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Not Jabba

Not Jabba's Not the Cacowards Review Corner (Doomed in Space and Shovelware Adventure)

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Nice review of Mayhem Orange and Purple. Glad you liked my map. :)

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Bury My Heart Knee-Deep by @Ryath

 

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Ryath is best known for vanilla puzzle gimmick mapsets like the Cacoward-winning Absolutely Killed and the UnAligned series, so it's no surprise that Bury My Heart Knee-Deep manages to be equal parts experimental concept map and nostalgia trip. Bury My Heart is Ryath's largest and most ambitious map so far, potentially taking a couple of hours to play through despite a deceptively moderate monster count of under 900. The reason is that it's a fairly deep playing experience, with a lot to explore, a lot of optional content to puzzle out, and a lot of different ways to tackle its challenges.

 

Bury My Heart is crafted in the style of a Metroidvania, meaning that it's highly sandboxy but gives you specific item-hunting objectives that allow you to unlock large portions of the map when you complete them. Part of this is finding keys like in a normal Doom map (each of which will unlock several new areas throughout the map), but you also have the optional goal of figuring out how to access two sets of supply rooms, one containing Lite-Amp Goggles and the other containing Radsuits, which allow you to explore even more of the map's optional content. This map has a whopping 64 secrets -- including a mega-secret bonus arena battle that you'll need to find multiple hidden switches to unlock -- making it very likely that you'll find at least a few but very unlikely that you'll find them all on your first playthrough. Perhaps the coolest idea in the map is a set of storage closets containing useful items that are blocked off by forcefields. You can only open these using rockets, which means you have to decide whether to make the tradeoff of spending those rare and precious rockets to get the items inside.

 

According to the readme, there are even intentional sequence breaks built into the map that allow you to complete it without finding the keys, although I lack a speedrunner's eye and didn't find them myself. All of this optional content lets you theoretically tackle the map however you want and gives you lots of options for how you want to replay it. Do you try to find the way to complete it as quickly as possible? Do you go for 100 percent kills and secrets?

 

Aside from all that, the whole map just has a nice vibe to it. Ryath treats it as though you've never played Doom before, revealing each new monster like it's something special that you're discovering for the first time as you push deeper into the infested base. The initial lack of Doom 2 monsters also helps to firmly establish the Knee-Deep in the Dead nostalgia feel before moving on to include Doom 2's expanded content and open up more possibilities for gameplay. Each key has its own boss battle arena, with Pain Elementals, Cyberdemons, and Arch-Viles serving as your Ridley and Kraid for the day, and the spider enemies show up for a nice final fight that has you managing combat on multiple fronts.

 

Overall, this is a very enjoyable map, and the fact that its huge size is contained within vanilla limits is an impressive feat. The Metroidvania concept is a really interesting one, and I can't help but wonder how much further the concept could be pushed with Boom features, a higher level of detailing, and a set of custom resources, or ZDoom features and new items and monsters that emphasize the progression aspects. It's hard to say whether the simplicity of Bury My Heart is the ideal choice or not, especially since the mostly understated combat doesn't do a lot to push strategic thinking and emphasize the benefits of different approaches in a map that's theoretically all about choosing your own way to play it (though it does a good job with limiting your ammo and other resources). This map feels like a pleasant initial foray into a very engaging concept rather than something that's being explored to the fullest, but since it's the first of its kind, I think that's fair. For my part, I hope we'll see either a sequel or a spiritual successor someday.

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2 hours ago, Not Jabba said:

@Ryath

 

Hey, that's me!

 

Thanks for this review, @Not Jabba! I love reading these, and agree with all your criticisms of the map. 90% chance there will be a sequel in some form or another, though even I don't really know what that sequel will look like.

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Posted (edited)

The Kerberos Complex by @antares031 (Doomworld Mega Project 2017 map 24)

 

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Dividing a map into color-coded sections is a visual gimmick that goes back a long way, and it's no wonder; it's a simple way to make each section of the map feel like it has its own distinct mood, and often to make the layout easier to remember, while keeping a sense of cohesiveness throughout the whole map and keeping resource creation minimal by using recolored versions of the same textures. The trope probably originated with "Killer Colours" from Alien Vendetta, but there have been a host of other maps that improve on the formula: there's the high-tech neon Sekkusu, one of my favorite early ZDoom-compatible maps (and its sequel, which appeared in the first Newdoom Community Project); Eternal's artsy and surreal "Warp of Time" from Hell Ground; Nanka Kurashiki's adorable fruit-themed "My Fav" from JPCP; and now Kerberos Complex. It's worth noting that all of the aforementioned maps except Sekkusu were brainstormed for the Top 100 Memorable Maps list (with two of them making the final list and one of them on the runner-up list), so it must be a pretty damn good gimmick, at that. As for Kerberos Complex, it was overshadowed by the release of an immensely popular megawad by the same author -- and of course it wasn't really eligible for Cacoward consideration, as one entry in a 52-map community project -- but it's still an awesome map.

 

It's beautiful, for one thing: an ultra-futuristic techbase where each primary color stands out in bright contrast to gray stone and metal, full of flickering and glowing sectors that add that extra bit of atmosphere at each turn. Antares is one of the modern masters of creating detailing so layered and consistent that the map is almost dizzying, but without any of it getting in the way of the playable space.

 

The mapper's gameplay style is also fairly consistent, so Kerberos Complex plays a lot like the average Struggle map. Its difficulty on UV is generally equivalent to the midpoint of the megawad on HMP -- constant heavy incidental combat throughout the majority of the layout, but with a few big setpiece fights around the keys and an extremely intense three-part finale. That said, it doesn't use any of Struggle's Dehacked work on the weapons and monsters, so the pacing and monster usage are a lot more like what you'd typically expect in a modern Doom map. Although I like Struggle's amped-up take on Doom's gameplay, I enjoyed Kerberos Complex more than most individual maps in the megawad, partly because the style of both the visuals and gameplay feels a bit cleaner, and partly, I suppose, because I'm just a huge sucker for nonlinear megamaps.

 

The complex is very interconnected and sandboxy, so you can approach it pretty much however you want, and there's little chance of getting lost or hitting a dead end, because everywhere leads to everywhere. The central green area serves as a hub and contains the three keycards, while the big yellow, blue, and red side complexes each house a skull key of the appropriate color, which you'll need to survive a big arena battle to reach. Red is the most brutal, but it also awards you with the most easily accessible BFG. This arena also allows you to choose between two different battles via a multiple-choice switch selection, complete with a big sign that makes the decision factor really obvious (and borrows from "My Fav" in the process). That's something I really love about this map: the goals are mandatory, but it gives you plenty of options.

 

Once you have all the keys, you go back to the hub and initiate the final sequence of fights. I won't spoil too much of it here, but as someone who likes my biggest fights to be high-spectacle and high-intensity but still *relatively* low-stress, I found it very enjoyable. I hope you like Revenants, though, because this time you're out of options.

 

With all due respect to the rest of the mappers, I didn't play any of the other maps in DMP2017, but I think it's well worth downloading the whole thing just to play Kerberos Complex, and chances are you might find some other stuff you enjoy while you're at it. As a large stand-alone map, it stands toe to toe with the likes of Man on the Moon and Port Glacia.

Edited by Not Jabba

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6 hours ago, Not Jabba said:

The Kerberos Complex by @antares031 (Doomworld Mega Project 2017 map 24)

 

 

Much appreciated for the detailed review of The Kerberos Complex, Not Jabba! This is so wonderful gift for my birthday. :)

 

The basic concept of The Kerberos Complex was originally based on the MAP16 of Struggle; the green sector was designed as a central hub of other three colored sectors. I really liked this concept, and I thought it's pretty good idea for a giant non-linear level. So I decided to expand the idea for bigger, more complex level with boom-compatibility, so I could use more options than limit-removing. To show the relationship between those levels, The very beginning part of KC was designed to have the similar view from the MAP16:

 

Spoiler

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It's also worth mentioning that the colorful spiral monuments were inspired by @Manbou's "A resplendent emerald green"; MAP27 of Japanese Community Project. The first time I watched the similar decoration from MAP06 of that wad, I thought this was really cool idea as a decoration. And after I beat MAP27, I really wanted to design something, based on those floating spiral sculptures around that enormous emerald-colored realm. And yes, speaking of JPCP, I did borrow the idea of the adorable question from "My Fav" by @Kurashiki. To me, that part actually made me smile in a really good way, and it was one of the most memorable moments of the entire wad. So it's no wonder I decided to pay homage to it.

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I love reading these kinds of reviews! Thanks a ton, Not Jabba. Always makes me glad when people enjoy my schlock work!

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5 hours ago, Nirvana said:

Nice to see some long-form reviews on here!

 

Ditto, imagine if we had a hub (organized, navigable) for stuff like this. I mean we have, but they come and go, and/or are buried knee deep in the forum.

 

Anyhoo, carry on with the writin' and reviewin' sir

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Vorpal said:

 

Ditto, imagine if we had a hub (organized, navigable) for stuff like this. I mean we have, but they come and go, and/or are buried knee deep in the forum.

 

Anyhoo, carry on with the writin' and reviewin' sir

 

One pipe dream idea I had but dismissed since I definitely wasn't up to the task was to grab reviews from the Doom diaspora (many of which are now defunct except on archive.org) and throw them together with stuff like Dwmc and the more longform reviews now appearing in the new frontend. Something like a Doom meta critic. It's a neat idea but I'd have to give up my own endeavors to even attempt it and I have no inkling of the infrastructure required, lol

Edited by kmxexii

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