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The DWmegawad Club plays: Whispers of Satan

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MAP19 - “Cryosleep” by Kristian Aro wos19-S01-UVmax-2114.zip

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Dark frigid caves of despair is the theme here and the impressive detailing really brings it to life. Resource starvation is no longer a thing as you get a backpack and plenty of ammo throughout the map. The darkness in the tunnels is oppressive and Spectres on 0 Software gamma are practically invisible. I found myself Chaingun-tapping as a sort of flashlight to make them easier to spot. The visuals, atmosphere, and sombre midi are still the highlight here, although liberal use of Mancs and Archviles make gameplay more interesting compared to some previous maps. The RL is in a secret, although it is simply a small alcove not dissimilar to the Backpack and Green Armour found at the start. The Soulsphere is a bit more obscure and required some Doom Builder snooping to locate.

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MAP20 - “Inexorable Opposition” by Kristian Aro wos20-S01-UVmax-1609.zip

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Looks like we're already in Hell one map before schedule. This is a nice looking map with primarily red brick structures and a unique combination of flesh and ash rock that I can't recall seeing much of before. To keep things brief so I can try and catch up, this is another solid Aro map with some classic gameplay and good pistol start balancing. If I have a complaint, it's that several secrets involve "using" an inconspicuous wall which looks like any other. And I've never been a fan of wallhumping.

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MAP21 - “2048 BC” by Paul Corfiatis wos21-S01-UVmax-1449.zip

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2048 BC sure brings back memories. Damn I'm old!

A somewhat tricky opener which encourages you to skip the 2 Trons and Cacos in search of better weapons and ammo. This isn't a problem assuming you grab the much-needed secrets and make your way to the pyramid first to pilfer the SSG from the Imps. The map is split into 3 distinct section with each having a key needed for the triple key exit. It looks like they can be done in any order but I ended up doing marble > cave > chasm. There is a very obvious homage to the infamous map24 of Doom 2, complete with thin platforms, sniping enemies, and Lost Souls infinite-heighting you as they ascend from the damaging blood below. Luckily, you can drop down, radsuit up, and kill the annoying flaming skulls while also grabbing a couple Backpacks and other goodies. A nice "redemption" from pcorf for the turbo-symmetry and dry gameplay of map18.

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31 minutes ago, Spectre01 said:

A nice "redemption" from pcorf for the turbo-symmetry and dry gameplay of map18.

 

Hah Turbo. And remember this lads. I'm not the only one who has done this.

 

I think MAP21 was one of the first maps I made for WOS, same with MAP12.

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MAP26: Hellhole

 

After the engrossing environment of Vulcana, the relatively regimented succession of arenas presented here feels like something of a step back in terms of presentation; I can't argue with "gameplay first, visuals second," and it's not like there's anything lacking about said visuals here, it just doesn't come together in as nice, organic, and connected a fashion as MAP25's various divisions.  The cathedral/throne room area toward the start of the map is nicely realised, the final arena... is an arena, with its own little Gotcha! moment playing out between the Cyberdemon and the Spider Mastermind if the two can be coaxed into squabbling over you.  If there is such a thing as "everyday Doom Hell," this map is an example of it.

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MAP25: Vulcana

91% kills, 1/6 secrets

 

Kinda rushed through this one as I didn't want to get bogged down killing all the snipers in the large areas, especially early on, which probably wasn't doing the map credit. Things start out with a rather unimpressive square hub with the requisite four doors (three key and one not), but thankfully the areas behind are much more full-fledged and actually big for once. I do agree with @TheOrganGrinder it's a bit of a shame the most impressive areas come early though, would've been better to maybe re-do the order here.

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The name "Inexorable Opposition" follows the formula [negative prefix] + [Latin-like adjective I've never seen before] + [noun], in tradition of 2002ADO's "Disreputable Stronghold" and "Indomitable Haunt". Memorizing these names is an extreme challenge for me!

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MAP27: Halls of Cocytus

 

I think this is a map that has its share of cool moments, appealing environments, and devious encounters, but which doesn't connect them together in the most engaging of ways; it struggles to be more than simply the sum of its parts, and while I have few complaints about those parts, all put together they don't really contribute to each other or to making the map as a whole memorable and unique.  I'd point to the secret passage included in the quite involved secret in the south-west corner of the map, and to the Hellish cavern/lava area in the north-west, as prime examples of sections of the map that made me go "hey, this is nice," and then completely departed from my attention because the level is so segmented and constantly has you hurrying your way to other places.  Visually at least it's a feast within its own particular theme, and the secret areas are nicely developed even if I'm not the world's biggest fan of one-time-only secrets.

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MAP28: Sacrificial Grounds

 

Another map dominated by red stone blocks and lava but this time it does all come together thanks to its setting and layout; the whole of it takes place throughout a series of fortresses, chapels, and chambers of inscrutable, nefarious purpose built into the rim of a gigantic, volcanic crater, plus the connecting walkways that span the caldera, and while I do think there's a case to be made that those walkways didn't have to be laid out in a simple cross formation, that's a minor quibble about a map that I had a lot of fun with.  At least on Hurt Me Plenty there is what feels like a deliberate juxtaposition between the grandeur and scale of the setting and the quality of the combat that takes place therein, which tends to be focused within the buildings around the caldera's border rather than in the crater proper, delivering an experience of creeping through the gloom and facing short, sharp shocks of danger, rather than the sort of pitched battle beneath the open Hellish sky that a map built around a large and central outdoor space might at first be expected to deliver; the subversion of my expectations there was quite nice.

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Don't forget to vote, everyone.  I only haven't because I know I am not going to have time to play much next month, and I try not to vote unless I will be able to play what I'm voting for. 

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MAP26: Hellhole

98% kills, 1/5 secrets

 

Yeah, the starting temple looks nice (if a bit done... seen a lot of demonic hell churches by now) but the rest is pretty ho-hum generic, with even a non-particularly-enthralling Gotcha setup at the end (the two bosses started infighting before I even realized how they were setup). I liked the way the lost soul brigade shot over the walls after emerging from the church, at least, but most of the flying enemies in the latter part of the map seemed to drip in slowly from the outskirts after everything else was dead, making them just feel like filler instead of actually part of the opposition.

 

MAP27: Halls of Cocytus

92% kills, 1/4 secrets

 

I think I said previously that no one can dress up a hallway like Aro does, but this one seems to test my patience with that, since the layout here is very square and dry in parts. Of the two branches releasing the blue key, the north-eastern one is great, with a nice little travel through some lava and crumbling brick facade (love that little hole the lost souls sneak out of near the switch), while the southern one is an absolutely dreary bore of a hallway that hearkens back to some of the hallways from the early-middle of the WAD. The end is a bit anti-climatic too, as the arachnatron/cyber battle is followed by releasing a bunch of pinkies. Lots of cool details on the ceilings if you take the time to look.

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+++50 Monsters 

 

A megawad of short maps by AD_79 with guest maps from a few others -- Breezeep, 4shockblast, an_mutt, Obsidian -- and collabwork by TheMionicDonut and skillsaw. Sleek visuals, brisk combat. Classic inspiration, modern polish. 

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MAP22 - “Soul Disruption” by Kristian Aro wos22-S01-UVmax-3005.zip

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A lengthy adventure with keys to collect, bars to lower, and plenty of backtracking. Getting the SSG right away along with generous ammo balance keep the straightforward combat from feeling tedious. The majority involves SSGing enemies down corridors and removing ledge snipers. The most interesting sections are the underground blood bridge and the outdoor final area. Oh yeah, if you drop down and then take the teleporter back from the Megasphere secret instead of making the jump across to the switch raising the red bars you will not trigger the closet Revenant and feel robbed of your UV-Max.

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MAP23 - “Pathway to Elysion” by Paul Corfiatis wos23-S01-UVmax-2044.zip

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Interesting start which encourages Berserk-punching Imps in a small maze with a bunch of switches. Died the first time when choosing to save the Berserk for HP and then getting overrun with the teleporting Imps while having no ammo. Luckily, there is a nice place where you can simply stand and punch any Imp coming 'round the corner. Lots of Imps in general, but you can shoot the rest with the SSG. The two Pinky + one stinky Manc closet is amusing, especially when appearing at least four times. As far as visuals go, the dark underground has some cool aesthetics as well as practically invisible Spectres in Software mode. The decorative outdoor area near the start also deserves a mention with that torture tower.

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MAP29: Heated Trauma

 

So here we are at the WAD's penultimate map and with its six-way, teleporter-based hubspoke layout there's an absolute glut of ideas here and I can't help but wonder if maybe some of them could've been parceled out to the earlier and much complained about levels to the possible betterment of Whispers of Satan as a whole?  Both the blue skull key and blue keycard subzones of the map are large enough and just about developed enough to function as early maps in their own right, with relatively little tweaking; granted, you'd need to rework the Hellish aesthetic of each into a more technological theme suitable for the earlier map slots, but that feels like a matter of putting a coat of paint on things than building a new house.  Maybe I'm overthinking, maybe I'm failing to appreciate the map in its own right rather than as a component part of the WAD as a whole, but considering I've spent the past month playing through the whole set of levels and they're as fresh in my memory as they're ever going to be, I don't think it's unfair to look at what feels like a back-loading of fun, ambitious, clever, and expansive maps and wish that some of the qualities on display in this last handful of levels had appeared more consistently and prominently in the WAD's earlier offerings.  Bait your hook, you know?

 

Each "spoke" of the map is essentially an obstacle course, with a switch at its end that lowers one of the six keys on its pillar and a teleporter back to the hub; once you've gone along each path, you're locked out of return visits, so make sure you scoop up any supplies you need (and find any secrets that might be tucked away) before you commit to that return trip.  The map is impressively compact in terms of real estate, with each section built to fit neatly around the others; there aren't any connections between them, so I don't know if that engineered density serves a purpose beyond keeping the map's overall footprint to a minimum, but it's a nice bit of design work even so.

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Posted (edited)

Finally got back to it after a busy weekend and temporary loss of internet connection for a few days, pending the replacement of the WiFi modem:

 

MAP22 - “Soul Disruption” by Kristian Aro
This is a pretty good green marble halls and rooms type hell map by Aro. We take a semi-circular wheel like hub, with radiating arms and  spokes and find added key door spurs. The initial impression in the central hub area is that the parts of the map are quite individual and weakly connected, but the larger area containing the red key puts paid to this and is more memorable to me. I quite liked the developing spurs of the map though, as although they are relatively isolated they do sort of interlink a little bit and individually reasonably interesting. The latter area beyond the final key door is fun, although it felt as though it perhaps warranted a bigger teleport in. The entrance of the cyb was welcome though, indeed it came in handy for squashing the hell noble meat barricade near the exit. It also looks generally polished throughout and although the detail is again repetitive, because the hell episode is still young it is just pleasant.

 

The midi is particularly interesting though, being an odd kind of mix-up of E2M2, D2 Map07 and perhaps Map30? Pretty cool and quite fitting overall.

 

MAP23 - “Pathway to Elysion” by Paul Corfiatis
This and Map 26 are among the last PCorf maps with symmetry health warnings, yet at first I didn't think this one suffered particularly. The theme initially came across as quite desolate; with the parts missing from the starting door, the void, and the empty, quiet starting area, I was put in mind of Map06. The early windowed maze with switch quests did hint at a kind of broken, structure-vanishing-into-the-void type theme, however the map quickly ditches this. The whole lowered thing was a fairly good subversion of a corridor/maze though as others have noted.

 

To be fair the subsequent big hallways and chambers pretty much all look great, with plenty of large scale grand architecture, something I think tends to be superior in PCorf's maps versus those of Kristian Aro's. and actually these areas were pretty good. but then later my opinion was less positive. The symmetrical plus shape in the void was repetitious but ok-ish and much of the fights felt anti-climatic. I found all 5 secrets.

 

Not at all bad as a map really, although I think that the broken theme at the starting area deserved further exploration and it would have been cool if something could have been made of the big scenic area which you view, but cannot access midway through the map

 

MAP24 - “Ultimate Hatred” by Paul Corfiatis
A pretty simple and brief hell map that at first seems like it could be something more than a hub spoke map, but then later reveals it's true nature. We see some straightforwards slightly mid-90s ish cave areas early on (not a bad thing in and of itself) down a lift (reminiscent of TNT map16, or 23). This part is more varied than some, with differing areas, a simple trap round the little slime pool and a surprise crusher that may catch you whilst distracted by the monsters, giving some much welcome non-sequential, non-repetitious gameplay and appearing like it will be more expansive than it actually is, but then the cave area turns back on itself and leads you back to the start. Still the sidequest for the red key which I took next in the raised marble catwalk area was also reasonably interesting and was leading me to feel the map would be more varied then it was. unfortunately the next two keyquests use repeated symmetrical areas which dampens my enthusiasm.

 

Later we have another big grandiose arena which would've benefited from some stronger monsters than the imps and 4 arachnotrons that warp in, but was ok I guess, followed by the ending area with lost souls which was so so. It's an ok map, I guess - I kind of like the brevity. Finding the secrets is still fun though.

 

MAP25 - “Vulcana” by Paul Corfiatis
Wow, now this is a pretty great, epic-scaled map! All the patience in playing through the more repetitive mid-teen PCorf maps pays off here in spades. So to business, we have a lot of naturalistic redrock caverns replete with, ash lava and all kinds of hellish goodness. It wouldn't be WoS without a hub, but here the spurs are so much more than the simple, desultory little side-quest stubs. The epic starts after going through the first door and turning right, and hopping down the enormous magma columns. Combat-wise, although the imps and occasional lost soul are used well, it's gentle, but there is something to be said for the first impression experience of it. The extreme height variation is also rather reminiscent of Map31.

 

A little later there is a further neat column hopping jaunt (a la map10) across a lava lake to a plateau. Therein awaits a repetitious four switch part, and yet because of the variety and spectacle in getting there, I don't much mind. As a general rule I'm finding that the PCorf maps that are either more open-air or larger scale are tending to be the better ones.

 

The gameplay is also better than several of the prior PCorf maps - the narrow walkways mixed with distant snipers make things more interesting than just the simple shooting straight ahead that many other of his maps here fall into the trap of. Speaking of traps, there's a particular one in the red key section and you enter the walkways over lava section where after being lured on to the walkway to deal with imps a pair of hell knights were released behind and then more cacos close in - that was actually a pretty hurried moment for me and a good, well-worked trap, so applause for that. The archies in this level are to my mind used a little less effectively though, since they guard keys where you expect to be ambushed and you hear them well in advance of picking up (or even gaining access to) the key, so the surprise is taken away. Finally the initial shy cyb from the beginning makes it's return near the end in what can be a dangerous fight because of the close-quarters and splash damage danger. Also there is a potentially quite nasty hell knight trap in the exit which actually caused me quite serious pain at first. I did ultimately backtrack in the level and find the megasphere secret once it was emptied of monsters though, speaking of which I only found 2 of the 6 secrets here.

 

All in all, I think this is a fantastic map and far better from @pcorf - more like this, please!

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MAP28: Sacrificial Grounds

100% kills, 1/2 secrets

 

A lot of what I said about last map could apply here too - it looks nice (especially on the ceilings) but the room design is very square, with an anti-climatic ending. I think it works better though because it doesn't outstay it's welcome - the blue key leg ended before I got tired of the square rooms, the yellow key leg is even shorter, and it relies more on fewer, high-tier enemies than a long stream of small fry (no zombies here!) That's not to say it's very hard, mind you - while there's a lot more use of teleporters here which can maybe catch the player off guard, as long as they're careful it's still quite easy to mow everything down, it'll just take a few more hits of buckshot to down a baron instead of a hellknight for example. Lots more AVs here too but none in very dangerous spots.

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Posted (edited)

Just as a heads up regarding voting: candidate wads need at least four votes in order for me to make a thread for it. This is mainly to try and ensure at least four people will start playing/posting about a wad, as anything less doesn't really fill the "club" credentials IMO. If we fail to get four votes, the club will go on temporary hiatus until there's enough excitement to generate a new thread.

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Votes right now:

Witness of Time / Monument / Unwelcome  -  2

50 Monsters  -  1

NoYe  -  1

 

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MAP30: The Verge of Revelation

 

And thus we come to the end of Whispers of Satan, preambling out way across a volcanic landscape, through Hell's final fortress, through an eerie, haunted void, before squaring off at last against the familiar Icon of Sin and filling its exposed brain with high explosives as we've done so many times before in so many other WADs.  If the level can't be judged on originality, it can at least be given points for execution; as MAP30 iterations go, this one is visually pleasing and inoffensive in its gameplay, and I did like the early sections leading up to the final battle proper, each of them representing a subset of the different Hellish themes the WAD has explored throughout its last episode.

 

Oh, and

 

+++ Witness of Time / Monument / Unwelcome

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Posted (edited)

Ok ok, I should be able to play a decent amount again in August, so I can vote:

 

+++ Witness of Time / Monument / Unwelcome

 

Now on with the show:

 

MAP26 - “Hellhole” by Paul Corfiatis
So this is the last map with a full blown symmetry warning from PCorf for it, but I don't think symmetry per se is the issue with this map really, as what's there in some ways serves the map quite well - I will elaborate. So yes first of all the initial hell church does indeed look good as per @TheOrganGrinder and @Magnusblitz, but to me, it's not just the big church structure that's good but the grand scale landscaped setting in which it is placed, too. The interior of the church isn't as cool as the exterior, but it still looks good and is as tastefully decorated as ever. The teleporting AV is also a well-chosen addition, encouraging the player to either snipe the distant ledge imps from the pews or charge the AV with the SSG and hide round the rear of the throne. And as others state the subsequent [Insert collective noun here] of Lost Souls coming over the distant hellish landscape to attack is cool also. Oh and I did appreciate the dual Doom parkour secrets for the soulsphere/megaarmour too.

 

However after this, we then cease to make hay with the theme and aesthetic established thus far and instead of say taking an E4M5 style walk through the rocks, we go instead into a fairly generic red rock tunnel in the mountainside. Of the areas that follow, thematically each had individual merits but doesn't mesh well. So the smallish central chamber in the mountainside with the lava flowing walls is cool - and evoked the idea of a journey to the centre of the earth type drill machine going down, or a room suspended in the caldera of a volcano, but this idea isn't explored and it's just another random but coolish room. But then in a weaker spate we have the long narrow staircase leading to a classic PCorf plus shaped walkway, with progression switches on each side needed to continue. This part employs void and might have been continued as something good, except the rest of the map is not void themed. We also several single monsters behind doors, particularly hell knights, or mancubi down narrow corridors. These lone, mid-level monster encounters don't do much gameplay wise and aren't very engaging. It's not exactly a problem but if done too much it starts to feel like padding gameplay-wise.

 

Finally there's the big Gotcha arena. In keeping with the initial hell church, the large scale and symmetry work in it's favour, as I feel symmetry in large structures lends them grandeur which is cool, but the setting is very disjoint from the rest of the map, and the combat within after you mop up the losing boss monster is nothing like as epic, once you rocket the arachnotrons, there are just a few imps and fliers round the edges and that's it. No big teleport in to fit the scale of the arena, sadly.

 

I think this level juxtaposes some of @pcorf's strengths and weaknesses in WoS - we have the cool large scale epic structures, but also symmetrical, repetitive progression gimmicks and an essentially very simple layout, when you strip off the bells, whistles and scenery. I don't dislike this map, but it's a bit too simple and insubstantive and incoherent to give the structures in it justice, and sadly there seem to have been some interesting ways that the map might perhaps have been developed a bit more but these weren't explored. At least it gives good eye candy though.

 

MAP27 - “Halls of Cocytus” by Kristian Aro
This is a fairly architecturally simple level, with a good, interesting layout, and dressed up in some admittedly pretty impressive details. The ceilings and floors have that cool sector detailing whereby individual tiles of the flat protrude, overlaid upon a layer of skin which has been peeled back to reveal entrails, as though the entire structure were a living, mutilated testament to hell. Or so it seems if I put my imagination too it. Zooming out from the details however, I find the map to be flat and boxy for a good part of it. The initial areas in particular, after descending the initial stairs are essentially (when stripped of the details) are quite simple square-ish rooms, adjacent to one another and connected to other areas by several long, very pretty (but repetitively detailed) corridors.

 

Also I've remarked that @Kristian Nebula's maps can be quite flat and on a plane earlier in the thread, and I feel this map is more inclined in that direction, sadly. It's not that there isn't any height variation altogether of course - there is but what there is tends to be gradual staircases or slightly raised ceilings/crossbars - there's certainly nothing like the dramatic sheer chasms or pillar runs across sunken  lava lagoons of map25, for example. Nothing looks ugly - quite the opposite in fact - but it would benefit from something a little more contrasting to add a touch of spectacle architecturally, in addition to just polish.

 

The gameplay I can praise more earnestly though - we have a good fun mixture of incidental combat with monsters along the way versus monsters in traps. In particular, the trap at the initial key with the raised catwalk (yes, I know that's height variation, I didn't say it was all flat!) with the imp closets and chain gunners was a good use of low level monsters to take a chunk out of the player for instance, unless you can take down these chain gunners quickly or keep breaking their lines of sight with the thin metal columns. Also the brick gap from which lost souls intermittently emerge during the hell night warp in switch was well-worked too, since the lost souls don't all appear straight-away and you have to be mindful of being charged in the back by a soul whilst fighting the knights and thus you must keep moving accordingly. Good stuff.

 

Lastly I am with @Magnusblitz that the ending area, whilst reasonably ok as a final battle, was a bit anti-climactic with the handful of demons jumping in afterwards - surely something like several viles to threaten the player and do some resurrections would have been more apt, or simply nothing at all and leave the cyb as the high-note. Also I think the arena design didn't lend itself to the cyb as well as it might - there was plenty of room to manoeuvre and not too much complication from the other monsters. You can just dash for the wings and clean them out for cover, then you're broadly set to finish the cyb safely.

 

Of the 4 secrets I found two: the soulsphere and the pretty ingeniously hidden early eye switch. I do enjoy the 'this switch did something unknown nearby' type secrets as you are fairly conspicuously lured into trying to solve them, but it isn't always immediately obvious with the solution. You get both teased but it's also reasonably likely you'll find it so you get the reward too and satisfaction of solving it. This is better than some of the millimetre texture misalignment types which I mostly will have just ignorantly sailed past or simply randomly blundered into if the spontaneous instinct to wall hump arose at a fortuitous occasion.

Pretty decent map overall.

Edited by Sui Generis

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+++ Witness of Time / Monument / Unwelcome

Can't let the club die. :( Has there been a hiatus month before?

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+++ Witness of Time / Monument / Unwelcome

 

I'll play next month and give a vote to help keep it going.

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On 7/30/2019 at 9:51 PM, Spectre01 said:

Can't let the club die. :( Has there been a hiatus month before?

 

Only in the club's infancy after Jenesis. Kind of amazing that it's continued for so long without really running out of steam

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Posted (edited)

 

MAP28 - “Sacrificial Grounds” by Kristian Aro
Wow. It's almost as though @Kristian Nebula anticipated my criticisms whilst playing the previous map and set out to counter them. The boxy, subtly undulating rooms and corridors of the last map are gone, and opened out into a fantastic looking vista set in a hellish lava lake. The walls of most areas are knocked down or windowed to great benefit, permitting more views of the outside surroundings and more chance for the mancs in the hills to fire upon the player. It's a great way of taking a map and making it more interesting, both visually and gameplay-wise.

 

After passing the initial starting areas, the player ventures out on to a plus shaped walkway, which serves as the focus of the map. By now I would say I'm getting quite weary of these sorts of hubs, but this case doesn't feel like that because of the open plan surroundings of the map - it just feels like a smaller part of something bigger and more interesting. The individual end points of the cross have basically key quests, but whereas in some of PCorf's weaker maps they might just end with a couple of switches, here there are fully blown different areas with something interesting and different at each to explore and clear to obtain the reward of the key. It's much less formulaic. Although @Magnusblitz mentioned the rooms are still boxy, and to a degree I guess they are, this to me is not universally the case and there is enough variety from the trips outside, with windows on the outside areas that it is far less prominent. Probably I would not have even noticed it were it not so prominent in the previous map.

 

It still feels as though the corridor and boxy room motif of earlier maps is still present, but transplanted into the lava lake - if walls were put up on the central walkway and the windows onto the exterior scene closed, then this map would feel a whole lot more like the last map, and indeed some of the others, only with a simpler layout. Also, if you disregard the exterior and just run from spur across the plus walkway to another, then it's apparent again how planar much of the play area of the level would be. Really the open area transforms this map, with the variety and feeling of space making it memorable and rather epic to me.

 

I'm honestly unsure whether I think this or PCorf's Map25 is my favourite of the wad - either way, great work guys!

 

MAP29 - “Heated Trauma” by Paul Corfiatis
This map seems to be pitched as a long epic penultimate map type job, and whilst it really is long, I found it a tad samey for the most part. The hub at the six key door is a Pcorf WoS classic and in and of itself that's fine, none of the spurs for the keys are bad and they are all different, several tend to feel a bit indistinct as they generally play similarly. The blue key spur however deserves to be singled-out for praise as the climb up the huge cliff to the marble mansion overlooking it is a great and inspired area. The overlooking monsters can rain down something of a bullet curtain on the player if you stay put too long but that's all in fun. The employment of cacos is naturally well merited here and their flight means the player can soon have ball lightning flying in from unexpected angles too. Other than this and the starting area though there isn't too much in the way of pitched battles, and traps are used fairly sparingly, or in a repetitive way (eg. substantial imp teleports)

 

The ending battle with the two cybs was difficult but in an awkward way - I found it was necessary to try and BFG one of the cybs with my back turned to the other, and that often didn't work too well, heh. I'm not used to having to measure my strafes to try and dodge with my back turned. Also I only found the one secret in the blue skull key spur, although that was a satisfying secret. The fact that you cannot backtrack to re-search for secrets or collect leftover pickups is a little bit disappointing, although it does help keep the map more easily navigable.

 

Although this map is reasonably good, it went on a bit long for me (at least on my playthrough now - perhaps replaying it would improve) and I didn't enjoy it in the same way I did Maps 25 & 28.

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MAP29: Heated Trauma

93% kills, 1/5 secrets

 

So we come to the uber-hub of sorts, with six keys to gather in six different areas, rather than the usual three or four branches. The main thing that struck me throughout was the ammo balance, playing this one from a pistol start really left me scrambling the whole time for ammo... despite spending plenty of time infighting and punching I was still running out. I went yellow skull -> yellow card -> red card -> blue card -> red skull -> blue skull, not sure if a different order would've worked better, but I didn't feel comfortable until the fourth or fifth leg. I was trying to full clear until I accidentally went into the teleporter on the fifth leg too quickly, and then after reaching the sixth leg (which happened to be the large cliff climb) I just said fuck it and basically ran for the exit killing only what I needed to as things did feel like they were dragging on a bit (amplified no doubt by the lack of ammo, which necessitated a lot of sitting around waiting for lost souls to infight and/or slowly stream through doorways). I agree with @Sui Generis's take that the areas aren't that interesting, while they're different enough from each other to work, I didn't think they had anything all that interesting that would be worth expanding upon. Lots of clearing out little nooks to hit the right switch, some repetitious hallways, etc. I will echo @TheOrganGrinder's point about the way the map fits together well, but that's something more for the mapmakers to appreciate than anything that affects gameplay.

 

MAP30: The Verge of Revelation

 

Some smallish fights before ye olde IoS battle, which is pretty easy especially with the invuln sphere given... though it took a lot more than a couple rockets to finally kill it, I'd be the Romero head is further away from the opening than usual. Looks nice at least, though the need to backtrack from the yellow/red key switches to get the keys felt like padding.

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8 hours ago, dobu gabu maru said:

 

Only in the club's infancy after Jenesis. Kind of amazing that it's continued for so long without really running out of steam

 

I'm glad that it's been going on for as long, and trucking along as steadily, as it has.  I do wish there was a way to more strongly encourage "if you vote, please participate in the coming month even if the WAD(s) you voted for didn't get picked," without that ending up as something that discourages people from voting.

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