (?) teleporter maze with all the revenants was an absolute pain in the rear. And the exit was pretty unintuitive, too; it had me stumped for some time.

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On 1/6/2019 at 5:32 PM, Crusader No Regret said:

I'm anticipating lots of exhaustion or an exodus at Map 11.

 

I played 11 last night, got stuck, slept on it, and finished it this morning.  ALT is definitely a map set that benefits from taking a break every now and again.

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MAP08: Psychodelia

 

I'll second what @Capellan has said about the overall layout of this level, with a relatively normal example of a grungy techbase stapled violently to some sudden jaunts into "What the actual fuck,"-town.  It's jarring, it's disorienting, at first ripping the player away from the until-then conventional progression of the level to drop them into a a gloomy, haunted area that's not so much Ghoul's Forest as Revenant's Wasteland, then later depriving the hapless marine of such things as a functional automap and faith in the integrity of reality itself.  The trip to the dark, revenant-haunted badlands is made somewhat easier if you've still got the hidden light amplification visor from the warehouse running; on the one hand you can see the revenants and the landscape, on the other hand the teleport ring-fencing seems even more arbitrary when you can't see that it's a pool of light around each teleport destination that serves as your playing space.  Overall I think this is a map with plenty of clever ideas and a sense that, unlike MAP06's disjointed narrative, the disconnections here, the discontinuous path that wrenches you back and forth between metal-plated reality and a flesh-and-fire nightmare realm with terrifying abruptness, is a well-developed part of the level's narrative.  It's just a bit too much all at once, and the result was that I felt, beyond a certain point, that I was no longer exploring and experiencing the story of the game's player-character suffering the whims of some unknown and capricious force; instead, I was the one suffering those whims, being messed with by a mapper who'd come down a bit too firmly on the side of thematic strength and narrative purity rather than the player experience.  Sometimes less is more, and I think you could crop out either the revenant void or the red key techno-cavern and end up with a stronger, more concise (not necessarily more coherent, that's not the point the level is trying to make), and more satisfying chunk of story and gameplay.

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Oh, did anyone else get softlocked in MAP06? Specifically, the techbase area with the catwalks and revenants; I tried going back to do some secret-hunting, but the now-raised walkways there made it impossible to get through a second time, and there wasn't a way to teleport back...

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Map 7: Lots of terrible attempts with the spiders to start the map.  Agree with Capellan that the starting shooting gallery was not very engaging gameplay.  On my successful run you can also see some atrocious attempts at platforming to get across the pit as I became increasingly frustrated.  Finally managed to get past that first section and then I enjoyed the rest of the map.  Leaving the pirate ship to explore the coast was a cool little moment.

 

Map 8: Died in the revenant hell teleport area.  Once the teleports started I was worried I'd die if I stopped.  I died anyway.  Don't think I'm going back to this one.  It's weird, but it's straight ahead corridor weird and does nothing for me.

 

Neither of these maps hit the same highs for me that the earlier ones did, so I hope the set picks up again.  I'm looking forward to seeing more of Azamael maps.

alt_8.zip

alt_7.zip

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MAP07 - Pirates

And now, it's a shorter map again! The beginning would've been a lot more fun if it wasn't for the utterly ridiculous pinky horde. I tricked a faraway arachnotron into safely mass-slaughtering a whole bunch of them, and I still had to do plenty of tedious grinding on my own. It was an aesthetically pleasing area, though - I don't know what the arachno-tubes were built for, but it certainly felt like they were built for something. I liked the usage of midtextures to create a feeling of a 3d structure without really trying to make a solid-looking ceiling. It already showed up at the end of MAP05, and it was used again here both on the arachno-tubes, and on the archvile/hellknight room on the ship. The ship itself is a very visually pleasing area and the gameplay there is good as well. The sudden possibility of going out into the sea was a nice surprise.

 

MAP08 - Psychodelia

It's already an ALT map, and now it's actually called Psychodelia? What's that gonna be? A brown techbase, apparently! Perhaps the most classic-feeling level piece so far. The initial subversion of expectations was really quite amusing. Then, of course, things change and you get caught off guard as you're suddenly dunked into the revenant realm. The fight there is chaotic and tricky, but not excessively hard - the omnipresent teleports can be a good defense.

 

And then, the adventure continues! After some obligatory switch hunting, we walk onto a lift and descend into madness. The pillar area is a visually great design, but the challenge there might be the lowest gameplay point of the level. The path behind you is closed now, and you have to fight... chaingunners and revanants! With no cover! Genius. Fighting them from inside the little corridors works well enough, especially with mouselook, but it sure doesn't feel very satisfying.

 

And then, there's another dark tech nightmare... with not only more monsters, but a puzzle too. It wasn't too bad once I figured it out, but it sure would've been more helpful if I knew what I was doing! The hardest part was noticing there's another switch to press, noticing that I'm raising a platform, and so on. Yeah, solving puzzles in deep darkness was not very fun.

 

Then we're on to the final part, as we rapidly shift between the hellish and the human realms. It's pretty cool, but my mood was soured by the previous section and I didn't appreciate it as much as I could've. I loved the megasphere secret, though - it was a pretty epic feeling moment... but also one not designed for 100% kills, apparently, as you can either backpedal to safety real quick or engage in some uncomfortable combat that's gonna sap your newly acquired health and armor real quick. Personally, I think I'd replace all those cacodemons with pain elementals - it would make it a lot less challenging and maybe still not very elegant gameplay-wise, but it would've been a lot less painful and it would've amplified the inside vs outside contrast even further.

 

By the way, the megasphere was one of the two secrets I found just by trying to find the way forward... so that's not a good sign I guess.

 

Finally, we cap it off with what might be the ugliest and most boring exit so far. It looks like a placeholder.

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MAP09

We start out in a near monochrome nightmare populated by spectral forms of the usual lower tier enemies. It's quite an effective section: the grey zimmer type texture makes it quite hard to pick up the monsters visually, and the occasional splashes of colour really pop. The grey does also make it hard to spot some elements of the architecture, though: I spent a couple of minutes confused because what appeared to be a dead end at first glance was actually a corner.

 

The back half the map – getting the yellow key, and then the non-monochrome parts of the map – is a bit limp, and ends rather abruptly. Perhaps there was some optional content I missed?

 

 

 

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MAP09: Freeze

 

a.k.a. Welcome to Grey Hell

 

This is a very short map compared to the sprawling experiments that have made up the bulk of A.L.T. so far, though it's no less unsuaul, first sending the player wandering through a modestly-sized monochromatic labyrinth populated by translucent ghosts, then shifting the player back to the corporeal world to retrace a handful of steps now that the colour has been turned back on, before concluding with might be an arena battle if the monsters and player alike weren't so constraint and if it didn't fizzle in its execution.  The brevity of the experience means that it doesn't overstay its welcome, and in particular the colourless world within the mirror wraps up before its gimmicks get old, but the downside of this is that the map doesn't leave you with a lot to write home about, especially when it ends on such a weak note.

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Map 9:

 

Well that was unexpected.  This is legit one of the scariest maps I've ever played.  The monotonous grey texturing and the slightly odd progression works perfectly with the invisible monsters.  I don't disagree about the limp ending, but I also don't really want to go through a map like that for much longer than this ended up being, so I'm happy that the ending was quick.  I died stupidly in my first attempt, cleared it on the second playthrough after spending most of the map close to death from a couple bad shotgun blasts.  I liked this one enough to make me want to go back and try to close out Archi's map 8.

alt_9.zip

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Map 4: 88% kills, 3/3 secrets

 

  Rooftop chase sequence!  While continuous does give the option of exterminating the stalker cyber with direct violence, I chose to play the map the intended way by trying to evade it.  The zigzag path is the hardest segment and isn't skippable like the pillar run but isn't as nasty as it may seem.  I cleared this in about 8 minutes without any saves but ten reloaded my starting position to try for the secrets.  They showed up on the automap but reaching them is another task.  One of them takes a long circuitous path to access.

 

  Found an exploit though it may be more trouble than it's worth.  Once past the guardrail section with the teleporting revenant, backtracked to the start where the invisibility is.  Goaded the baron and hellknight pair into some cyber rockets.  Because of the cyber's current position, it was having trouble landing shots on the nobles.  By going underground while it's still aggroed at one or both, it won't attack me while I finish the last steps of the chase sequence.  Didn't care to bother for 100% kills so went for it.

 

  It's possible to die at the very end if standing in the wrong area after flicking the last switch.  Happened to me the first time I ever completed the map.  From a narrative viewpoint, it may make more sense for this to occur.

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MAP08: Enough of the airy settings with lots of outdoors we had so far now we are into a bunker techbase, though the megasphere secret near the end gives you a nice view of the nukage sea outside. The level it's certainly faithful to its name, things seems normal at first but weird stuff happens soon. Remarkable is the revenant heaven (or hell?) with light island suspended in the darkness. Cool is also the RK area with the bright trail of lights on the floor. Coming out from there the map gets even more weird, with a room with no exit where you are seemingly locked inside and a glimpse of hell before returning to the techbase. The exit can be hard to find on a blind run. Nice progression and switchy-action, though I can say this for all the levels here. I guess Archi is more known for his slaughtermaps but he's also good at making these kind of atmospheric adventures.

 

MAP09: Things get creepy here with a grey monochromatic environment, but it doesn't end here since also the monsters are replaced by their "invisible" counterpart. The frozen part has a more hellish flavour with bricks, marble and wood. It doesn't take long to go back to the "normal" world, in a techbase that perhaps is a continuation of the previous level. There's a mysterious machine at the center of the big cistern-room. The thing I like the most is how once back to the colored part you may think the frozen part is over but near the exit you'll find a frozen area fused with the normal world.

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MAP10

Probably as close to 'typical Doom' as we've seen in this mapset. There's some parkouring, and the odd concealed switch, but it's all pretty much proximate to whatever it is you're doing, so the usual befuddled sensation I have while playing most of these is pretty much absent this time.

 

I liked the generation provision of health and armour bonuses (there is something very satisfying about picking up a host of those in succession), and a couple of the set pieces were quite neat. The baron/CG/AV combo for instance, is a pretty fun bit of action, since old flame-boy has a lot of other corpses available for rezzing, which keeps putting meat in your way as you try to shut him down.

 

 

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MAP10: Short level but you'll need some rest before the next map. I love the main grey rock area, the pitch black floor and the star sky ceiling create a rather unique aesthetics. The YK area features most of the monsters, the side rooms with multiple openings are quite insidious since the enemies can come out from more directions. There are many secrets for a such small map. There's another spiderdemon encounter near the end where using the revs to infight will save us.

Oh the next map is one of my favourites.

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MAP05 - “All Nightmare Long” by Azamael

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I live again! Nice Blood midi here which I tend to associate more with Doom PWADs than anything these days. This map is really great, taking you through a creepy apartment complex and industrial facilities near a nice looking train station. There is plenty of cool detailing and lighting effects everywhere, from the crumbling buildings to this poison lake surrounded by natural terrain and marble face slabs. The kiosk with the Hell Knight serving refreshments is also a nice touch. Compared to previous maps, there is a lot more vertical combat and progression, with enemies occupying ledges that you have to climb. Such as the area with the Cacodemon trap and the secret SSG. Now, I don't like secret SSGs, but there is generally enough rockets in this map to kill any of the bigger demons while the Chaingun takes care of the fodder. Then again, I found all the 8 secrets, so that might make a big difference. Definitely my favourite of the 5 starting Azamael maps, who ain't coming back for a while as other mappers take over.

Edited by Spectre01 : <Large image insertion successful>

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MAP10: The Clairvoyant

 

This is a smaller and in many ways more conventional offering than the bulk of the WAD thus far, which isn't unwelcome after two weirdness-infused levels from Archi back-to-back.  The setting is a sludge-pumping techbase with an eerie, starlit outside area that functions as its hub, sending the player chasing after keys and then down spokes of the map at various elevations in a sequence of compartmentalised encounters; if not for the quirky nature of the outdoors area and the haunting quality of the accompanying music (is that a Silent Hill arrangement?) this is a map that would fit quite neatly into the MAP10 slot of any number of other WADs.  For continuous play I appreciate that the megasphere can be left until after the map's toughest encounter area - a gaggle of revenants, an optional pair of arch-viles, and a Spider-Mastermind trotting about a room that's really far too small for her - has been taken care of, especially given what's been hinted about the next map here.  I'd like to go into that topped-up and ready to face it in peak condition, please!

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MAP06 - “Sanctuary” by Nomad

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I was already sold on this being another city map, but the surreal teleportation journey really makes this map memorable. A bit of an appetizer for the magnum opus that is map11. To the folks paying attention, the start of the map is the exit room of map04, minus the moving demonic faces. I like how nothing in the opening room seems to do what you expect it to regarding the switches and doors. Gameplay in the city is your usual Doom affair until you make your way up to some cliffs and then notice a teleporter at the edge of the world. The two invuls there (I ate one before the shot) do a pretty good job as atmospheric decorations. You don't really need them for anything in the giant blood crater, but it helps with facerolling some Viles. The teleport sequence takes you to various distinct locations, some of which are really damn dark in software mode. I couldn't see shit in that cave area with the Cacos and Revenants in the middle. Never had that problem when I played in GZDoom, but maybe I'm getting the intended atmosphere. ;) The rocky spiral with the flesh pillars is probably the most memorable piece of sector art here, and I like the Imps teleporting in your face with the limited space available. Solid map; can't complain.

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