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‹rd›

The DWMiniwad Club Plays: Tech Gone Bad, Phobos Mission Control, Doom City, Skyewood, and Hanging Gardens

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Tech Gone Bad

 

It's kind of surreal to open up the text file, which is a bog-standard idgames format text file, only to find the line: 

 

Quote

Other Files By Author  : doom1.wad, doom2.wad

 

So, yeah, it's e1m8b, Romero's first Doom map in 20+ years. It has been thoroughly discussed and digested over the past few years, so instead of a typical summary, I will dive into misc. observations. 

 

1) Cakes can both be had and eaten. 

 

Conveyance is often synonymous with ease and fluidity: think the breezy, easy progression of the Scythe series or of a modern skillsaw map. On the flipside, puzzle elements are sometimes crafted to be difficult and get the player to stand and think for a while. But the middle ground exists too.

 

e1m8b is characterized by smoothly looping, well-directed progression -- only, that journey is dotted by light brain teasers. Like, a blue-key door that opens to literally nothing (or to an awkward jump if you poke your head out and look to the right). Huh, what is the deal? If you remembered this scene, you know you can safely inch off and fall forward.  

 

In e1m8b, none are truly difficult. They hardly even qualify as 'puzzles' -- but due to their periodic appearance, progression is cognitively engaging. After some viscious battles early, that and the big clump of secrets becomes more of the gameplay's focus.  

 

2) Motifs pop. 

 

It is hard to think of this map, or nuRomero's style in general, without also thinking of the hell fissures. With those, Romero marries a visual/narrative element -- cracks that might represent the corruption of hell, as it breaks seams in reality as you get closer to KDITD's end -- with a gameplay element, which is that they deal damage in an awkward way to gauge and make you uncomfortable being around them. 

 

They help create thematic cohesion. Their recurrence means that once you understand them the first time, you have a grasp, at a glance, of how to play around all the others -- a mapper, in theory, could create more complex scenarios around them. 

 

The Doom engine is well suited towards representation. As long as a mapper has an idea and way to express it, they can create their own motifs. 

 

Want another example? Look at SIGIL.

 

3) e1m8b is as big as you want it to be. 

 

289 monsters and 10 secrets is a lot -- too much for me tonight. So I abstained from the secret hunt. In the end, a leisurely paced session lasted about 15 minutes. If I wanted to, I could have doubled that time by hunting everything down. SIGIL is a big map (or would be thought of as one if the size bar hadn't been pushed to such extreme degrees) -- but it doesn't insist on that size. 

 

I am reminded of the optionality of Miasma and Mutabor. In those, only a portion of the map's non-secret content is mandatory. I am reminded of Legacy of Heroes, which keeps its Eternal Doom-inspired crypticness to secrets alone and allows the core progression to remain intuitive. Many approaches are possible.

 

While that is not a tack all big maps need to take, maps with a lot of optionality lend themselves to easy replaying (like I did now!) because they suit numerous moods. Want a shorter thing, e1m8's got it. Want a longer thing, Big Daddy Romero delivers...

 

4) Conflict breeds tension.

 

A good chunk of Tech Gone Bad's floor space is drenched in nukage, requiring, for safe traversal, a radiation suit -- only thing is those are far from infinite. You could do so much, too: you could clear out those pesky bands of imps, you could track down that blue key comfortably instead of out of desperation and with your HP ticking down, you could try to scope out secrets, you could even make a (largely futile) run around the rim of the map and scout what is coming up. You can't do it all. You have to choose. You are tugged between opposing goals. 

 

That is just a handful of things that came to mind. Anyway, I enjoyed this map. It deserved its hardware

Edited by ‹rd›

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Sure, I'll give it a shot!

 

Tech Gone Bad

UV / GZDoom

 

I've never played Sigil, and I had honestly forgotten that this map was even a thing. Shame on me, I know. So, it's a great opportunity to play it, and I'm certainly not disappointed.

 

When you first spawn in, the first room seems innocuous, but that changes real fast. The nukage is an obvious pain sector, but the red cracks in the floor being damaging was a surprise. A lot of monsters spawn in, and getting the situation under control is a challenge. This is a reoccurring theme in the map, and the environment is more often than not the real monster. On the topic of monsters: There are a lot of shotgunners! At times it felt like Romero really wanted to add some chaingunners, but since it's Doom, he just put in twice as many shotgunners and called it a monster closet.

The shotgunners are interspersed with the rest of the low-tier monster gallery, and of course the Bruiser Brothers make an appearance. There's pressure all the time, either from the environment, the occasional pack of imps and shotgunners or from the many traps in the map. It never gets boring, and more importantly it never feels cheap. The final fight is the only real "arena" on the map, and it's more a set piece of architecture than it is a hard fight.

 

Exploration is rewarded with a lot of secrets. Some are teased, like the Rocket Launcher I saw, but never found. There's a lot of time where I got that feeling when a door open/close when passing a linedef, but I had no idea where it is! It's a great feeling, but exploration is not without some serious challenges though. Health pick-ups are not very common, and rad suits are rare, so exploring can become fraught with frustration. If you can't find that door that opened, you can spend a lot of time wandering through the nukage to no avail. I finished the map from pistol start without getting stuck at all, but searching for secrets became a chore.

 

The progression path isn't exactly linear, and you can often see an area where you will be going, or where you have been. It's really well-designed and feels like you're going somewhere all the time. The map is big, and the design is cohesive. The area after the red key door is probably the weakest, design-wise, since it relies on one repetitive texture. I found that a bit grating by the end. Other than that, the layout and design of the map feels exactly like Doom from back in the day, with some modern twists.

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Phobos Mission Control

 

This is the smaller of two e1 maps Romero released in 2016, his takes on the KDITD maps that were not fully his own creations. 

 

- This time, you are taught right away that you are going to be pressing numbered switches -- carving a '1' out of sector lighting, placing it in front of a switch, and then not having at least a '2' appear in a similar way would be truly groundbreaking. Soon after that, you spot a barrier marked with a '2', and sure enough, you know you have a switch to find.

 

- Situated in some of the bodies of nukage are ominously jagged pits. Don't fall into those. Those are inescapable and will kill you... after an interminable period to think about what an idiot you've been while your radsuit wears off.

 

- Adjacent areas are commonly partitioned by midtex grates, which works as a teaser for what comes next and, later on, allows you to strategically escape the huge mobs that emerge and conduct the battles that way if you please. 

 

- There seems to be a conscious avoidance of teleport traps (a distinguishing feature from e1m8b). There is only one, which has all of five monsters. Instead, a lot of walls lower over the course of the map: to reveal monster closets, to grant access into new regions, to let you backtrack into previous ones, and to spring large ambushes. 

 

It's a much beefier map than the original -- twice as many kills and secrets, over twice the runtime of its max runs. It occupies an eerily similar amount of square footage:

 

Spoiler

zAUbPUB.png

The highlighted red portion is the original e1m4 overlaid on e1m4b. I have spoilered this image in acknowledgement that it is an eyesore. :P


The computer rooms that feature in the original are reprised in grander form as the map's main concept setpiece -- a layered region where you clear out the floor and then use the computers, previously obstacles, as footbridges. The blue key formerly-a-Swastika pagoda is gone. In fact, there aren't many memorable landmarks. The ledge emphasis is retained, and the twinned overlooks into the big area near the start have loose spiritual successors in bits like the secret chainsaw ledge.

 

Apart from similarities like that, you kinda get the sense Romero is doing his own thing, riffing around the original, without a grand concept. Which of course is fine. Sometimes you have to practice cooking meat and potatoes. 

Edited by ‹rd›

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Doom City

 

Well, that was pretty fun, a 25 years old level that doesn't really offer very interesting gameplay, but has its focus squarely on being "realistic", and succeeding a lot better than Sandy Petersen et al did in the city levels in Doom 2.

 

I played on UV and didn't feel particularly challenged at any time (altough I managed to die once because of carelessness). The environment and the exploration of it is the highloght of this level, with Burger Hut manned by a Mancubus and the church of the Cacodemon both putting a smile on my face, and also the phonebooths and ATMs and the interior of the 7-eleven, wich contained the super shotgun that I didn't find until I had wasted all 88 monsters on the map. Didn't manage to find that last secret, though, wich just might be enough to make me come back one day and look for it.

 

Took me about 15 minutes to fully explore at a fairly leisurely pace, and I can now cross of one of the "classic" pwads from my (theoretical) to play-list.

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Phobos Mission Control

UV / GZDoom

 

I didn't even know that this map existed! Shows how out of the loop I've been :D

 

The initial room is hard, and the map never really lets go of the throttle. The combat is super tense, and very engaging. Resources aren't plentiful, so be careful! Being careful is hard though: As with Tech Gone Bad, shotgunners are everywhere. There's a great balance of pressure between the pinkies and shotgunners that are in almost every closet. There was never a time where I felt a trap was cheap or unfair, and in every encounter, the monster composition is great.

 

The design and layout of the map is pure Romero, and there's some great visuals here. Lighting up the switches and the area the switch will open is just great design; the map shows you the goal, and then you have to figure it out from there. It's not a puzzle, but gives a great sense of progression. The computer room works well, and has some great sections that overlap each other in some interesting way. Again, Romero shows you future areas constantly, and opens them gradually. There's a good amount of secrets, and as usual most of them are teased, but hard to access. While there are pain sectors, they're not central to the challenge. But, don't jump into the crags in the nukage... 

 

I feel like this map is more cohesive and tense than Tech Gone Bad. Both of these maps combined really is a massive reminder to me on how great Romero's design dogma works. Fantastic Doom experiences.

 

 

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Doom City

 

Gonna do the 'list of observations' format this time: 

 

- Of course, the gas station store (a 7 Up) has the super shotgun and armor vest behind the register. Must not have friendly clientele. 

 

- The Stop -N- Shop has an automatic door! A walkover trigger pops it open when you get very close -- easy to miss since you're also close enough to press 'use' and assume that did it. I likely found that detail more amusing than I should have. 

 

- The Stop -N- Shop is the most fleshed-out section of this map. I initially wasn't sure what that structure in the parking lot with the shotgunner was meant to represent; it was a nice little epiphany to discover it's the loading bay, accessible through the stock section in the back.

 

- The mancubus staffing the Burger Hut might be the germinal example of Fatso humor in Doom pwads. That place is dark and decrepit and there appears to be no stove or any other implements. The Drive Thru sign points directly at a wall. Business must be rough. Or it could be a front...

 

- The arachnotron roaming outside is named Charlie.

 

- The above is not an observation but rather something I made up.

 

- A kinda obscure secret if you grew up in a rural location: humping the Pepsi vending machine in front of the Stop -N- Shop will open the Integra bank sign to reveal a soulsphere secret. If you are a city dweller, though, you will know that this is perfectly normal city machinery.

 

- The surprise chaingunner that greets you at the bar is definitely meant to be a bouncer. Fitting that you end your night getting drunk. 

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Tech Gone Bad | Romero's Ball-Busting E1M8 Remake

UV | GZDoom + Zagemod

 

I thought it was worth a revisit and even the odds a bit since the first time I finished this map a couple of months ago. The first time I beat it was on HMP with Hellrider which is admittedly a little overpowered as a weapons mod. This time around, we're on Ultra-Violence: The Gentlemen's Way to Play Doom and Zagemod, which is mostly a cosmetic gameplay mod that actually makes the demons more aggressive. I have to say that pistol-starting this bastard can be a real bitch, especially when trying to traverse the very first two rooms. So many hitscanners teleporting at the worst possible times and those damn red cracks that burn to the touch, Romero really brought out his trademark cruelty with the new toys at his disposal and made a meal out of me a few times there. I finished it still and a lot quicker than I expected, though I suppose it helps that I had conquered it before, so I knew what I was doing. Mind you, I was able to find a new secret in this run which is a big deal for me since I'm usually pretty lousy at finding them to begin with. There's a unique atmosphere to this map and it has that wonderful mixed combination of old and new as Romero's presence can be well and truly felt with that familiar feeling of cruelty and fun but also really brings forth the new innovations and ideas he can achieve now with the new level editing tools created by the community he can use to unleash what we all love him for. This map's a must-play for any self-respecting Doomer who needs their skills put to the test via the man who built the foundations of quintessential Doom mapping principles.

 

 

His remakes for both this and E1M4 prove without a doubt that Romero hasn't lost his touch and a sign of what's to come for those who dare to endure more torment from that handsome bastard with Sigil. I know I certainly won't be underestimating him when I get around to playing it at some point. 

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Doom City

UV / GZDoom

 

The term "DoomCute" certainly applies to this map in spades. We're running around in a flat rural suburb, gunning down the zombified inhabitants. I don't think it counts as a city when everything is in one storey and there's only eight buildings :D

 

There's not a lot to be had in terms of gameplay, and it's definitely the design we are here for. It's fun, and lighthearted. and tries to show what you can do to make a "realistic" city map.

 

 

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Doom City

UV | GZDoom + Beautiful Doom

 

Considering this WAD's age, much respect has to be given to the amount of work that was put into try and make this look like a real feasible place with the engine's limitations. It is very much a concentrated effort of pure DoomCute and it's pretty fun. Pistol-starting this bastard is a bit tough, especially if you make a wrong turn like I did and run into 30 hitscanners lmao. Everything's pretty straightforward from combat to layout, progression and design. I don't have much to say, really, but I won't rag on it too much for being a bit short and lacking in some areas. It's a product of its time and it gets my admiration and respect. It's a nice, quick and fun little oddity.

 

 

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Here are a series of casual, in-the-mood videos of the Romero maps and Doom City (skyewood pending, most likely no Hanging Gardens unfortunately). It helped that all the vanilla selections aren't huge or have difficult fights in it so I could at least keep myself chill and focused on my own mapping in the middle, not like my great decisions in the past to do Abyssion or L'Agonie Finale saveless (yesterday) knowing how bad tension is doing to my body nowadays, but whatever. 

 

 

Two observations for e1m8b and e1m4b, ironically involving spectres in both cases: 

 

- In e1m8b there is a spectre sunken in a wall along the way to the RK door that can only be killed with splash. This spectre isn't initially stuck, it gets so when the wall sector is supposed to move, apparently. On my blind playthrough I fooled around the perimeter naked looking at what seemed like later parts of the map (I was just 5 minutes in), so I woke up the group with the spectre and much later found that wall was gone. A side-B observation, the finale is surely a pleasant show thanks to the barrels ;P

 

- In e1m4b, there's only one teleport ambush in the whole map like rd mentioned, staggered around so each of the five monsters appears immediately. What could happen, and I found this out incidentally on my run, is that some can fail to teleport because something simply stood in the wrong spot for a second, so in my case the poor soul was a spectre, or lucky bastard, rather. The culprit may have seemed to be a shotgunner, but in reality the problem is in the setup - W1 teleport lines (!!). 

 

Outside of these minor flaws (well, the second is actually worrisome to an extent), I very much enjoyed both maps, they are up my alley as far as doom 1 gameplay goes.

 

 

 

 

 

Doom City is one of the cutest old maps I've seen. Nice meeting where Memfis got inspired from, which saying this I'm sure rd's picking Kuchitsu one of these months right?, you're morally obliged (;

 

What I wished I did was not picking up the berserk too soon as I wanted a nice thumbnail of Charlie's shiny blue eyes but the stupid red hue always ruins everything. Oh well. 

 

 

Edited by galileo31dos01

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Skyewood

UV / GZDoom

 

Where to start with Skyewood... The three-level map-set came out in 1996, and that definitely accounts for some of the obvious jank in the map-set. On the other hand, the three-level map-set came out in 1996, and it really does a lot with the engine for that time. Taking Skyewood at face-value in 2020 isn't fair; the way mapping has evolved in the 24 years since it's creation sets Skyewood up for immediate failure. I think it's important to try to step away from ones new-fangled 2020 sensibilities in order to give it a fair judgement.

 

I didn't know that the creator, Steve Rescoe, also worked on Daikatana. Not because that explains anything, but it's a fun fact.

 

The storytelling and setting is what carries this miniWAD. We start out in a fever dream, and our house has been taken over by psychedelic toads. Groovy. We find our shotgun in the safe behind our favourite monkey painting, put on some armour, and off we go. The woods have been completely taken over by the toads and other assorted minions. The trees are muttering obscenities, but eating some more shrooms takes the edge off, and we take the elevator into the sky(e).

 

More monsters in the clouds. A pit of souls has opened, and suddenly we find ourselves in a maze of tunnels and galleries! There's more demons, they want to eat our soul! We go from the woods to a strange foreboding mountain, riddled with tunnels. We fight our way through the demons, and finish off the Arch-vile on the altar of the underground chapel. As we jump into the abyss, we calm ourselves with more shrooms and shotgun shells. Moving through the sky again, we end in another maze of tunnels, go into the woods, and finally we approach the Dragon's castle. The Dragon is slain, and the psychedelic toads see us off as we go into the light.

 

Being what it is, the the combat is never difficult, and the only times you might be in danger is from being careless. Or from not being able to see the Dragon spew fireballs properly... Resources are plentiful, even on pistol start.

 

For what it is, and the time it's from, this map-set is definitely something else! Leaving my modern expectations behind, I honestly enjoyed this map-set a lot more than I would have expected to from the first impression. Sure, the sounds can be grating, the texturing is jank and the clutter of explosive frogs is annoying, but it's an experience in what Doom can also do, even back in the days of 1996.

 

Thanks for adding this to the itinerary! 

 

 

Edited by klaymeb

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I will write about Skyewood later this month. I played it and liked it, but... I want to process it more. :)

 

Hanging Gardens

 

Hey this was fun. I hadn't heard of this one until, like, 2018 and this month marked the first time I played it. It is multi-tiered fortress with a cheery summer mood and a lot of vegetation (with a name like Hanging Gardens, I hope you're not expecting a KDITD techbase). Past the bells and whistles, which also include some 3D architecture and warping turquoise water, the visuals are kind of basic. The flood-filled brown wall texturing means it is likely a tuned-up speedmap. It's clean and pretty, though -- a decent backdrop for a gameplay-oriented map.

 

After opening your shipment of weapons (a shipment you are also included in), you are pinned down at the start, a massive heap of imps all waggling their rumps at you, mocking your strategizing. Off in the wings, mancubi and pinkies lurk, and a whole lot of baddies block off the stairs leading out. That is about as hectic as the map gets and the only spot you are truly penned-in. Once you push through that pincer, you can run around and basically do what you want. Grab keys, grab cell weapons, grab spheres, have a ball.

 

Monsters are also given tasteful extra blood fx, which are paired with spurty noises and are the right color (HKs bleed green, Cacos bleed blue). That is the sort of effect I wouldn't want to play with all the time, but in one thing every now and then, it's cool. The end result is to make the more basic combat feel crunchier and pulpier.

 

Spoiler

lT2vH3c.gif   6IpVIRI.gif

 

Like Lunatic, Hanging Gardens adds two custom monsters, which here feel more like one-off experiments than anything strongly united with the map's theme. Suicide bombers don't jibe all that well and seemed pretty random. But I can praise how restrained their usage is in terms of frequency (a pattern that would hold in Valiant). By appearing in only one fight that you trigger with a switch, you aren't punished for playing the rest of the map the way skillsaw encourages you to: fast and wild. No suicide bombers suddenly sneak up on you from behind a corner as you're running around, way more dangerous than anything else. 


The boss Archons are kind of a precursor to Valiant's pyro knights, with their quick devastating attacks. Not a lot of choreography here, just three monsters released into the broader environment, kill 'em, leave. But it's a cool wrinkle how useful supplies are placed in the exit chamber, forcing a risky dash if you need those early in the fight. 

 

Fun point about the start is the monster count of 402 being misleading is immediately suggested by there being numerous visible rows of imps. This turns out to be true; a ton of the baddies are fodder. The end throws this back at you. 3 monsters left? Oh sorry they are all bosses. 

Edited by ‹rd›

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4 hours ago, ‹rd› said:

I will write about Skyewood later this month. I played it and liked it, but... I want to process it more. :)

Yea... It took me around a week, and another playthrough, to get my thoughts on it to even slightly congeal :)

 

Edited by klaymeb

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Tech Gone Bad

UV / PrBoom+

 

Wow, talk about hot starts. Lots of hitscanners, you have to scavenge what you can to defend yourself and the hurt floor is just mean. Took a few deaths, but after that everything fell into place and I finished the level without dying again (Well, I played this level back in the day, so that helped too). Health is pretty scarce, though, or at least it is if you don't find any secrets like me. Spent most of the time below 50% health. But that's okay, this is a boss level and it should feel like one.

 

If Doom has a flaw, is its boss levels. You are here, the boss is there in front of you, you shoot at them till they die and you are done. But what else can you do without using boring bullet sponges that take forever to take down and probably have bullshit attacks, right? Well, you can do Tech Gone Bad: put the player through a series of ordeals building up until the final showdown.

 

Or you can do Icon of Sin.

 

I mean. Technically, you could.

 

So, the level feel dangerous and can put you in a pickle more than once. And it manages to do so using only the monsters from E1 without being repetitive at all, which shows how long meaningful monster formation and interesting rooms can go. The scenarios are quite diverse, too. You go from your usual tech base to open landscapes that wouldn't feel out of place on Mt Erebus to cramped corridors to an arena where two towering gates of Hell look down at you before releasing their twin royalty.

 

And then you shoot at them till they die and you are done. There's only so much you can squeeze out from two barons, after all. But everything else? Cool as heck. You can tell this is supposed to be the lab that hosted the teleport device connected with Deimos and that everything went wrong, unlike the original Phobos Anomaly, which took me years to figure out that one even after reading the game backstory.


Phobos Mission Control

UV / PrBoom+

 

Another retro-new Romero map, another level I'm replaying after a long time. It's fast, it's fun, it's pure run'n'gun.

 

The enemies don't quite feel like fooder even if they aren't that dangerous. And since you have to backtrack a few times, change the rooms and open new ways to progress, and everything is connected and cohesive in some way, it doesn't feel like a dumb corridor, either. You just go around pressing buttons, shooting baddies and feeling like an action heroine in a movie. This map represents why I never get bored of playing Knee Deep in the Dead again and again in spite of its simplicity, really.


Doom City

UV / PrBoom+

 

First time playing this one. Took a wrong turn and a couple of well aimed mancubus fireballs finished me. Dang. New try. I go a different way and I run head on, armed with nothing but my peashooter and my courage, on two dozen hitscanners loitering around a Kwik-E-Mart. Well, that's rude. I start, again, and find an arachnotron far away in the distance. Then it's a matter of baiting the aforementioned hitscanners to let the arachnotron swipe 'em cleanly with her plasma. After that, everything goes easy-peasy. I clean up the streets, check out the buildings one by one and get out.

 

The attention to detail on texturing is remarkable, didn't see any sky-clipping and it does look like what it is supposed to be. It doesn't look great, but it looks good enough. However the gameplay leaves to be desired. Once you kill everyone on the outside the rest of the level is pretty lineal, and the weaponry is baffling. You get a rocket launcher and a plasma rifle, but there's a grand total of three rockets and sixty plasma on the whole map. At that point, the only thing remaining alive worth using rockets and plasma is four poor inoffensive cacodemons.

 

Curiously, there's a teleporter at the church that gets you to the burger place. So either it's kosher and approved by Hashem or the local priest has a secret passion for gluttony. That would explain the demon invasion...

 

So did I like it? Well... not that much? But it seems like the author had a lot of fun making a city that looks and feels like a city and placing stuff accordingly, guided by it-would-be-cool-if impulses rather than by actual game design. If that's the case, that's fine by me.


Skyewood

UV / PrBoom+
 

I played this one totally blind and I'm grateful for that. It was an experience, to say the least. It reminds me a bit of Grove with the mushrooms and trees and the house and its whimsical atmosphere?

 

You start at, what I hope is, your house just to get out and explore a forest floating in the sky. Among other places. The maps are random at best, the texture work can only be compared to Sky May Be and I had to resort to the automap a lot to navigate the magical mazes and fake walls. This sounds bad, terribly bad. But I actually had a good time, and I mean it.

 

The maps, as amorphous as they can be, feel like they are how they are supposed to be, if that makes sense. Like you are exploring an actual place, even if its weird and otherworldly, rather than a bunch of linedefs put together by a bored kid without rhyme or reason. It never tries to overload your senses, either, in its quest to try to be psychedelic, which is nice. Oh, and at the end there's a dragon. Because of course.

 

The gameplay isn't that remarkable, sadly. This wad is more about the journey, anyway, so it's not much of a problem.

 

So I liked it well enough. But it's hard to explain to someone else why they may like it. Me thinks this wad is an acquired taste, anyway.


Hanging Gardens

UV / GZDoom

I have played only one map by skillsaw before, Eviternity's MAP31, so I didn't know what to expect from this map. And, well, it made quite an impression. The map is simple enough: a slaughterish arena where you can run wild and let the mayhem happen around you. What's nice about the map is its flow: the design is clean, there aren't dead ends, you always have a clear view in front of you to decide where to go without stopping and there's a bunch of soulspheres and ammo scattered around for your convenience. Quite fun and lighthearted, probably my favourite wad from this set.

 

The boss fight is a bit of a let down, though. The three big bads fall down without putting much of a fight nor being able of touching you. At least not if you cleaned up the place properly as you should and haven't been firing the BFG around willynilly.

 

 

 

So that would be my write-up for the month, yeah.

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Phobos Mission Control (UV, prBoom+)

 

Though I played Tech Gone Bad when Romero released it, somehow this level passed me by, and I'm playing this through for the first time. And although it's not that challenging (as one would expect for an E1M4), there's certainly more than enough action going on to keep things entertaining. 

 

Progression is also interesting, to see how this map gradually transforms and reveals more of itself as you press switches, with traps that gradually increase in scale (though things never get that big). 

 

I eventually found all 6 secrets, though I'm not sure I would have ever got there without the computer map that appeared in one of them. I was never a huge fan of the original E1M4, and even though it's not really a fair comparison, this is certainly a vast improvement over it in my view. An enjoyable map that shows Romero can still put out great maps, especially KDITD ones!

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I got about half way through the first map of Skyewood before I decided it wasn't for me lol.

 

Doom City (UV, prBoom+)

 

Well when I saw the title and era I feared the worst. Realism in Doom maps does not tend to lead to good gameplay. But I enjoyed this one. It has a pretty hot start, mainly thanks to the plethora of hitscanners, coupled with a pain elemental and arachnotron that can also cause havoc. All the action inside the buildings is less inspired though. As much as I enjoyed the Doomcute visuals on the outside of the city, and parts of the inside, most of the buildings lack cohesion with each other as lots of different texture types are used.

 

Hanging Gardens (UV, GZDoom)

 

Well talk about a hot start! Except it's not really a hot 'start', it's hot all the way through. skillsaw basically keeps you on your toes throughout the entire map, which is basically one big arena where switches/key pickups trigger new hordes. Despite the high monster count, Doomguy is pretty much free to roam around the whole arena, with a notable lack of dead-ends. I don't play deathmatch so I wouldn't know for sure, but given the highly interconnected layout I wonder if this map has deathmatch potential.

 

The three custom enemies at the end, let's just say I wished I saved some BFG ammo. It was a bit of a grind. Still, overall a fun map but skillsaw has done much better I think.

Edited by Horus

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Spent about 15 minutes on Skyewood, looking at the two first levels, but no, really not my cup of tea.

 

Hanging Gardens was interesting, though. Never played any slaughter maps before, and I don't think it'll ever be "my thing", but had a bit of fun figuring out how to best approach the massive amount of monsters. Nice environment as well, altough I would've like a bit more variety to the surroundings, since I lost my orientation several times and couldn't quite figure out where everything was in relation to each other.

I died at least fifty times before finally finishing the damn thing, but all in all a fun hour and a half or so spent in Skillsaw's garden.

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