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Favorite exploration/puzzle maps?

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I’m looking for maps that are interesting to explore, and/or have interesting (not just obscure) puzzles. What are some ones I should try?

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Magnolia and Finely Crafted Fetish Film are obvious choices. (As long as you don't mind combat puzzles and playing on HNTR/ITYTD)

The former focus more on (extremely out of way) exploration and has a couple of puzzles while the latter focuses primarily on puzzles.


The Given is a 100% abosolute puzzle map without any monsters. And Dobu Gabu Maru maps in general.


Lost Civilization and Avactor might be your cup of tea as the maps are fairly large and open.

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This amosphere and adventure focused wad that was posted earlier, I'm at map07 and every map has been solid so far.

+1 for Lost Civilization, as well... DBP50 Emerald City is also a good one.

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Eternal Doom mostly has decent puzzles, save for some bits of particularly illogical nonsense that was, surprise, courtesy of Bob Evans, though maybe Jim Flynn once or twice. But Flynn maps are largely pretty good in that respect, they tend to make a strong amount of sense when you know what to look for.


Dartagur Dungeon and Mortal Mechanisms are two maps from last year that are quite fun to explore. DoomRevolver actually makes lots of maps like this but oh well.


Hellbound is also explorable to a certain degree, although many maps still manage to be a touch linear.


Auger; Zenith can also be said to have some exploration maps.

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Old Still Life


It mixes engaging exploration and obscure progression with some nice puzzles, really good combat and really nice visuals. 11 maps. Great set.



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I shall cap my recommendations to ten for the sake of convenience, one per wad, since otherwise we'd be here until the heat death of the universe. In ascending order of personal preference:


"Lightbringer" (Three's A Crowd MAP11) by Scypek2

A compact and extremely inventive vanilla puzzle map that (as the name implies) makes excellent use of lighting as a puzzle mechanic in a way that I shall refrain from spoiling. This map is somewhat of an odd choice for this list, being less of an individual recommendation and more of a vehicle for plugging its parent wad, which is chock-full of ingenious puzzles and exploratory experiences. For those with a taste for the avant garde and / or an interest in vanilla hackery, the set as a whole comes highly recommended.


"Transmitter" (URE2020 M9) by Zylinderkatze

Technically more of a linear adventure map than a true exploratory experience, Transmitter is nevertheless one of the finest of its breed: a lengthy vanilla adventure where mere progression counts on its own as a puzzle. URE2020 in general is liable to delight fans of exploratory and puzzle-oriented maps, as well as those with a taste for doomcute detailing and innovative sector machinery.


"Kloneteildiens" (Nihility: Infinite Teeth M7) by years

A labyrinthine techbase, heavily inspired by OG Doom's second episode and dripping with menace and intrigue, Kloneteildiens is a masterclass in D1-style basecrawling with the horror elements of the original brought front and center. Like all the other maps in the set, midi music is forsaken here in exchange for an eerie silence, oft broken by a range of Quake-derived ambient sound effects (all implemented via vanilla dehacked) and the growls and groans of the damned. Nihility is among the most atmospheric wads I've played, immersive to a degree few others achieve. Strongly recommended for fans of the original Doom's second episode.


"Castle of Evil" (CASTEVIL) by Stanley Stasiak

A large stand-alone map for the original Doom released all the way back in 1994, Castle of Evil is, despite its age, one of the best exploratory maps out there, with a lengthy, non-linear progression to unravel and dozens (!) of secrets to find. If you can get over the map's aged presentation, Castle of Evil will doubtless provide an hour or more of puzzle-solving and rip-snorting adventure. If you wish to read more about this antideluvian artefact, I have written a post about it on the Wadarchaeology thread.


"A Crack in the Skull" (Skulltiverse MAP15) by El Inferno

A fascinating take on the Wormhole concept, A Crack in the Skull is essentially one giant progression puzzle, with strong visuals and finely-tuned, challenging combat. This one really is best experienced with minimal foreknowledge, so I shall reftain from elaborating further.


"Miasma" (Miasma) by Tourniquet

A vast, intricate non-linear megamap, Miasma is one of the most impressive advanture maps of all time, masterfully crafted across every domain and drenched in a dense otherworldly atmosphere. Devious secrets and tight, puzzle-like encounters abound in this sprawling magnum opus, offering potentially an hour or more's worth of engagement for those so inclined. While the map's relatively high difficulty (especially on UV) may be off-putting for some, I can wholeheartedly recommend this to any player with an appreciation for long-form, non-linear maps.


"The Flooded District" (Ashes: Afterglow) by Vostyok

While not strictly a map in the traditional sense (Ashes: Afterglow being one of the few Geezy wads to make use of the Hexen level structure), Flooded District stands out in my mind as one of the greatest examples of realism in waddom, immersing me in its bleak post-apocalyptic setting to a greater degree than many professional titles. Large in scope and packed with secrets and narrative tidbits, this map is a true delight to unravel. I am a fan of neither GZDoom nor total conversions, but I emphatically recommend Ashes: Afterglow to all those with a thirst for adventure and exploration. It is, with no exaggeration, one of the most impressive creations ever to come out of the Doom scene in terms of both polish and scope.


"Ventose" (Deadly Standards 3 M4) by Roofi

Hands down my favourite release of 2021 (a massive feat, given the staggering volume and quality of the competition), Ventose is a colossal, inscrutable dreamscape moreso than a mere Doom level. To quote my cacoward writeup on the subject:


[Ventose] seems tailor-made for me and me alone, a twisted wonderland of disparate themes united in their otherworldly abstraction and bound together in the form of a magnificent, domineering dream-castle. Distorted pseudo-realist structures, subverted techbase locales and vine-choked marble hell all intermingle to form a mercurial realm of devious progression-puzzles, elaborate set-piece encounters and enigmatic secrets.


Making my way through this utterly foreign space was one of the most engrossing interactive experiences I’ve had all year. Ventose inspires in me a sense of childlike wonder, awakens within a desire to explore, to understand, to conquer. It is one of the few digital spaces in which I can fully lose myself: immersed in its palpable atmosphere of wistful melancholy, mundane existence simply fades away, until only wondrous unreality remains.

For fans of puzzle-solving and exploration alike, I cannot recommend this map enough.


"River Valley" (Lost Civilization MAP04) by Jaska

Lost Civilization is, without a doubt, one of the most unique and brilliant creations to ever grace waddom, and River Valley is perhaps its most iconic outing; an almost transcendental experience, a sublime melange of beautifully rendered architecture and environments drawn from all corners of the European continent with some of the best exploration and dynamic, open-field combat ever created. This is all I shall say on the matter. Lost Civilization is a truly special work, and I would encourage any and all players to give it a shot, regardless of preference. I cannot recommend this one highly enough.


"Sanctuary of Filth" (No End In Sight E4M6) by NaturalTvventy

Without a doubt my favourite map of all time, Sanctuary of Filth is almost beyond description: a vast, decaying edifice of rotten concrete and demonic machienery, its nukage-clogged innards crawling with nasties and abundant in evil traps and devious secrets. Merely reaching the exit is a grueling battle against the odds, the map's core progression being more obscure and non-linear than the carefully hidden secret exits of kinder outings. This map is the apotheosis of No End In Sight's design philosophy, the crown jewel among the set's many great exploratory outings (some of which, if not for the one-per-wad rule, would doubtless be on this very list). Despite its overwhelming hostility, or perhaps because of it, Sanctuary of Filth has stuck with me like no other map in waddom, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, to those with the stamina for a 2+ hour playthrough and a willingness to put up with all manner of sadistic abuse on the part of the mapper at any rate.


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10 hours ago, Shepardus said:

Check out Lainos' maps, in particular Comatose, 5till L1 Complex, and Doxylamine Moon (Sacrament MAP02).


Great choices, most of the puzzles are optional your going for max kills and secrets. I got to the exit on Comatose in about 40 mins but I'd found 3 out of 23 secrets so I went back. 3hrs later I gave up on 19 out of 23, going to have to try again at some point.


Even finding the enemies is a puzzle In Doxylamine Moon! Love these maps wish there was more like them, great change of pace and strongly creepy atmosphere.  

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I‘m guessing you might have already played Grove by BPRD but if not then I would seriously do so.

It has some excellent puzzles, unrivaled exploration, a unique sombre atmosphere, wistful soundtrack. A must play.

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Tangerine Nightmare map 07.


Most maps from Lost Civilisation, especially maps 10 and 19.


Edit: this is less about my personal favourite maps and more about exploration maps that I really, really recommend. But map 07 from Tangerine Nightmare is among my favorites, than its comes to exploration.

Edited by Azure_Horror

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I like puzzle maps, so some recommendations, mostly from "classics". These maps are not so much for exploration, although some have a fair bit of that, but more to train your neurons and also some movement skills. Ranked from "easy/medium" to "hard".


- Evil Eye (standalone). A large underground complex where Doomguy is always in danger to perish in flames. This map's puzzles are almost all based on the same mechanic, but it is explored in varied and fun ways. If you fail one puzzle, you will be harshly punished. In many parts, enemies play a crucial role but combat isn't too hard.

- A Boy and his Barrel. This is a complete puzzle mapset from start to end, where you must protect a barrel which will be at least as interesting for the monsters than you as a player. If the barrel is destroyed, you fail. It includes lots of (literally) cute and creative ideas and many references to the original Doom game. GZdoom-only.

- Monster Mansion (Eternal Doom MAP31). Eternal Doom has a lot of simple puzzles starting from MAP01, but this one is the first "true puzzler" you stumble upon when you play this good ol' mapset. The puzzles however are really fun and cute, so it's a perfect "entry level" to start with hard(ish) Doom puzzle maps. It's a big mansion with a lot of punchy combat, and for example hosts a swimming pool, a bar and a surveillance system. If you get stuck, be sure to explore every Doomcute element in this mansion. (Other challenging puzzle maps from Eternal Doom: MAP20, MAP26, MAP30, most of the rest are more exploration-based)

- Revenant Waltz (Poogers MAP27). Poogers is a 2022 mapset made by Doom streamers where most maps are based on puzzles and gimmicks, and many are really creative and fun, although some require advanced skills. MAP27 may be the most unique of them all (or is it MAP29?). It's not among the harder maps of the wad, we only have to understand and exploit a simple mechanic, which I never saw explored in this way in a Doom map, the (quite long) start and the title giving hints what this mechanic may be. Note: This map will perhaps need some practice in several areas, so take your time and don't be shy to save often.*

- Mechanical Embrace (Finely Crafted Fetish Film MAP07). FCFF is a Ribbiks mapset where almost all maps contain some sort of puzzles, some are even monsterless and resemble pure puzzle maps like "The Given", others include some punchy combat (MAP01 is just a more combat-oriented map). "Mechanical Embrace" is the biggest and meanest map of this WAD. It is an enormous, surreal complex with distinct sections which can appear hostile, but contains excellent combat puzzles, navigational puzzles and some exploration of advanced Doom mechanics. Play it in lower difficulties if you don't like slaughter-like combat. And save often if you want to find all secrets and optional areas, in some places you can't go back.


You may tackle these maps after having played some easier puzzle mapsets, like Doom Zero and Three's a Crowd. Have fun!


*Two hints for the Poogers map, so you don't need a walkthrough:



1) You need lots of these things, enough to destroy several viles later. So stay in the first area until you've killed several bosses.
2) There's a way to make these things "orbit" around you like a satellite. This skill has to be used in several parts of the map. It requires some experimenting with footwork, and may take some tries but isn't really hard. I'm not a good player, and it took me perhaps 10 tries.


Edited by erzboesewicht

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On 10/6/2022 at 1:31 AM, erzboesewicht said:

- Mechanical Embrace (Finely Crafted Fetish Film MAP07).

I can't find a link to FCFF...anyone got one?

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