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dobu gabu maru

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

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Posted (edited)

It's been awhile since I participated in a DWMWC thread, and I'm late to the party too - the wads look interesting too. Oh well.

I will however skip SIGIL so as to give myself a reasonable chance of catching up.

 

So here comes Nihility

I play UV on PRBoom+ continuous, saving liberally. (Note also, I was curious to know the map name translations and for my benefit I'm going to include them.)

 

E2M1 - “Dammerung” (dusk)

Damn, for someone who hadn't heard of or played this before, the replacement of the music with ambient sounds in vanilla immensely changes the feel of the game. The increase in atmosphere is palpable - mate it with the dark, interspersed with the true-to-the-iwad occasional bright contrasts and accents and this is a superb piece of work. Wow.

 

The map itself is a strong homage to the iwad E2M1 in it's own right: the motifs are present, such as the large high-ceilinged horseshoe shaped area at the beginning; the more noticeable raising stairs corridor to a caco; the little red hurt floor platform with weapon/ammo; and the disjointed teleporting progression of the original Deimos anomaly. Yet for all of these, gone are some of the more unsubtle elements: the big bright red inverted cross is not present; the  abrupt 'ok, know you are in a part that hell corrupted/built' marble platform section with demons running around is absent, although we do have the guts floor and baphomet face sections, I guess. A more interconnected and  cohesive layout is in, with far more overlooks and vistas of earlier/later parts of the level are in. I have always felt that a plethora of these  interconnections is crucial to a level to help it give that sense of being a *place*, rather than a string of rooms and corridors, and by comparison to the original, this is far more tightly interwoven.

 

Also, I note the pacing of the monster encounters: the original had a fairly small number of larger bigger groups of monsters, whereas Dammerung, although it has 2 and a half times as many monsters overall, seems to favour more frequent, sparser encounters. It probably also helps that each encounter is more varied - no crude big group of zombiemen are thrown in here. This along with a far more spartan approach to giving health (oh, so those health and armour potions actually matter now?) really suits the more atmospheric approach and brooding sense of danger that this set seems to be going to take. One of the commenters on the Nihility release thread said this seemed to present Doom in a whole different light, as what could have been in a parallel universe.


At this point I will take stock - it's entirely possible, given my relatively gushing praise so far, that I am being extra impressed by what would be an otherwise certainly very competent, but perhaps not epic level simply because of the alpha resources. But this is an injustice; the presentation of this as a package does count for something and it is simply executed very well to bring the Doom Alpha feel to life. And really this is a good map and does deserve praise.

 

E2M2 - “Speicherung” (storage)

This map seems to replicate the opening from level 1 of the 0.5 alpha combined with that of E2M4 - what better way to improve the Doom Alpha feel than a Doom Alpha homage? Given the name, a retail Doom E2M2 homage is to be expected but the ensuing crate area is quite restrained, and scarcely qualifies as a maze. In fact it owes relatively little imo to the iwad map, although there is an E2M2 style secret area (after the blue damage strips in retail; a caco cage a la E2M3; and a dark outdoor pillar area like the secret area of E2M7. This map has a less brooding mood than E2M1, due to it's overall brighter, starker design. Also, with carry-overs from M1, I had more ammo, health and armour in general, so there was less tension.

 

Like M1, this map features several secrets, some of which are interesting or down right rewarding to find - I lingered after clearing it and enjoyed the finding them all. The secret in the E2M7 dark pillars area is particularly well-designed, both in being will hidden and presenting enough clues to entice one to find it out. Props to the author for this.

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SIGIL map 3

Shades of Circle of Death with that exit area.

 

SIGIL map 4

... awful.  My adventure ends here.

 

 

 

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E2M4

 

Is this a smaller map than the preceding couple?  On the one hand, it's got a condensed layout compared to the elongated footprint of E2M3, but its spaces have a somewhat more "chunky" feel to them, with lots of blocky rooms and broad pillars giving a sense of a squat, durable structure, a fortress or a bunker as much as a laboratory.  There are some neat design ideas on display here; one is way that lost souls come swarming out of the red glowing "air vent" passages, moving into different areas at different times according to the player's movements, while another involves secret areas, concealed switches, and the yellow key, which I'm not going to spoil except to say that, while it's certainly clever, I found that I didn't have much of a reason to double back and check that particular part of the map and it was only really by a process of elimination ("Where else is there for me to go, and what areas haven't I fully explored yet?  I guess I might as well... oh!") that I discovered what a certain switch had done, probably rather later in the level's running time than was strictly useful especially if I'd been playing from a pitol start rather than continuously.

 

The textures schemes on display here are familiar ones except for the occasional intrusion of skin and flesh into an otherwise delightfully grungy industrial level; Hell's influence can certainly be felt here, but its intrusion into this series of facilities, its subversion of their spaces and machinery, is proceeding at a measured pace.  We're only halfway into this WAD and there will be opportunities for the pace to build to its fever pitch yet.  The gameplay tends toward the now familiar blend of shotgun and chaingun combat against groups of largely low-tier enemies; there aren't a whole lot of rockets or cells to be found here, but what you're given is enough that with a little bit of picking and choosing your targets you've generally got the heavy weapons available to deal with the occasional Baron of Hell or cluster of cacodemons that pops up.

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E2M4: For the first time I'm actually enjoying the combats in this mapset, it isn't diverting so much for the previous maps but the overall rise of intensity was very welcomed. At the start if you have to gather the weapons you have to take the sideway that goes south, when you shoot you will alert the monsters on the nearby corridors so you have to get ready to turn on your back. It was pretty neat the little system of air ducts infested with lost souls that can enter in various rooms and surprise you, it could have been used a bit more. Signs of hell that is advancing are starting to appear, lump of flesh will obstruct few passages and the air ducts that you would expect them to be made of silver or some metal instead are colored with a gaudy red. The level doesn't have so much going on that suggests that we are on Deimos Lab, of course there's stuff like the BK computer room or the plasmarifle shrine (but that was on M2 too) but otherwise it's a very normal techbase, almost with the hallmarks of the generic techbase level (there are also crates). There's a cool sense of verticality that compared to the previous levels is more highlighted here, rather than having stairs or passages the various tiers are actual locations building a nice sense of place. The YK is a secret that will unlock the BFG, I was baffled at first because I thought that i needed the YK to progress, but the BFG was very useful for the final big brawl with the cacos, that was a good encounter.

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Posted (edited)

B2BM4S1.png.2bb15785528e170c2ef5c9a42c571b3d.png

Things will get gradually more hellish as the episode progresses but for now, encroaching signs of corruption block off apparent avenues

of exploration in an unsettling matter. It's nothing revolutionary, but works perfectly well in giving the overall episode a basic sense of

narrative.

 

It's a fairly quick map and probably benefits for it, after all the back and forth in the previous ones. However, if you find yourself at the

exit without a yellow key in your inventory you might want to have another look around.

 

Edited by Urthar

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I liked E2M4 a lot. Seeing the little pieces of hell within the map really makes it feel like you're on the shores of hell. I also liked a little bit of the secret hunting, although the way of getting the optional yellow key was a little confusing for my liking. I also found all the secrets because I thought that the secret exit was on this map... Oops! At least I have a BFG now to use for the rest of my continous playthrough!

 

Encounter-wise, it was pretty tough, although ammo was never a concern(except at the end maybe) because of my continous playthrough. I had to intentionally use the shotgun a lot because there was quite the amount of ammo for it.

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Playing a bit of ketchup here due to some non-Doom-related stuff popping up.

E2M6 - “Blutfabrik”

I didn't experience any other issues after clipping through the buggy switch door (pls fix @years) and the rest of the map felt a lot like more of the usual from this set. The Baron-tron in the hallway was mildly frightening and aside from being forced to run through some pain sectors, some containing enemies prone to infinite-heighting you, this map was not particularly oppressive. I will say that the start requires some thought towards ammo management but shells become frequent enough half-way through. I do not appreciate what I assume is an insta-pop Wraith in the exit room.

 

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E2M7 - “Kloneteildienst”

I am terrible at dodging the winged Baron so thankfully they appeared one at a time in this map, usually with plenty of cover. Enjoyable map overall, with a brightly-lit clean techbase look contrasted with some more industrial and hellish sections. Did a significant portion without grabbing the Rocket Launcher first, which slightly soured my fun from all the Baron/Caco shotgunning. I wasn't too thrilled with the nukage sections, considering the mandatory damage and inconvenient radsuit placement. Also, none of those blur spheres were placed in good faith. Ended up grabbing 7/8 secrets, and with no further hints on the automap, I wasn't about to look for the last one considering the scope and complexity of the level.

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E2M8 - “Bestrafung”

At nearly 400, this one's got quite the monster count. The opening fight from a pistol start is by far the single hardest part of the wad, as you get swarmed with Wraiths, Bombers, and shot at by Sergeants while having no ammo or armour. The finale against the Cyberdemon is a cakewalk, or rather circlestrafe, in comparison. I can see the section where the lift with items drops you into a pit with winged Barons as another challenge, thought finding the secret invul right before let me faceroll that part. Speaking of secrets, I managed to grab all 10. The red key gives access to some extra loot, one behind an unmarked tech wall. The inclusion of more open, outdoor locations is welcome, as this wad has the corridor-crawl aspect stewed to perfection. The boss arena has a ton of ammo and powerups. Grabbing one of the radsuits gives you full freedom of movement and the chance to see if the Cyberdemon can kill the 40 or so dudes that spawn in as his backup. (He can!) Initiate green plasma-hosing procedure and you win. Your reward is the most disturbing lore text, delivered in complete silence.

 

Final Thoughts

I think Nihility is good; good enough to be one of the strongest Doom 1 episodes. The custom enemies do a lot of the legwork here, to the point where it can feel like a Doom 2 wad with the increased variety. The level design is also complex with plenty, if at times too many, twists and turns in the layouts. I'm somewhat indifferent on the ambient noise instead of the usual midi tracks. The frequent texture misalignments are mildly infuriating, although I understand it's probably intentional in the DTWID/oldschool vanilla style it is made in.

 

The wad is very consistent so I can't really list hits or misses as per usual.

Overall score: 4/5

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E2M5: This Command Center has a very cool looking structure and layout, a circular central hub with 3 pathways that branch out to the outer circle of walls where some areas lead deeper into the base. On the central courtyards the terraces with the torches give almost a castle-like feel to the place. Each part has its own purpose and theme, at west pipes and reservoirs of nukages and blood, at east grey stone computer rooms and the northern section of green marble. I enjoyed the combats overall but I really disliked how you have to grind your way with the SG/CG and the secrets didn't make sense. The RL comes at the right moment and it isn't very late but you will find the first rockets much later on the marble part after the yellow door, which is the last part of the map, in the secret room with the plasmagun too when you already met all the barons of the level. And there as a nested secret there's a BFG. The hunt for the secret exit was nice, with numbered switches hidden in the secrets.

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Posted (edited)

B2BM5S1.png.613f606b115b56711965834ded3bb339.png

While I had liked everything I'd seen so far in B2B, this was the map that convinced me I wanted to make my own. It's just... so... good.

 

A lot of Doom maps, even perfectly good ones, just feel like a bunch of walls and corridors with textures slapped on them (with varying

degrees of skill and creativity.) But this, this feels like a place. You could almost believe that it might exist somewhere, and it possesses

it's own distinct atmosphere and sense of mystery.

 

As always the craftsmanship is excellent with an emphasis on exploration, particularly if you want to find the secret exit. Combat remains

fairly straight forward, with occasional traps and dramatic reveals. But essentially this is a puzzle-box map waiting to be solved.

 

Edited by Urthar

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E2M5

 

This is an absolutely masterful piece of design.

 

Back to Basics is not a WAD that's shy about departing from the easy geometry of rectilinear rooms aligned to the cardinal directions, but nowhere is Espi's command of unorthodox layout more evident than here.  From the circular central hub, three spokes radiate outward to the map's subzones with an easy precision that seems to ignore the presence of the grid right up until the point that it blends seamlessly into those sections of the map that do follow the grid-lines and regular patterns of the floor textures.  I'd like to echo @Urthar's observation that this feels like a real place, with its assemblage of shapes and structures into a greater facility that is neither unbelievably random or aribtrary in its design, nor artificially constrained to the tool-conferred convenience of blocky rooms and orthogonal orientation.

 

Within this work of art you'll find gameplay that ought largely to be familiar at this point in the WAD; shotgun sergeants and imps are the dominant enemies here, though they're regularly encountered in significant enough numbers that it doesn't feel wasteful to pump a rocket into a cluster of squishy bodies and send the gibs flying.  The heavier hitters have a somewhat stronger presence here and I found myself quite glad to be approaching this level on continuous play, with a small supply of rockets and a larger supply of plasma to burn quicky through the cacodemons and Barons of Hell that, for the most part, aren't encountered in significant enough numbers or devious enough locations to be too difficult, but which are definitely meaty enough to slow down the progress of a marine without access to the heavier weapons.  Given the map slot, beyond the combat gameplay and steady progression toward the exit there is also the hunt for the secret exit to consider; this involves locating a series of switches that are marked with Roman numerals, and while I hit them out of order (II-I-III-IV) and still found switch V to be functional once all of the others had been pressed, I wonder if this is a quirk of the fact that I'm playing on ZDoom, and if on other ports the engine behaviour is such that pressing them out of order instead seals off the secret exit?  Merits investigation.  It's a fun side quest that's made engaging because you can see switch V (and the secret exit itself) from a very early point in the map's progression; your objective is clear, but the search itself isn't straightforward.

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Nihility - Prboom+ UV continuous

 

E2M3 - “Obstgarten” (orchard)

And this map's name might have lead one to expect more trees. This is a rather more open but compact map than last, with a simpler layout. In essence, this is an elaboration of a hub and spokes affair. I found the stairs beyond the blue door leading to the outer area to be visually striking, whilst the E2M2 crusher corridor was well served by the demon traps in close quarters. Finally the reveal of the new fast melee enemy at the end of the map was a great surprise and claimed my neck first time! Cool. There are fewer secrets in this map and they seem a little less clever this time - however I would still consider the secrets to be a strong point. The strain-esque rapid fire imp is also revealed in a secret - good stuff.

 

I like this level although I'm not madly blown away by it. The simple open nature of the central hub area, with the partition windows providing little obfuscation thereof is just a little too unelaborate to draw me in and satisfy me. Given that the first map has a more elaborate progression, I think it's fair to say this layout is a mite on the plain side.

 

E2M4 - “Die Hallen” (The Halls)

After being a tad ambivalent to the last level, this map was far better imo. A kind of cool mash up of retail E2M7 with halls of the damned (as the level name would suggest) the tighter, more mazy confines of this level emphatically suit and profit from the brooding, malevolent ambience; from the low with bright contrasts lighting; and the swift moving melee imp and alpha lost soul. The layout is far richer and more complex than the previous map with good variety in architecture and environments. The wooden area actually put me in mind of part of Map15  (ie. the south east area of industrial zone) from Doom2 of all things, which is certainly not an expected reference in this mapset! Nevertheless it is a pleasant injection of variety that still feels fitting with the rest of the map.

 

The traps in this map step up a gear; in addition to the enjoyable trap in the darkened Halls of the damned maze, there is the surprise fireball showers from the imps across the slime canyon, and a predictable but well-worked release near the last key too. Traps needn't always be unpredictable, in my opinion, to be enjoyable - sometimes the scale of the trap or the proximity or type of monster can surprise the player equally well, or as in the case near the key, complications to manoeuvre via slime or otherwise can simply make an anticipated combat still be more interesting.

 

This is my favourite map so far. I've also been persistent enough to find 100% of all secrets on all levels so far, hopefully I can keep it up and find the secret level next!

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After playing through Nihility and all the custom assets used in that wad, it's time to get Back to Basics with some vanilla E2 gameplay! I have not played this wad, or any Espi wads for that matter, but have seen them referenced many times.

Anyways, PRBoom+, UV-something, saves whenever I feel like it.

 

E2M1

I guess it's safe to assume this episode will be using the stock E2 midis. Despite being an E2 opener, there is little in the way of anomalies. If anything, this looks and feels a lot like an E1 map, with liberal use of Cacos. Brown is the majority of the visual theme, although the toilet texture makes a brief appearance as well as some metal. I do like the simple but clean and polished look of these sections. The textures are properly aligned and transitions are properly handled with supports. This map is surprisingly large for an opener, taking me around 30 minutes to fully clear. The layout is intricate but perfectly manageable with occasional references to the automap. I never got the sense of being lost or wondering where to go next. The combat itself is the most basic aspect of this map, largely incidental with taking out enemies occupying the many rooms and hallways while prioritizing Sergeants. The final trap with the Cacos is the only real surprise, as there must've been over 10 of them there; enough for me to blow all my rockets and plasma. There's even a backpack provided in the final secret, so I'm leaving this map with everything I could want besides the BFG. This is making me very conflicted on whether I want to do pistol starts or keep all the goodies I've accumulated.

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E2M2

Pistol starts it is, if to make secret hunting more rewarding than anything. Gameplay is largely more of the same as in M1, with an even larger emphasis on Shotgun gameplay vs dudes and Imps. This is not terribly exciting, especially the part where you shotgun a bunch of Spectres while descending a dark staircase. The Chaingun appears a decent portion into the map in a small room which can easily be skipped. Backtracking is also quite significant, especially making your way to the yellow door after opening the red key pillar and then doing more of the same after grabbing it. The extra Imps and Pinkies released from monster closets do not make the 2nd journey back any more fresh. Once again, I like the visuals and the various blue COMP textures combined with blue carpets are some of my favourites.

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E2M9

 

Short and sweet, this is definitely a Fortress of Mystery, a classic Doom infernal castle that's been broken up into separate keeps and towers that now float amidst an endless sea of clouds, separated by impossible (infinite?) gulfs and connected by teleporters.  What it puts me in mind of to some extent is the old HeroQuest adventure Castle of Mystery, which similarly features and environment that's divided up into discrete "pockets" - though here, at least, the teleporters between those pockets at least are largely predictable.  The monster count is low by the standards of the WAD and this is the first point at which I've felt that I'm genuinely missing out by coming into this level with all of my previously stockpiled weapons and ammunition; there's absolutely a sense that the combat encounters here are tailored for the limited toolkit that's offered up a little piece at a time, arranged as an obstacle course rather than the more free-flowing exploratory gameplay of the others levels.  In that respect it's a very suitable secret level that deviates from the WAD's established conventions to offer the player something new.

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Posted (edited)

B2BM9S1.png.2c192973765ffd15165f62aa2495c14f.png

The custom sky texture does a lot of work in B2B generally, but this map is almost certainly why it exists. As secret maps go, this one

definitely delivers. I can't help but feel that the sky islands should be thicker and more substantial, but I suspect there's probably a

reason why Espi chose to do it this way, given that this all has to work strictly within vanilla limits.

 

Gameplay is once again fairly straight forward in constrast with the 'oh wow' visuals, and if you play your cards right you should be able

to walk out with 200 health and armour, which isn't a bad reward for finding all those switches hidden away in the last map.

Edited by Urthar

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Posted (edited)

E2M9: The theme of the small castle islands in the sky is cute and fit the bill extremely well for the secret slot, and also for the "basic" vein of the mapset. It's a very straighforward map, until the plasmagun where 2 teleports will deliver something just a little more complicated to solve, nothing fancy of course. I forgot to say that I like a lot the sky, even in the normal levels, but how it was used here it was pretty cool. It gives a sort of melancholic mood.

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E2M5 was quite fun, when I was playing it like a normal level. I never even felt the need to use the automap for navigation purpouses! The area just felt like it flowed well together, and just made sense.

When looking for the secret exit, it was slightly annoying. When looking for a secret exit in a map, I don't like actually navigating across the map, because it gets boring. There's usually no enemies to entertain me by the point I look for a secret exit, and trying to go somewhere and accidentally going somewhere else can be frustrating. Therefore, I noclipped around in the space I had explored, so as not to accidentally reveal any secrets, and found them myself. Gotta say, the concept behind finding the secret level was pretty interesting. Once I figured out the RL secret and tried using on the wall next to the first roman numeral it clicked for me. The only thing I understood was that there were switches with roman numerals, to begin with, thanks to the 4th one near the exit. By the time I figured out what the other numerals meant I was getting slightly annoyed, not being able to find the switches despite having 99% of the automap revealed. Well hidden secrets, all around!

I'm not gonna comment on E2M9 in this post, because looking for the exit to it took a while.

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unholy shit it lives!

 

Here is a full set of .lmps recorded of my first playthrough of Sigil, which uses sigil_compat.wad from version 1.1 of the WAD: ~ You can't seal ME ~

 

I played on skill 4 as usual, using the midi soundtrack. This was a blind experience for all practical intents and purposes--I never watched any of the demo/showcase streams or anything of that sort--though being that it's an episode by John Romero it has understandably been basically impossible to not hear a lot about it secondhand without resigning oneself to true hermitude. So, I'd heard about an allegedly stingy balance, lots of catwalks, some infamous crusher segment, and something about a pair of Barons at the top of a lift in one of the maps which some parties evidently consider to be a bona fide hate crime, things of that nature. IIRC I only died once (bumbling with the crushers in m4), and found the secret exit to m9 naturally, though I missed many other secrets, to varying degrees of impact on the experience. I also went out of my way to kill all of the cyberdemons, secrets or no, mainly out of cheek, which leads to some variously entertaining and/or demented scenarios. Blame it on that first one, who is so satisfying to telefrag.

 

E5M1: Baphomet's Demesne

Sigil as a whole is rather short, comprised chiefly of small (if imposing) levels which play out as a much more linear A-to-B journey than any of the other four official episodes, and so it behooves its introductory level to showcase all of its core design elements in a very concise/condensed fashion, which it does very capably. No other m1 in Doom reads as more of a 'crash course', and while it doesn't quite have that pointblank face-punch charm of E4M1, it's certainly not light on the sass, with Doomguy spawning into an ambush that's already taking place as soon as the game begins and an immediate and consistent emphasis on fighting in claustrophobic conditions, an impression maintained even where the environment is more open by dint of the ubiquitous catwalks and rail-less bridges over smoldering pitch. I hadn't initially noticed, but as other posters have pointed out, in service of furthering the sense of hostility/oppression there's evidently no healing to be found outside of the hidden soulsphere, which, coupled with its view into the Qlippothic void, makes for a very striking first secret of the game (something which unfortunately largely fails to develop into a thread within the episode as a whole, IMO).

 

On that note, the much-talked-about "red cracks", seen here accompanied by glowing pentacle symbols, strike me as more than just Romero's first aesthetic fetish to take root as he (re)discovers the possibilities of the limit-removing idtech1 format (though this is likely how they got their start!), serving as both a visual and thematic motif for the episode. The episode as a whole shows a particularly dark, decaying, and damaged-looking take on the classic Doom infernal setting, seeming to take place in the veritable asscrack (or "basement" if you prefer) of Hell, all of its environs mined with these signs of dimensional damage or seep, with the occult sigils (from which the episode presumably takes its name) never far away. To my interpretation, this recurring motif represents a sort of seal, in the arcane sense; a desperate bid at damage-control on the part of Hell's harried middle management to keep the Doomguy contained to a backwater part of The Pit. The ubiquitous Evil Eyes, which we spend the episode unceremoniously defiling, could likewise be read as representing the watchful presence and will of whatever demonic power has been charged with maintaining that seal. Talk about blind optimism, eh?

 

E5M2: Sheol

A dismal little scrap of a thing, "Sheol" gives the impression of basically being a neglected and long-forgotten otherworldly prison of sorts, austere stone guard towers slowly crumbling into the endless netherworld sea of fire with the passing of countless eternities.

 

As a level, it continues the themes soundly established in the preceding map, and to me reads as "introduction part 2", the main design point here introduced being a cyberdemon which functions as much or more as an environmental hazard than as an enemy in the usual sense. This cyberdemon, like almost all of its brethren throughout the episode, is not really intended to be fought conventionally, but rather acts as a complicating/stifling situational factor meant to be evaded, circumvented, or taken out with guile rather than through direct single combat. The message--and it delights me to see one of the game's forefathers convey it!--is that sometimes you need to use your wits and better judgement and not necessarily just default to mindlessly attacking everything as it first appears. While its placement makes it less effective as a threat than many of those to follow in later maps (I agree with the sentiment that giving it better/more sightlines might've spiced up the map considerably), I do feel that it's the most fun/satisfying of them all to actually dispose of, baiting it into a spot where it can be telefragged being a clever test of the average player's Doom IQ and situational awareness, whereas as eliminating many of the later cybies is more a matter of budgeting enough ammo to kill them via a more direct war of attrition.

 

This level also features some of the set's most clearly/cleverly teased secrets, ironic in that none of them are particularly crucial for the level, whereas some of the later and much more obscure secrets can swing the balance of the levels in which they appear in a very pronounced way. Incidentally, because I was still enjoying the effects of the secret soulsphere upon reaching the map's conclusion, I didn't initially pick up the unhidden soulsphere in a corner of the skin-screen micro-maze, which is a necessary step in level progression. Broadly speaking I find I don't agree with assertions that progression in Sigil is obtuse--indeed, 95% of the time, it's clearcut and arrow-straight (arguably occasionally even to a fault)--but this was certainly an exception. Using powerups as progression-widgets is always dicey in any situation where it's possible a player may not need them, particularly when there is no other visual signifier that they represent anything other than an item in the usual sense.

 

E5M3: Cages of the Damned

A little more heavily populated, this (still very short) level is also a little more spacious than most of the others, and is probably the closest thing the episode has to a 'breather' map, further underscored by a more gloomy/downbeat BGM track from Jimmy (also my favorite of his tracks to appear in Sigil, fwiw) and perhaps also that this is one of only a couple or so instances in the entire episode where we get to see the sky.

 

In a blind/initial playthrough I reckon this is likely to be one of the less memorable parts of the journey, though its thing placement aptly betokens how much thought has gone into Sigil's design from a balance and 'affordance' perspective. For example, the rocket launcher, introduced late in the level, is a natural fit for handily disposing of the caged imps encountered much earlier (for which the level is presumably named), underscoring how differently and even flexibly these small and seemingly straightforward maps can be approached by players who've discovered and explored the ins and outs of their various secrets and subtleties.

 

E5M4: Paths of Wretchedness

Bit of an odd one, this is a much more overtly 'video game-y' level than the others, providing what is clearly a choice of three totally different/divergent paths from the outset, each eventually terminating on a wooden landing revealing one of those hey-hey-fun 'three keys, but in any order you want!' setups familiar to most Doom players (though, thinking on it, these are *vastly* more common, even by proportion, in PWADs than in IWADs...?). I don't reckon the order you play them in matters all that much as regards the feel/balance of the level as a whole, though the middle/YK path is probably more of a to-do if you go there first before you have much weaponry, and the righthand/BK path is certainly the most perilous regardless of where it happens to fall in the running order.

 

The righthand 'crusher' segment has already become one of the most infamous parts of Sigil, to wit. Small wonder, I suppose--almost all of the crushers appear to be of the 'slow' type, which is the single most lethal hazard in Doom save perhaps for inescapable pits (and really fringe risks like telefrag or barrel-trap scenarios I guess), and many players, through complacency or whatever other reason, are not accustomed to watching out for crushers which are not already in motion at the time of first encounter. I'm personally not very sympathetic to these complaints--just because you hardly ever have to change a tire doesn't mean you shouldn't know how or what to look for, yeah?--and feel that the first appearance of the crushers here is more than adequately telegraphed, considering how damn sketchy that apparent 'dead end' looks when you first happen by. Knowing they're there is only a small part of the challenge in this case, by the by--I spotted them but still got squished once being too careless/clumsy--as emphasized by the deeper reaches of the path, which tests your patience and sense of timing rather than your awareness. I'm not sure how crucial the weird little stop/start switches in the odd flesh room are for safely making it out of the segment, but it worked out well for me, and I got more of a sense of playfulness from this map (and this segment in particular) than from most of the rest of the usually deadpan serious Sigil, lethality or no.

 

E5M5: Abaddon's Void

It's Sheol Again, Only for Real This Time.

 

Another squalid collection of teetering towers surrounded by a sea of fire, I do agree that this initially looks and feels like more of a Sandy-style Hell map (which I mean as a sincere compliment!), though of course it's certainly less stylistically anomalous when one considers who the author of maps like "Industrial Zone" and "Gotcha!" happens to be. :)

 

While it may look like something of a sandbox (a very grim and bloodstained one, granted), ala "Mt. Erebus", it's really not--apart from what appears to be an optional/dubiously valuable(?) diversion into the green marble building on the southeast corner of the island, progression is again very linear, each edifice breached, cleared and conquered in a very set order, as gated by a sequence of keys. While there remains an element of traversing narrow bridges/catwalks at play, this level is much more defined by straight combat in the context of a *very* tight ammo/thing balance. Each of the towers is positively infested with flesheating monstrosities, which ooze out of the woodwork in concerted waves as the deceptively uncanny geometries of these tight spaces unfold, almost always in a way which allows them to get right in your face in mere seconds, putting space management and situational awareness at a premium. Conventional ammo (shells and bullets) is balanced on a razor's edge, and relying on the shotgun (no chaingun for the pistol-starter, as is conspicuously often the case with these maps) will leave you perpetually almost out of ammo, basically a walking appetizer, which lends proceedings a memorable tension.

 

While there is an early RL hidden in a secret to afford you some extra firepower (which I didn't find in my initial playthrough), and a berserk pack to give you the opportunity to build up some stock by punching your way through the not-maze in the BK building (which I did make use of, albeit rather clumsily), the nature of these weapons ensures that the elements of claustrophobia and tension persist throughout, demonstrating a keen awareness on Romero's part of the so-coined "agility as defense" principle which has been so fundamental to encounter design for so many of the game's best PWADs--no wedging your ass into a corner and camping out behind your gun, you need to be either proactive or insightful here (or preferably, both) or You Gonna Get Ate.

 

I accidentally exited without meaning to in the FDA, tripped over the exit line while ineptly trying to fisticuffs the last baron (something I was consistently horrible at doing in this playthrough). This is vaguely bothersome (and the potential is there for the same thing to happen in a lot of the other maps), though not enough so to outweigh the art/aesthetic value of the episode having this signature exit type, IMO.

 

E5M6: Unspeakable Persecution

This map and m7 are in contention for being my favorite from the set, I reckon. M7's maybe a little less heavy-handedly restrictive and a little more 'playable' than this one, but "Unspeakable Persecution" surely does have a delightfully creepy/oppressive mood going for it, Sigil's environment and theme at its most menacing and disorienting, much of it soaked in heavy darkness and featuring more vertical interplay between different layers of the environment than any other level. As with m5, the thing balance here is really tight, but by dint of offering a plasma rifle at the start it has a distinctly different flavor to it--the plasma rifle is often the go-to 'panic button' weapon, perhaps even moreso in cases where austerity is the order of the day, but in this case it's your lifeblood, which you've little choice but to use judiciously even as its batteries rapidly run dry.

 

Incidentally, I reckon that this level is probably more prone to be dramatically impacted as an experience than any other in the set by which secrets the player does or doesn't find. In my FDA, the only one I find is the bulk cell early on--no BFG (which is very simple to get, but also brilliantly concealed by the weird visual tableau of light/shadow and seams between layers in the area it's concealed in) is a big matter indeed, and if there's a rocket launcher I never found it. Without that bulk cell, then, the playthrough would've been defined very noticeably by evasion rather than combat, and even with that extra bit of ammo en tow there were still instances where I felt discretion to be the better part of valor--no other map in the set more fully captures the impression that you're under a supernatural form of lockdown, that you're really not supposed to make it out this time, which plays off cleverly against the 'minotaur and the maze' reference found later in the level. Are you trapped with him, or is he trapped with you? Maybe a bit of both?

 

Incidentally, I insisted on killing that cyberdemon, mostly to see if I could. Well, it took almost all of my ammo, but I could indeed do it, which I think speaks more or less favorably of the skillful thing balancing, once again--but without *any* of the secrets, I certainly wouldn't have even begun to consider attempting it, cheeky disposition or no.

 

Secret exit concealment is clever enough--hey, we haven't seen one of those eyes in a while, are those still a thing OH THERE'S ONE etc. etc.--though it's somewhat baffling it's not flagged as 'secret.'

 

E5M9: Realm of Iblis

In true IWAD secret level tradition, this level is more than a little quirky, with its janky progression flow and its smattering of weird little crushing 'poles' which appear in seemingly random places and function much more as an aesthetic feature than as a real environmental hazard (though, hilariously, these also all appear to be slow-crushers, and thus are theoretically super-lethal).

 

Also in true IWAD secret level tradition, it's kind of.....lame? Arguably moreso, even, since at least E2M9, E3M9, and even E4M9 all had some kind of notable gimmick to lend them gravitas for at least the first visit, whereas "Realm of Iblis" mostly reads as something that was not entirely finished before release, or perhaps alternatively a collection of small ideas which John ended up not working into other levels (which are mostly very coherent, even where they are most concept-driven). Progression here is somewhat scatterbrained, with the YK's bit in particular seeming half-baked, and a BK which is again tied to a somewhat dicey pickup of an unrelated item. This latter is less of a point of criticism for me than the deal with the soulsphere in m2, since it's pretty obvious that "something" is going to happen when you go into that lava-room with the vest and berserk pack even if you don't need/want to take them right away, but whether you go there first or go elsewhere to look for a radsuit (there isn't one) significantly impacts the smoothness of level flow, which requires a lot of ungainly/repetitive traversal until the very end (when some gross-looking "fire stairs" mercifully rise to give easy access to the YK door).

 

Most notable aspect is again the cyberdemon in his little Kmart bluelight-special citadel, which I once again insisted on killing, leading to an engagement I can only describe as 'retarded' -- a rather embarrassing showing on both my part and his. Incidentally, the secret I didn't find, apart from containing a set of goggles for.....reasons (seriously, wtf John?).....also contains not a BFG or cellpack or something one might reasonably expect to help eliminate him given its placement, but rather a humble carton of shotshells, making it clear that cheesing him out from on high is indeed The Official Way (TM) to eliminate him! Joy!

 

E5M7: Nightmare Underworld

The longest level in the episode sees another return to the surface and has a slight bit more of an 'adventure' feel to it (being able to see the raised string of marble 'checkpoint' kiosks well before you actually climb up there, etc.), though in truth it is once again more or less totally linear. This far into the episode I reckon I'd have liked to see something a little more genuinely open by now, just to change things up a bit, but nevertheless this level continues to do what the mapset has done well this to point. Like the secret level before, "Nightmare Underworld" gives the impression of a collection of one-off ideas, but it's tied together in a more engaging way. Essentially, while traversing the aforementioned raised walkway, the marine periodically trips something like a series of magical failsafes, and is flash-warped to other parts of the level, some of which are shifted/repopulated versions of places already visited, and some of which are a fresh hell. To me, many of these areas read like callbacks to visual/design themes of levels earlier in the episode, though perhaps I'm reading too much into it on this point.

 

You tend to be more heavily armed in this level than in any of the others (though pistol-starters *still* go without a chaingun), and save for a brief paucity of shells in the first couple of minutes never really have to worry about ammo, provided you don't insist on trying to kill those first three barons at first blush (they are pretty easy to juke, just mind they don't catch you out if you end up having to go back to the 'crumbling wall' room), which lends it a slightly more cathartic endgame feel. There is still a persistent element of tension, however, as healing remains very scarce, especially considering the level's size, unless you find the arguably overpowered second soulsphere secret at the midpoint (the other secret soulsphere, right at the start, tends to wither away rapidly because you go without armor for a while). As it was in the beginning, so it is at the end, and success often involves being aware of your surroundings and working in a tight space without panicking and backing off of a ledge or whatnot. The best choice in some cases may be to tank a hit in order to continue your offense, and in that regard, I reckon there's a reasonable argument that maybe healing in the level is a little *too* sparse given its comparatively protracted length, though I seem to have lucked out myself in this regard (inept shotgunner gives away the last big caco ambush, very unaggressive enemies in the little vine-canyon in my run, etc.).

 

Incidentally, the Hate Crime Barons (TM) are presumably the two behind the last locked door....? All I can say is, and this goes for whatever WAD you play, on whatever skill level and with whatever playstyle, don't ever assume you've won until you're on the tally screen. And perhaps more importantly, don't ever convince yourself you've won because you "deserve" to win by your own reckoning. ;)

 

E5M8: Halls of Perdition

Also in keeping with IWAD tradition, the final confrontation is sadly also something of a letdown, to say the least. All that time Romero spent having us fight in claustrophobic conditions and thinking tactically about our surroundings, and here we're just asked to hose down a spider with a sudden flash-flood of cell ammo, and then fight one last cyberdemon in a long, featureless corridor which gives plenty of time and space for dealing with him for all but the greenest player. Now, if that corridor were a lot shorter, meaning he had to be burned down much faster or risk getting cornered/smashed into a pitiful stain, we might've been onto something, but alas....

 

Leaving aside this sad little fart of a final battle, there are aspects of the level as a whole that I appreciate, mind. The opening does a good job of instilling a sense of vague, directionless urgency, maybe even bordering on not-quite-panic as more is revealed, which is a good boost of adrenaline to propel you forward on what eventually amounts to a victory lap. The visuals of the level play into this quite well too, a deceptively complex space with features and creatures appearing in striking silhouette against a starkly varying and initially disorienting backdrop of light and shadow.

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E2M6

 

In the original Doom I tend to consider the transition from E2M5 to the secret level and/or E2M6 to be the tipping point beteween the subverted Deimos facilities and Hell's intrusion into the mortal world; up through Command Center, every level represents a place with a defined function, but the UAC did not build the Halls of the Damned or the Spawning Vats as what they are now, and whatever they once were, they've long since been hollowed out and repurposed by their new inhabitants for profane purposes.  There's a little bit of that in E2M6 of Back to Basics, with the intrusion of fleshy nodules into high-tech (if grungy) facilities; in places, this flesh feels tumourous, swelling haphazardly to displace other structures and obstruct your passage, which in other places it feels more like scar tissue, growing tough and thick where one room, process, or facility has been grafted to another in a way that was never meant to be.

 

There are faint echoes of the original map to be found here - I'm thinking of the octagonal chamber in the north-east corner of the level that echoes the "compass room" of classic E2M6 with the orientation of its doors and passages - but it's largely doing its own thing, invoking (intentionally or otherwise) the name attached by default to the map slot with corridors that wind and twist and double back upon themselves in a way that serves to purpose except to confound and misdirect; walking a labyrinth of endless corridors in search of a control room or exit that you know is there, that you've seen but can't quite figure out how to reach, that's certainly a purgatory of sorts for the unfortunate and the damned, isn't it?  I feel this is also the map with the least use of the sky and outdoor spaces of any that the WAD has delivered so far, with is likewise its own particular flavour of disorienting and claustrophobic.

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Posted (edited)

B2BM6S1.png.832203be9c456486cc7ba98b73325a74.png

Espi doubles down on everything he's established thus far in a fairly lengthy adventure, as Hell's encroachment on our reality deepens,

and we're invited inside the madness. And it's handled very well, with beautifully crafted transitions into claustrophobic veins of flesh and

gore.

 

The map is essentially linear with some potentional to get a bit lost. However at this point in the journey, having the player feel a bit out

of their depth and disorientated is probably the right tone to set. It does make me think that perhaps the early maps should have been a

bit less convoluted and cleaner in their layout, to emphasis this aspect more as the episode progressed.

 

Normally, I'm not consciously aware of music in Doom, but the track here complements the map very well, and it generally feels like these

latter maps were built and playtested with the stock soundtrack playing. Conversely, the first four maps were recycled from other projects,

and I find myself agreeing with @gaspe that the first map feels at odds with it's music selection. In hindsight, I wonder if perhaps Espi

should have done a 'Romero' and made the first map last, so he could have tailored a short, fast paced opener.

 

Combat revolves around everything we've encountered before, only more so. It's a little hard for me to gage whether things are geniunely

getting more intense, because I've played these maps too often. It will be interesting to see what others think. Oddly enough, there's only

one secret. Maybe Espi was burnt out after E2M5.

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Fortress of mystery? How mysterious~!


E2M9 is the secret map. It's a very simple map. The start with the cacodemons attacking you as you climbed the tower was neat, although I found it pretty easy. The behaviour of the teleporters at the end was quite the mystery at first. Teleporters that aren't one-way don't have to be two-way like one would think normally, and it messed with me for a short moment. Figuring that out was short enough that it felt satisfying to me, at least.
The map was surprisingly short, and made me go "That's it?" after I entered the exit. The map was a lot of fun though.
The floating island aesthetic was neat, I guess. Didn't pay attention to it much, somehow. I don't think it's bad in the slightest, though.

 

Halls of the damned? Damn you!

Now the halls of the damned are in the halls of the damned, for I damned it!


I spontaniously decided to play E2M6 with no saves (except for one at the start of the map) for some reason. Made for a more exciting experience, that's for sure. I did die a few times, since I'm not that good. The first time I died was to the barons gaurding the blue key, because of an unnecessary risk. The second time was from a shotgun blast to the face, and me being pure stupid. The third was me rushing carelessly past the cacos in the fleshy area after you get the yellow key, which I did not expect and made me panic a little bit.

I think I gained more appreciation of the map because of this playstyle, honestly. I could use information I got from a previous attempt to make the next one easier, making me pay a little bit more attention. It also made me experiment a little more with taking out enemies, like the baron behind the first blue key door you're most likely to open. On one run I shot rockets at him through the window nearby instead of shotgunning at a dangerous distance like I did in an earlier one. The map flowed well enough that I only needed to use the automap for finding one of the yellow doors, but that was it.

I also really liked the contrast between techbase and hell in this map. It feels like the techbase gets replaced by hell, piece by piece, but isn't fully transformed yet.

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E2M6: I think I can consider this map as a sort of remake of Halls of the Damned, or more like a remake of the idea behind it. In this M6 Espi decided to explore properly the military bunker theme that was loosely present on the original but the 2 maps are very different things that it's also different to make a direct comparison. That are many halls indeed for a rather long journey that you'll spend underground. Like M5 this level has a very good sense of place, that in the previous levels was a less marked. I think I'll add the tan-brown area behind the blue doors as one of my favourites areas I've ever seen on wads, a structure with multiple tiers of passages and ledges. I would thought that something mono-textured like that would blend too much but there's an excellent work on the lighting to draw the attention to the right places. Another highlight is the brown area behind the red which is another little fortress nested inside the bunker. The flesh parts oddly enough were boring compared to the base environments. The gameplay was still a bit lacking of ammo for the heavy weapons and even on pistol start with all those sergeants you won't starve, at least the weapons placement was balanced and considerate even to the pistol starters.

 

2 hours ago, Urthar said:

Normally, I'm not consciously aware of music in Doom, but the track here complements the map very well, and it generally feels like these

latter maps were built and playtested with the stock soundtrack playing. Conversely, the first four maps were recycled from other projects,

and I find myself agreeing with @gaspe that the first map feels at odds with it's music selection. In hindsight, I wonder if perhaps Espi

should have done a 'Romero' and made the first map last, so he could have tailored a short, fast paced opener.

From what I played of Espi I think that he liked to make maps with a slower gameplay, driven by the atmosphere, which is the opposite of the fast and silly mood of "I sawed the demons". Even M3 with the stock music was odd, the rest of the maps were fine.

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Nihility E2M7: Kloneteildienst

94% kills, 4/8 secrets

 

Longest level yet (though it looks like the next one is longer yet) and like @TheOrganGrinder upon reaching the end I was ready to hit the switch instead of scouring for secrets and the last few enemies. Nothing wrong with this map, but it doesn't provide anything new and just sorta keeps going along. There's a couple of decent moments here and there - I liked the callback to E2M3's wraith ambush and the suicide troopers are always a good shot of adrenaline, but a lot of it feels like rote room clearing. Despite how the layout looks from above, it's not nearly as inter-connected as previous maps, as a lot of the connections are walled off and only open up once you reach the other side or hit the requisite secret and feel more like shortcuts on the way back rather than creating an actual interconnected layout. This means a lot of the exploration is pushing forward for pushing forward's sake, half the map was spent eventually discovering the red key only for it to be right next to the other side of the (only) red door I had already seen. Didn't even find the three-key exit until two-thirds through the map.

 

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Nihility - Prboom+ UV Continuous

 

E2M5 - “Albtraum-Haus” (Nightmare House)
This map is good too, although perhaps not so much in my mind as E2M4 before it. We have a well routed tech base with a circuit that changes as the map  progresses. Rather less of it feels to be isolated from other parts and there is nothing like the rather less developed feel of E2M3 this wad, with the simple hub spoke affair before it.

 

I do tend to feel the environs in this map are a little less varied and less distinctive than M4. I do have much love for the quintessential blue computer tech with dark grey stone E2 aesthetic and find this is used well in this map, but for example there is less height variation a la the wooden area of E2M4 - we have a floor plan with modest occasional variations on a height but fundamentally most of the areas tend to be at a fairly close level, and with the predominantly mid-sized individual rooms (albeit each being fairly distinct and interesting in their own right) are not brought together and contrasted so much. The crusher chain with rock area was a bit closer to what I had in mind but forms only a portion of the map, with the rest being relatively less varied. The gameplay is still fairly decent with a mixture of incidental combat on the road punctuated by more enjoyable traps. Similarly, the fast moving wraiths are often used outside of traps, to the side or in narrower areas to wake up the player.

 

The number of secrets in the map is impressive; I reached the conventional exit having found seven and being aware of the secret exit but I hadn't found the last chain to remove the second barrier. The problem was working out what was opened by the switch in the caco area near the beginning. It's a good little puzzle that advertises it's existence with the non-hidden switch, that beguiles you into trying to solve it by the sound of the door opening not so far away, and rewards your secret intuition by having the actual door be one that you probably would suspect to be a secret anyway, but by virtue of it not giving up it's existence as simply as being pressed as normal or wall-humped makes it far more interesting.


In fact overall I have to give credit to the author for the layered nature of the secrets in that they open up more secrets elsewhere - in particular the sense of progression as one visibly whittles away the locked barriers to the secret exit is a fantastic way of both rewarding and incentivising the player to hunt harder, and highlights a way to make secrets more difficult and also more fun. I may be slightly biased given that I've now managed to find all secrets on all levels so far, but still. More props to the author and off to the secret level for me.

Oh and on encountering it, I admit I scoffed at the pretty plain "DON'T" room and paid the price - although as a continuous player I have now abused it after an impulsive but successful BFG grab.

 

E2M9 - “Hirntod” (Brain death)

'Brain death' is an apt name for this map, both because of the quantity of broken skull textures, and also because how my head felt after spending an hour combing the map to find all the secrets!

 

So here is our friendly neighbourhood level with a Deimos Lab reference: a cavernous mixture of large, high ceilinged slime channels among tech and greystone (something that also put me in mind of another E2 wad, E2M7 of dinner.wad - almost certainly not inspiration for this though) and perhaps I detect a hint of the arena type areas from Fortress of Mystery. Other commenters have referenced the theme of descending in this map and I've got to agree with this, following on from the descent to the secret exit in E2M5 before, this map continues the feeling of a strange, evil excavation. Indeed, the big expansive areas and desolate atmosphere of the iwad Deimos lab, with some of the wackier later areas is a good match here, but it's pretty broad brush design cues that Nihility takes here and mostly the author's own riffing and remixing of the two. Contrasting the lower, darker areas we have the upper slime pit places which are open-skied, more techy and brighter.

The combat, as I recall is fairly steady, with the baron in the E2M4 tech lab being memorable to me, because I was able to teleport above from the crate area and cheese it (sorry, Years). There are several exceptions though: the big cavernous skull well has a couple of teleport ins and there's the good release on picking up the key in the E2M4 island section. A different sort of danger from claustrophobia is present in the crates area, where this time instead of darkness being the ally of those damn wraiths, it's numbers and the short firing distances enforced by the crate maze working against you - I do not look forwards to fighting many suicide zombies in that sort of area!

 

That brings me nicely onto what I felt was the best part of the map - the dark, broad wooden maze after the red key. Boy, do I regret my anti-imp point blank shotgun reaction shooting with those suicide zombies! That enemy is a great idea, as it turns years of well-honed semi-automatic shotgunning on it's head - I can tell I am really going to feel some pain from these guys if I'm not careful, but as a Doomer, the instinct is well baked in so it's also hard to unlearn. As for the area itself, it's intermittent flashing darkness, with increasing waves of wraiths and other monster releases is very well worked. Add to that the teleport lines that threw out my firing lines to take down the wraiths and forced me to watch my six, then the red winged manc-baron to throw the cat among pigeons - this area was a great exercise in building tension and concern to legitimate near panic - the secret light amp is a great aid, but as I at first approached cautiously it didn't last long enough. I ended at a corner where I could make the longest firing lines, constantly looking left, then right, and back much like the Doom guy's eyes glancing back and forth, in the gloom trying to be ready for the next enemy before they got too close. Brilliant stuff.

And finally with this being the first time I encountered the manc baron (and in less favourable circumstances) I finally felt the need to reach for the plasma rifle and used it for the first time. First impressions, I don't mind the green plasma, but I was honestly expecting something more akin to the Playstation plasma rifle firing sound, which is probably my favourite non-iwad firing sound effect.

 

I nearly lost my clean sheet with getting 100% secrets and I reached the exit having initially found just 3; later I found more, but I do hesitate to credit myself with this, as one of them is accessible only via the Tom Hall styled changing room area which is a one-time access secret. My persistence was rewarded though as I am finally  a legitimate BFG owner, if we discount the DON'T room linedef abuse of the previous level. Having barely used the PR or BFG I had full cells, but had to use the BFG to deal with the mastermind - thus I left with fewer cells then I entered the last secret with. The joys of being a completist, eh.

 

Anyway, I digress - this is a pretty good and interesting level, and I really rate the wooden maze area.

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So, are we voting for stuff in July? I was hoping someone would propose some wads.

+++ Whispers of Satan as that seems like one of the few popular megawads that wasn't yet covered.

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Continuing with Back to Bay 6:

E2M3

So after the 3rd map, I'm seeing quite a few patterns in this wad. First of all, each map seems to have at least one small "med bay" sort of room with health pickups placed on counters. That's cool. Second, armour is generally not provided until the half-way point, aside from occasional stacks of 5 helmets. And third, significant backtracking after finding one of the keys to a door somewhere near the spawn hub. Gameplay remains quite simple and straightforward with Sergeants being the major threat. Considering the armour-less nature of a good portion of the map, taking peak shots from cover and checking your corners seems to be the go-to strategy in avoiding Shotgunner chip-damage. Interesting to say the least as not many wads emphasize this type of cover shooter aspect, aside from Urania. Visuals continue to look nice and clean, although the brown textures are getting more mileage than they deserve. Quite enjoyable for some laid-back, shotgunning action-adventure.

 

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