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baja blast rd.

***Wad Reviews***

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The Matrix


you don't usually see any great levels from the early years of doom mapping but this is an exception

fun gameplay and map layout

loved the trap that happened when you lower the baron

not perfect thought

some secrets are a bit too easy to find for my taste

saw a mancubus stuck in between a shotgunner and a zombieman


(btw i think this thread should definitely be pinned)


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Oh yeah, really great post that i think it really needed here! I have already some stuff to write about or copy/paste from other threads like random idgames adventure or similar!


Also cool to see that the first review for this thread already "broke" the rule of reviewing maps that are made after 2018 but if for rd there's no problem, I'm ok with that.


Here's the page of the map from Downloads, if BMFG wants to write the review there too:


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Beyond The Hell


Here's a megawad made in 1997 by four Czech mappers. First maps are godawful, and are largely distinguished by having layouts not as simplistic as you might think. Around 14, there's a sudden upsurge in quality, and while it's not all smooth-sailing (there's some annoying softlocking in later maps) there are some genuinely fun maps in this set. Granted, late-megawad bloat starts to set in around Map 26 or 27, and Petr Machada really likes chaingunner traps to this set's detriment, but there's still probably 6 or 7 genuinely great maps, 10 or so that are ok, while the rest can pretty much take a hike. Don't bother pistol-starting after 18 or so, you will have a much more miserable experience.

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Lemme just dump this here. Inspired by Not Jabba's not-cacowards reviews, would say almost ripped off the structure.



The Modest Mapping Challenge (2020) by @Jark et al.




It was a rainy day somewhere on the planet, the clouds were farting to extreme volumes, the people were coughing in the streets. A new member casually landed on the forum and immediately opened an invitation to the community to come on board with their novel idea for a wad project, by the name of "The Purist Mapping Challenge" (or something along the lines, the word "purist" was originally there). A guideline with super specific rules was provided with the intention of presenting a modest challenge at the time of mapping, all of which referred to limitations in terms of sectors count, monster types, map format (UDMF at the time afaik), and the exclusion of the SSG.


That's a lot of arbitrary choices if you ask me, and without any real examples or templates provided from the project leader, it didn't take a minute to cause a stir in the former thread. After the heat of the debate decreased, the project underwent through a couple substantial changes: the title was now "The Modest Mapping Challenge", and the format was vanilla doom 2, but with raised limits in mind. Every other rule remained intact as far as I recall.


It's understood that limitations can breed creativity, and doom is full of proofs of concept. That said, what are the results here? Well, looking at the whole package, TMMC isn't far too different than your traditional, multi-authorial collection of maps, constraints not aside. Each mapper printed their own style, more than once in some cases, and so the offerings are like a large box of miscellaneous stuff that's probably best observed each individually or by author. I have actually written reactions to all the maps to not loose what little of self-expressing is left in me without being too strict with vocabulary and whatnot. They're below this wall of text...


... but before that, here are some general observations and a few personal highlights in between:


First, let me briefly analyze the four species rule. The wad contains many, many combinations in store, with some that may be evocative of particular well-known genres or themes, such as hordes of hell knights and revenants along with token archviles in LowGcifer's BFG-fueled crowd-controller map 28, or Liberation's dark blood-filled Inferno-esque cavern in map 16, infested exclusively with doom 1 terribles. One could sort of speculate what's the last beast more often than not, but when that isn't the case you can get a moment of laughter, like the lost skull in Fraggle's map 10 when all hinted towards a boss archvile or baron, which may I add, that was the most amusing part of the map.


How some of these quartets of hell complement each other is fantastic to see, especially when they are put together in unusual/clever ways -- the endless zombiemen teleporting in the RSK room in map 18 comes to mind, poking shots at your back while you're already being sneaked up by revenants spooking from inside the flesh, in what's already a tight area, that's a recipe well seasoned. Another favorite is in the previous map 17, a series of brisk and brutal traps using brews of revenants, chaingunners and mancubi, which is hard to go wrong with these. I can't say that every map is serviceable to the crews involved, but I take that's part of a learning process, after all, many of the mappers were new to the scene at the time.


A lot can be said about how they managed the sectors count limit in terms of the aesthetics and/or specific features: Kaito's and Blue_Juice_'s maps are dedicated to artful scenery and unusual color mixtures, and compensated the sector limit with extra careful linedef work and a lot of merging, not to forget the exquisite lighting; Jark's maps on the other hand may not excel visually, but are very playful with transformative areas, and the breathe-taking scale of map 23's chasm is a highlight for sure; LowGcifer's maps take the minimalist approach and focus primarily on powerful combat, with nearly all sectors pertaining to active areas; other standouts include Super Might G's abstract corrupted town in map 26, Joe Pallai's mazelike Inferno hallways in map 15, both being two of my favorite themes deliciously achieved with the stock assets.


Last but not least, that missing SSG that I'm sure will throw off some folks who can't live without their precious double-barreled. The idea behind was to emphasize the rest of the arsenal, and fortunately the balance is weighted towards power tools when appropriate, with exceptions. Kaito's map 06 is rocket frenzy, revenants and imps pure galore, charged with optional god spheres; Count651 put the shotgun and chaingun to work heavily, giving place to more laid-back procedures when mancubi or revenants are lurking around; I already mentioned LowGcifer's BFG core map, there's more of that adrenaline-inducing combat in their other maps, excepting perhaps 29 which comes as an oddball at that point in the wad (supposing you miss the plasma spam alternative like I did); similar case with DukeOfDoom, who shows two sides of the coin with the extremely cramped map 19 (with a strange a title), both playing and looking completely different than the open-air, ambiguous house in map 21 despite using roughly similar weapon balance, simply a matter of dimensions; Solmyr asks for berserk knockouts in extremely dark caves, until you grab one of the visors and spoil yourself those annoying spectres, but that's an unusual trope still.


Additional observations:


- An aspect that I didn't mention before and may sound attractive to some is that most of the maps take an estimate of 5-10 minutes, with the sprawling or more difficult ones appearing in between batches of shorter maps, breather or not.

- I want to give credit to the mappers I didn't mention above, while adding a critique: Pegleg's 11 map and xxWeNxx's map 09 deliver solid run-n-gun action with some cruelty included, though both have problematic doors unfortunately; ShadesMaster's map 04 evokes doom 1 with a nicely structured maze, yet with lost potential for something intense as things are generally flagged deaf; Walter's map 22 is that abstract something that's hard to put into a single word, kind of a neighborhood, one that spectres don't mask themselves during daylight; finally, obake's twisted map 14 throws energy cells to burn, much more than you'll ever need, but continuous players will appreciate for sure.

- Ziyo's (or is it Zillo's) map 31 is purely humorous, the shotgun guy's redemption, or maybe just a parody of the hatred this guy gets on a daily, who knows. I needed to highlight this map in its own paragraph.

- And one last thing I can't just ignore is the fact that spectres are featured in no less than 11 maps, talk about visibility to the invisible.


When I originally picked up TMMC in a beta state, I was mainly intrigued to see more megawads for my crispy-doom appetite. That part was satisfied. The content itself is solid overall, and mixed quality when picking apart each piece. There's that doom 1 feel more often than not, thematically (and audibly) intentional sometimes. I personally never craved an SSG, but I can't guarantee you won't miss it at times. If anything I said picks your interest, then look no further. At least giving it a shot won't hurt your schedule - there's some great stuff here, few that achieve the wow factor too. I read there's a sequel going around, that will be interesting to try out someday.


(Disclaimer: it was never in my plans to write a formal review, I just so decided the other day when I started this. Take my reactions as what they are, paragraphs of me rambling)



01. An okay opener. The cave system looked bland, but I'm aware this was the mapper's first steps so it gets a pass.  Highlight was the imps/pinkies trap with raising poles, a neat effect. Didn't like that dark tail at the end, left me with an eye strain. Apparently there was a secret next to the exit line that I missed.


02. Not bad. Felt that a RL would have carried the map better, what with the caged imps and ledge snipers. I think the bit I enjoyed the most was using the chainsaw on the chaingunner on the elevator and the one waiting on top.


03. The first couple areas were decent, I liked that room with the HK and chaingunners lurking. Then the annex with flashing lights was a complete eyesore, don't make that kind of shit please (or else, hand a visor like Eternal Doom did). The secret seemed randomly hidden behind a non-special wall, and so was the keens tacked in like ordinary switches.


04. Aww no different midi, oh well. Like a doom 1 map at heart - the maze to the west, cracked floors, details in the start room gave that vibe. Speaking of the maze, if only most of the weaklings weren't deaf, and there were surprise ambushes that'd push me into the otherwise pointless arachnotrons' faces, it would have been more fun, but you get what you get. That hidden RL sneaking its forehead was funny (in software renderer, you can sometimes see thing sprites clip their edges through walls).


05. Huh, first punchy map! Yet another linear cave system, with useful night visors, if two maybe was too generous. I did quite the duty with berserk, the megasphere allowed me to slip and slide on that bumpy terrain without repercussion. Also good spectres, fuck them. Nice to blow a bunch of sergeant duds at the end, although I missed the secret, and was there an exit sign somewhere? if so, my bad...


06. I remembered this. Very fun rocket-centric shit, popcorn imps and revenants galore. Gorgeous pentagrams in the cave's stomach, even made crispy melt. With the amount of power spheres for free, secrets included, I plowed through the masses with a smirky face on the archviles, though there was always the option of not using any invul. To each their own, the map seemed tailor made to take the "speedster" route, though it's good to have options. I did feel the late game cyb was a waste of opportunity for, idk, pain elementals instead, more earlier cybs maybe. And I guess you need an archvile to get the secret visor, which I nonchalantly missed (preferred to stay in the dark). Very glad the exit sequence was altered to be a granted exit. Great stuff.


07. Not bad either. Intensely brown, glowing lights, muddy, reminded me of the og doom 2 formula. Idk what else to say, decent gameplay that didn't disguise the dead simple features but added layers, although I was confused by the (temporarily) inoperable switches in each pit fight, just had to wait for the lifts to be usable.


08. I liked this. The mapper wanted to extend the room-changing gimmick in m01 and it's basically how most of the stuff worked here. Experiments! The first bit was tricky, the barrels were only effective when the monsters hopped on the lift, and sometimes the gunners didn't want to. The BK room was cursed, I got stuck on something and could never move and died. The outdoors and subsequent areas were pretty playful, and even the secret had a little brawl in it. Quite appreciated the surprises with revenants and barons here, especially that one when returning from the (obvious) fake exit, and the silent actual exit area was cute and no longer toxic! Ah, there was a weird midtex rock in front of the BK bars, and two monsters in the void, mm.


09. This went by so quickly. Essentially a hot start subject to hitscan crossfire and maybe a fireball in the head, with moving walls (pinkies) around. There's something to be said about when pinkies can be repurposed as (dis)functional cover - that start was a case where pinkies made things worse, while they served to my advantage in the pop-up trap that followed. The two irrelevant mancubi were a waste, sorry. It probably would have made sense to spawn the last two pinkies next to the exit door, for a little surprise attack. Otherwise, solid.


10. Not much to say, gameplay was kind of there, lighting was flat, no twists and turns. Says a lot when there're no hitscanners present in what would ordinarily be their home in this kind of maps (UAC techbase themed), as I took no damage whatsoever. That a lost soul was the last monster would be the only highlight, because I giggled when I saw it in that tiny exit cubicle.


11. Nice, a Pegleg map. His style is all about traps... devilish, meaty traps. The gallery of chaingunners gave me a rough start, the archvile duo with mancubi a rough finale, and while it was easy to sort out cover spots, safety is relative when it comes to scanners and/or clipped fireballs. The only "flaw" imo was the door linked to the western room, way too small and because of how congested the trap inside  was, I saw the urge to flee out, and then with luck one of the ten cacos could barely fit under the door frame. Still a hot map, though I'm not sure it'll end up being a highlight I'm afraid.


12. Solid effort. It tried to mesh SIGIL with The Living End in a smaller scale, and a sort of E4M2 throwback with the cyb telefrag. Visuals weren't very involved, though at least the choices of textures and midi compensated - marble is simply one of the bests . Again, okay thing, liked the cacos and gunners mixtures.


13. It could be said this is a laid-back, slow affair, and that'd be correct but I didn't mind because rarely the chaingun (and chainsaw, to an extent) is the main weapon, and map is short enough that nothing gets tiring. Me liked that. The whole spiral-ish progression was cute. That secret reminded me of the secret in E3M5 - a part of me wished the caged mancubi could be crushed. Yea, alright thing. Side note: found a spectre stuck in one of the metal barriers nearby the berserk, and couple stuck in a marble pillar, presumably a cause of lack of space for the sectors to breathe.


14. Spectres are shining in this wad so far, ironically. This got the spooks of said monster, which with the PR in hand were nothing to fear. A moody setting though, I liked the lighting and contrast between areas. It was so short that the highlight would be that same red place, atmospherically. So much plasma by the end though, what was I going to do with 200+ cells and everything dead lol. Interesting midi btw.


15. A neat one from Joe Pallai, whom I relate to an old-school vanilla flavor in his maps, or in the few that I played. Multi-connected areas, freeform layout that allows monster to path and own their territory, save for a few questionable block lines here and there. It got a little hot at the start but with almost every weapon given for free I barely any troubles. Nothing really difficult, everything was incidental combat. Good flow. Stumbled upon the secret exit by pure chance and ended up missing some stuff, oh well.


31. Heh, an ode to the lovely shotgun guy. Well, or the opposite, according to the title. Yeah, lots of random damage was the order of the day, but I had a little fun looking at the automap and seeing the exit was in one of the guy's boot. The song was from a band whose lead singer has plenty hair, I laughed when I made that connection. At one point I had to stand in the spectres room to mitigate damage from the second horde. If I knew of the megasphere things would have gone different. Shitgunners indeed.


32. And yet another love letter to the same guy, sort of. The large scale gave off "nuts.wad" by way of presentation, but painted in wolf3d colour. The kill count augmented exponentially to the first shot, logically since it was all sergeants - 4k dead bodies in five seconds. Then nazi soldiers and even more shotgunners slowly spawning in one single spot -- very clumsy teleport closets, but I'm sure the mapper improved since then. All that said, eh, kind of whatever, not the most suitable midi choice unfortunately.


16. Interesting, I spent most of the time wandering and looking for a cell weapon to justify all the ammo I was being given, not realizing that I did grab a real plasma gun at the final setup (either I overlooked it or didn't auto-switch, idk). Anyways, enjoyed this nonetheless. In line with the Inferno theme going on in the middle stretch, dim light carried the mood, and part of the doom cast too. I believe the map would play more exciting if you leave the most barons and cacodemons for last, so the cybs get more juiced. That I guess while being aware of sergeant damage, and with no vests early on the map would live up to its name...


17. That was a start. Here the key was brutality, as revenants, chaingunners and mancubi made the bulk of the gameplay, and I was brutalized a lot early on. Good traps though, I liked the BK and YK the most, pretty intense when you're subjected to a barricade of erratic fireballs and bullets in an enclosed place. The RK and last sections gave more room to breathe, even would say were pale in comparison, but I didn't mind. I also forgot the other enemies were imps, lol, kudos to that one for popping up of the rocks and scratching my face. Nothing to say about visuals, just red and bright.


18. Huh, quite intricate. Finally some thought and care on the visual department, with delicious shadows and stars and motifs - I loved how red rocks/bricks combined with blue and ashwall together, it just proved the wolf3d texture can play an artistic complement too. The cacodemons and zombiemen were really sneaky here, but the fast crushers took the cake, especially with how annoying it was to lose 3/4 of health because they don't give you time to measure the gaps between them. I still don't know if I got the BK the intended way - I straferan from one of the SMM pentagrams to the middle and snagged the key sitting on its pillar. There didn't seem to exist another route so, I took what I got. That activated more low crushers, ugh, though a secret SMM telefrag, yay. Lots of optional mazes as well, and an everlasting ambush of zombiemen spawning one by one, lol. Ah, I can't forget the fake wall usage, real nasty in the RK room. And I never got the one invul sphere, oh well. Definitely a standout map.


19. I was reminded of Datacore's "Endless Torture" here, in terms of scale and aspect. Areas were confined to what basically felt like 64p-wide corridors, with the occasional odd angled curve. I wasn't spooked by spectres or cacodemons, because they barely had to room to function (those caged ones, meh), and the only tough battle was at the start with the HKs, worsen by hitscan soup afterwards. The blur sphere trap was obvious, yet due to health shortage I couldn't stop the chainers. That said, weird balance though, I found two green armors early on, one a couple seconds from the other, but only one medikit for a while... Anyways, kind of there.


20. Some kind of slaughter finale, for the episode that is. I know I heard the midi before, it gives the vibe you're embarking on an epic journey, or a huge battle is being presented. The map was more bread and butter, small scaled BFG-centrism for a few minutes. I liked it, not really tough except for the ordeal of max rolls. Of the two main set pieces, I thought the brighter field reused space more naturally, with the hordes on the upper ledges creating difficulty to stay put and making falling off a bad decision. It also had a bunch of blue goodies for cushion, while the darker cave only handed me a few stimpacks in contrast, lol, maybe I should have started here instead. I also liked the fish in the automap. Not sure why the SG and CG at the start, there were rockets and cells for days.


21. I've seen the skybox before, not sure where, but I did. Nice map, certainly much better  than m19, by the same person. I liked the setting, sort of a complex that didn't necessarily resemble a real house, but we're not criticizing demons' sense of aesthetics here... Cool little combat, the archvile duos did a good job making me look away of progress, while not doing much alone either. I was shocked that I found a secret fake wall by myself without cheats, heh.


22. Ah, a Walter map. They tend to have ups and downs, this was no exception. Here the fun parts included plenty rocket usage and reuse of space, and while the structure was bare, I kinda liked the sense of place too, maybe because the doom 2 midi fit well. Not sure if spectres were an ideal choice, as most every place they were roaming was lit. The perched HKs on the inaccessible side would stick to the corner and make cleaning them a matter of waiting. I did like the turret mancubi, adding a layer of crossfire. Hoping from building to building was sweet.


23. Back to Jark's sector playfulness. Janky as they can be sometimes, like the first BSK trap which I defused immediately: I pressed the switch while the floor was descending, and it raised back as I watched the lost souls perplexed, not knowing what just happened. That was hilarious, but I still admired the intention. Anyways, spectres again! These people really considered their existence, and while they didn't excel here because again, very bright, it warmed my heart, regardless of my hatred towards them. Also good baron usage, the trap in the library and that on the roof were well judged. The huge area at the end caught me off guard, really spacious. I must also point out, torches instead of the normal telepads is a welcome idea. Liked this map.


24. How neat, and with all the stress from killing demons I could lay on a bed and rest... Oh, it was a trap! heh, nice idea giving sector beds multiple functions. My favorite was the teleport one that sent me to the opposite building, right in the sight of barons and chaingunners. Speaking of, there were dozens of blur spheres, kinda begged for a massive hitscan invasion on the courtyard, if coupled with the arachnotrons reveal, the nastiest part of the map. The mass of spectres in the RK room was, a mess of pixels actually (those block lines under the barons  though, pretty much a flaw in my book). Quite liked the artistic side of the map, this mapper stuck to a select group of textures and combined them like something I think Xaser would do (black with red lights like in "Sharp Things"). Cool map overall.


25. Heavy hitters only, ouch. Lots of sneaky revenants, sergeants around corners, and a few chaingunners to plow through with lowly weapons, something that suited well for how quick the map goes -- essentially a pair of buildings with similar traits as "Downtown" or your token D2TWID dark corridors. The two archviles gave no serious troubles, even the second got bullied a bit by a revenant and chaingunner duking it out. Favorite part, blasting two gunners on their backs. Dumb me I forgot about the secret BFG :(


26. Dammit, again found the BFG too late. Oh well, still had a lot of fun. I liked the concept of a post-apocalyptic, sand(y)box, old town with exploration. It's an automatic win for me when the layout is intelligent, comes as natural, and most importantly a sense of chaos reigns throughout -- not necessarily applying high difficulty, but there was a bit of running around at first, dodging lost souls and homing  projectiles, to get to know their territory. This reminded me of Suburbs, (Downtown again), and a little of Garrulismo vibes too, just as a personal feeling. Well used stock music too. One of my highlights was the archviles that instantly vanished, only to reappear afterwards at inconvenient times. Yeah, oh the cloud of lost souls was funny too. Likely to become a standout map.


27. Mm, ambivalent. On the one side, the first 64-wide maze didn't thrill me at all, just poking shots on lost souls, imps, spectres (again, why not regular demons if brightness is high), and locking archviles so I could rocket them safely, probably the only kind of entertainment. Upstairs was slightly more involved, and thankfully I found a chaingun after praying for it (interesting idea for a secret btw). The last reveal was the true stellar setup, a moment of desperation amplified by the archviles at a distance. I'm having bad luck lately with spotting BFGs in time, but at least I got to clear the mess downstairs. Quite a lot of decorations too, with the walls lowered they were just kind of there heh.


28. My plan was to take a break after the last map, but I saw the start and thought why not. This mapper was in charge of the slaughter/HR entries, as this was all BFG spam of the most down-to-earth. I suppose those who aren't used to such numbers of meat in no time would point their middle finger to this, but for the most part I found this played pretty straightforward, if requiring a bit of exercise and immediate response, especially with the archviles tossed in groups that were thrown to the neck. I had to laugh when I noticed that every room, big or small, had a chunk of shit stuck like sardines in a can. The latter hordes needed to be taken a little more serious, because heavily guarded perched archviles. No point in talking about visuals since that aspect wasn't the mapper's concern, just revs and HKs galore. I did hear infight happening ahead of time, when I was on the ledge to the east, they must have been close enough  to the surface to see me. Anyways, not a standout but silly fun nonetheless.


29. Pretty strange choice for a penultimate map. Would say, while not my ideal to use the shotgun that much this late in a megawad, on several mancubi, stationary or not, the map wasn't offensive. Maybe had I taken the right path first, things would have gone smoother with a plasma gun. I assumed the starting area was a deck, with the cute boat and surrounding houses some sort of port. In conclusion, it felt on the weak side, especially after the other maps from the same person. Perhaps it was meant to be a breather, which is unusual but there're no rules about what should or shouldn't be a map 29. Moving on...


30. Hmm, I liked Kaito's other map much more, personally speaking. This had the atmosphere of a twisted, abandoned base which spiritually worked for a map 30, and I got bamboozled a LOT -- what looked like ordinary one-sided walls were sometimes midtex in disguise. I guess the metal cubes can be sorted out by pure chance (took an unexpected cyb rocket that trespassed a cube), though I was also hit by a homing missile before while behind a different pillar, so yea. And then, the obligatory icon of sin, or five of them. Can't complain about the arena, dark as fuck but exuding boss time. I saw way too many rockets hit the borders of the wall's gap and so I started to feel the agony of impatience, but I won on my second try. A solid conclusion, just not my cup of coffee.




AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA so many words so much text i'm sorry i'm not actually


Edited by galileo31dos01 : added links to screenies in a god honoring way

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On 4/6/2022 at 2:57 AM, Walter confetti said:

Also cool to see that the first review for this thread already "broke" the rule of reviewing maps that are made after 2018 but if for rd there's no problem, I'm ok with that.


Reviews with a functional review page should really go there. 

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2 hours ago, baja blast rd. said:


Reviews with a functional review page should really go there. 

I have been suitably humbled. Perhaps there'll be a little something on the 'unfinished' Lunar Outpost 359, but on the other hand, it seems like there are many, many wads to keep up with so maybe not...

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Time to revive this by playing one of the many maps in my folder that needs a play!


Bad Weather by Ilya "Joe-Ilya" Lazarev (2021)



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A fun slaughter jokewad sets in a city where the monsters instead of been teleported in the main arena are dropped by jumping down by roofs, cool! Too bad that this trickery wasn't used for all monsters, since the final boss of the horde are been teleported instead of raining down from the sky. I don't know who is the chick in the strip club locked by the red key but i thank Joe for the trolling strip, very fun and interesting ideas in this map!

Edited by Walter confetti

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"Dubzzz's 5Minute Design Assembly " and "Dubzzz's 5Minute Design Assembly #2 " by various mappers (2021 and 2022)



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pictures taken from Dbuzzz 5 minutes Design assembly 2


A little introduction before starting on the review of this double megawad: long time ago, some guy on these forums decided to host a speedmapping session with the crazy time limit of 5 minutes per map, a lot of people (including myself) decided to join this wild challenge, with some... bizarre results, both in surprisingly good and bad maps spectrum, with a initial bad reviewing among players even a bad newstuff review telling that project is bad because the idea was stupid iirc

But this little megawad generate more enthusiasm in the community by the passing of the years thanks to the speedrunners doom scene, so one day in the last year Dubzzz and other madmen decided to giving homage to that project with this collection of interesting, fun and sometimes pretty sadistic sets of maps made in 5 minutes putting layout and thing placement giving birth to a interesting pastiche of maps that are overall pretty humorous in their weird way. The same thing happens for the second megawad. A overall fun pair of megawads but you need to be a speedrunner expert to fully appreciate some of these maps... a thing that unluckily i'm not! But i still had fun with these.

Edited by Walter confetti

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Magnolia by Ribbiks (2018)


This is nothing but a ribbiks wad, but far different from anything Ribbiks has ever made. (Except for FCFF probably lmao)



One thing that I have noticed is that Ribbiks is really good at creating his own map theme. Examples are Stardate 20x7, FCFF, SWTW, and of course, Magnolia. Right into the map you'll immediately see a weird yet beautiful combination of teal and pink. Ribbiks said it's supposed to be something frozen, but actually I don't really see it except for the icicles on the buildings. Overall, the detailing here is even more abstract than other ribbiks maps, you get strange tiles, floating lights and pillars with alien words written on them. It feels.. unnatural, yet very appealing. And I'd say it's one of the main thing that differs Magnolia from other wads.




Something I really appreciate is how Ribbiks utilize dehacked customizations here. The teal cyber juniors are introduced in map01, and the evil eye turrets are present in map02 (They're indeed very evil >:) ) And most fights here focus on small amount of monsters and high lethality. Which feature really creative usages here. The highlights would the ambush on the top of crossroad towers (That's how I like to call them) And the blue key fight in Map01. In addition, the gameplay is a lot more gimmicky than usual, some of which force you to turn on pacifist mode and lure monsters to infight, notably the cyb fiesta and map01 finale. Also some fights where you are forced to run away like the arena with lots of barons. It does get more crazy later on, but I still haven't finished Map03 so I can't tell. It won't be everybody's cup of tea, but personally I appreciate the change of pace here.


Progression and Puzzles


-Where do I go?

-Follow your heart.

Something that I should definitely mention here, is Magnolia's cryptic progression. Well, it contains lots of ledge-walking, jumping around, and backtracking. (Especially backtracking) Huh, can I say that I actually enjoyed this kind of obnoxious bs? Probably. It really gives the maps a different feeling, think about Eastern Sun, Stabbed, With a Sword. But way more obnoxious. As I stated lots of progression are very obscure, and you need to focus on memorizing the key switches, lifts as such. But it indeed was a unique type of challenge, which I actually like surprisingly, mostly because of the sense of achievement and adventure it gave me. But the puzzle here? Man... The numeral switch puzzle is something very creative that I have come across, and it's absolutely obscure. To get the health potion(which is a part of progression by the way) sitting on top of the pillar, and to unlock the red key. You need bypass several small blocks with numerals on them, and they have something to do with the crossroad towers that I mentioned earlier. However, after pressing the numeral switches you'll have to cross the crossroads, which have trigger lines that will raise the blocks back up. The catch is you need to somehow keep all of the blocks lowered, while trying to get down the towers to reach the health potion. The solution is very clever, yet very hard to find out, reminds me of skulltiverse map15. I have to admit that it took me more than an hour (in-game time) to figure out the switches but guess that is almost inevitable. Which still makes me feel it's rewarding.




It's good shit, go play it if you like niche stuff.

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Darkwave 32 (2013)

Attempting to play this map in the most efficient way possible ends up turning it into a total clusterfuck of clean-up, and I find it fascinating... There's some ridiculously high number of Pain Elementals that just converge on you around the centerpiece structure in this map and if not for the lost soul limit, would encase you in a solid tomb of lost souls. It's a solid, like... 2-5 minutes worth of essentially clean-up style rocketing and SSG work, pretty much at the beginning of the map, followed by another 10+ minutes of what feels like another kind of clean-up, when you remember you also have to clean up the writhing mass of imps and hell knights that just kind of sit in the chasm between the buildings that you're in. The cyberdemons are pretty much worthless in terms of assisting the player in any way, given how tightly the demons end up packed, they just roll over and die from being unable to move. There's so much space and rockets (+plasma) for use in massacring the remaining imps and hell knights that it can't really be called threatening, unless you turn your brain off and get pegged by the (mostly) useless turret cybers when you need to clean them up as well. It's just, well... it's so different to see a map with a composition where running through it as fast as possible (when it's actually possible to do, for a map) doesn't actually instigate that much infighting, it just shuffles around the order of operations. After the first 1-2 minutes of a much higher amount of danger, it's a 15+ minute clean up job. Meditative, perhaps? Tedious? I'm still not quite sure which it feels more like.


Some images, taken from gggmork's demo on DSDA, because I didn't feel like running through the map for the hundredth time to grab screenshots:





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I'm my usual playing oddisey of shovelware stuff for Heretic and Hexen i found this wad from 1995 uploaded in 2019 by @ETTiNGRiNDER:


MIKE&KIL.WAD by Killer Instinct and The Mikeman (1995, uploaded in 2019)


A deathmatch map for Hexen with a nice layout and a somewhat entertaining gameplay, maybe too items for DM and it fells too dispersive playing it with bots, but is still kind of fun. Nothing groundbreaking, but still fun and nice looking.

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Decided I'd try to use my own thread ;)


Herschel Spaceport by Moustachio (2022)


First, let's get the technical stuff out of the way. This one is advertised as needing a "MBF21-compatible source port," but my usuals, Eternity (recent devbuild) and GZDoom (4.7.1) both encountered varying levels of hiccups (these ports have run other MBF21 wads for me fine). Eternity was very kind and tipped me off with a Romero head spawning in the first room, but GZDoom waited a couple minutes to give me some invisible turret monsters. So you're probably going to want the most cutting edge MBF21 source ports out there, at least if you play this in 2022. DSDA-Doom worked for me without a hitch.


A lot of my early experience with Herschel Spaceport was being confuddled and even sometimes amused by the DeHackEd changes. In the first room alone, there is an auto-shotgun; a flying imp with devil wings; a chaingun that eats bullets, firing at what feels like 8x the normal rate (its power held in check by a wind-down period and the fact that it simply runs out of ammo after seconds); and all sorts of props and gadgets in the scenery. It throws a lot at you quickly, so that response isn't unexpected; Moustachio set out to showcase essentially a full arsenal and bestiary in the scope of a 10-minute map.


But in my second playthrough, I was enjoying myself and wishing this was longer. There's a lot of creative new content here, such as a flame barrel that is very fun to use -- it seems to be capable of nuking two or three hell knights at once in close proximity to it, and Moustachio wisely designs a setpiece specifically around this mechanic.


The map itself, even as it's stuffed with the new baddies, is atmospheric and gloomy, sort of a mix of, I don't know, Requiem and TNT: Revilution...I have no idea where I'm going with that just look at some screenshots instead.


DD2yX53.png JxEvNDL.png wV9iOKE.png


The aesthetics are all shadows and grit, and the interior techbase is ringed by a dark alien moonscape that you can hop out onto (careful not to fall into the instakill abyss). The props look out of place at times -- it feels like a movie set with all the flood lights (which don't emanate actual lighting) -- but the skybox, dimness, and texture choices do a really good job of creating the feel of a Saturn moon, not that I would be able to distinguish that from a Jupiter or Uranus moon. 


Probably the most extreme change in the DeHackEd is that the fist has both a fast swing and a damage multiplier relative to the original. Even without any special Tyson skills, you're going to be able to melt a baron with the berserked version of it, which comes in a claustrophobic secret space that is well worth searching out and lets you use it right off the jump.


Not all the new content really gets a chance to shine in such a brief map, but it's clear that there's some good design principles here, such as how every dangerous new monster has a short wind-up that lets you react instead of instantly vomiting out a powerful attack. 


In the release thread, Moustachio says "I made this map as sort of a pilot to gauge interest for a new community project using these resources" and my personal answer is yes. From my experience with Herschel Spaceport at least, the resources come off as presenting a quirky, cheeky version of Doomkid's Rowdy Rudy overpowered dynamic. 

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TUBS Doom - The Ultimate Byte Sized Doom by razor and agaures (2022)


Caught by the gimmick premises of gradual time speedmapping for each map (example, E1M1 have 1 minute of preparation and 1 for mapping and so on to E4M9 having 48 minutes for preparation and 48 for mapping), this is a nice experimental project with some nice stuff, some interesting designs as well as some wild crap (how E3M7 and E4M4 being so broken?), it's a overall interesting megawad to play and see what people can do in a tight time schedule, it's also somewhat inspiring since actually i want to see what can I do in such a hurry!

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Super MAYhem 2017


If there's one thing I love about DOOM mapping is the unorthodox and interesting twists people like to deviate from the "GORY, HEAVY METAL, HUGE FUCKING GUNS, VIOLENCE, RIP & TEAR LOL" themes that DOOM has when you ask people what first comes to mind about the game. This megawad right here? This megawad is right up my alley for that. For those fans of Mario Bros, they'll be pleased with the change of theme here from the usual business of DOOM, replacing textures and some sprites to the colorful and vibrant world of that fat Italian plumber. Now, with a new coat of paint, remember that looks can often be deceiving, and this wad does not pull its punches. Fights are very engaging, you'll run into quite a few challenges with boom features, but hey man who doesn't love to get their ass handed from time to time, ushering you to try again and overcome said challenges. I've only played up to map 9, but I can vouch for this wad for being really damn fun. Give it a shot.

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Deku Tree by @TimeOfDeath666 (2008)


Screenshot-Doom-20220912-224337.png Screenshot-Doom-20220912-224519.png Screenshot-Doom-20220912-224657.png

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(this is the original version instead of the one that is in the idgames and played in the ER/iWA thread, not sure to post there since it's not from the archives)

This is a pretty neat looking and strongly puzzle-ish slaughtermap for Zdoom based upon the Deku Tree Dungeon from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, with many platforming involved. Lots of cool detailing and doomcute decorations like the treasure chests. Unluckilily this map is a little too tricky to understand where and what go.

Really enjoyable map despite the little flaws!

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Sharevare vats Speedmapping Session: FRESH by The Shareware Vats crew (2022)


etrn00.png etrn01.png

etrn02.png etrn03.png

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A pretty trippy and artsy episode made by this Shareware Vats crew, a group with many famous mappers including @anotak, rd. and many others as well as some new faces.

This episode make me think of a speedmap version of the wacky, abstract freeform mapping like the one from Amorphous Euphoria and my own mapset seeds which, instead of using only stock assets uses this weird, 90s wads textures taken from... Shareware assets i guess? I really like how these idea comes out in that group...


Some levels nails the supposed abstracts, bizarre art theme of the wad like MAP01, MAP03, MAP05 and MAP06, some others not really (MAP02 and MAP09) but it's overall a pretty charming experience, like your playing a lost vaporwave doom mod of sorts buried down in some shovelware CD. Fun stuff.

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Anomaly Report by @valkiriforce (2022)



Anomaly Report is a Doom 2 Megawad released in 2022 by valkiriforce. It is Vanilla Compatible, and shortly after its release it was distributed as part of the official addons for the Unity Port. This review is written after beating the wad twice on the UV difficulty on Crispy Doom.


The map is divided into three episodes of 10 maps each. The levels alternate between Doom Cute scenarios and tech bases with some of the last ones taking places in helle-sque caves. Difficulty wise, the first two episodes are about on par with Doom 2 IWAD, while the last episode offers an spike while still remaining mostly manageable for an average player as myself. 


The wad does not include any new music, the soundtrack is comprised of songs from 90s classics such as the Memento Mori series, Requiem and Icarus the Alien Vanguard. These wads are known for their killer soundtracks which fit **valkiriforce** maps perfectly.


One of the most impressive things about Anomaly Report is how even when the levels are occasionally non linear, the architecture always remains easy to follow and the players always knows where to head next. Additionally, as the maps loop among themselves players can take alternate routes when trying to resolve a combat scenario. 


If you are into 90s styled mapsets you need to play Anomaly Report 5/5.


## Best maps


- MAP05: Canyon Station: Nice nonlinear castle map.
- MAP09: Los Alamos: A possessed town center full of fights from beginning to the end. The open spaces causes enemies to follow you when the first shot is fire. Later on, on MAP23 we encounter a remix of this one.
- MAP18: Sunset Villa: Doom cute level set in villa being taken by demonic forces. The map is full of snipers that you need to avoid by using the smaller houses around the map. 
- MAP20: Diamond Apocalypse: Last map of the second episode and one of the hardest ones in the wad. A fun romp through a castle, kind of reminds me of the first Quake but faster and meaner.
- MAP27: The Trenches: A very original map in which you need to fight a lot of hits scanners on WW1 kind of scenario. Lots of alternate routes to tackle the enemies and pretty cool visuals.

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The Fortress of Dr. Radiaki by Krankebok (2022)

(played using Doom 64 Sprites & Sounds for mixing up things)


This extremely brand new map for Doom 2 (uploaded on Idgames some days ago) is a pretty raw map based upon one of the ugliest (if not the ugliest) FPS from the "Doom Clones" craze era with the same title (video review by the fantastic Civvie11) and being actually a Doom remake of the first level of said game using textures and music from the original game and the results are... desiderable.

The sky texture looks pretty good and some other textures are cool, the map is kinda simple but it have the most broken maze structure I've seen from 1994 shovelware CD wads to today... like it's pretty bad! However, while being pretty broken and barebones the map can be beaten with some thinking and it's a interesting project at least. Also, why the textures looks broken when you return to the original maps? Not sure what's happening here...

Overall, a interesting project.

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Death Tormention: The Complete Trilogy by @pcorf, @Kristian Nebula, @chris harbin and @Impboy4(2019) 

(Played on UV continous using Gzdoom with Autosave Plugin)


Death Tormention: The Complete Trilogy is a compilation megawad released by Paul Corfiatis (Pcorf), Kristian "Nebula" Aro, Chris Harbin and Chris "Impboy" Harriman in 2019 for Ultimate Doom. It includes four standalone episodes with minor bug fixes, new music and rebalanced gameplay.  Albeit most of the episodes are vanilla / limit removing, the author suggests using a Zdoom compatible port due to the secret maps requiring *MAPINFO* support. This review was written after playing through the compilation on UV on GZDOOM with the Autosave plugin.


The compilation includes the three Death Tormention Episodes (the first two released in 1999, while the third one released in 2005), plus the standalone E1 replacement Simply Phobos, originally released in 2004. Due to it being a compilation, the difficulty, feeling and quality of the megawad is not very uniform, thus I will go over each episode individually based on the order in which they appear on the episode selection screen.


- Simply Phobos: this is an E1 replacement episode which follows many of the traditional tropes associated with it. Maps are short and easy, with a big emphasis on exploration, secret finding and fighting low end enemies. Many of the maps would not feel out of place in the first episode of *2002: A Dooms Odyssey*, albeit the difficulty level is a little lower. While this episode does not bring anything new to the table, the maps are fun and well designed. Cool take on the *Knee deep in the dead* 4/5.


- Death Tormention: the first episode on the DT trilogy. Visually, as the other three episodes, it is mostly inspired by episode 4, *Thy flesh consumed* of Ultimate Doom. The maps consists of mostly hellish landscapes, green marble temples and a notorious amount of Cacodemons and Barons.


It is of my understanding that this one receive the biggest make over of the package, mostly due to the original released having an abundance of health on the map, despite this the episode remains quite easy. While the maps may have the looks of UD notorious hardest episode, the difficulty level of this entry is mostly on the light side. Difficulty wise this seems like the next step after the original *Inferno* episode, instead of the spike we received on *TFC*.
The blocky maps, the abundance of power ups and the overall feel of the maps reminds me of 90s episodes such as the *Serenity* series. It certainly feels like an early project in comparison to the rest of the episode. Probably the weakest entry overall 3/5
- Death Tormention 2: now this is more like it. A huge improvement over the first entry in the trilogy both on map design, nastiness and difficulty it is crazy to think this came out the same year. The looks now match the difficulty of the maps and are occasionally higher than the original episode 4. *Thy flesh consumed* has the two hardest levels at the beginning of the episode, and would slowly decrease from there; while DT2 does not take that courtesy, with *Map 6: Threshold of Pain* being the highpoint of it. The biggest difficulty hurdle is the amount of ammo available, players needs to make good use of the berserk packs and chainsaws distributed on the maps as the abundance of barons and the hordes of demons make it pain to keep the momento going 4/5.



Death Tormention 3: released 6 years after the first two episodes and  *2002: A Dooms Odyssey* and it shows. The maps are much bigger, much better balanced and have an smoother difficulty curve than the second episode.  The episode difficulty is slightly higher than the original campaign, with many nasty traps and multi flank fights with the limitation of the original bestiary. 


This is one the best Doom 1 episodes I have played. The levels are gorgeous and offer a great amount of exploration both due to the huge size of them and by the amount of secrets. These levels has a lot of exploration puzzles, but I never got lost for long. Levels wrap upon themselves gracefully sending the player to the correct route. Carefully placed monster closets announce that new paths have been opening, or that some corridors require a revisit. This feels like a great compromise between exploration and the linear design of something like *Whispers of Satan*. The players explores the levels on chunks, but each section is quite big and feels like a short level in on itself. It is not unusual to take up to 20 minutes finishing one of these maps on a blind run. 





This episode is amazing ends the collection on a bang 5/5.


All in all, this wad is worth adding to any Ultimate Doom collection. It is interesting to see the progress of the team on each wad, and being able to revisit some of the early projects of one the most prolific Doom mappers 5/5.

Edited by Garlichead

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Omega_297.zip by Dreamskull (2022)


Combine Omega_297, Omega_Beast and your version of Brutal Doom with TNT on Map 27.


It took me roughly 5000 hours to complete this map over the course of 10 years.

I just wanted to make a large slaughter map without the tradition slaughter map design.

Id love to get feedback for the map, but its not getting any traction.


The prototype was poorly received, but I'm satisfied with this finished version. Can you survive the Hell invasion?


There was a hotfix on this map recently, it all seems to be in order, however, I would suggest getting the new file, you'll know its the proper version because ive included a screenshot of the recommended ZDL in the zip.

Edited by Dreamskull

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Impromptu Minidido by rd et al(2018).

TLDR: You should play it!

After searching in my downloads folder, I found a .zip file just named MiniRC1, I to loaded the .wad file inside it and got one of the best maps i've played this year!

Impromptu Minidido is a community project where all the maps were combined into a single gigamap, conecting them via a hub where one wrong steps means taking a bath in an acid river with no way to escape (thank God for DSDADoom's rewind function).

The main premise of this megamap is that you can go anywhere (except for the big arena at the end of the river, where you need the 3 keycards first), so you can choose between taking on the easier maps and gradually find stronger weapons, or... Do some platforming in the acid river to fight one of the hardest battles of the wad and get the BFG at the very start, and then wipe the floor with the easier stages.

To exit the map, you must find all 6 keys first. The keycards are given to you by just completing the bigger map sections, but the skull keys are hidden so you either find the secrets in the "main maps"(which thankfully aren't too hard even if you're awful at secret finding like me, I got 18 out of 21 secrets), or enter the big arena and beat all of their challenging fights.

 Overall, i think Impromptu Minidido it's kind of a hidden gem, i don't think it's even on idgames, so i'll leave this review here, hoping that someone reads it and give this...mapset? megamap? ehm... community project, a try.

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Angel by Michael Reid (alias prower) (2001).

This is one of the maps I play a lot through the years though I'm not exactly sure why. I just found it randomly and it wasn't part of some grander narrative about what I was looking for, literally just clicking random on the archive. I still play it and kind of chip away at my time on it. It's nothing mind blowing, but somehow I keep returning to it. I think we all have maps like that. Writing about this is an interesting challenge and it's also fair on a very basic level as I have just played this one a lot, so there must be something worth sharing with others about it.

Aesthetically it's a collage of themed areas, grafted together in a linear order but pretending to branch off of a central hub location filled with teleporters, gated by color keycard bars. Opener teleporter takes you to the outside, bit of dark sky castle vibe, SSGing cacos against the bulwarks. In terms of looks this is the most effective it gets. Then you are presented with the mapper's krux challenge of the map where you won't have the time to notice any other aesthetics besides right angles, as this constrictive dungeon interior is where arachnotron rooks and revenant knights invite you to play a very strafey variation of chess. Setting the rooks against the knights is necessarily for the challenger to have a chance, and there's some fucked chaingunners that escape the metaphor to meet the circumventing player. After that there's a cramped crate box encounter with an angry baron sitting on a explosive barrel to whose arms you run after getting teleported with a sergeant at your back... some of these traps and ambushes are a bit quaint in a comedy of errors kind of way but at other times the intentionality to the timing of them successfully conveys that the mapper wanted to assert a tempo, not just 'get' the player, or at least get them excessively. The initial imp teleporter backtrack to get the first secret is instructive to how the mapper expects the player to optimally time their responses to these traps to their advantage and ultimately get a nice, organic route through the spaces. I accept the trial and error nature of this but ymmv

The rooms have no diegetic quality when seen as a whole, besides the reminder of the insideness and outsideness of spaces in relation to the center teleporter hub room. They're grafted together to suit the combat encounters in them and probably came to exist as a whim one after the other as the encounters were invented first and yet, because the space is quite miniature the different themes get to interact with each other through incut peepholes, windows and barred vantages, setting up the usual vague Doomy expectations "oh... I probably can get there" for the player and helping with mental mapping. 

In terms of atmosphere, it feels kind of deep, the castle exterior contrasts well with the interior spaces. The soulsphere secret feels cozy to visit every time, the final fight is always a bit dicey and tense because it's like too many cacos outside floating down on your driveway and you're shooting rockets from inside this low garage and it often ends badly for grandpa. 

I have to mention a proper negative, a trite even for the era very dark basement with spectres that threaten to once in a while bite you. For that lot you at least you get a plasma rifle to hold mouse1 down on but if you play this over and over that's the part where you have a little think about life for 10 seconds.

The fights are really good, though. You have to respect the arachnotron and revenant room even by today's standards. The encounters are designed in that Malcom Sailor vein where the play spaces are clear and unobstructed by sector detailing (besides the crate box room obv), the monster count is low and meaty mid-tier and the layout is constrictive, it requires some good movement. This style presages I think the more modern approach to what people now call challenge maps even though the ambition and embellishment on the shapes and layers of modern arenas are a thousand times more advanced than what's in here, but in a certain nostalgic sense that could be seen as a benefit. 

There is an early SSG so one could play this slowly and carefully and kind of nullify the challenge that way and that's ok that's a valid playstyle. But if you want to observe the mapper's tempo, there are ample opportunities to pick up the tune and push through. The first few fights, though trying to gate you, react well to being pushed through, coalescing into interesting repercussions and potential speed gains from the chaos. This interconnectivity ends after the krux and the player is less hurried to complete until the final encounter. Like anything that compels one to go fast, at that point it's as hard as you want to make it, really. An excellent Memfis four and a half minute UVMax demo shows a badass route through it for any aspirant. 


Edited by Helm

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Approved! Wad of Education and Learning by @Telemassacre (2022)


A small jokewad episode for Doom 2 that isn't inspired by the "horror" game with a similar title (Baldi Basics) as i first though, but more on that stickman splatter gifs that was famous back in the 2000 decade, do you remember them? However, this is a nice jokewad that uses a childish structure and humor for mocking up the classic doom level gimmick, with the same mechanics and gameplay, with the add of a grenade launcher monster (a fat dude that should be a parody of the Ogre enemy in Quake) and gun plus some zdoom exclusives like real 3D floors. It's a nice and funny wad with some cute concepts in it and a unexpected ending for your adventures in this wad.

Edited by Walter confetti

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Nostalgia by @myolden (2022)


Nostalgia is a limit removing megawad published on 2022 by @myolden. I beat it on Hurt Me Plenty, on continuous play and saving after every key (unless it would get to difficulty for me) using Crispy Doom.


As the map set name entails, this a trip down the memory lane both of the original campaigns but also of some of the community must beloved megawads. The map set is divided into three episodes, which mimics the Doom 2 campaign (base, city and hell). The player is stripped of his equipment every ten stages, but this is barely a slap on a wrist as myolden tends to provide guns quite frequently. The difficulty spikes up after each episode, reaching the zenith on the third and final chapter. Early chapters are as difficult as the original campaign, and may reach Plutoniaesque on the last sets of levels.


Nostalgia follows the tradition of classics such as Scythe, Moonblood or Plutonia focusing on short arena maps (most of them around 100 enemies or so), highly focused on combat situations with little exploration in between. Despite of this, the maps are very nicely constructed and the author makes sure to include tasty secrets to keep the pressure on manageable levels. My favorite maps are around the midsection which includes lots of Doom cute details as the player fights through graveyards, office buildings and residential blocks. The last set of levels, gets into some slaughterlite moments. MAP26: Sepulchural Slaughter is the most notable example, and one of the best levels of the wad. 


While the wad does not have an original soundtrack, the author spices things up a little bit with midis from other video games and some other wad songs. The music selection is quite good and matches the atmosphere of the levels.


This megawad is highly recommended, it is short and have an arcade quality to it. The levels are tightly focused and rarely confusing. The player will rarely get lost while exploring or solving the occasional puzzles. The frantic pace keeps the action going and makes the mapset great for short sessions of play.

Edited by Garlichead

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2022 A Doom Odyssey by @pcorf , @Kristian Nebula, @Chris Hansen and @Richie Skarj


2022 A Doom Odyssey is the sequel to the Cacoward Winner 2002ado, released twenty years after the original. It is a Boom-compatible map for UMAPINFO-supported source ports. I beat the wad on UV (the last episode was on HMP) using GZDOOM with the AutoSave and VoxelDoom modules.


First thing first, this map set is gigantic. The WAD is made up of 5 episodes, based on the original Doom campaign, a Death Tormention / Thy Flesh Consume episode, and a tribute to Sigil; it also has a new soundtrack by pcorf and Jimmy. Due to this, each episode will be covered separately.


Episode 1. Starbase Antipathy


The first episode kicks the module out with a tribute to Knee Deep in the Dead. The boys are not new to this, as they have previously worked on some other E1 replacements such as Simply Phobos and CH Retro Episode, this is probably the most conservative episode of the set. 


The player fights against fodder enemies on tech bases and culminates on a boss fight against some Barons of Hell. Besides the obvious, the episode is very well-structured. Maps are short, but full of secrets and don´t get particularly nasty. The authors introduce a lot of monster closets and hitscan enemies to keep the action going and induce the player into a power fantasy as they clear hordes of zombies. 


While this episode may feel a little shy for the things to come, it is quite fun and I prefer it over the prequel episode. 2002ado maps had a common structure. There was a little initial exploration which would take the player to a hub section in which different legs of the maps would be explored and then lead to a climax. While this worked on guiding the player without feeling lost, it would get a little repetitive after a while. Starbase Antipathy breaks this a little bit, offering linear progress but having the maps wrap around themselves slowly revealing the full base.

It is a pretty good episode and a great introduction to some of the idiosyncrasies of this new set. 4/5


Episode 2. Gateway to Jigoku


The second episode takes inspiration from Shores of Hell, but slowly starts to become its own thing. This is where the map set shows its true character. In some ways, this feels similar to the Death Tormention maps but set into a hell-leaked tech base instead of the Episode 4 aesthetic.


The maps are gorgeous, combining quiet exploration with some frantic fights. These set of levels are gigantic taking between 10 to 20 minutes to complete. Taking inspiration from Death Tormention the maps offer a linear path, that as the player explores starts showing different shortcuts between the sections and revealing secrets in previous rooms to allow the player to gather resources.


Considering this uses the basic bestiary, the monster placement is fantastic. Many rooms from the wad make use of hitscan turrets and imps on hard-to-reach locations to "lock" the player in. The maps are designed in such a way that there is always available cover, allowing the player to slowly dig his way across the arena until he can get the upper hand against the baddies. Additionally, the player starts receiving bigger guns more frequently in this episode which allows him to carve hordes of pinkies in some of the bigger fights. The map authors rarely have you shotgunning barons and there are usually enough cells or rockets to take off the demon-slaughtering business.


One particular detail that I  liked about this episode is that once the maps "open up", the player has the choice of tackling arenas from several doors. This provides some strategic decisions and measures the best approach to the challenges. It must be noted, that even though the mappers telegraph the paths properly most of the time, I occasionally got lost. It is not as bad as something such as "Eternal Doom", but be warned in case you don´t enjoy exploratory sections.


The boss map of this episode feels like a presage of things to come in the next episode. Doomguy is tasked to kill a cyberdemon on a castle, but for doing so he needs to gather three keys on a huge nonlinear map.  This pattern repeats on the next episode, which follows a more nonlinear design. 5/5


Episode 3. Al Dante


I was a little nervous about starting this set, as I find the third episode of the prequel to be the weakest point of the campaign. According to the authors, this episode is influenced both by Inferno and the hell levels of Whisper of Satan. All the maps are designed by Kristian Aro, and it shows. The hell section is gorgeous, expansive and nonlinear.  Most of them throw you in a huge hub with different buildings which you explore at your own pace. 



This does not means, that there is no combat. The episode contains the highest amount of monsters so far, reaching almost 700 on Map 5, Putrescent Dirge, where the BFG is introduced with a huge mosh pit of monsters. 


There is a little difficult bump here and I got killed several times on maps 01, 02, and 05. The inventory reset threw me off as i am not used to pistol starting, and Kristian makes you run across the map to get your belongings. 


Besides this, there is a huge change of pace between this episode and the ones before. The levels are more exploratory based than pcorf ones, and while Paul prefers to introduce monsters by using closets, Kristian style is more focused on ambushes and tele transportation tricks. If you liked the Hell section of WOS you will have a blast on this episode, I personally prefer a more "guided" experience. Thus I give this one a 4/5


Episode 4. Tormented Suffering


Tormented Suffering combines the TFC aesthetic with some of the gameplay elements from Death Tormention. Conceptually, it is closer to Death Tormention 2 than 3. Short marble levels, with mean action-packed encounters.


These levels have a very different feel than the rest of the wad. They have a 90s old-school feeling, with simple boxy architecture and less exploration than the rest of the WAD. Difficulty-wise, they feel like the middle maps from TFC. Multilateral encounters, excellent use of flying enemies to track you across the many open windows, and heavy use of meat boxes to block escape routes from the middle-tier enemies.

Tormented Suffering makes use of the Cyberdemon more frequently than the other wads. It is no secret that I have a hard time dealing with the goat monstrosities, thus I got killed several times on maps E4M6 with a double encounter near the exit door.  The rest of the maps are not as difficult, and they never feel unfair. Most deaths could be avoided easily.


Overall, this is a good episode and a cool throwback to the early Death Tormention series. A nice change of pace compared to the slower pace of the rest of the WAD 4/5.


Episode 5. Incendio Crucio


The last episode of the megawad works as an interpretation of John Romero's Sigil. I have not played through Romero's episode yet, so take this review with a pinch of salt. Additionally, I hit a difficulty wall on this one, so I had to play it on HMP instead of UV.

Incendio Crucio is pcorf at its meanest. These maps are hard, full of ever-expanding arenas, tight corridor fights against heavy baddies and constant use of boss monsters. The difficulty level reminds me of the second Death Tormention, with a heavy reliance on ammo conservation traps and crowd control.


This is the only episode of the megawad in which the music was not done by pcorf; instead, it is made up of midi compositions by @jimmy. The level composition feels like a continuation of the last episode, with smallish levels and emphasis on abstract action pieces,but with the complete absence of hit-scan enemies besides the spider mastermind.


Finally, the hidden and last stages are delightful. The secret level goes over some sections from pcorf previous wads and it is a nostalgia trip for those who have been following his works over the years. While the last level is a puzzle fight against 3 cyber demons and about 4 masterminds.


All in all, this is probably the team`s magnum opus. A celebration of nearly 25 years of mapping. Should you play it? Absolutely, especially if you like a modern interpretation of the original campaign by one of the most iconic map teams of all time.


Outstanding stuff 5/5




Great modern interpretation of the original campaign. Similar feel but more action-based combat

- Gorgeous maps and great music all around

- Probably the best Shores of Hell episode I have played in a while.

- Lots of secrets

Edited by Garlichead

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Pagodia (2022) by @Egg Boy, @Bobby "J , @Skronkidonk, @T.Will, @ZeMystic, @Aurelius, and @Juza


I found "Pagodia" when looking over the 2022 Cacowards a few days ago. Most of the winners of that year were largely unappealing to me, and the few exceptions (KDiKDiZD, Ozonia) failed to grab me when I actually got to playing. I had to go to the honorable mentions to find the best releases from my Doom hiatus, and Pagodia stood out right away. It seemed like the kind of set I was guaranteed to love - a vanilla compatible mapset with a striking purple/green/grey aesthetic and "run-and-gun" combat. The Japanese and Cyberpunk edges to the theme had me thinking of two favorites of mine, JPCP and Auger;Zenith. And sure enough, I really had fun with it.


The first map felt a little difficult for a map 1, but I persisted in my attempts to beat it single segment, because the more I saw of Pagodia's delightful violet hues the more I really wanted to play this WAD. Hitting any of several switches drops a Cyberdemon into the main area, which ordinarily would be a sign that you're in for a hard time with this WAD, but I discovered that this green-bellied Cyberdemon has reduced health, so he always dies a little sooner than expected. This isn't the only small change to a monster here; the Cacodemon moves significantly faster. These small changes serve to significantly reduce the tedium of combat - no more spending a full minute or two running around Cyberdemons or sniping Cacos at a distance. And the mappers make extensive use of the Cyberdemon in particular, given its new utility as a regular enemy.


The nine maps are evenly split into three episodes, Village, Techno-Shrine, and Cyberpunk City, but given this WAD's tendency toward abstraction, it feels more like a gradual transition, where violet shrines are slowly overtaken by grey tech, beginning in the pure and innocent first map and ending in the sprawling techbase finale. This WAD has a sense of humor with its graphics and text screen, but it's not really for me, it's mostly just memes and irony. Though the MAP07 text screen ends with "Time to kill a guy," which got a big chuckle from me, and the nods to classic sci-fi anime have my appreciation, especially a very neat-looking texture based on the cover image of End of Evangelion in one of the Techno-Shrines.


Most of Pagodia's maps are quickies, with a length and level of detail comparable to a ten-hour speedmap, but they have far more well-crafted combat than the majority of magnum opuses I play. There's no weak link among the contributors, and they all seem to share a philosophy of keeping the player moving and thinking on their feet at all times, but also providing time to breathe between fights, offering excess ammo, health, and armor pickups, and not going too hard even on UV. It's like the early maps in Struggle or Valiant. They also play great both continuous and from pistol start, with the pistol starts usually adding a small scramble for ammo at the beginning. There is one map where this formula starts to wear on me - the collaboration "Triple Impact", where so many fights in a row use the Revenant+Vile combo that it just makes me go "not again..." - but through the rest of the WAD, the combat never gets boring, trying all kinds of different combos and mini-slaughterfests to keep up the pace. "Nojisumire" stands out as the hardest map in the set, as its cramped spaces make dodging attacks difficult, but successful dodges are absolutely critical given all the enemies firing at the player. The last map, Juza's "Mass Production", is the "magnum opus" of the WAD, a lengthy journey through a grey and neon techbase with an underground lair, cliffsides, and a city surrounding it, and it ends on a BFG fight with tons of Revenants and Cyberdemons that makes a fitting final boss, even if you just run past it.


Pagodia may not be the most impressive mapping achievement ever, but it checks all of my personal boxes and shows a great mutual understanding of how to make a WAD fun to play. I'm excited to try more of Squonker Team's work - starting with Moonlit District, whose use of Perdition's Gate textures caught my eye - and I hope they're not done, because I would be very excited to see more maps in this style.

Edited by continuum.mid

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Bellatrix: Tales of Orionis (10/31/22, idgames release) - franckFRAG


(sidenote - i also occasionally play other games on my Backloggd, if that's up your alley. Doom WADs that have IGDB entries for them will be reviewed on there. Check it out if you want!)


Jesus Christ what a trip. Bellatrix starts off humble, and playing on HNTR (my go-to difficulty nowadays), the first 5 or so maps went by very smoothly. MAP06 was a bit tougher but akin to something along the lines of BTSX, just a medium-length nonlinear experience with some exploration elements. This wad excels in stylistic integrity and thematic texturing that make it feel like its own distinct entity. It also lulls you into a false sense of security with what I'd arguably call one of the most jagged difficulty curves I've encountered in a non-slaughter-marketed WAD (but hey, what do I know, I haven't played Doom that seriously in a few years). I really have no comments on the first few maps other than that they were fun to play through, but this set really starts to shine around map07 with Arzhal Caves, a E1M8-esque combat puzzle that takes the Dead Simple concept and turns it into something a bit more unique than your average 'shoot the mancubi and spider bois and win' scenario. After that is map08's Kiberen, an affair that reminds me of something from Speed of Doom or Resurgence, albeit on a much friendlier level. Lots of ammo and health (again, on HNTR) to work with and plenty of monsters to gib through. It wasn't the easiest to get through saveless, but after about 10 or so attempts I managed to clutch the victory. After that is map09, Baden Ruins, which to be quite honest I don't remember much of other than it was another small combat puzzle map that I somehow managed to clear first try, and finally we get to the best part of the WAD, the final 2 maps.


MAP10, even on the lower difficulties, will prove to be a challenge to those not seasoned in slaughter, and I can't imagine it gets any easier on UV. The amount of times I died leading up to the final fight was well into the double digits by the time I finally did make it there, and once I did, I somehow managed to beat this intense fight with hordes of PEs, revenants, and mancubi turrets first try heart racing and eyes feeling unmoving. Imagine my relief when I enter the final map, Santez-Anna Gate, look at the monster count in DSDA-doom's extended HUD, see 13 monsters and think, "wow, this must just be a simple boss map!". WRONG.


Santez is a DEVIOUS map. I won't spoil the fight entirely in case anyone wants to try this wad for themselves but never could I imagine the amount of stress 13 monsters could cause. I actually did not beat this map legitimately, the only one in the set I resorted to IDDQD'ing at the very end after dying to a (I must admit here) cheap troll at the very end, but I feel I accomplished the map's main demands it asked of me, and I had given this short map around 50 attempts until I finally got to the near-success, so hey, I'm counting it as a victory. It's a fun map, but I do wish the ending troll was telegraphed a bit better for single-segment blind players, especially for such a small and short map like this. I can't imagine it'd be very fun to get all the kills on, either. I can see HOW it's possible having seen the entire map, but not something I would feel compelled to do after reaching the exit's grasp. 


All in all, Bellatrix starts out mellow, gradually ramps up, and then sucker-punches you in the gut and face at the very end with a handful of maps that will make your heart race towards the very end, even on the easier difficulties. I played this wad on DSDA-doom with the proper compat settings on HNTR, and all maps were beaten single-segment on pistol start sans the final one for reasons outlined above. I'm sure it's possible on a better day, but I'm a bit ill at the moment and did not want to redo what I had just done. Plus, at the end of the day, it's just a game. No need to take it so seriously. I can see why this was mentioned at the 2022 Cacowards and I am tempted to check out more of franck's work now if anything just to recapture that adrenaline rush from the final 2 maps of this WAD. 





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Solar Struggle (07/09/22, idgames release) - ViolentBeetle et. al


Purely coincidental that this lines up with the megawad club playing it. I just wanted something a bit easier after playing Bellatrix and just went to the Cacowards page, remembered that I started this a while back and decided to just restart from the beginning and try to beat it. One of the more interesting aspects of level design that, in my opinion, gets glossed over is difficulty balancing for the easier difficulties (basically anything that isn't UV). As sad as it is to see the continuation of this myth that you HAVE to play all Doom WADs on UV, I'm glad mappers balance their content for HMP and HNTR/ITYTD respectively. Sometimes, it can be tricky though because, yes, at the end of the day - UV is what most Doomers are going to play on. So how did this megaWAD handle it? It's a bit iffy.


For the most part, Solar Struggle is fairly consistent with its difficulty on skills 1-2 (I played on skill 2 for the entirety of this wad) but some maps are suddenly way harder and much more slaughtery, something I'd expect on at the least HMP if not UV. I suppose this is to be expected from a community project though. The premise of how this was conceived is interesting as well, with each mapper being given a map title and a short description based on a story (which is pretty neat and told through the intermission text, nothing too captivating but it's DOOM we're talking about here, story never took the main focus). I can tell there was a strong sense of wanting everything to blend together and have some harder maps spread out in-between the easier ones to give a sense of fair progression, so my observation in finality is that I'm just being silly and this is the nature of the WAD. 


Design-wise, things are a bit all over the place as well. There are some jaw-droppingly good-looking maps to stare at in the automap, others feel more old-school in layout and some are just straight up abstract (most of those are in E4 I will say). There's short maps, exploratory maps, combat puzzles, maps where half of the progression is optional (even maps that don't utilize secret exits are "guilty" of this), etc etc... Once again, community project, every mapper has their own style and could be just starting out or a bit more seasoned. For instance, there was a Cannonball map in here (of Return to Hadron fame) that was easily one of my favorites in the WAD, and it just sticks out like a sore thumb in the grander scheme of comparing it to the rest of the episode. I'm almost reminded of projects like Community Chest with Solar Struggle,  in that you will get some "duds" but nothing so bad you wouldn't finish it. I dunno, it's just an odd feeling I got throughout the entire playthrough that there was this cohesive experience in mind, but due to it being a community project, they couldn't quite nail it 100%. The maps that are good though, are GREAT.


While I didn't really take any notes of standout maps during my playthrough, there are some fantastic maps in this set. E1 has a great gibfest map in there with a giant optional mining cave shrouded in darkness that can only be found through a series of complex secrets. E2 has the aforementioned Cannonball map, E3 as a whole is probably my favorite out of the bunch due to its lunar theme and has a bunch of great maps with just the right amount of difficulty, even E4 (which I found to be the weakest and least consistent of the 4) has a great opener and 2 or 3 REALLY GREAT maps. And of course I can't neglect to mention the boss maps of each episode; these are really something else, and follow the same general principle that Ultimate Doom does and ramps it up to 11 and makes, say, a cyberdemon fight, much more exhilarating than what you're used to. If I had to describe a good majority of this wad in 1 sentence, it'd be "DTWID on crack". 


Combat-wise, if you've played your fair share of PWADs, you're not going to be overwhelmed by anything here, some maps are pretty chaotic at times, perhaps even more chaotic than I imagined the Doom 1 roster was capable of, but nothing insanely hard. Some maps are ammo-scrounging affairs where you're trying to maximize your weapon usage to stretch out those bullets and shells, and others give you a shitload of ammo, a shitload of health, and most importantly - a shitload of monsters to kill. Even on the maps I felt were either a bit too easy for my likes or a bit slow-paced, I was still having fun for the most part and that's what matters when it comes to a full 36 map D1 megaWAD. 


One last point before I close this out - secret exits. Nothing was too hard to locate here, there are non-double-exit maps that have far more convoluted secrets but thankfully the ones that lead to the M9s of the wad are easily accessible, usually via a bonus key that you get at the normal exit that you then have to backtrack a bit for, maybe fight a few extra monsters. 


In summation, Solar Struggle, while not perfect, is a really fun Doom 1 megaWAD that I imagine would surprise those that typically stick to D2 with its fun combat despite lack of the monsters we all came to know and love and SSG. Feels nice not having to see lost souls and think "ah fuck, there's a pain elemental on the loose somewhere isn't there?" as well, haha. Yeah, I have no complaints. Not perfect, but for a community project featuring mostly mappers I've just heard of in passing or, in some cases, not at all (cut me some slack, I haven't been active on these forums since 2019), it's really great. Definitely see the Cacoward potential, Not quite as polished as Bellatrix but it's its own thing and I have to respect that. So I'm just gonna do the right thing here and give it the same score, it's comparing apples to oranges, and both are great in their own way.




(All maps beaten single-segment pistol start with the proper compatibility settings on DSDA-doom, finished on 5/23/23) 

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I felt like doing this ever since I used it as an example in the first post. Choose examples wisely. 


Atmospheric Extinction (2021)


These days, pretty, vibrant, colorful visuals go hand in hand with high difficulty, but 2021 had at least three well known wads that showed this combination is far from inevitable: I'm thinking of Lullaby, Infraworld: Coma Moonlight, and Atmospheric Extinction by Velvetic (previously KevinHEZ), a gorgeous episode-length set that is honestly pretty comfy, even for players who aren't especially good at the game.




In the first few maps, you run into a number of berserk box pickups booby-trapped with nothing but a handful of pinkies to punch out, like it's 2003. The repeated use of this classic trope hints at how Atmospheric Extinction regularly breaks up its stretches of generously equipped RL- and PR-based fighting with stretches of unselfconsciously classic, gentle combat, like pistoling zombies and shotgunning imps. Rather than relying on fine-tuned combat choreography, the gameplay as a whole is channeled more through bigger, broader moves: weapons, satisfying enemies to face off using those particular weapons, plenty of resources, and flowing layouts to move through. The maps are good at managing surprise and alternating in intensity, so that the set's 90-120 minutes of game time is well-paced and enjoyable. Velvetic shows a knack for knowing when to use a big mob of enemies and when to use something like two pain elementals or three revenants instead.  


Every three-map cluster of Atmospheric Extinction emphasizes some different aspect of design: cluster one's emerald and ruby metal-tech installations are so exquisitely detailed I could spend hours picking their construction apart (and have already reached probably an hour or so just running around with -nomonsters on); cluster two is full of impressive and well-composed large-scale architecture, which I especially liked in map04's stately palatial mountainside layout (I might be up to a half-hour of -nomo in that map alone -- with "Fly" on this time); and cluster three's autumnal villas and magical sanctuaries are all about flashy lighting effects, the occult...and ridiculously saturated pink trees. 


 yI9QcF6.png 3RGzQC5.png


Despite using the theme-cluster format, the design within clusters switches it up a moderate amount, with map06, the set's largest, built around six mini-excursions to different realms, some of those unique in the set.


On paper OTEX, themed episodes, a palette replacement, and a not very traditionally Doomy custom soundtrack all might sound like a recipe for "generic 2021 Doom," but Atmospheric Extinction definitely has a unique character that feels nothing like the projects it might be inspired by (particularly Eviternity).


A lot of this is the soundtrack Velvetic composed to accompany the maps, which shifts from cluster one's dancy cyberpunk-ish synthpop to cluster two's soaring, awe-channeling prog rock, before dipping into the final stretch's darker mood. His style does not remind me of any other community composer (minus map05's BGM which really sounds like it's channeling stewboy), and the soundtrack stays in the background instead of commanding your attention with big melodies (I'm using the classic MIDIs rather than the HQ version, which I can't comment on). Velvetic is fond of exotic modes and can pull off surprising transitions between sections, and through use of those and other techniques, the soundtrack proves good at conveying ambiguous and shifting emotions, like how map09's "Relics" slides between moods like menace, mystery, somberness, nostalgia, and triumph, sometimes in the space of 16 bars. 


9K3eCPY.png yLaIT1s.png


Plus there's also the fact that Velvetic's use of OTEX doesn't really look like anyone else's. With this being a rare "high-detail" wad that uses as many design moves from the '00s heyday of microdetail -- but always with good taste -- as from the 2013+ era of more restrained "texture as detailing" / "vertical beams and horizontal strips" economy, it's inevitable that the author's own penmanship seeps into the design heavily.


I found Atmopheric Extinction at its weakest when it had to rely on nuanced combat mechanics. In map05, an "Angry Archvile"-themed map, most of the archviles, which show up in small numbers with other enemies to accompany them, can't really traverse the terrain well, so quite a few of the fights fell totally flat and I wasn't really feeling this map. I felt the third cluster was the least engaging visually -- since Velvetic's design strengths seem to lie in technique and craftsmanship and this cluster is laid back there and goes more for atmosphere and mood, which is just decent here. But the drop-off is relative because the first two clusters are "all-time great" aesthetically and the third is no worse than decent-to-good.  


Overall, I'd recommend this to everyone unless you are heavily, heavily Monti-pilled or are the sort of super-skilled player who needs difficulty to get the endorphins flowing.

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