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The DWmegawad Club plays: SIGIL & Nihility & Back to Basics

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Just dropping by to say I'm super excited to see what's written about @years's Nihility, as it's one of my favourite ever mapsets. If I find the time and energy I'll try and do a write-up of the set, as there's a lot I want to say about its use of original E2 content, subverting expectations, and so on.

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Back from work, time to wind down with some Doom! (Romero's treat)

 

WAD: Sigil_compat.wad

 

Source Port: PrBoom-Plus

 

Difficulty: Hurt Me Plenty

 

Play-style: Continuous

 

Secrets: 1/2

 

Notes: I'm playing without Sigil_Shreds this time, I want to hear those sweet, sweet Jimmy Midis.

 

E3M5: Abaddon's Void

Spoiler

image.png.d12e65d63df4a47fc7cb4144965c7ccf.pngRomero's take on a void map- and it's quite good. I think I may have listed this as my favorite in another thread, but I'm not too sure anymore. Each structure is almost like a puzzle box each one revealing a key eventually. Almost feels like a Sandy Peterson map in some regards. The atmosphere is also quite nice especially with Jimmy's "Super Mario Ghost House"-like tune fading in and out of the cacophony of imps, lost souls, and cacodemons (haha). Creepy atmosphere, fun gameplay, good stuff.

 

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Lol E5M5 is like Mt Erebus' goth little brother, I love it.

 

I actually managed to make it pretty far on UV this time. As others have mentioned, it continues to be very sparse on ammo and armor from a pistol start.

 

When I had to resort to non-beserk punching cacos and lost souls to death, only to turn a corner and eat a cyber rocket, it was time to turn down the difficulty.

 

Both Jimmy and Bucket's tracks are fittingly atmospheric and dingy, like the songs had played the level before. 

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E5M5: Abaddon's Void

100% kills, 1/2 secrets

 

"Mt. Erebus' goth little brother" is a good way to put it, though I also got some Industrial Zone vibes with the wooden structure, albeit the rest of the level is a lot more hellish. Music and gloom really creates a good atmosphere here, along with the two cyberdemon guardians (who can thankfully be telefragged). Ammo is also quite sparse, first time for me so far even playing on continuous. Got a lot of good work outta the chainsaw from last map. Especially on the lost souls in the blood tunnels... maybe a few too many, I suppose you're supposed to let them infight but sitting on my ass waiting for lost souls to cull each other is boring. Took me awhile to figure out the blue door, I did end up going in the area with the green armor late, is that what opens it up? I also had to laugh at the secret near the start containing only four shells (though reading @gaspe's comment makes me realize there was a stimpack in there too I was able to grab through the wall of blue torches) but given how sparse the ammo is, even four shells helps. The last bit of the map can be particularly mean with all the enemies in close quarters, especially the caco + pinkie trap.

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E5M5 is a fun map. Finding where to go requires some looking around, which is neat. My only issue with the map is the fact that you take damage when you go on the teleporters that are meant to telefrag the cybies in UV. They are completely pointless in HMP besides hurting you for no reason. Besides that, this map has some fun combat, and feels fun to figure out where to go to.

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E5M6: Unspeakable Persecution

 

If I'm being honest?  I didn't enjoy this one.  Too much creeping around in the pitch dark, too many opportunities for an unseen opponent to tear strips out of the unsuspecting player, and an environment that feels "bitty" and disconnected rather than coherent.  Things improve once the player progresses into the later half of the map, the cavern environment with multiple elevated walkways forming a two-tier labyrinth, but at that stage I also find myself underwhelmed by the decision to cut off the earlier portions of the level to prevent re-exploration; it's the first time the WAD has done so, I think, and it's an odd shift away from the established "rules" of the episode that doesn't serve any particular purpose that I can divine.

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13 hours ago, Egg Boy said:

Almost feels like a Sandy Peterson map in some regards.

I thought the same thing, M5 with a more chaotic texturing could pass as a Sandy map without problems to me. But I thought this also other times, and it was cool to see Romero to be more experimental and do something that still feels coherent with the old maps but with some fresh elements as well.

 

E5M6: Not sure if this is more forgiving than the previous map, on pistol start until you come back after you pick the RSK health and ammo are still very tight. Early on you are given a plasmarifle, and on the first blood pit you can find a secret cell pack. This map is very dark,  especially the first half. When you jump down the first blood pit the surroundings become almost pitch black, and next the corridors at the RSK where you can't see anything. You'll meet only few monsters there but they will be dangerous. It's very important to pick is the secret BFG that will turn useful for the cyberdemon later, and if you want to kill the 3 barons. At the chainsaw area those cacodemons that are put very high and in a cramped place were rather cheap. The other half of the map has the maze with the cyberdemon. The scenery there is pretty cool with the black tower at the center and those bright crackles sprawling around. Though the maze was rather underwhelming, if you make a tour on the outer ring the cyberdemon can hardly come out where you are while you can wipe out the monsters above. Killing the cybie is tricky because the place is cramped but at the center of the maze there's more space so you can use the BFG more easily. This map has also the secret exit, that isn't marked as secret for some reason.

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SigilE5M6_01.png.d4a9af3df26960f25b530ba17466b9b6.png

In possibly the highlight encounter of the whole episode, we navigate a labyrinth in the dark,

while being stalked by a minotaur armed with a rocket launcher. Nice.

 

It's very reminiscent of the finale to 'No Rest For The Living', but with a much heightened

sense of peril, due to the more limited resources available and greater risk of splash damage.

 

The rest of the map works as a build up to this, but perhaps suffers from feeling a little

arbitary at times, such as fighting cacodemons in near blackness next to a damaging surface,

and I think that particular area might have worked better with a slow glow effect.

 

Visually the map works very well, building on the atmosphere of all the previous maps, and

definitely invokes a mythological setting.

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E5M6's maze isn't as interesting on Hurt me plenty... No cyberdemon. The baron as a turret and the shotgunners are challenge enough for someone less skilled, though. The rest of the map seems somewhat uncompromised. The barons in a cage in the first part are interesting, what with teleporting to the path you take later if you don't take them out immediately. The darkness in the area however, was obnoxius enough for me to, again, need the use of the automap to navigate. At least the room past the red key bars was a fun and challenging fight.

 

This map leads to the secret exit, and since I'm new to this, I'm wondering...

Will we talk about the secret map next, or will we talk about it after E5M8?

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1 hour ago, Alper002 said:

E5M6's maze isn't as interesting on Hurt me plenty... No cyberdemon.

I was watching an HMP stream, and both Cyberdemons are missing from map05. Feels like an essential part of the experience, and removing them leaves you with pointless teleporters that just shoot you into the lava.

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2 hours ago, Alper002 said:

This map leads to the secret exit, and since I'm new to this, I'm wondering...

Will we talk about the secret map next, or will we talk about it after E5M8?

 

I took the OP to mean we will do them last, so all maps in their sequential order

 

I agree with others in that removing the Cyberdemons in lower levels is kinda lame. I know I have linked it everywhere but this ZMAPINFO Skill 4 with 2x ammo and 1/2 damage Gez made has been getting me through these last couple maps.

 

In any case I agree with others that Map 6 has an awesome atmosphere to it. Also that the pitch-black areas could have been just low-light. The plasma gun in the beginning definitely helps out, and is a much more generous starting gift than we've been given in previous maps.

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E3M6

I've really not expecting to find that plasmagun right after starting point. The mystical crypt signs fit well into the atmosphere.

Here encounters interact well with the environment, maybe a little crowded in a room with two cacodemons and a baron. Although it is dark enough so you start to notice the shotgunners only when you get a bullet in the side.

It was obvious that the baron in central cage was replaced with a cyberdemon on UV, but for me HMP here is a fairly acceptable level of skill, especially the fact when I can replay wads later on UV. I did not understand what the triggered secret exit, because it was located closer than usual.

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WAD: Sigil_compat.wad

 

Source Port: PrBoom-Plus

 

Difficulty: Hurt Me Plenty

 

Play-style: Continuous

 

Secrets: 1/3

 

Notes: I'm playing without Sigil_Shreds this time, I want to hear those sweet, sweet Jimmy Midis.

 

E3M6: Unspeakable Persecution

Spoiler

image.png.0e52a0381bfee51a098fbb9e90cb9bf4.png

Another map that I believe will reach classic status. Really great visuals, and frantic gameplay (especially on UV) make for a map that isn't soon to be forgotten. Also a big fan of that room that goes dark as soon as you enter. It can be quite frightening especially if you have not picked off the shotgunner and pinkies waiting below. The map's trademark area would have to be the maze-like room. There are pinkies running about below and imps as well as a baron above sniping the unprepared marine. Luckily, Romero threw us a pair of berserks for the pinky pit fight. Once you clear the bottom you take a teleporter to the top and wreak havoc on those pesky snipers from before, all while a baron fires at you from the center. Another big hitter in the set, one that I liked even more than the first time I played.

 

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E5M5: Abaddon's Void

13:48 | 100% Kills | 100% Items | 50% Secrets

This map stumped me for the longest time on my first play, because the eye-switch that opens the path to the blue key was mis-triggered during the battle there, so that the switch vanished before I ever saw it without opening the path. I eventually figured out what happened with IDDT and clipped into the switch cubby to trigger it. Thankfully, this bug was fixed in v1.1! On UV, this map was tough; I found myself constantly low on ammo and health, to the point where I was chainsawing lost souls through the gaps in the blue key tunnel. The claustrophobic encounters in the northeastern and southeastern buildings in particular got pretty hair. And of course, on UV you're being harried by the two turret cyberdemons. On HMP, you lose so much of that, and I was frankly pretty bored throughout. Cool map, but if it doesn't impress you on HMP definitely give it whirl on UV. I do like the touch of the telefrag teleporters, but they're kinda dumb on lower difficulties. Might have been worth removing the teleport destinations for non-UV skill levels.

 

E5M6: Unspeakable Persecution

13:00 | 100% Kills | 96% Items | 33% Secrets

Another map, another "I can't believe I'm missing the cyberdemon!" I didn't mind the pitch black sections as much as most people seem to; there're just enough glowing red textures for silhouetting baddies, and the space is small enough it's easy to find your way around. On UV I panicked through a lot of this map, but again on HMP it's pretty much a cakewalk. The lack of the cyber stalking you around the maze (the most memorable bit of the level) makes this map lose most of its impact, honestly. (He was also responsible for a lot of ammo tightness on my part, since on my UV run I took the time to kill him, using up all of my munitions barring single-digit shells.) I'm also not a fan of the first section being closed off to secret-hunting; a quick IDDT makes me think the two secrets I missed were there (and the one I did find was, as well.) The secret exit switch can be hard to locate initially, but it stands out like a sore thumb when you already know where it is!

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3 hours ago, riderr3 said:

It was obvious that the baron in central cage was replaced with a cyberdemon on UV

 

Actually, the lone baron is also the UV turret. The cyberdemon chases you around inside the maze!

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E5M6 - “Unspeakable Persecution”

First off, this map is very dark. It's like if Romero was trying to make a Doom 3 map for Doom 1, only we don't get the luxury of a flashlight - unless you're running one of the many flashlight mods that exist! The final area with the ramparts surrounding a dark tower is the memorable highlight here. There is also a Cyberdemon roaming around, and he's pretty dangerous to try and 2-shot with the secret BFG! It's an essential secret for both continuous and pistol start players. You can now efficiently kill Barons and groups of Cacos! Opening the secret exit does not count as an actual secret, strangely enough. The most interesting secret to unlock is the invul near the many red bars. Walking under a raised bar opens a door in the wall, eventually revealing the sphere.

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6 hours ago, DuckReconMajor said:

 

I took the OP to mean we will do them last, so all maps in their sequential order

 

 

Usually we do 'em when they come up in the play order, so E3M9 would be next after M6.

 

E5M6: Unspeakable Persecution

99% kills, 0/3 secrets (though I did find the secret exit)

 

Yeah, you weren't kidding about this one being dark... the plasma gun grab was especially so. This one felt very much like the Doom-as-dungeon-crawl taken to full force, making the player creep carefully along a pretty linear path going from encounter to encounter. Lots of mean ones here, such as the damn cacos swooping down from above out of pitch blackness, surprise barons (almost ran out of ammo on the three by the skull key, nothing to make them infight with!) and the cyber playing the role of the minotaur. Didn't find the BFG secret so had to pass up killing him, but was able to find the secret exit after returning back to the maze. Thankfully the exit wasn't in the first half that was cut off. Definitely some annoying bits to this one, but since the levelset is keen on making the player uncomfortable they don't bug me as much. Just think cutting off the first half is a bad design decision.

 

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E5M9 - “Realm of Iblis”

Pretty standard map in the same style as the rest of the wad. I didn't find the secret exit during my first playthrough so I had to play this one from a pistol start. Ended up skipping the Cyberdemon since I didn't know where all the secrets were, especially the Plasma Rifle. Replaying after looking up the secrets, you get a total of 120 cell ammo to pump into the Cyber, which you can then finish off with the Shotgun. He's positioned in a little fortress with plenty of opportunities to get hit with splash damage. You can cheese him from above where he can't hit you though. There's a bit of a hiccup in the progression which requires you to walk up to the yellow door to expose some switches that let you grab the yellow key.

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SigilE5M9_01.png.283a725a77572b989595b29a9dbdbc92.png

Not every map has to be a high concept extravaganza to work. A fun little map with some

cool features like this, can be useful just for a change of pace and variety.

 

It's probably the least polished of all the maps, with a very iffy yellow door opening sequence

that can easily break. The presence of the Cyberdemon also feels slightly at odds with the

tone of the map, with is generally more playful rather than nasty, especially in conjunction with

the music which is either a jaunty midi by Jimmy, or a relaxed Buckethead track.

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E5M9's cyberdemon is present on HMP. Nothing can replace that cyberdemon though, it's kind of necessary for the intended challenge there. A baron can't threaten an elevator, but a cybie can. Other than that, there wasn't much that was interesting with this map. The toxic area is a little easier on HMP because of the radsuit being in the toxic floor and in the monster closet. I personally think HMP should've just had one radsuit but on the toxic floor. Would've made it easier without making it too easy.

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E5M9: Realm of Iblis

 

I don't know that this stands out from the rest of the WAD enough to feel like a secret level, but overall I would describe it as E5M5's bigger and more brightly-lit brother, with a similar capricious quality to its layout and a sense of neat compartmentalisation of encounter areas, albeit as cavern "pockets" in the overall structure of the map here vs. the separate buildings of Abaddon's Void.  Progression tends a little bit toward the obtuse, though I definitely made things harder on myself than was strictly necessary by insisting on clambering through the red door sequence every time I wanted to get to the castle rather than realising that one could simply hop up onto the ledge from sector 66; it's very much a matter of appreciation Doom as a game with its own rules of movement and navigation rather than as a simulation of a feasible, sensible environment.  The environment is quite visually busy and it took me a while to notice that 1) a wall had opened granting access to the yellow door, and 2) a ledge had been raised to grant access to that door.  Maybe all these "I didn't realise" and "I didn't notice" comments I'm making are a sign that my head wasn't really in the game today.

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E5M9: Played the secret level for the first time because I didn't find the secret exit before. It's a more relaxed map compared to the overall trend of the episode. In the initial areas there are many sergeants so you can stack a good ammount of shells, at the RSK you can find a free chaingun and near the start there's a secret plasmagun. The setting was nice, I liked the various metal structures and the machines, with some tiny crushers too. I don't why but this map made me think of Quake. The BSK setup was the more interesting part of the map. The little fortress was cute and it has another cyberdemon that it can make some pressure when taking the elevator to go up at the battlements. For the resources you have and the cramped location it's an encounter you're very likely going to skip.

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E3M9


More easier map than some others, with more open areas. Still, lava is also present here so it will limit the movements.

There are some machinery and crushers, but no so stressful like E3M4 does. I noticed a lot of places are not visible on automap.

Blue key trap works well. The most notable place here is the cyberdemon area, he is appeared first time if you play on HMP. I climbed onto a top of wall and used only shotgun, as result I had many cells left.

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WAD: Sigil_compat.wad

 

Source Port: PrBoom-Plus

 

Difficulty: Hurt Me Plenty

 

Play-style: Continuous

 

Secrets: 1/3

 

Notes: I'm playing without Sigil_Shreds this time, I want to hear those sweet, sweet Jimmy Midis.

 

E3M9: Realm of Iblis

Spoiler

[DW's not letting me upload images right now, so unfortunately, no screenshot today]

First of all, the midi for this map is fucking fantastic! Also, I'd like to note this is my first time playing this map, since I did not find the secret exit when I initially bought and played Sigil. The first thing I noticed when I played this map was how basic it was. It feels almost like a primer for Sigil, perhaps Romero made this map first to test the waters? Either way it feels a bit rushed. This map also has a very obscure point of progression where you come out of a window but must walk to your right towards the yellow key door, which lowers two walls in a caged area which you must press to open up the way to the yellow key. Nothing else too notable besides a Cyberdemon I had to resort to shotgun shells to kill. Easily the most confusing and weakest map of the set so far, the music almost makes up for it, though.

 

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e3m4: Paths of Wretchedness (UV 100%)

 

A bright level, what a pleasant surprise :p. Even easier than the last map, although the crusher room, he was rather exciting (and looked very hellish for a tech area, too) and it killed me a couple of times before i manage to discern Eye switch to leave the first area by. at this point it's getting a little tiresome to kill baron and caco with the weak weapons

 

 

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Map 9 I found quite fun. I still love how maps seem to "unfold" as you go on. And having to run around cyber rockets to progress has always been a favorite moment of mine since playing Cyberdreams. Though the ledge to the yellow door I'm still not sure how to make it go up, just ran around randomly until it came up. And I have no idea where the hell you guys are finding this plasma gun lol. I'll have to crack this map open in an editor sometime.

 

I liked Buckethead's track on this map but I agree with @Egg Boy that this MIDI is fantastic. Well done Jimmy!

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It is great to see the participation this month. Sorry I'm too busy to join right now. I've managed to find time to uvmax Sigil and had a blast doing so. There's a lot to love about this mapset. I know some will object, but I'm seeing that several people regard Sigil as a 5th episode of Ultimate Doom and it may become common to tack on Sigil to Ultimate Doom run throughs in the future. I thank John Romero for making Sigil and generously offering it free of charge for the Doom Community as a 25th Doom Anniversary present.

 

Likes:

  1. Mood and aesthetic of the mapset.
  2. The evil eye mechanic/gimmick.
  3. The added cybies really helped to keep me scared and on edge for many of the maps.
  4. The slight difficulty ramp up from ultimate doom episodes 1-4 makes sense. Players are better now on average after having played for many years.
  5. Tight map layouts. No space wasted.

Mild dislikes:

  1. The map exit gimmick. All maps end at a walk over line trigger at a recognisable wall but it's easy to accidentally end maps before ready. Switch would be better.
  2. Oversaturation of lost souls on some maps (cacotunnel in e5m5 and the opening cage room of e5m8).
  3. Ammo starvation (at least for pistol starts). It forces you to make shots count (a plus) but can be unforgiving, limit options when you have to resort to infighting.

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E5M7: Before the final map Romero takes us on a longer journey, and with the other maps that were all relatively short this sticks out well in that regards and it's fitting to mark the end of upcoming end of the episode. Still no chaingun on pistol start and it isn't particularly troublesome though it's better to take your time to carefully explore the area for secrets and hidden goodies. And that will be a thing that's better to do before picking the RSK, you wouldn't have weapons to fight the barons but there's a hidden BFG that you can find before going there. In the RL the trigger to progress can be a little unclear. The secret at south-west is very valuable (a cell pack, a soulsphere and the computer map) and it's well guarded by a long crossing over 20% damaging lava, but in any case nearby you can find an invul. sphere. One of the most memorable parts are the three towers with a back and forth on previous areas to be able to advance and the last tower brings you to a whole new area. The cave part with the tiny ledges and a death pit at the bottom is a nice example of something simple that gives some good tension. I dind't like so much the exit building, felt overly cramped and rushed to fill in the space.

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SigilE5M7_01.png.da0217536f1996b7e2474a1376f9c5e3.png

Romero at his most inventive, this map overflows with creativity, and you get the sense

that he really had fun making it. Not everything necessarily works perfectly, but it really

doesn't matter because it's just one idea after another after another, that coalesces into

an adventure story of it's own. It's great stuff, and possibly the high point of the whole

episode.

 

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E5M7 is probably my favourite map of SIGIL. I don't know why exactly, but I think what @Urthar said is a good guess. Anyhow, I found it really fun, as well as challenging. There's a BFG in a little corner somewhere, very useful to pick up. Despite that, I always find myself with low health near the end of the map. The last room is definitively the hardest. Cramped, a few shotgunners and cacos, not mention the imps which all can be threatening at low health. On top of that, there's a baron of hell(Or two on UV) right in front of you as you open the yellow door. If you got the BFG, this would be fine, but otherwise, you've got a tough encounter to deal with. I's probably my favourite room of them all, though. The lost soul maze was the part I liked least, because it was a bit dull IMO. Otherwise, the map was a lot of challenging fun!

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