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dobu gabu maru

The DWmegawad Club plays: Down the Drain

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MAP28 - “Closing Crush”
Another one that I liked, this episode really has been an almost non-stop streak of great maps. Those pillars at the beginning hide weapons and armor but unleash a bunch of nasties, and I wasn't quite ready for all of them to start lowering while I was dancing around. The winding path to the west has a LOT of nobles (and a surprise archvile in the secret megasphere), which gets a bit boring as they're not threatening in this context and just act as rocket sponges. The path to the exit on the east side is pretty straightforward. I think my favourite section is the SE, the large cavern with the facade carved into the red rock and the blue flames looks quite cool, probably the best-looking room in the wad, in a more conventional sense.


MAP29 - “Choke”
Two small forts facing each other, one with dozens of revenants and a key, the other with dozens of knights and the other key. The revenants can be dangerous because of the homing missiles, but so many knights is just boring, it took me a few minutes and zero skill or satisfaction to clear a way to the key. Each key is guarded by a cyberdemon that is easily dispacthed with the provided BFGs. It's a very straightforward map that honestly feels a bit like filler.


+++ Doom 2 in spain only
+++ 32in24-14: How the Hamburglar Stole Christmas

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MAP24: Designyland

Kills: 60%

Items: 39%

Secrets: 22%

Time: 9:13


A pretty sweet and faithful Chasm homage, Designyland is a map again that I just find fundamentally pretty fun. The sight of all this platforming might make you want to go back in time to 1994 to get The Chasm off the menu, but don't give up just yet. The layout of this map is actually really neat, it recalls the cool adventure elements first seen in this map's inspiration and has a lot of different stuff to see. You can leave the map pretty quickly as well if you want, just remember to hop in the blood and find a switch near the start building which I didn't on my first playthrough and it took forever to find the exit. This is somewhat similar to MAP16 where I find it to be Down The Drain comfort food but unlike that map, this one is really nice and well-rounded. I guess except for the Baron usage but it's honestly not as bad as it looks.


Grade: A

Difficulty: C+



MAP25: The Three Buffets

Kills: 85%

Items: 82%
Secrets: 100%

Time: 6:16


Another somewhat strange map, The Three Buffets is mainly a somewhat experimental rocket-fest. There's some interesting chicanery with damaging floor here actually, mainly the part with the megaarmour and also the extensive path to the eye switch. I'm also kind of a fan of the architecture, this map can be a little hard to get around but combined with the Cacodemons it can be pretty unique. This map doesn't have a ton going for it but I quite enjoy it, it seperates itself from the crowd.


Grade: A-
Difficulty: B-



MAP26: Everyone Loves The Beach

Kills: 100%

Items: 100%

Secrets: 100%

Time: 4:48


Everyone Loves The Beach is definitely the most sheer fun map in Down The Drain. Probably the peak of the mountain of E3's more "ordinary" approach. Not a whole lot to say here, because this map is simply a fun BFG fest. I enjoy the gimmick of your main choice of weaponry, ammo and health all being out on islands over molten lava. It's pretty fun and keeps you alert of your health and ammo. Especially since you don't get a backpack. This map also has an Arch-Vile infestation and they can be surprisingly tricky to deal with, as you honestly get less cover than you think. I will say this map kinda represents my nitpicks with E3, for as good as these maps are, I kinda miss the nice balance E2 had right around now. Nothing against this map specifically though.


Grade: A

Difficulty: B



Edited by NiGHTS108

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I haven't participated in a while, so I might as well post my impressions. I meant to join earlier but November was a very busy month, especially my birthday was a few days ago. Played in Chocolate Doom 3.0.1, keyboard only controls, continuous with saves, UV 100% everything in each map. Finished the wad nearly 2 weeks ago, as a result I don't remember all details and some levels don't have much written about them (example I stopped mentioning which levels had no items/secrets in them). I decided to leave it like that.


I haven't played or heard of this megawad before, so it's pretty much a full blind playthrough. There were almost no walkthroughs/videos anywhere for this megawad (except a few YouTube videos of a couple maps), so I had to figure out everything (or almost everything) by myself. This is made harder with the vanilla limitations (such as no automap stats) that I've restricted myself, due to the fact this wad was tested in Chocolate Doom. So every map is played without any expectations and without a way to tell in advance how many monsters are encountered in each map and their types or the secrets (due to lack of a Doomwiki article for the megawad).


I only noticed a few new graphics, like the main menu graphic (and the level names on the intermission screen) and a new soundtrack (and the new deh patch that alters the level names on automap and the text screens). Everything else is stock Doom 2.


Oh and a general tip: if you have problems with health, armor or ammo, then pick them up carefully when you actually need them. Due to the ammo being especially tight in many levels, it should absolutely be grabbed when you are not near maximum, example don't grab a shell box when you have 48 shells, grab it when closer to 30. This applies early in the level, when you are at the end and play continuously, you want to grab everything anyway before exiting the level. :P


Let's go! (maps added into spoiler)




MAP01: From: Unknown
A rather interesting and tough opener that puts pressure on the player from the very start. The level design is very 90s (for better or worse) but it also has modern touches like a Cyberdemon in first map for some reason (considering he doesn't show up again for a couple more levels, this felt a bit strange to put him right in the very first map) but I don't think the Cyber is that bad if he doesn't catch you by surprise. The various stronger monsters can be a problem too when combined with the tight ammo, though picking up the green armor inside the secret place (after clearing a bit of the level) was definitely a great help for the rest of the level. You really want to have some armor as early as possible instead of nothing at all.

I actually ran out completely of ammo when fighting the cyber (and was around 20% health at one point when fighting spectres, so I grabbed soulsphere which revealed the cyber too) and grabbed a couple more rockets and the megasphere anyway (just to be on the safe side), then finished him off, then more secrets (with some help from YT video to find out the closet with the blue armor and three revenants) and the map turned out fine in the end. I finished with 194% health and armor because a lost soul rammed me from behind right when I took out the Cyber but this didn't bother me because I handled the Cyber very well. I don't think there was much issue on picking up the blue armor for just the remaining 6%, considering I was right at the end of the level and killed everyone.

And don't forget to grab the 3 keys to open the exit, kill those barons in cages and open the cages from behind, then grab them and you can exit the map. Overall, it's okay, I suppose it could have been much worse for a first map. The ammo felt quite tight but playing continuously, really paid off to carry the extra health, armor, shells and rockets to the next map. :)


MAP02: Someone's Castle
Not bad. I think the map was fine, overall. It was also a lot easier (taking very little damage and keeping about 200 h/a for most of level) until the very last encounter where the Archvile decided to be a bastard and zap me twice and bring me from (almost) 200 health and armor to like around 100. And then as if it wasn't enough, a revenant rocket followed me perfectly around the corner, hitting me for tons of damage (don't remember if it was max 80 dmg or not but it sure hurt a lot) and brought me down to 59% health. I had to be quick and grabbed two medkits, finished off the archvile (in front of the castle entrance because I had to run back a lot), the rest hordes and the map was finished. Who would have thought a single archvile can cause this mess? Probably because of the various monsters that decided to "protect" their leader and make me waste tons of rockets. At least I had saved that soulsphere for the end and unfortunately my 75% blue armor had to be replaced with a new green one. :P

Oh yeah and there's NO secrets in this map, so for vanilla/chocolate users, the 0% secrets at the end is correct. Boom compatible ports and ZDoom family ports will always show 100% secrets even when no secret is in the map.


MAP03: Private Island
Another interesting map with a couple interesting ambushes, there's a couple more archies in this map, though most shouldn't be that bad. There's one right at beginning, so try to take it out ASAP while looking for some monsters in front of you. And the baron in the back that is guarding the exit. The yellow key ambush was quite tricky where I had to be careful to not get cornered by a baron (another one was placed on top of the key). Some damage was taken but thankfully I survived in the end. I think more problematic was the area near blue key with that archvile and monsters on top because one time I ended up dodging a revenant homing rocket but still got blasted by an archvile, which brought me down to 130% health. I don't think I had much of a choice here, I'm glad I didn't get hit by both at same time because how easy is to lose lots of health and the only protection you get is the green armor, which is a lot better than nothing at all. :P

The only secret to be found is a nice soulsphere at the beginning. Just "jump" in that pillar. I was thinking if it's a secret or inescapable place, so I quickly checked an YouTube video to confirm and it was fine. But I think what puzzled me was on that raising/lowering platform where you get SSG (and get ambushed by a few revenants), there is a green armor in that room. Since I already had plenty of green armor in this map, I didn't think to grab a new armor until I finished the level and then I found out where the remaining monsters were hiding. This also leads to the platform where Plasma Gun was standing earlier.


MAP04: Kick the Can
Probably the easiest map so far, this one shouldn't give you too much trouble. The only damage I took early was from a baron that surprise attacked me from behind when a closet opened and then realized there are some surprise monsters closets. There is only one archvile in the map, which I didn't find after I reached the exit, implying it's an optional encounter. The soulsphere secret is also easy to find and then there is also another soulsphere you can find from those temporary lowered platforms (I think where you fight those teleporting Mancubi?), so health shouldn't be much of a problem in this map and there's two green armor pickups as well.
The only difficult thing was finding the second secret, which I found with help of the Youtube video. As I had guessed, it had to do with where those imps were placed high on ledges. You just push a wall around that area and it reveals two pain elementals and a berserk pack. Most likely that berserk pack is needed for pistol starters but continuous players wouldn't necessary need it. I think the map was fine overall, a nice break from the tougher maps.


MAP05: Rolling Down
If the previous map was easier, then wait until you get to this one! After watching that desynced demo (since new demos aren't included in this megawad) which gave me an early look at the maps (MAP11, MAP05, MAP26), I wasn't sure if this map will be annoying or not. I think as usual, continuous players will have a much easier time and the 50 rockets from the previous level were a great help. The beginning was tricky, so the best idea is to run upstairs (I took the left route) and watch out for both sides. After carefully clearing the sides, you advance slowly. You need to be very careful. You can then clear the other side and then once you reach on top, DON'T GRAB the megasphere yet, you should try taking down those four archviles. You may miss your rockets as the monsters have a habit to dodge the rockets, so aim carefully to not waste too much ammo. After taking them out, prepare for the last big battle with two archviles and a whole bunch of other monsters. I didn't get to grab the megasphere with having to rush but things turned out to be fine because I stayed at 116% health and was able to do this battle without taking any damage. I just stayed upstairs and taking cover, things turned out well and the archviles and the horde eventually died from rockets. Then finish off a hell knight and mancubus with SSG and the level is pretty much done. The megasphere is the reward for beating this level.
And just like with MAP02, no secrets in this map means scoring 0% secrets at the end of the level.
I think the map was interesting overall but the design reminded me a bit of The Pit from DOOM 2 for some reason.


MAP06: Baloney Town
An interesting town styled map that turned out to be quite action packed. However, it's also generous on resources (there's two megaspheres to be found in the entire level and even a blue armor I didn't use at all, which is placed inside the tiny room with two mancubi), the ammo may still be a bit tight at times but the monster infighting and running around the whole town in circles should win the day. I feel a bit bad having to grab a megasphere when already at 200 h/a but since I was already at the end of the level, I might as well do that (to get 100% everything, also I rather have extra items than none at all). :P

Oh yeah and there's two Cybers that are actually stuck inside that garage, so after you see them, you don't have to kill them, just grab the blue key, plasma and run. More monsters will spawn but the cybers will thankfully get crushed, as I had guessed (yeah I quickly checked an YouTube video to confirm in advance because I wasn't going to waste my 200+ cells on them).
There's an optional area with more monsters to kill (more archviles and other crap) and also another megasphere and rocket launcher with more rockets. This area is accessed in the yellow key room by pressing on the picture/panel, it reveals a nearby teleporter.
There's also a berserk pack you can access in the red key room, which can be reached by standing and waiting for platform to raise, then grab the berserk while it is raising.

There is one armor bonus that feels like it's unreachable at first, until you quickly realize it can be gotten by performing the GLIDE glitch. I never pulled this glitch before, so I managed to do it here by positioning myself in a straight line and eventually DoomGuy slided into the gap and grabbed the clips and armor bonus until I reached the other side. I'm quite amazed at pulling this glitch off, considering I never actually managed before to do a glide glitch. Which is funny because the other week I just revisited Chex Quest (the original first two games in DOSBox and even the third game in ZDoom) and I know in E1M3 of CHEX2, there is a bugged secret that I read on Doomwiki, it can be gotten with the glide glitch but after several attempts, I wasn't able to pull it off, so I left the map without the usual 100% everything (in fact, CHEX E1M3 and CHEX2 E1M3 are the only levels you can't 100% in the original versions due to either a monster stuck inside walls or unreachable items/secrets, they were both fixed in chex quest 3 which allow getting 100% everything in the whole game).

Back to the actual map, it was probably the most interesting one so far and I'm looking forward to the next one.


MAP07: The Perfect Gerbil Cage
And as expected (much like with a few other Doom 2 megawads), MAP07 is the one that first kills me, though you will see shortly why.
When you start the map, look out for a hidden Computer Area Map in the starting room. After that, carefully take out the monsters in the next room. Pistol starters will probably have a rough time with the start.
Later on, in the caves, kill the groups of spectres and revenants. Collect all the rockets and prepare because grabbing the key unleashes more revenants.
Save and prepare. Kill the 5 archviles in the exit room quickly with your BFG. Then look up for two barons and the GROUPS OF IMPS that teleport! The answer here is using your RL. I died here once to the groups of imps when I had to run away from the last archvile and tried grabbing the berserk pack but I died. At least I quickly realized what I had to do.
Be sure to also collect the two cell packs (where the two barons came) and the megasphere before leaving.
Not bad! I enjoyed this one.


MAP08: Deep Tech
Possibly my least favorite map so far due to the high usage of acid hurt floors (and they deal 10% damage). My mistake was going first to the room that had two soulspheres and one blue armor because I burned through most of my health and armor (I used the radiation suit to kill the monsters in the acid without worrying about the damage) and had to grab those to get back to 200 h/a. I should have saved these for the LAST THING in the level but I don't know if it was mandatory for progression. All I know is I came across a Computer Map and Light Amplification Goggles in this room, so completionists want to grab everything anyway.

The ammo also felt tight when at the end the archviles kept resurrecting the barons but in the end I still did fine.
The problem was the optional area/fight with those hordes and the soulspheres. I died once (though thankfully my ONLY death in this map) from the acid because I was screwed and monsters were waiting below me.

Upon inspecting the map in ZDoom (looking for secrets and everything), I realized there was a SECRET radiation suit (on switch you press and you get ambushed by an archvile, press on that ledge and it will lower, then walk on the ledge nearby to find it and a plasma)
This should massively help in that slaughter battle, with occasional running to get soulsphere to refill your health. Be careful as the armor may have been used in the process! The whole fight isn't THAT BAD to be honest and the teleporters are a great way to escape the projectiles.

Oh yeah and I must point out the extra secret sectors on top of teleporters. One set of teleporters (in the acid room with the soulspheres) are all marked as a secret. In my case, using Chocolate Doom, there is no secret notification or automap stats or anything that tells you what is a secret and what isn't (the only indication is end of level stats and even then, 0% secrets can mean either you found none or map had none at all).

So absolutely make sure you get those secrets by checking every teleporter back and forth, etc! This is the easiest way to make sure you get one and don't forget because you can't come back later! So if you plan on getting everything, grab every soulsphere and try to minimize damage. In best case, you will probably make it back in the central area of map with 120% health like I did (then grabbed a green armor to have some armor for next level).
Did not like this level too much but it wasn't as bad as I thought (only one death caused). Let's hope next map is better.


MAP09: Forts and Alleys
Much better and easier than the previous map. You just need to be on alert from the archviles and you should be fine. There aren't any annoying ambushes in this level, maybe I got lucky. I don't really have anything to say, just take it easy and you should be fine.
No blue armor to be found, however there's a couple green armors and soulspheres to keep you in great shape. And don't forget that berserk at beginning!
Fun map.


MAP10: Here n There, Now n Then
I have mixed feelings about this one. For one thing, the acid now deals 20% damage, though there are two radiation suits to find and should be saved. Second, the maximum secrets possible is 75%. There is a tiny sector near RL secret which you can't cross. I tried running into it but still couldn't register. I looked up separately in ZDoom (to see exact secret locations) and realized it's impossible to get it.

I died once due to those two pain elementals sneaking behind me right when I dropped down (didn't see them appearing, considering the wall didn't open before, not sure what caused it to open) and then got flooded by lost souls while fighting the four hell knights. I actually had 1% health at one point but then got finished off by a lost soul as I was trying to grab a nearby medkit. Load game, try again and do it properly with killing those PEs earlier, then the hell knights, etc.
The level progression took me a while to figure to get the yellow key. And there is a Cyber battle right at end which thankfully didn't cause any problems. And the map is generous with resources too...
I think the level was okay but the acid dealing 20% damage and the inaccessible secret kinda lowered the map's quality.


MAP11: Cache Raiders
It's alright. There are some tricky fights but nothing too difficult. You may get a bit overwhelmed by some enemies at start (continuous helped a lot, even if running a bit short on ammo) and especially be careful if you go to grab medkits and green armor, as stepping on that reveals a few monsters.
Secrets are easy to find. The map was shorter than I expected and was able to finish with 200% h/a (well 195% to be exact, as I had to walk through acid to reach the exit switch and I already used the radiation suit earlier). Not bad.


MAP12: Into the Tomb
Probably one of the easiest maps so far, this one shouldn't give you any trouble. There isn't much to talk about this one, it was okay and much shorter than I expected. There is a large amount of boxes of bullets near the end and a secret teleporter that sends you at beginning in same room.
There are NO items to find in this map! So don't worry if you get 0% items at the end of the level. I was lucky I didn't take much damage, so I was at nearly 170% health and armor when I finished the level, saving them for the next level.


MAP13: Vet and Process
A somewhat challenging level, starts with an annoying part (not too bad for continuous player but might give a headache to pistol starters) and then after the first couple rooms, the map opens with some great fights. After taking out the relatively easy fights in the open blue area, you must prepare because things get harder! Thankfully, you get two invulnerabilities (one guarded by the Spider Mastermind and another offered somewhere in those dark rooms). I died twice from the part when the archviles showed up (I think second death was from a hell noble, don't remember if knight or baron) but eventually I was able to overcome the challenge. The second invulnerability was a lifesaver against the two cybers at the end of the level, while I'm BFG'ing them until the invul runs out at time.

Not bad! I liked the challenge presented in this level.


MAP14: The Perfect Human Cage
Decent map. The barons at the beginning should be avoided, then they will get teleported later in the level. There are also many hitscanners where the invisibility sphere comes useful. To temporary lower those powerups on the crates, you must press on the left and right parts where you open the door.
The archvile horde wasn't too bad, you've got cover and plenty of rockets. Use them wisely. The door to get the radiation suit secret was a bit strange, it didn't open initially but later it opened. No idea what was with that door. It's alright.


MAP15: Doors of Opportunities
What a great start! Open the first door and get killed by the first group of archviles, despite having 200% health and armor! Though my BFG blast took them as soon as I also died but of course that doesn't matter when our hero is dead. Load game, try again. This time I came prepared with my BFG already selected.
I don't even know how to describe this map. The progression is quite obtuse when trying to open the doors, some operated by a switch and others by walking around the other doors. I managed to get to the secret exit before the actual exit. I also realized what the invulnerability is for (after inspecting the map separately in ZDoom). You must have it while quickly pressing those switches to temporary access a teleporter that teleports you on top of barrels! You MUST have the invulnerability still in effect (hopefully) or else you die from telefragging the barrels. So, hope you have a backup save if you screw up! I don't know if it was intended for the progression or reaching the secret exit but I was able to complete the puzzle after a few attempts (when the invulnerability expired, I just loaded the save).

The ambushes aren't difficult to deal with but fuck the groups of archviles when getting to the secret exit. It wasn't as bad to take them out on my next attempt but still annoying (my second death came from finishing myself with the RL when an archvile was running towards me). After taking them out, I went to explore the rest of level, such as finding 2 secrets I had missed (berserk pack and some revenant ambush).

The map was...eh, it's hard to rate it. It wasn't that great but neither the worst. I am looking forward to the secret levels.


MAP31: Down the Drain
Unfortunately, I hated this map towards end. Now, I liked fighting groups of enemies and surviving many deadly ambushes and the fact you get the backpack (though only for this map, at least until the very end) but absolutely fuck the following things: Groups of Cyberdemons, Groups of Archviles and Groups of Revenants (the latter to some extent, due to their deadly homing missiles that I couldn't avoid sometimes) and also the lack of armor for the most part. These are what brought me many deaths in this map. I would say around 40 deaths and more than half of them were caused by the final cyberdemons because I would inevitably eat 1-2 rockets (from fighting 4 cybers at once), thus I had to savescum to overcome this bullshit. I mean until getting to the Cybers, I had like 13-15 deaths. And eating a single direct rocket resulted in an instant death. It didn't matter if I had 200% health or 170% or whatever. Nope. You are dead!

The revenants were only annoying if I got two or three unavoidable homing missiles that rolled high dmg or I ended up getting blocked by a revenant, only to get INSTA KILLED even at 200% health! The archviles were much worse, with some room containing like 10 of them at once. Combination of BFG and RL while taking cover worked for the most part. They are found in middle of each area but even if you try to ignore that room, take note that monsters CAN open the doors and ruin you upon releasing the archies! You still have to take them out because pressing those 4 switches are the key to the exit of the level!
Oh yeah and you must press ALL of them in the whole map. Then go to the starting room that had the 4 berserk packs (hopefully you grabbed them as they can get glitched inside the platform) and do some shitty platforming sequence.

Now, a few more things to explain about this map and shitty vanilla DOOM limits. For those unlucky people who are playing in the original DOS vanilla executable, you CAN'T save on large maps like this one (it contains about 1500 enemies in total). Since I used Chocolate Doom for obvious reasons (it allows disabling this stupid save limit in setup exe and also allows loading DEHACKED patches), I had no problems whatsoever with saving or even crashes/freezes. The map worked perfectly.

As for other vanilla limitations I dislike (such as infinite height), there is one that can render your save game invalid. Saving on a ledge and loading the save, will make you get stuck at the bottom of the ledge or the small platform. This happened to me once when I saved and loaded on those exit platforms. Thank God for backup saves.

To reach the secret exit: Press all the buttons to raise all the pillars, SAVE before platforming (only if playing on Chocolate, most other source ports have no problem with saving on ledges), do the platforming in one go, go around the edge of the exit teleporter to grab the Computer Map and then hopefully you are at the correct angle to teleport and send you on a short lava room (normal exit drops you on a dark corridor where you die and advance on MAP16).

If you did everything correctly, you got to a short lava room where you are on top of a megasphere and must QUICKLY kill the archvile with your BFG, then wait for bars to lower until your last 10% health and armor to exit. I died here once because the bastard dodged the BFG shot and blasted me, thus had no health left to survive until bars lower. And you need to get to the exit on the LAST second, you should make it. You will be sent to MAP32 nearly dead.


The only thing I liked? Killing groups of weak enemies was satisfying, even berserk punching most pinkies was also satisfying.


Awful map. Hope MAP32 is better...


MAP32: WW1.wad

Yeah, no. I'm trying to understand if visiting the secret levels was a good idea or not and if MAP31 or MAP32 is worse than the other.
The intermission text said something about you not losing your backpack. As soon as you start the level, you die. There is no way around it. You die due to standing on the stupid 20% damage acid. You are FORCED to pistol start this map. Press space to restart and then rush forward. Kill the zombies, grab the chaingun, blue armor and now prepare for another dumbass section that will kill you many many times. You've got a bunch of zombies to kill but also FOUR fucking Cyberdemons and a Spider Mastermind for a good measure. I understand why these are included but I feel like this map would have been better if it only contained maybe two cybers at most or a way to telefrag them.

Words cannot express how much anger I had in this map (despite playing it the next day after finishing MAP31) due to dying so many damn times (close to 30 times) at what felt like lots of unfair deaths from unavoidable rockets/hitscan attacks or falling into inescapable acid areas while running like an idiot to try to see how the fuck am I supposed to survive all this shit. And of course vanilla limitations roaring their ugly head again, with sprites flickering so the rockets (and Cybers themselves) becoming invisible adding to the miserable experience.

After a couple painful minutes, I managed to clear everyone (the Spider must have gotten infight with one or two Cybers) and try to get rid of the remaining cybers. I had to backtrack several times for medkits and heal from the damage I took from splash damage until I exhausted them all. I even grabbed the second Blue Armor which may have been a secret (either that or the Plasma with the cell packs was the actual secret).

Eventually, I took them out with 6% health and 100% armor (blue) left. I was confused by the exit sign because I didn't see any other exit but turns out I was supposed to step into that PARTICULAR acid spot to end the level. It didn't work previously (probably because I stayed on top of exit sign, which didn't count when I got killed). But this time as soon as I stepped on, it immediately finished the level. Also 0% items (no items in the map) but at least I was able to end with full bullets, shells and 75 cells. And the low health is intended because that was a Sector 11 type of floor (like DOOM E1M8).

Awful. AWFUL MAP! Skip this shit! Or better yet, don't bother with the secret levels at all, unless you want to lose your sanity!


MAP16: Vidhead

Thank God for the berserk at the start. I don't think I would have made it past the starting room. Not to mention the half-used blue armor was a great extra help (even the two green armors later on). With that said, the level does contain a few tricks up sleeve and the annoying 10% dmg slime (sometimes 20% as well? talk about inconsistent damage!) returns. There are a few annoying ambushes as well but even though I died twice (from an archvile and acid), the challenge in this level was way better than the frustrating secret levels. I didn't mind this too much other than the stupid acid being everywhere.

Also (after consulting map separately in ZDoom to find out the secrets), it seems like I grabbed the blue key earlier through the gates by accident. I was supposed to open the nearby wall, kill the Mancubus and then go into the cage and grab the blue key. I'm talking about that acid room where you fought the chaingunners and archviles that resurrected them.

I only want to ask what's with those glitchy/tutti-frutti doors/walls? I encountered a fair amount of glitched areas in a few maps so far. I wonder if it's actually intended to emulate the shitty 1994 wads design or what? It was kinda meh and hopefully the next map is better.


MAP17: Passive Social Test Lab

Alright, time to stop being so nice. Until I reached the secret levels (basically the first half of the megawad), I had fun with the megawad. Challenge was fair and the design of the levels was actually fine.
Now, the levels are getting shittier as you progress and they stop being fun. Up until the last part of the map, I had fun with this level. Died once to the blue key trap but other than that, the other challenge presented in this map was trying to kill those groups of archviles. Killing those groups of archies in cages wasn't too bad and I was able to overcome this challenge just fine.

Then I get to the very last part of the level. What do you get? Lots more archviles. And if that wasn't enough, you have to press those switches (they spawn more revenants and archviles, though these I didn't mind because they appear in a low number at a time) and then go back to find many Cyberdemons have showed up as well. Most of those pillars contain cell packs but there is one that also contains the yellow key required to finish the level.

You can already tell that I died lots of times (about 25 or so) to these last parts and no wonder it's the same fucking monsters that are causing all this pain. This is what happens when the mapper abuses a particular enemy. I just don't understand why the map had to be ruined with the AV spam at end. I wouldn't have minded if you fought 5 AVs at most and same goes to the Cyberdemons. But no, there had to be like 20 of them. Until that point, the map was alright. But after that, I changed my opinion. This map sucks!


MAP18: Slime Activation Facility
It was shorter than I expected and was a bit frustrated at the 5 deaths I've had near the end because I ran out of all ammo (despite starting the level with 300 cells and nothing else) and didn't have enough ammo to kill the cybers and if I loaded an earlier save to kill the Cybers quickly, I didn't have enough to kill the archviles and barons. No, I didn't realize there was a slow crusher that could kill the monsters for me. Coupled with the limited radiation suits and this forced me to restart the map from the save at end of MAP17.

Getting back in 5 minutes without using any precious cells (though the beginning was annoying having to punch sergeants because it was hard to hit them and lost quite a bit of health and armor), and killing the Cybers with 2-3 BFG shots saved the day because I had plenty of ammo for everything else. Then I realized there was a slow crusher that could have helped much earlier. Oops.

Other than that, there isn't much to say. The map isn't THAT bad compared to some previous maps. I only wish the author toned down the Cyberdemon usage at this point, it was just getting irritating but I will take MAP18 over previous 4 maps any day!


MAP19: The Empty Box Abyss
This map was quite annoying and also killed me about 5 times but at least I figured out that pressing on each box/crate would lower it. There was only one cybie and archie in the whole map, I think but even then I still suffered quite a bit in this level. It was difficult to make enemies infight and then try to endure the 10% damage acid when the radiation suit runs out. And only when the map was over I noticed an invulnerability sphere and various goodies the map had. Don't forget to also grab the megasphere near exit (I think it was located near exit, I forgot).

The map was kinda meh overall. However, it could have been much worse. It could have contained a 20% damaging floor. :P


MAP20: The Top of the Bottom
Well, it was better than the previous maps, that's for sure. I only died once (and two more times when trying to grab a secret containing cell charges) due to falling into inescapable 20 dmg pit. Yes, the archvile blasted me a few times and eventually threw me into pit. But that was only an unfortunate event when trying to kill those monsters around that area.

There is a surprise cyber that didn't cause too much trouble. Grabbing the soulsphere (when my health got to 100% or lower) was a winning move because I got hit once by a cyber's rocket (when I climbed up to him and he took down the elevator at same time?) which brought me down to like 90% health and no armor. I didn't grab that megasphere because I saved it for the end but after going back down, eventually I managed to bring the cybie on ground level with the elevator, which was easier to handle.

Grabbing the blue key was annoying on that timed elevator. I had to try several times to make it in time before the platform raised. It was difficult but not impossible to get it. The map was interesting overall and slightly reminded me from Downtown from original DOOM 2.


MAP21: Niven's Ravine
A surprisingly easy map. Don't worry about the Cyberdemon at start, he will teleport away if you try to fire in advance or wave the fist. He will be fought at the very end. Until then, you must kill a bunch of enemies that stand in your way, perform platforming and then later on look for the Cyberdemon on the ledge (if you have sufficient cells, you can take him down with the Plasma in advance, while watching for those chaingunners in cages, then you should be fine).

Traps aren't difficult to avoid, I even reached the exit with still having around 150% health and armor. More problematic was having to backtrack to find the secrets that I've missed but thankfully the author was kind enough to allow backtracking and there's a few radiation suits to do so. The lava also did only 5% damage, which was inconsistent with how the acid did 10-20% damage in previous maps. I liked this one. It was probably to warm up for the next maps.


MAP22: Pournelle's Hole
Another interesting map with some tough but fair battles.
I died 5 times overall but this time I acknowledge my mistakes and eventually succeeded with a bit of saving during the battles. The ambush at the RL comes to mind, it was tricky because you could rocket yourself or get surrounded and killed. I eventually succeeded at my third attempt. And then comes the big battle with various monsters and even three cybies! Also that archvile at the exit that is more annoying to kill because you would accidentally step on the exit before killing everyone. Anyway, for the battle itself, just run in circles and try getting the 3 cybers to infight with everyone else. Took a few attempts, even saving mid-battle but not too hard.

It was an okay map but I admit I didn't like having to wait a whole minute for the elevator to backtrack to beginning, since I still had to kill a few enemies (a chaingunner and hell knight inside some pillars), find a secret and grab more items before exiting. What about the next map?


MAP23: Valley of Mirth
Or shall I say, Valley of FILTH! I hated this map to be honest. One of the WORST Doom experiences I've ever had in my life and with around 80-100 deaths to boot if we count both attempts of the map, as I had to restart the map from beginning with the end of MAP22 save because I couldn't get 100% thanks to those fucking archviles still remaining and ending up with 0 ammo on everything. The map would have been relatively fine (and still brutal/frustrating at times) if it weren't for those FUCKING ARCHVILES that constantly teleport on those two pillars.


Maybe I missed a hidden/secret switch to kill those archviles that were hidden away in a closet, they were just too damn many and seemed like never ending! Not to mention the sprites flickering at times and getting hit/killed by an invisible projectile OR the stupid archvile attack that didn't even show up on screen and I got blasted randomly or with a delayed attack.

I couldn't get the blue skull key by just strafe running, I tried a few times but I would fall into lava, so I only reached it with an archvile jump. The blue key is required to access the invulnerability, which is very needed.

To get the secret elevator to temporary lower (which contains two switches, near those archviles), you must press on that wall near fire column object. It's located near where you get the berserk which near where the exit would be located. Pressing the switches would temporary lower those pillars to allow picking up some goodies but also teleport the archviles into the battlefield, so I wasn't sure if it was worth it.


Anyway, my strategy (on the second attempt of playing the map, after loading the saved game at end of MAP22) was to make absolutely everything infight as much as possible. Just run around the map and savescum your way to victory while killing the important enemies, such as the AVs with rockets and Cybers with BFG. Sometimes I even abused the vanilla save glitch like when getting flamed by archvile, save, die, reload and the attack will be harmless (usually).

Eventually, I succeeded doing this map 100% everything (about 117% kills) but it was just unfun and miserable and I was ALMOST tempted to either use IDDQD or IDFA to cheat through this garbage map but thankfully, I managed to do it legit without cheats, just lots of savescumming to succeed.


Wait, what do you mean there was a secret crusher to kill the hidden archviles? Where? I KNEW I was missing something! Well I won't go back to redo the map but knowing about that makes me feel bad. At least I'm not the only one disliking this map.

The only positive I have to say about the map? It is shaped like a stinky foot and it is a reference to Ultimate Doom's E3M2 being shaped like a hand, as I also noticed when looking at the automap and others have already pointed out earlier. But even that cool reference didn't save the map from being awful.


Fuck this map! Hope the remaining maps are better!


MAP24: Designyland
The impression I got from this map was it felt like The Chasm combined with The Living End. Considering the MAP24 slot, it was inevitable we would get the Down the Drain equivalent to The Chasm. But thankfully, it wasn't this bad. It was sort of enjoyable and navigating the catwalks wasn't that bad. I still died about 5 times, which were 2-3 times from that part with many barons, once from getting attacked by two archviles at same time and I guess I once felt into an inescapable pit at one point in the map (I looked for teleporters and didn't find any in that area).

But thankfully, the map is sort of enjoyable. Once making out of the beginning parts where monsters are almost everywhere, there are plenty of resources to deal with them all (two megaspheres, two soulspheres, etc) that you will be well stocked on health and armor. Most of the ambushes weren't that bad either. It was surprisingly fun and a much better map than the garbage MAP23 turned out to be.


MAP25: The Three Buffets
A map that turned out surprisingly easy and fun. Map is generous with resources, especially ammo and health. I almost ended up fully maxed (46 shells, while everything else was at maximum).
I still managed to die once at the unexpected blue armor trap. Had survived the initial ambush (chaingunner and revenant) with 19% health but the archie took out my last health. Too bad, I ALMOST beat the map without dying! What should have been a flawless run turned into an unfortunate unavoidable death. And partly because I didn't feel like grabbing that soulsphere offered right in front of me. Didn't realize there were plenty of soulspheres and even a secret megasphere. Oh well. :P

Oh and after loading save to try again and clear that room, the room that contained those monsters on the blue armor ambush, it contained ANOTHER two soulspheres. What's up with the author's generosity sometimes? It seems weird how all this is balanced. Just odd to see so many soulspheres lying around (these two were very useful to get my health back after this ambush).

On another note, that part where you had to cross that bloody river and time that puzzle (which was REQUIRED to beat the map, I initially thought was an optional area) was annoying but not difficult to complete (more annoying was missing a soulsphere somewhere in that area and going back to get it). Other than that, good map.


MAP26: Everyone Loves the Beach
Oh boy, a slaughtermap! Wait a second. Was that an enjoyable slaughtermap? I thought it's gonna be MAP23 all over again.


When you first start, just run like hell (in turn should also make most monsters infight) and note the resources (7 megaspheres, plenty of cell packs, BFG) are located over the mini islands that require you to run through lava to reach them. Use the BFG to quickly kill the archviles that show up, then clear up the remaining mess later or monsters appearing in your way. If you run low on health, consider grabbing those medkits and eventually when at 50% health or so, grab a new megasphere to keep yourself in good shape.

I still died about 5-6 times but the map was actually fun overall. I inspected the map separately in ZDoom and saw there were supposed to be much more archviles unleashed, while I only counted about 10-15 corpses in map overall. I didn't bother checking with IDCLIP in Chocolate Doom (as I preferred to not cheat at all in my chocolate doom playthrough) but I'm going to assume either the remaining archviles (in the closet) got crushed off-screen somehow OR they failed to teleport as a result of a vanilla bug where loading a saved game will make all monsters inactive, which can in turn screw up ambushes as I've seen it happen sometimes in a couple maps I've played before in vanilla/chocolate. Though I still ended up with 105% kills at the end of the day, I am just not sure if I really killed them all or not. Nice map.


MAP27: Lakeside Rentals
Another nice and somewhat easy map, the traps are a lot more fair and manageable, even the initial horde ambush requiring BFG and the hordes of archviles that showed up a few times. I still managed to die once at the very last archvile ambush when they started resurrecting monsters and I even hit myself with rockets, ultimately trying to run away but killed by last 1-2 archviles. Was so close to beat this map without dying, considering RNG was actually on my side this time around. Oh well. :P

I don't have much to say other than I enjoyed my time with it, it was fun and well balanced. Though that secret near crusher room (containing mini cell charges) took some time to figure out, I think I may have looked up an YT video to see exactly how to access it, not that I needed any more cells but I still wanted to 100% the map. Good map.

MAP28: Closing Crush
Another brutal map that I somehow beat without dying (not sure how I managed), I even ran low on ammo and health at some points towards end. Yet I still came up victorious. The cybie was an unexpected surprise because I didn't notice him at first but somehow I managed to run before I even noticed rockets flying towards me.

I also learned an important lesson that I shouldn't just shoot monsters as soon as they show up. I should try to make them infight and save lots of ammo. Tried to get the cyber infight with various monsters when was running very short on ammo but this only worked partially because not many were interested in fighting him or they died trying. Eventually, I took them all out.


I only wish I found the invulnerability secret earlier, it would have been more useful rather than grabbing it when almost everyone was dead.


MAP29: Choke
Another easy and fun map. The solution is simple. Just make the hell knights infight with the revenants, while running in circles while occasionally pressing the gates and grabbing a megasphere once in a while (when health is around 50-90%). Don't worry, there's 8 megaspheres in the whole map and I think I only needed 2-3 of them (the rest were grabbed after I finished the map) but all that help is still appreciated, nonetheless.

After you get most enemies dead, kill the survivors and prepare to take down two cybers (one on each side). Use your BFG and quickly get rid of them. Collect the skull keys on each side.

After I got to the end and saved, I noticed a bunch of rockets and switches. I expected some nasty archvile ambush but it turned out to be the exit. That's it? Oh and there's a secret on the opposite side, it contains an invulnerability which I didn't even need and I am not exactly sure where it would have worked the best, maybe against the Cybers?

Overall, it was a simple map, yet probably one of the most enjoyable maps in the entire megawad.


MAP30: The Great Filter
And now for the final level. Grab the 4 backpacks, kill the 4 Cyberdemons quickly and activate the 4 switches as fast as you can in order (hint: look at the platforms and press them in order from tallest to shortest) to grab 4 megaspheres when needed and temporary reveal the central bloody walls containing the Romero's head and 4 more berserk packs. Yes, I had to look up an YT video to see the solution quickly because I couldn't figure it out at first.

Getting 100% was painful in this map due to vanilla limitations. If I died and loaded save, the final boss telefrags himself. This means that I had to beat the map in one go, which probably took around 30+ minutes, as I would always get screwed at the last elevator that raises just before I get there. It was nowhere near as painful as those 4 maps (heh) I fucking hated, so I wasn't having an awful time but doing it over and over until doing it right was quite exhausting. Speedrunning it (without killing the cybers) was fun because I succeeded in under a minute. But doing it while killing the 4 cybers while grabbing all the items and avoiding getting telefragged, it wasn't an easy task, even when I started the level with 200% health and armor and lots of ammo.

If I had played the megawad in PrBoom+ or whatever, I would have probably had more fun. Chocolate Doom (and also vanilla Doom) is a bit too limited for my taste. And the vanilla glitches/limitations are also annoying. Overall, it was an interesting finale and different enough compared to the usual IOS map.


Total Deaths: Around 236-250 (MAP07-MAP08, MAP10, MAP13, MAP15, MAP31-MAP32, MAP16-MAP20, MAP22-MAP27, MAP30)

Depending if we take into account trying to complete MAP30 100% without saving, as Chocolate causes the level to end upon loading the game, so this is the cause of additional 15 deaths. I have lost track on the amount of deaths on those four awful maps (MAP31, MAP32, MAP17, MAP23), so I rounded to the nearest number I thought of. In MAP23's case, I added 100 deaths. These 4 maps combined brought nearly 200 deaths.


Screenshots (only from MAP21 to MAP30):















Closing Thoughts: I didn't have any expectations playing this megawad. I wasn't familiar with the author's works beyond getting mentioned as the author of "Toilet of the Gods", which I never played before.


And since I had no interest in checking wads that weren't finalized and uploaded to idgames that were chosen to the prior months of DW Megawad club, after seeing this vanilla wad getting chosen for the club, despite not being familiar with it and only briefly hearing of it before, I thought the wad would be just another typical vanilla Doom 2 megawad. Boy, I was wrong! There were some really fun maps in there but design wise, it wasn't anything special or spectacular. Some maps were awfully designed (deliberately or not) and others were frustrating to no end (most notably the secret levels, the last part of MAP17 and the entirety of MAP23).

I understand it was made deliberately ugly or unbalanced but I feel like if the author stuck with DOOM2 and D2TWID-inspired maps (which a couple maps proved to be fun experiences), the megawad would have turned out a lot better overall.


Part of my blame is also the source port chosen. Normally, I'd go with PrBoom+ or similar but in this case, after seeing the wad was tested in Chocolate Doom (and not expecting to contain infuriating maps), I decided to use Chocolate as well and go an extra mile with keyboard only. The result was fine for the most part and I appreciated the extra challenge in many levels (except those ridiculously hard ones).

I will have to give the author some credit because chocolate doom never crashed to me and was able to save in every map just fine. I obviously disabled the awful vanilla save (and demo) limit long ago in the setup executable. That vanilla save game limit is one of the worst parts of vanilla Doom, so I never use the vanilla executable nowadays to play vanilla wads, only for original IWADS, 90s wads and a rare vanilla wad like DOOM ZERO.

But to play vanilla tested wads released nowadays, I either use Chocolate, Crispy, Eternity, PrBoom+ or other similar ports. I just don't like the low res display of vanilla/chocolate because it looks like a mess of pixels, which also hurts my eyes sometimes.


To not drag it further, I will say Down the Drain was a mixed bag overall. Some great maps, some forgettable maps and some truly awful maps that had no place in a wad like this.


Votes for the next month:

+++ H2H-Xmas
+++ Number One Kill The Next Generation
+++ Fragport


I'm surprised that H2H-Xmas wasn't played before. I had it installed last year in DOSBox (it was a difficult process and don't actually remember the exact steps doing it) and haven't played yet. I wouldn't mind playing it properly this time around (I only played it exactly a decade ago with Aeons of Death mod in ZDoom)


Have a nice day!

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MAP29: The Choke. Played on DSDA v0.24, UV, PS. 162/162 K, 1/1 S, 9/9 I. Completion time 11:04.


And yet another good one, infight grounds between two forts. With my moves the start is a bit slow, though, it takes a while to get revenants and hell knights to get mad at each other. When I found about the cybers, I tried luring them out with mixed success -- they'd eventually enter the battlefield, but long after they were really useful for anything else than small scale busywork. It's there I wasted the secret invuln sphere, too, trying to get the other cybie out.


But whatevs, I found the map fun, although unlike some of the previous maps, I don't know if repeated playthroughs would turn out significantly better.




Looking at other votes for December, I'll update my votes to include the triple-feature. Despite my plans for taking a small break, I'd still love to have an excuse to restart my Fractured Worlds playthrough. So:


+++ Doom 2 in Spain Only

+++ Solar Struggle

+++ Overboard & Running Late 2 & Fractured Worlds

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Nice concept, but I'm not sure about how it plays. To kill everything efficiently, you're gonna need to make the cybers infight efficiently, but there's just no way to do that reliably as far as I can tell; they're too likely to get stuck in the doorway or something. I spent many attempts trying to improve on this run, but it didn't happen.





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Map 29 : Choke





Choke is the map where I love the concept but I have a mild opinion about its execution. As map 32, you landed in a no man's land among a battle between two factions. You're locked with your SSG and you have to create as much infights as possible because as usual, Benjogami pays you in ammunition like a Chinese worker.


However, they're 8 megaspheres available , which is a feat ! Moreover, if you're a bit clever, you can circlestrafe easily by passing through the back of the castles. No matter how cheesable the fight is, the battle remains quite boring because monsters and especially the hell knights take too much time to leave their fortress You can try to get the RL perched on the remparts in order to accelerate the process but I recommand you to keep the rockets for the cyberdemons.


If you kept enoug ammo , both cyberdemons represent more a waste of time than else since you can shoot them through the windows while they can't reach you.


Still a great map despite the tedious gameplay.


Grade : B+



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Level 28, "Closing Crush"



Full disclosure, I'm tired today. I don't have the energy to give this an honest attempt. I'll just use god mode from the start, and if I think the level seems fun and balanced, I might attempt it for real later.


After finishing the level, I've come to the conclusion that the level seems fun and balanced. I will now replay it, without cheats.




It says a lot about a level, that once I was done with it I decided to go back and play it again, even though I was feeling tired.


The ammo balancing seems a bit tight at first, but if you use some infighting (which the map seems to be almost designed around) you have more than enough.


The powerups were located with just enough sparcity.


I could've used a couple more health pickups at the starting area, but that's a minor nitpick.


A really good level. 5/5.


Level 29, "Choke"



This level was a lot more simplistic than the last one. 


I like the "2 fortresses" aesthetic, but compared to the last level (which I just played), this one feels a bit lackluster.


Level 28 had ambushes, traps, teleporting monsters, carefully placed archviles, a cyber demon in a platform you could lower...


This level only has 80 HKs placed in a group, 80 Revenants placed in a different group, and 2 hidden Cibies, whom don't really do much.


Mind you, HKs and Revenants are probably my 2 favourite monsters in doom. But the presentation here was a bit dissapointing.


This level gets an OK, because it wasn't bad. But it doesn't get any higher grades, because I found it underwhelming.




My ratings so far (we're almost at the end):


5/5 Stars (Levels I REALLY liked):

Level 27, "Lakeside Rentals", Level 28, "Closing Crush"


4,5/5 Stars (Levels I liked quite a bit):

Level 18, "Slime Activation Facility", Level 21, "Niven’s Ravine"


4/5 Stars (Levels I liked):

Level 1, "From Unknown", Level 2, "Someone's Castle", Level 3, "Private Island", Level 6, "Baloney Town", Level 9, "Forts and Alleys", 

Level 12, "Into the Tomb", Level 14, "The Perfect Human Cage", Level 31, "Down the Drain", Level 16, "Vidhead", Level 17, "Passive Social Test Lab",

Level 19, "The Empty Box Abyss", Level 20, "The Top of the Bottom", Level 22, "Pournelle’s Hole", Level 25, "The Three Buffets"


3/5 stars (Levels I found ok):

Level 7, "The Perfect Gerbil Cage", Level 8, "Deep Tech", Level 11, "Cache Raiders", Level 13, "Vet and Process", Level 32, "WW1.wad", 

Level 26, "Everyone Loves the Beach", Level 29, "Choke"


2/5 stars (Levels I didn't like):

Level 4, "Kick the Can", Level 5, "Rolling Down", Level 10, "Here n There, Now n Then", Level 24, "Designyland"


1/5 stars (Levels I REALLY didn't like):

Level 15, "Doors of Opportunities", Level 23: "Valley of Mirth"


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MAP27: Lakeside Rentals


This map reminded me a bit of Cydonia which the club played a short time ago, and is a quite Plutonic map with many likable ambushes. You have to follow a circular path around a damaging lava lake, and monsters emerging from different types of closets or corners will make Doomguy work to reach his goal. At the center of the lake, two times an island with archviles will emerge eventually. The encounters are quite varied, from the "wow so much meat" ambush at the BFG to the cat-and-mouse play with the single viles in the area following, up to even a crusher fight. Very fun.


Rating: 9/10
Difficulty: 6/10


MAP28: Closing Crush


The theme of roughly circular map layouts continues. Here we have an one-way loop with two alternate paths. We start in a small outdoor hellish rock area surrounded by three caves (one of them will split in two corridors), which will all lead to a second courtyard with several meaty and dangerous monsters. The grey rock path will allow you to realize a full loop; the SSG staircase is an alternative as a slightly shorter path to the second courtyard. Both paths end in elevated balconies letting you jump down but not climb up, and if you enter the building you'll reach the start again via the third (red rock) cave.

The first challenge is to clear the first area with limited ammo, but as most monsters are HKs and revenants infighting will do the trick. Then you'll want to clear two areas with archviles, getting now finally some better supplies like a large stash of rockets. Finally you are ready to loop through the map and take care of the rest of its population, and it eventually will open up with additional connections between both outdoor areas. The map is a ton of fun if you like moving around in a semi-pacifist style and incite chaos everywhere. There's also an hidden invul to help you with this task, and a radsuit secret to access a part with lava safely.


Rating: 8,5/10
Difficulty: 5/10

MAP29: Choke


LOL, that one made me remember these battle simulators "Jesus vs. 3000 Godzillas" or similar from a couple of years ago. Two identical fortresses are populated by our most popular infighters (one by hell knights and one by revenants), and inside of each of them you'll not only find a key crucial to escape, but also a cyberdemon and the bigger weapons. At the start you get only the SSG, so infighting is the way to go in the first part, until you can squeeze inside one of the fortresses and gather RL and BFG, or liberate the cyb to do some work for you. If this is not enough, then there is also an invul in a secret, but you have to first run through a long cavern so its useful time will be limited, nice troll move. Strange that no vile was put in here as a surprise enemy near the end, I had expected at least a couple of them. Cute concept but I think to really like it I would have expected a little bit more variation.


Rating: 6/10
Difficulty: 4/10

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MAP 30 – The Great Filter

DSDA-Doom v0.24.3, UV, Continuous, blind run w/saves


Down the Drain was full of setups and ideas that could be appreciated and successfully played only with foreknowledge. The Great Filter was the crowning moment of that recipe, an Icon of Sin that could not be defeated unless the player stops, realises how everything works, then performs the sequence flawlessly. With four Cyberdemons and four monster spawners ready to harass Doomguy relentlessly in a big 8-pointed star chamber, such understanding must be obtained outside of the game and preferably with an editor. The backpacks were a scornful mockery to continuous players who lost their one in the secret maps (I kept mine because I cheated at the end of MAP31), and the weaponry was just a distraction, since it was better to relinquish combat and concentrate on the puzzle instead.



Every switch pillar lowered the part of the central blood fountain that matched its tallness. At the fountain’s core, a Romero head was hiding along with Berserk packs for an easy dispatchment. The order in which the switches must be pressed was counter-intuitive, considering that the stairs suggested a clockwise sequence; the solution was in fact anti-clockwise, starting from the tallest column and ending with the shortest one. Not extremely satisfying to figure out, as the majority of IoS endgames, at least it could be executed consistently. I did it in 27 s at my second conscious attempt (current record is just below 24).

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MAP23: Valley of Mirth

UV, pistol start, saves

100% kills, 1/1 secrets 


Beat this one yesterday but only getting to write this today, so forgive me if my memory is off. Anyhoo, this hellish canyon immediately calls Slough of Despair to mind. Indeed, if you check the automap you'll see this map is in the shape of a foot instead of the oft-remarked on hand that the former map is in the shape of. The midi is a funny little track from Card Captor Sakura. Quite loud though, that opening gave me a bit of a scare when I first started this map.


For much of this map's runtime I couldn't tell whether I liked or disliked it. It's a lot more sandboxy than the maps that came before, you'll want to start off going for the rocket launcher, slip past the cybie to fill up your rockets, and then take out the two archies at the start and get the other weapons. From here on, kill as much stuff with infighting as you can, because there isn't as much ammo as it feels like in this map. By far the iffiest part of this map is the small "mountain" you have to take lifts up. For the sake of your patience, do not slowly shamble your way up these things, dealing with the ever finicky monster teleporters, making your way down and slowly back up the mountain to kill everything. I was doing that at first and it was miserable. Better thing to do is just dart up to the top and unleash those cybies, then grab the BFG. The invuln too can be grabbed right away, or saved after you do some infighting, I think in mine I grabbed it right away. Otherwise, the secret is fun, although knowing to jump on both platforms to trigger the archvile crushers can be unintuitive.


This map can be a big exercise in tedium if you play it wrong, but if you play it right it can be pretty exciting. 

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MAP30 - “The Great Filter”
I'm sorry to say the wad ends with another map that really got to me. As far as IoS maps go the idea is pretty good actually, it's interesting to have one where victory does NOT depend on timing your shots or lining up your aim or even using rockets. Unfortunately the way the lifts are set up caused me a lot of frustration. It took me some time to figure out the pattern, but once I did it was quite satisfying to get a glimpse of Romero before he was hidden; no problem, I missed him this time but now I know what to do, right? Proceed to repeat the exact same sequence, Romero stays hidden... turns out that if you do the switches out of order, or miss the time window, you have to wait (and wait and wait and wait...) and make sure that the inner lift (which you can't see) is back to its original position before you do the sequence again. It took me half an hour of sheer frustration before I figured out the problem and got it to work again, at which point I was so soured on the map. Restarting the level should've helped, but I also didn't get the timing exactly right the first time after the restart, which made me not immediately realize the problem. I'd like this not to affect my verdict, but for good or ill the impressions left by a final map or chapter or any kind of ending do have a disproportionate weight on how many of us view a piece as a whole.


Final thoughts
As expected from most megawads I liked some maps more than others, but the only ones that genuinely bothered me were the secret and the finale, which is a shame because it's the halfway point and the end. I mostly enjoyed the minimalist and gimmicky design of the wad, though some maps grated a bit, usually when overdoing it with what felt like intentionally bad progression. There were lots of really clever ones though, and I loved the experimental aspect especially in a completely vanilla wad. The texturing choices are occasionally just ugly, but in other places the apparent mismatch is quite creative, and fireblu gets some really funny usages (I think this must be a Benjogami special); I mentioned the MAP25 opening but there were several other instances too. Despite the bitter finale (the end map isn't even so bad, and has some creative ideas, but the setup ended up unnecessarily frustrating me) my overall impressions are still very positive, and it's clear from looking at my writeups that I enjoyed the majority of the maps.
Total completion time was just over 7 hours, but that's not counting the copious reloading on a couple of maps (30 and 31), which probably pushes it closer to 9. Most of the maps were very quick, I'm not a fast player but I cleared most of them in 10-15 minutes, with the occasional one as low as 5 minutes, even maxing a few in such short times. I like long adventures once in a while, but I admit that for a full 32-map megawad I'm more drawn to shorter maps, it makes the total completion time feel less draining, and for this kind of gimmicky design the length was just right.
I'd like to explore more of Benjogami's work, my understanding is that Down The Drain is quite different (and much more my kind of map compared to crazy slaughters like World Orifice) but I'd love to see more of this unusual style and experimentation.

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MAP30: The Great Filter. Played on DSDA v0.24, UV, PS. 4/4 K, 0/0 S, 2/8 I. Completion time 4:04. Used a filthy cheat.


I don't particularly like IoS fights.

I don't like roaming cyberdemons my stupid maxing tendencies compel me to take care of by myself.

And I hate tightly tuned timed lifts that require (near-)flawless execution.


Ugh. I couldn't complete this completely legit, meaning that I didn't find it worth enough to restart and try harder. Instead I used tntem to clear the arena after taking care of the cybers, because otherwise I just wasn't able to do the pillar run fast enough to reveal Romero head. I suppose I could have done it with some luck, with monsters behaving very nicely... but I don't care. At least the blood wasn't hurting.




MAP32: WW1.WAD. Played on DSDA v0.24, UV, PS. 188/190 K, 1/1 S, 0/0 I. Completion time 8:49.


I think it's a good think I skipped secret maps when it was their time, because E2 was already the least to my liking of Down the Drain. Admittedly, I played this after banging my head to the wall with MAP30, so my mood was already a bit sour. Actually the level isn't that bad, in the end my only complaint would have been that I didn't find enough ammo to take care of the cybers. This shouldn't be held against the map, UV-MAXing isn't a human rights issue after all, but I still let it get to me when I was trying to chaingun the second-to-last cybie.


Now there is only map left to play... But I guess I won't bother the club with my views on it, whenever I decide to play it.




It's a bit unfortunate month ends with a sour note, especially when E3 has been mostly fun. Down the Drain isn't my cup of tea, but it's evident it's not designed to appeal to a wider audience. To state the obvious, it's experimental, I'd guess Benjogami wasn't going to let design process drag on by endless detailing, but rather concentrated on combat scenarios and gimmicks to see how they would work. That I respect, and what's more commendable, there are lot of good maps on display here, and I'm glad I didn't give up in mid-E2, because the last third found a sweet spot between experimentation, aesthetics and combat, at least for my tastes.

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map 11: 100% everything, death count: 10 or so


    This turned out to be a very "learn the map then execute" experience.  What worked out for me was to go for shotgun, then the titular cache, then SSG.  Baiting infighting the whole way to thin out the crowds and to handle the low ammo to monster ratio up to that point.  When the coast is clear, then go for chaingun, the finally rocket launcher.  Take out the archvile in a mostly undisturbed state then finish off the map.  The death count was the learning process until it all cam together.  There is enough space to move around in to make an infight approach viable but it could still get uncomfortably tight.  Finished the map low on all ammo except rockets which were full with some extra.  I'd also used all the health on the map when I reached the exit.


    Memorable death was grabbing SSG then dropping into the chaingun cavern not realizing there were revenants loose.  When I came out, a bony beatdown awaited.


map 12: 100% kills, 1/3 secrets, death count: 8 or so


     Are you aware of TimesOfDeaths Reality challenge maps where no health and armor whatsoever is provided and you're challenged with finishing what would be a simple map with no recovery?  This felt like Down the Drain's answer to that sort of concept.  On HMP, there is health and armor provided but it's very limited.  No notable deaths either; they were all in the pursuit of learning the map layout.  Some infight baiting with luring hellknights/revenants into mancubus fire to get them out of the picture temporarily but most of the monster population I killed myself.  When I put down the last monster, I was running low on health and ammo.  Then I land in a slime pit after the long drop and barely escape intact with under 20% health.  The one secret I found was such a tease, providing tons of bullets long after the need has passed.

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When I'm not recording, I'll often type some combination of IDDQD/IDCLIP/IDDTx2 just to figure out what the hell is going on with a map before going back to playing seriously, and this was an example of that. When that process was done, I had a good time. I'll take any excuse to aggressively spam the BFG at cybers.






Final thoughts:
On average, I enjoyed the wad more as it went on; I thought the last episode was the best and the first episode was the least good. Had a positive experience overall, but it won't go down as one of my favorite wads. As far as Benjogami goes, I much prefer his work in Toilet of the Gods, Abandon (though I've only played up to map05), and probably Flotsam (haven't played at all, but it seems unavoidable). All things considered, Down The Drain is a memorable wad for better or worse, and it was quite entertaining to watch the club react to the many varieties of weird shit contained within it.


Favorite maps in no particular order:


Hardest map:

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MAP24: Designyland

UV, pistol start, saves

100% kills, 9/9 secrets


Not done with the homages yet. Here we have one for Doom II's own MAP24, everyone's favourite map, The Chasm. Okay speaking unironically I am quite a fan of The Chasm, it's probably my favourite Doom II map. Benjo's take does contain green slime, but blood is the main damaging liquid of choice here. The midi is from Sailor Moon Another Story, and I honestly loved this one. Very upbeat and catchy.


I'm starting to notice a trend of this set having lots of maps that I dislike in my initial passes, but end up being quite fond of by the time I get to the end. Admittedly having a level with lots of narrow ledges but with the difficulty more scaled up to 2021 sensibilities does make for a bit of a frustrating experience at times, but I enjoyed the non-linear nature this one had, and as long as you stay on the ledges the damaging liquid shouldn't be too annoying (easier said than done yeah yeah). If you end up at the bottom of those narrow red stair platforms but have enemies at the top you'll have a miserable time, but luckily there are ways to get to the top. One of my runs made it to the bottom first and hoo boy I was mad at it. All things considered though, the combat in this level isn't overly difficult, you just have those ledges to worry about. There's also a dreaded platforming secret, but it wasn't too hard and I got it first try. Was worried from the start that I'd get burned by platforming at some point in this map (Benjogami if you're reading this I may still have a grudge against you from the time I booted up Flotsam in UV and was immediately halted by MAP01).


Cute little homage, I enjoyed.


MAP25: The Three Buffets

UV, pistol start, no saves

100% kills, 3/3 secrets


Look at that big monstrosity at the start. Not sure why I haven't mentioned it yet, but Benjogami loves fireblu (and so do I quite frankly). This level is pretty small, a couple small areas with rocky/fleshy/vined textures, a damaging blood area with a race for some soulspheres, and a cavern library with a deadly trap. Midi also from Sailor Moon Another Story, like the last map. Says it's called Cave Theme, but sounds more like a desert sort of theme. Pretty good.


The monster count dipping back down might give some curiosity about what's to come. Is this going to be another map that leaves you starved for the means to defend yourself? Well no, the level throws ammo at you in almost comical amounts. Is health a concern? Not at all, there are quite a few soulspheres in this map and I was already pretty much full on health and armour when I stumbled across the secret megasphere and soulsphere. Boss monsters? Not-a-one, mostly a room filled to the brim with imps and later on some mid-tier ambushes (lots of barons though I suppose). The library ambush for the mega-armour secret will only kill you if you don't see it coming, if you do you just need to have your rockets ready and you'll make quick work of it (doubly so if you grabbed the plasma so you can switch to that to push your way out of danger). There really isn't much that can threaten you in this map if you know what's coming.


Definitely an easier map for this stage of things. There's a bit of humour to its over-the-top doling out of resources though.


MAP26: Everyone Loves the Beach

UV, pistol start, no saves

100% kills, 0/0 secrets 


Far from a peaceful vacation. A small hellish cliffside, a river of lava, and three small islets with some goodies. In the middle of all this are all the monsters you'll be taking down. In a set full of levels that play quite oddly (compliment), it's a cool change of pace to see a map that's as simple as simple can be. The opening donnybrook will have you running through the damaging lava to collect the BFG, fill up on cells, and then get a megasphere. From then on you'll be taking trips periodically to restock on health and cells. The pain elementals and archviles will be your main concern, especially those damn archies who can cause all sorts of trouble in the utter chaos happening on the beach. The cybedemon is oddly harmless considering his overseeing position, but I'm sure the potential for catching strays is there. It's tough to say a ton about a map so simple but it's good old fashioned fun that's sure to be a people pleaser for people who felt alienated by some of the previous maps in the set. Loved it.

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Replayed a few more maps because why not.


I do love the beach - the concept of giving megas for player to invest one or two into staying on the damaging floor as that's where the most space is initally present was pretty fun and unique. Why cram yourself into the infested rocks when you can afford not to?


I'll definitely take a tightly-balanced but creative IoS over ride the pillar(tm) one any time of day.


Didn't find myself a fan of not!chasm, that baron wave is just unpleasant.


Instead of talking about gameplay design for overall thoughts though, I'll turn to another topic - how near enough every map is is a small painting from bird's eye view. Is map 25 supposed to be a bird with a grocery bag? Is map 18's alien(?) about to slap us with a baseball glove or a ping-pong racket? If map 14 is vaguely space rocket control station projection, what is 15 - a massive crane over some old town, a sign of irreversible change to come? Just scrolling through UDB and looking at lines trying to piece together what is going on is a journey in itself.


I'll throw in a vote for

+++ Overboard & Running Late 2 & Fractured Worlds


I'm familiar with all three already, still the best option among current leaders for my taste.

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Let's finish this first:


Final Thoughts


When the DWMC chose Down the Drain for November 2022, I confess I was far from excited. I had little familiarity with @Benjogami’s body of work, largely consisting of slaughter and ultra-challenging WADs with squalid names such as Toilet of the Gods and World Orifice. His single entry in Haste had distinctive elements, stemming from the mapper’s style and peculiar taste, that pushed me firmly away. However, this megaWAD was presented as his “take on a Hell on Earth replacement with no added assets, except midis (…) and bad menu gfx”, and many forum users expressed their fondness for this eclectic creation. I gave it a try, 100% sure that I would eventually opt out.


I had my uncomfortable moments in the second episode, and especially during the secret levels, but I clenched my teeth and kept on playing Down the Drain, gradually realising its qualities, and reaching the end without pushing myself to the limit. Benjogami tested my patience on a few occasions, but he managed to hit one of my sweet spots: playtime rarely exceeded the 20-minute mark and was around 16 minutes per map on average. Consequently, every concept had a time-constrained development that was over before it overstayed its welcome, regardless of my appreciation or dislike. This self-imposed brevity was a saving grace for the megaWAD, and allowed its daring, unconventional ideas to make their way through the wall of my prejudices.


“Dive in and expect the unexpected!” said @dobu gabu maru in his OP, and it was the right attitude to approach Down the Drain. The first suspension of disbelief required accepting the artificial-amateurish design, quoting the shovel ware WADs from the 90s, consisting of blatant misalignments, unbelievable texture choices, absurd shapes, clunky use of sector effects, and in some cases even intentionally bad decisions. While I soon got used to visual imperfections, as I regularly play old map sets of questionable quality, I found the purposefully cryptic progression and awkward situations to be much less bearable. I expressed criticism towards MAP08, MAP10 and MAP19 because of their excesses in that divisive field.


The second big effort was accepting that comprehensive knowledge of the maps was taken for granted. Impromptu reactions were difficult to pull off and resource placement was not friendly to the blind player. I did not want a hardcore challenge, so I opted for continuous play on Ultra-Violence, with savegames mid-level (not during encounters to cheat the RNG or to facilitate anything). I got some pistol-start sensations by self-restraining my weapons (I used only weapons provided in each map, after acquiring them), and I perceived that proper consideration was given to both continuous and pistol-start gameplay. Nevertheless, pistol-start is not the recommended first approach to this megaWAD, while continuous play offered reasonable chances to overcome the hardest encounters, thanks to surplus resources. Most of these maps seemed intriguing to speedrun or to UV-max, after practicing on continuous play, and there was full support for multiplayer.


Benjogami is an expert slaughter mapper that knows how to challenge the most hardened Doomers, so it was refreshing to see him deliver somehow restrained encounters, both in monster numbers and in their organisation. The difficulty felt randomly distributed, with no apparent progression between the episodes and with a few sudden spikes that were perceived even on continuous play. Every level contained an adequate number of secrets, offering valuable items. They were often discovered too late, deferring their use in a subsequent pistol-start run. The secret levels were very difficult to find, as they were protected by obscure mechanisms, almost impossible to figure out during the game. MAP31 was an extra-long, extremely repetitive combat puzzle that bored me to death before realising I could not win, and MAP32 punished continuous players with immediate death and loss of all equipment. I strongly suggest accessing them with IDCLEV and in the right mood for mistreatment.


The most striking surprise was learning that Down the Drain had a storyline, which was even interesting to follow. Doomguy returned to a corrupted Earth and delved deep into the underground technological tomb that mankind dug to cowardly escape the fate of their planet. They opened a portal to Hell, “the only place left for them to go”, then the story abruptly merged into a novel by sci-fi writers Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle, where Doomguy visited a hellish theme park and closed it for good. Nice idea! The soundtrack was a selection of MIDIs unrelated to Doom and sourced on the internet, assigned to the maps in quite a tasteful way. I seldomly mentioned the music in my reviews, except when it strongly contributed to the map’s atmosphere, as it did in a few cases.


Enjoying every single bit of Down the Drain is nearly impossible, because of the ample variety of gameplay solutions and design concepts that were adopted. Benjogami juxtaposed modern sensibility and retrograde graphic renditions; brave trips outside of the players’ comfort zone were side by side with deliberately distasteful choices; brisk combat set pieces were paired with tight enemy & resource arrangements, that could be fully mastered only with prior knowledge. The fluidity of the offer guarantees that this megaWAD has something both good and bad in store for everyone, depending on personal taste and playing, so I cannot recommend this eclectic creation to a specific category of players. Give it a try, be ready to wrinkle your nose and to be amazed at something unexpected. This is what you get when you play a megaWAD like Down the Drain.


Best maps:

MAP 06 – Baloney Town

MAP 11 – Cache Raiders

MAP 27 – Lakeside Rentals

MAP 28 – Closing Crush


Other standout maps:

MAP 03 – Private Island

MAP 07 – The Perfect Gerbil Cage

MAP 17 – Passive Social Test Lab

MAP 20 – The Top of the Bottom

MAP 24 – Designyland


Special mentions maps:

MAP 08 – Deep Tech

MAP 19 – The Empty Box Abyss

MAP 31 – Down the Drain

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Map 30 "The Great Filter"





And Down the Drain concludes with.... an Icon of Sin ! Yipee ! I'm delighted.


The Great Filter could have been easily the worst map in the set but it turns out that the timing-based puzzle is really easy to solve once you know in which order you have to press the columns holding the megaspheres.


Not a great conclusion for this megawad but I wasn't expecting much.


Grade : D+




My final thoughts on Down the Drain


If you managed to not lose your mental sanity during the adventure, Down the Drain is quite an unique experience. Down the Drain is obviously the Benjogami's tribute of Shovelware's era but after digging dipper, DtD is for me a perfect exemple of modern mapping disguised behind shovelwaresque aesthetics.


About the aesthetics, it was the strongest point of the megawad. Sure the  layouts are deliberately abstract and distorted and the textures odiously misaligned but Benjogami revisited the traditional shovelware's ugliness in order to create a mysterious universe which was exciting to explore. The work brought on the architecture and lights gives a special touch. To resume my opinion on the visuals, Benjogami is a genius at making magnificent ugly maps. Down the Drain proved to be hideous and beautiful at the same time.


However, where DtD is very modern resides in the combats and more generally the proposed difficulty. Don't expect to play a "classic megawad" such as memento mori for instance, but rather a serie of deadly experiments and concepts. This megawad proves to be more difficult than 95% of the stuff released during the 90's. Moreover, some maps look like tributes to ToD's stuff such as map 31 and map 26 I really enjoyed. 


Anyway, I was extremly surprised by how demanding DtD was , even by roughly knowing Benjogami's works and mapping style. For my part, it's both a compliment and a reproach. I'm addicted by shovelware stuff : I played hundred wads from the 90's. If Benjogami attempted to imitate at the perfection all the amateur's works from the 1990, I would be totally sure that many players would have found this wad boring and uncreative. On the other hand, I must admit that Down the Drain was a rather disappointing experience for me. The recurrent lack of ammunition or the over-optimized enemy placement severely detract from the charm of the 1990s wads.


There are several maps I utterly hated during my first playthrough because a lot of them don't really require skills but foreknowledge.  I don't think I would have gone all the way if I had played this wad in my corner. This wad is tough but not always for the right reasons.


To summarize my opinion on this wad: I am delighted that this type of megawad exists, I really liked the theme of the maps, the music, the atmosphere in general. These provide a fabulous feeling of nostalgia. On the other hand, the gameplay is often too demanding, there are few occasions where you can really relax. I managed to beat all the maps but honestly many of them represent a distillation of frustration in UV pistol-start. This is clearly not the wad I will play again even if my opinion tends towards the positive. Between Down the Drain and the shovelware content, I will always opt for the shovelware.


If I could give a grade to Down the Drain, it would be a B-. A curiosity certainly, but far from being a classic to play in terms of vanilla mapping.


Now here is my top 5 maps 


1 - Map 31 "Down the Drain" - This map is named after the wad and it's not by chance. It's by far the longest and most difficult, but the concept blew me away. There is a puzzle and combat aspect that is extremely enjoyable. This is the type of map that you either love or hate because of its repetitiveness and difficulty.

2 - Map 26 - "Everyone Loves the Beach" - A little slaughtermap that takes place on a rocky beach with a sea of lava. Lots of ammo and health with some thrilling BFG fights.

3 - Map 25 - "The Three Bankets" - A hellish red canyon of the most classic kind, except that the ammo placement is really delicious, which looks a bit like banquets. The Mario style banjo music is particularly hypnotic.

4 - Map 12 - "Into the Tomb" - A transition map where you enter a huge underground cement base. A real magic comes out of this short map.

5 - Map 03 - "Private Island" - A level where we venture to a Jeff Bezos island (scenario invented by myself). This is exactly the theme I love.


And the top 5 worst maps


1 - Map 19 "The Empty Box Abyss" - An absolute catastrophe this level. Omnipresent slime and darkness, a ton of boxes to use as lifts, an obscure progression centered around obtaining spheres of invisibility. What a turd !

2 - Map 10 "Here n There, Now n Then" - An industrial level with a rhythmic and minimalist music. Most of the fights are a real chore and focus on infighting.

3 - Map 30 "The Great Filter" - An Icon of Sin map, all the more boring. However, once you know the little timing game with the 4 lifts, it is very easy to finish this level.

4 - Map 22 "Pournelle's Hole" - Tyson fights against chaingunners, revenants and nobles of hell, all without armor. These are frustrating and unexciting.

5 - Map 15 "Door of Opportunities" - I like the concept of going through a lot of small sections via a large number of doors in a long straight corridor. However, the progression is unnecessarily confusing, the secret with invulnerability is sadistic and stupid and most of the fights were a chore.


And finally the top 5 hardest maps



1 - Map 31 "Down the Drain" - And by far! Count at least 1h to finish it if everything goes well. Almost 2 hours if you want to do max. The arch-viles must be managed perfectly, otherwise this map becomes a ghost monster factory because of the doors.

2 - Map 23 "Valley of Mirth" - A chaotic interpretation of the E3M2 map from ultimate Doom with a layout that looks like a stinking foot. Wandering cyberdemons, lots of enemy groups, arch-viles as turrets and of course limited ammo and a hard to obtain BFG.

3 - Map 17 "Passive Social Test Lab" - A lab with a diagonal layout and catchy techno music. Lots of arch-viles in cages and cyberdemons to free from their cells await you.

4 - Map 32 "WW1.wad" - This Benjogamian interpretation of the 1914-1918 war will make you envy the real war. Head straight for the slime hole to leave the level or you'll have to kill a bunch of zombie-soldiers shooting at you from all sides as well as cyberdemons/Mastermind perched on top that seem to imitate heavy artillery.

5 - Map 19 "The Empty Box Abyss" - This level was an ordeal but for the wrong reasons.


After playing this wad blind on continuous and a second time on pistol-start I gave :


12 (7 A- and 5 A)

12 B (4 B-, 5 B and 3 B+)

3 C (2 C and one C+)

4 D (1 D and 3 D+)

one E


Thanks for reading  for people who did and thanks Benjogami for releasing this unique megawad.

Edited by Roofi

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Been kinda busy lately, not a lot of writing time :cry:


MAP27: Lakeside Rentals

Kills: 100%

Items: 80%

Secrets: 50%

Time: 6:19


I always think of this map as a parallel to Everyone Loves The Beach. If that map is the most sheer fun, then this is the most pretty map in Down The Drain. I mean, it's not a stunner or anything, but it does quite well resemble Doom I's Inferno with a little more of a Scythe hell spin. Not to say the fights aren't interesting either. I've probably blurted this out 5 times now but it's pretty great with Arch-Viles. The circular layout of the map really compliments the AV's in the middle in both the fight after the Hell Knight mob and ending. I like that said Hell Knight mob too, I find a good strategy is to not waste your BFG and instead hop into the back, grab rockets, and aim, shoot, kill. Down The Drain's corruption seems to have entirely melted away at this point, this and MAP26 are deadass just regular maps at this point.


Grade: A

Difficulty: A-



MAP28: Closing Crush

Kills: 73%

Items: 50%

Secrets: 33%

Time: 5:16


Closing Crush kinda lives as a bit of a mistep in my mind before the ending. Like I really feel like this one should have been shoved back to right after The Three Buffets or something because it's a touch out of place here at the heavy MAP28 slot. Not really much of a problem with the map though, which is a quite fun fast paced challenge before DRN's last stand. The Rocket Launcher is pretty neat here and a little necessary so be sure to pick it up fast. Outside of the more frequent fireblu than what's usual for this episode's second half, visually this map continues on with MAP27's aesthetics. I don't have a lot to say here, Closing Crush feels, again, a little out of place but it's still fun. Good with Arch-Viles too, blah blah blah.


Grade: A-

Difficulty: B



MAP29: Choke

Kills: 22%

Items: 22%

Secrets: 100%

Time: 1:14


Choke is... strange. I mean idk what else this wad would have for MAP29 but I also never really expected anything like this. It's a tale of two castles which you'll definitely want to find the secret invuln for before tackling either. I definitely suggest the Revenant area first while you still have your invuln, you can take the Baron area much slower if you want. I kinda wish there was a little more to this map but this is a perfectly exceptable MAP29 for this wad. Weird and intriguing.


Grade: B-

Difficulty: C



MAP30: The Great Filter

Kills: 5%

Items: 25%

Secrets: 100%

Time: 0:30


To close off Down The Drain we have a semi-anticlimactic Icon Of Sin. I mean again like MAP29 I'm not sure what you'd expect in this slot but for me I still find it a touch on the disappointing side. I mean it's better than... some other Icons out there, the puzzle is sorta creative and fun to figure out, I'll give it that, but outside of that, nothing remarkable. A bit of a shame Down The Drain had to end on a sour note with these two last maps, but I'm not all too sure how else it could end so I'm not really upset.


Grade: C+

Difficulty: D-





Down The Drain is... weird, man. That's the best word for it. It's a weird wad. Definitely the weirdest the DWMC has covered in a long time. On my second playthrough, I'll admit I don't think I liked it as much. I don't think that'll go for many people as this wad benefits from foresight quite a bit I find, but I'll say I think the first time through this wad is a magical experience, and I'd highly recommend going into it knowing as little as possible. Not all of these maps are perfect exactly, but it all comes together to form a wad that is more than the sum of its parts if you ask me. Although I probably don't like it as much now sadly, I probably respect it even more. It's a journey I won't be forgetting any time soon. My final grade for Down The Drain is an A. On the difficulty side... I don't know if I got good or this wad really isn't as hard as I thought it was. Based on what you guys said this month, I think it's the second option. I'll be giving it a difficulty grade of B-. Very inconsistent but outside of a few real menaces it shouldn't be too rough. The difficulty peaks in E2 anyway.


Whole playthrough


Now for the grand ranking!



31: Down The Drain :)
15: Doors Of Opportunities
17: Passive Social Test Lab
26: Everyone Loves The Beach
27: Lakeside Rentals
20: The Top Of The Bottom
19: The Empty Box Abyss
23: Valley Of Mirth
24: Designyland
08: Deep Tech
03: Private Island
14: The Perfect Human Cage
25: The Three Buffets
22: Pournelle's Hole
28: Closing Crush
13: Vet And Process
07: The Perfect Gerbil Cage
05: Rolling Down
21: Niven's Ravine
12: Into The Tomb
11: Cache Raiders
02: Someone's Castle
16: V i d h e a d
29: Choke
01: From: Unknown
09: Forts And Alleys
18: Slime Activation Facility
30: The Great Filter
04: Kick The Can
32: WW1.wad
06: Baloney Town
10: Here N There, Now N Then
31: Down The Drain


Edited by NiGHTS108

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Level 30, "The Great Filter"



Backpack? Hell yeah. Took you long enough.


This was an interesting concept for an Icon of sin fight.


It included quite a bit of trial and error, which I can't say I was a fan of. But once I had figured the pattern, I managed to do it, without cheats.


Similarly to a lot of other Icon of Sin fights, in this level your best option is to not even fire a weapon at all, in order to wake as few monsters as possible. And instead of fighting the monsters directly, your best option is to simply dodge and weave through them, trying to trigger the switches in the correct order, such as to reveal the Icon.




I like how all the systems were linked. The switch which lowered a Megasphere also lowers a platform with a good weapon on the other side of the room. And the very same switch has to be pressed at a specific time, such as to lower the blood cascades.

Sadly, most of these systems go unused for the most part, since by far the best strategy for the level is to simply trigger the switches in the correct order, dash for Romero, and ignore everything else, megaspheres, weapons, and monsters.




It was a creative level, with good enough execution. Sadly, it gets pulled back, precisely because of the fact that it is an Icon of Sin fight.


It gets a 4/5.




There were two levels which I had given a score of 4,5/5, namely, level 18 and level 23. After playing level 30, I decided to go back and play those two levels again, and decide once and for all wether those levels deserved a 4/5, or a full 5/5. It's just nicer for me and my ocd to have set scores without decimal places.


Level 18, "Slime Activation Facility", again



At first, I didn't want to give this level a 5/5, mainly because it uses toxic floors, which I hate.


But on a second playthrough, it truly became clear how good the spacing between the radiation suits is. 


The midi is great, the level looks good (which in this wad is really unusual), the map screen draws a fun doodle, the level doesn't overstay it's welcome, it has creative moments...


If the level didn't use damaging floors, I would like it just a little bit more. But that doesn't mean that the level doesn't deserve the full 5/5.



Level 21, "Niven’s Ravine", again



On a second playthrough, I'm not actually sure why I didn't originally give this level a 5/5. I guess the two 4,5/5 levels (level 18 and level 21) both just came at a time when I was still not really used to the wad's aesthetics, so I was adamant about giving a perfect score.


But now, after playing through the rest of the levels, I guess the style just kinda grew on me.


I definitely won't say this is the preties wad I've ever played. But levels 18 and 21 really aren't ugly.


I used to reserve 5/5 for levels I loved, and I personally give a lot of importance to aesthetics. And since the wad isn't focused on its aesthetics, I was simply not prepared to hand out 5/5.

But the wad very specifically doesn't care about that. Its aim is different and that's ok. What matters is, that these two levels really deliver on exactly what they set out to do.




My finalized ratings:



5/5 Stars:

Level 27, "Lakeside Rentals", Level 28, "Closing Crush", Level 18, "Slime Activation Facility", Level 21, "Niven’s Ravine"


4/5 Stars:

Level 1, "From Unknown", Level 2, "Someone's Castle", Level 3, "Private Island", Level 6, "Baloney Town", Level 9, "Forts and Alleys", 

Level 12, "Into the Tomb", Level 14, "The Perfect Human Cage", Level 31, "Down the Drain", Level 16, "Vidhead", Level 17, "Passive Social Test Lab",

Level 19, "The Empty Box Abyss", Level 20, "The Top of the Bottom", Level 22, "Pournelle’s Hole", Level 25, "The Three Buffets", Level 30, "The Great Filter"


3/5 stars:

Level 7, "The Perfect Gerbil Cage", Level 8, "Deep Tech", Level 11, "Cache Raiders", Level 13, "Vet and Process", Level 32, "WW1.wad", 

Level 26, "Everyone Loves the Beach", Level 29, "Choke"


2/5 stars:

Level 4, "Kick the Can", Level 5, "Rolling Down", Level 10, "Here n There, Now n Then", Level 24, "Designyland"


1/5 stars:

Level 15, "Doors of Opportunities", Level 23: "Valley of Mirth"


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I do want to get back into the swing of partaking in the DWMC, this last month's entry was not my cup of tea however.  I'm looking forward to next month and will likely join no matter what wins.
+++ Solar Struggle
+++ Fragport
+++ Overboard & Running Late 2 & Fractured Worlds

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My closing thoughts on the WAD



I rated each level with a 1 through 5 stars rating. Here are my final ratings:


1/5 Stars:

These are the levels I hated. For at least one reason, my time playing these levels was miserable, and if I were to play through the wad again, I would not hesitate to skip these levels.


There were only two levels which got a 1/5 score:


- Level 15, "Doors of Opportunities"

- Level 23, "Valley of Mirth"


Both of these levels had ridiculously obscure progression, and the encounter design felt unfair and annoying.



2/5 Stars:

These are levels I didn't enjoy. These levels lower the wad's overall quality, at least Imo.


There were 4 levels which received a 2/5 score:


- Level 4, "Kick the Can"

- Level 5, "Rolling Down"

- Level 10, "Here n There, Now n Then"

- Level 24, "Designyland"



3/5 Stars:

These are levels I found ok. They either had nothing interesting about them, or they had strengths and weaknesses which cancelled out.


There were 7 levels which received a 3/5 score:


- Level 7, "The Perfect Gerbil Cage"

- Level 8, "Deep Tech"

- Level 11, "Cache Raiders"
- Level 13, "Vet and Process"

- Level 26, "Everyone Loves the Beach"

- Level 29, "Choke"

- Level 32, "WW1.wad"



Over half of the wad reveived more than 3 stars.


4/5 Stars:

These are levels I enjoyed. They weren't perfect, but they were good. And if a wad were to contain nothing but good levels, it would be a perfect wad.


There were 15 levels which received a 4/5 score. That was the most common score, with almost half of the levels obtaining this score:


- Level 1, "From: Unknown"

- Level 2, "Someone’s Castle"

- Level 3, "Private Island"

- Level 6, "Baloney Town"

- Level 9, "Forts and Alleys"

- Level 12, "Into the Tomb"

- Level 14, "The Perfect Human Cage"

- Level 16, "Vidhead"

- Level 17, "Passive Social Test Lab"

- Level 19, "The Empty Box Abyss"

- Level 20, "The Top of the Bottom"

- Level 22, "Pournelle’s Hole"

- Level 25, "The Three Buffets"

- Level 30, "The Great Filter"

- Level 31, "Down the Drain"



5/5 Stars:

These were the levels I REALLY enjoyed. I either had no complaints, or the complaints I had were not enough to cancel out the fun I felt while playing these levels. I played each of these levels at least twice.


There were 4 levels which received a perfect 5/5 score:


-  Level 18, "Slime Activation Facility"

-  Level 21, "Niven’s Ravine"

-  Level 27, "Lakeside Rentals"

-  Level 28, "Closing Crush"


I'd say my favourite level was level 21, "Niven’s Ravine". The encounters were all fun, and the level felt grand and epic, without dragging on.



These scores give the wad a final average score of around 3,47/5 Stars.







I have to talk about the aesthetics first because, at least imo, the aesthetics were the wad's weakest aspect.


The wad was clearly built using tools that were not ready to generate "beautiful" levels, or at least the level emulates these tools. But some of the mappers choices also affected the end result.


The wad is kinda repetitive with it's texture choice. This is not so big of a problem in the second half, because Doom's textures are designed for bases and hell dungeons, which are the main focus of the latter part of the wad. So the second half is repetitive, but it looks repetitively acceptable. 

The first 10 levels, on the other hand, take place outdoors. And the outdoors textures in doom are pretty ugly. So my eyes really didn't enjoy their time with the first third of the wad.




But the wad isn't meant to be an aesthetics showcase. It's meant to be about gameplay, in pure 90s fashion. And it has the complete right to be like that. And people like me, who give a lot of importance to how a level looks, simply have to suck it up, and appreciate the wad's focus on its own goals, ignoring our own personal ideals of what a "good" map should be.





A lot of wads can get away with not introducing any new music, and just using the default Doom 2 songs. But this wad goes far and beyond, including a whole lot of new music, all of it custom made, all of it enjoyable, all of it good.


A lot of the songs were remixes of popular songs, which is neither here nor there, I just wanted to point that out.


My favourite tracks were the ones used in level 15, level 18, and, of course, level 31.





For me, the gameplay was the best aspect of the wad. 

Every level introduced something new and/or interesting, with the first two thirds of the wad containing a lot of experimental elements.


While the combat was not enjoyable in some levels (15 and 23), the rest of the time most of my dislikes came from progression or aesthetics, rather than from the encounters.


It felt to me like either the wad had some good playtesting to remove most of the annoying elements, or the mapper was simply a natural and had a lot of experience in making fun levels.


The wad built a pretty high bar for gameplay and fun, and almost always reached this bar. Less than a fifth of the levels received a calification worse than "ok" from me. And honestly, this isn't usually the case for me when playing 90s style levels. 




Final veredict:

A pleasant surprise. A couple of misses, but a lot of hits, and a banger soundtrack!


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Map 27: Lakeside Rentals


  Another vacation map that soars past the competition. These self contained , singular gimmick works stick out as the quality progeny in Down the Drain, and I really wish more of the first episode had this instead of whatever the hell was in the first episode. Lakeside Rentals provides both an almost realistic depiction of waterfront property, and a sequence of solid arena fights within the buildings. Each rush between the cabins to avoid the flare of Arch-Vile fire from the center is thrilling, and doing so will only put you at odds against the next horde hidden away. That last rush of VIles once their island connects to the shore is a thrill, as it’s not easy to simply charge them with the BFG, giving them ample room to revive whatever is outside of the huts in the corner. I want to say “Monster Condo” on account of the movement between large wooden spaces, but there’s a lot more creativity here. 


Map 28: Closing Crush


  This one is a blur, a flash of gore and rockets. I’m very glad that the speed and intensity of Everyone Loves the Beach is matched in another combat experience, but Closing Crush is stretched thin between all the progression points that are necessary by comparison to that map. I think Pseudonaut put it best where the first run of the map is going to be a confusing chaos of releasing more and more demons in attempts to search for guns and spheres, including that cluster of Arch-Viles in the western cavern. It’s pretty easy, especially on the east side, to get caught by bigger monsters or Cyberdemon rockets, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough of a problem to damage the image.


Map 29: Choke


  I have been torn on Down the Drain’s artistry. Most cases that I encountered felt more forced that functional, engineered for mimicry and fighting against what are occasionally solid combat ideas. Choke is not like those maps, it is a stark point in the WADs vision.

  On one hand, the statement of Choke is profound. The first impression is one that sours the mood with precision, a dimly lit ravine filled with warring Knights and Revenants, orchestrated by another Radiohead cover. On the surface, it’s a complete downer, dragging along with the necessary infighting parties, the barren wastes between the fortresses, and the outright depressing midi. Where most WADs seek to use the slot to hype up their efforts in architecture and provide one last exhibition of challenge before the token Icon of Sin, Down the Drain brings about a map that shunts happiness so hard, that it brings in to question your entire journey here. Was it worth it? Choke would have you second guess that, and not in a way that makes me feel like I’ve wasted my time, but rather in a futile existential form over much longer than just a playthrough. 

  On the other hand, the seams in this presentation show. The one secret in this map is an invulnerability that turns the struggle into a brief power fantasy, Benjo’s earlier comments might suggest that the sterile and oppressive environment is a Team Fortress 2 reference, and the title, which I believed to be full of weight and importance with its simplicity and connotation, is probably just there because it’s the last lyric in the Radiohead song. I want to take it overly seriously, because that’s the whole point of loading your map with all of these elements, but the maker’s hand might as well have been drawn into the ceiling.

  The gameplay is fine, an idea that holds true and has a lot of flexibility depending on how soon you can acquire the weapons, getting the Cyberdemons out, finding the secret, etc. and so forth. Choke’s strength goes beyond simply killing demons, it is punctuation on the fact that Down the Drain doesn’t exist exclusively to entertain you.


Map 30: The Great Filter


  Merciful and clean, The Great Filter is a relatively unique and tightly wound movement puzzle to blast Romero. I have yet to finish this map without SR50ing at some point in the run, as the lifts are so precise that I can’t catch Romero from simply straferunning alone. It was very possible for Benjo to simply make a grandiose Icon of Sin in order to emulate the pompousness of a megawad closer “improving” on the idea, so I am thankful for the restraint. It’s suitable.




  Down the Drain is a challenge. It is a challenge in design to balance combat that draws from modern understandings of flow with direction in mindset to interpret the ideals of 90s mapping, visual schema from the original IWAD that demands a rework in what each texture represents to preserve relevancy, and pop culture that has melded into the DNA of the maps. It is a challenge for the player, not only with Benjogami’s history of making ridiculously difficult maps suggesting that several of these levels will follow suit, but also in trying to find the same wavelength that makes sense of the inspiration on a per map basis. It is a challenge for me because I had to write all of that. Even after such a long time, I am still starstruck by the high points, the superstructures draped in darkness, the oceans of nukage, the loneliness of the world, and Choke as a whole. As for gameplay, I’ve only gone back to play Everyone Loves the Beach more than once, and it feels like an outlier in the myriad corridor crawls that make up the first half, and I’ll spare the thread from any more on Down the Drain: Map 31: Down the Drain.

  No matter what is presented as the design goal, this WAD feels incredibly personal, moved forward primarily by an analysis of elements that end with “I like this, it’s going in the WAD”. It doesn’t answer to much more than a couple points on how good the community is at the game. To me, after dealing with it for so long, trying to address Down the Drain as high art is a fool’s game, as the attitude towards its inception was not at all what I had interpreted in From: Unknown. It is ultimately maps for the map god. I don’t think I’ll ever play it again, but Down the Drain has left its mark on me, whether I like it or not.


Power Rankings:

  1. Everyone Loves the Beach
  2. Choke
  3. Lakeside Rentals
  4. Into the Tomb
  5. Vet and Process
  6. Niven Ravine
  7. The Empty Box Abyss
  8. Baloney Town
  9. Closing Crush
  10. Private Island
  11. The Perfect Gerbil Cage
  12. The Top of the Bottom
  13. Passive Social Test Lab
  14. Slime Activation Facility
  15. The Great Filter
  16. Rolling Down
  17. Pournelle's Hole
  18. The Perfect Human Cage
  19. Forts and Alleys
  20. Cache Raiders
  21. Someone's Castle
  22. Valley of Mirth
  23. Here n There, Now n Then
  24. The Three Buffets
  25. Kick the Can
  26. WW1.wad
  27. From: Unknown
  28. Deep Tech
  29. Doors of Opportunities
  30. Vidhead
  31. Designyland
  32. Down the Drain


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Map 29 Choke

DSDA-doom, pistol start, UV difficulty


One fortress of Hell Knights vs one fortress of Revernants. All really inpactful weapons are within the fortresses. So the whole gameplay is focused around instigating infights between our two favorite mid-tier workhorses! Healing is accessible, so one or two stray projectiles are irrelevant. Go wild! Add cyberdemons and BFG to the mix, and go even wilder!


I like the concept, and find this map a bit charming, but unlike most other maps from Down the Drain, this map felt pretty boring to replay.

The main goal is straighforward, the slow-and-stable approach is reliable and rather easy to execute, and the more risky tactics are extremely RNG dependent. Cybers should have been easier to release into the fray.


MAP30 The Great Filter

DSDA-doom, pistol start, UV difficulty


A very curious interpritation of Icon of Sin. For once, the map geometery is on the player's side. Despite multiple demon-spitters, the monsters do not overwhelm the player in the worst possible moments, thanks to big stone pillars providing a lot of cover.


To gather weapons, Doomguy must activate the pillars. Triggering the pillars from lowest to tallest provides a straighforward way to get all the guns in one go. But weapons themself do not win the map. Main challenge is reaching the heart of the icon. There are four walls blocking the way, and each can only be lowered for a limited stretch of time. The trick seems to be activating the pillar switches in reverse - from tallest to lowest. This requires some sr-40 and some thinking, but it is far less frustrating than learning to time the shots in OG Doom 2 map 30.


All this feels like a delibirately clever take on the icon of sin concept. On one hand, there is an element of "what the hell I should do to win?". And understnding the original Doom 2 map 30 does not help - there is no weakpoints to shoot. On the other hand, the map feels far less janky to play than your typical Icon setups. Basically, @Benjogami demonstrates that Icons of Sin can be made in both innovative and fair manner, if the mapper decides to forego the convetional approach to such encounters. 


My big conclusion will be posted tomorrow, together with additional write ups about maps 31, 17 and 23.


For now, I want to say the following

- Down the Drain is not exactly my cup of tea. However, I enjoyed the WAD much more than I expected.

- Notable traits of Down the Drain: the maps are a) diverse and b) interesting to route. I am not a speedrunner, but even I was enjoing devising and testing different approaches to those maps.

- I kinda want to make a pretentious statement: Down the Drain megawad feels like Avant Garde Doom mapping. (Like in Avant Garde art). The maps defy both modern and old-school conventions to go beyond the limits of "how the things should be done around here". The maps have many anti-modern designs, which invoke a "Janky WAD from the nineties" feeling. At the same time, those same maps employ a lot of cutting edge modern ideas. For example, a lot of care went into monster and geometry intercation, producing very interesting monster movement patterns. In the end many maps of Down the Drain simply do things that feel alien to both "modern" and "old-school" convetions. To me, the result feels ground-breaking!

Edited by Azure_Horror

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Hey it's already December here.

My apologies for not having written much this month since I was away from home until last week but better late than never I suppose :P. I'll slowly wrap it up within the coming days. Wrote up to map15; spoiler'd for convenience. 


Map09: "Forts and Alleys"
89/89 kills, 2/3 secrets 

Don't have much to say on this one comparatively, it's more conventional than either its predecessor or successor. The open windows allow for enemies to snipe you better and the liberal archvile usage does stick out. Otherwise, this map is fine, better on replay though. 

Map10: “Here n There, Now n Then”
148/148 kills, 3/4 secrets 

Huh this was a surprise. I remember completely detesting this level on my first go around, but dare I say on replay, I genuinely had fun. Although, even on my second playthrough, parts of progression definitely isn't the most intuitive (I had to look up progression with the strange metallic wall on UDB on first go around :P). However, the actual meat and bones of the combat is actually pretty enjoyable on my second playthrough when I knew where the weapons were located and had a rough expectation of my opposition.

When you know where you're going, even the mandatory 20% damaging floor feels rather forgiving since you only walk across it for very short intervals and there is more health present here than in 08 I feel, exemplified by the rather straightforward megasphere placement which you can get once you get enough rockets and coupled with the compacter nature of this map, it doesn't drag as much I feel. There is no excuse for that final cyberdemon fight though, it feels extremely awkward to fight him which I assume was the point but it didn't necessarily make it fun. Overall, I'd call this a highlight despite the very negative opinion I had after first playthrough, pleasant surprise :)

Map11: "Cache Raiders"
159/159 kills, 2/3 secrets

Again I think this is a map which gets better with foresight, although I think my first time playthrough wasn't too complicated. I like the hellknight setup involving the ammo box cache as it adds a bit of a tradeoff system. The large crowds of enemies coupled with the condensed layout keeps you moving to avoid getting surrounded and to manage crowd control in tight spaces. It's a fun map overall.

Map12: "Into The Tomb" 
71/71 kills, 2/3 secrets

I don't have much to say about the beginning caverns but the techbase is rather stunning. The fact that you expect the hammer to drop with the sudden change in setpiece but instead, it's just an eerie emptiness that permeates this bunker which functions as humanity's tomb in this world. I think drn's atmosphere embodies a kind of loneliness and unfamiliarity that makes my skin crawl in its silent moments, all of which is perfectly exemplified in this little bunker.

Map13: “Vet and Process”
191/191 kills, 2/3 secrets

I actually quite like the ghost monster use here, I think in general they're a bit of an underrated mechanic and they're well placed here since they can blend in with the rest of the monsters but there are enough surfaces to hit them with blast damage in the first room. The rising and lowering platform is extremely tedious especially since you would want to pick up the resources placed on the platform beside it. The large arena is a fair bit of fun to play especially as you trigger more and more monsters to spike up the fight into one big brawl. There are plenty powerups and ammo was provided relatively liberally. Fun map all around coupled with a cool MIDI.

Map14: "The Perfect Human Cage"
215/215 kills, 5/6 secrets 

Really liked this one and I'd call it one of the more unsettling ones. The MIDI keeps me on edge and the long corridor with the doors, including those that hold no purpose, is a bit of an eerie locale particularly with the large storage rooms holding seemingly now abandoned stockpiles. I like how the hell nobles in the start of the map are repurposed for the big ambush in the latter half and rocket oriented combat here is pretty fun, even the archvile gang. 

Map15: "Doors of Opportunities"
97/97 kills, 5/5 secrets 

I liked this map from first playthrough because in many respects, it's a bit of a puzzle to figure out. Figuring out the ideal order of operations, whichever linedefs to trigger to prevent a mess, the entire secret exit sequence is honestly kind of endearing. Despite the literal corridor fighting, the combat feels solid especially including the random crushers and the mess you can cause by bringing large groups of enemies together alongside plentiful resources being provided. I feel like the over complicated and one-shot nature of the secret exit sequence kind of feels like a warning to step back... yeah definitely, you should just go to map16 instead. 


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MAP30: The Great Filter (DNF)


A puzzle variant of the IoS fight, which is not difficult to decrypt, but execution is not trivial. There are quite many monster spawners and also cyberdemons as additional opposition. Basically it's a timed switch hunt which allows access to a Romero head in the center of the map, and the timing is quite tight. Better than the normal iOS fight, but not outstanding. I didn't have the time and patience today to beat the map, maybe somewhen later. :)


Rating: 6/10
Difficulty: probably around 6/10


Final Thoughts


Down the Drain is a mapset with a lot of character. It is full of creativity and experimental gameplay ideas. About half of the maps feel totally unique, be it due to their layout, their combat or some (generally not difficult but sometimes a bit weird) puzzles. It's obvious that this approach would create many experiences which are a hit-or-miss depending on the personal gameplay preferences of everybody. But as I tend to appreciate more puzzle-ish, "cryptic" maps, I was mostly fine with them, with some exceptions. For example, I didn't like MAP31 so much (my -100 rating was of course a joke, I'd rate it 5/10 or 6/10, as it at least achieved to get me finishing it), while loving MAP19 which most other club members hated.


The first couple of maps were quite fun but still didn't convince me fully, but the increasing level of uniqueness and creativity gave me eventually (at latest at MAP08, which is the first really outstanding one) a kind of addictive "flow" where I often played several maps in a row just being curious what neat concept the next map would feature. The closest experience to this I had was maybe Three's a Crowd, which is a little bit closer to "mainstream" but got me also into this "curiosity flow".


I liked also the pacing of the mapset. After a bunch of experimental maps, sometimes with obscure or foreknowledge-requiring progression, often breather maps were provided which brought back a (slightly) more conventional kind of Doom fun, and they were generally well made. MAP27 and MAP28 were the standouts of this map type for me. The foreknowledge topic isn't so much a problem for me, as I would play most maps with saves and thus bad decisions could always be rewinded. Also I didn't mind the "ugliness" so much, although some, particularly later maps were even beautiful in an IWADesque style. Some maps are definitely in the category which I would later try saveless (as a quite bad player I generally reserve this challenge for maps I really liked or are low hanging fruits), but I had no time for this this month.


Don't know if everything was intended, but I found it interesting that in many cases two or more maps which followed each other were connected by a kind of common theme or topic. This could be a visual/layout element (the big corridors in the bunker techbase part, "mountains" in 19-20, extreme linearity in 21-22, "circular" layout in 27-28) or a gameplay element (vile hordes in 26-27, rev/HK infighting in 28-29). This gave a quite cohesive feeling to the wad.


As someone has already written: the mapset is more as the sum of its parts. Thus my general rating is higher than the average of the maps' score I gave them after playing, as I consider it quite unique. I would like to see more of this kind of megawads. The accesibility of Doom mapping invites to experiment with weird gameplay ideas I would never see in an AAA shooter. What I don't know is if playing "real" shovelware would give me a similar kind of experience. From the 90s, I played mainly the classics and some stuff of mappers I really liked, like Jim Flynn and Paul Schmitz, and some single maps like Hordes.wad or The Puzzler. They had sometimes a similar kind of weirdness, but at least Flynn and Schmitz were known for their unconventional ideas back then afaik. Maybe I'll dive fully into the shovelware world somewhen. Although the few Community Chests (1 and 2) I played gave me partly a bit a similar feeling even if they were slightly newer.


The difficulty of Down the Drain is often close to what is often described as "modern standard", close to WADs like BTSX, or to Plutonia. I liked the difficulty progression, which starts already with a punchy MAP01, then very slowly increases until the secret maps, later never surpassing this level. The final stretch was almost underwhelmingly easy, with the exception of MAP30. There are outliers to both sides of the difficulty curve, the most notable being of course MAP31, which should be a quite hard challenge to do saveless.


Rating: 9/10
Difficulty: 5/10  (Difficulty: 1 - Trivial, 5 - Plutonic, 7 - Hard, 10 - For Doom Gods)
Best maps: MAP15, MAP19, MAP17, MAP08, MAP27, MAP28
Hardest maps: MAP31, MAP23, MAP17, MAP16, maybe also MAP30 due to the tight switch sequence.


(Played: UV difficulty, pistol starts, saves.)

Edited by erzboesewicht

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Got some more maps to share various thoughts on so I'll keep going until I'm done.


map 13: DNF  death count: 9


    First real attempt at this involved trying to camp in the starting area.  That went poorly.  Lesson learned, next try involves pushing forward for stronger armaments and a more defensible space.  Next deaths were a result of working out a balance of infight provoking and offense so I don't run out of health or ammo.  Also me being somewhat lazy while playing; the death count would probably be lower if more focused.

     With the first area secured and alive, it's on to the next portion of the map.  Lots of space to run around, battle, and evade in.  I got smacked by several revenant rockets before I'd even got going from the landing spot of the one way drop so I'd already lost motivation to really try.  Still clung to existence for a while before biting it there.  Didn't go for another round.


    The second battleground is a really fun area.  It's going through the sloggish first part again which discouraged me from making another attempt.  So if I bother to return to this, it will be with saves.


map 14: 100% kills, 4/6 secrets, death count: 7


    There's a plasma rifle right at the beginning but not enough ammo to take out the mass of hellknights on the ledges.  So naturally, it's not worth spending ammo on them right off.  Took a couple of tries to work out a solution for the start that didn't involve being overexposed to hellknight fire.  The stairway with monsters on each step is an entertaining setup and I found a way to get 10 or so of them killed by infighting with very little risk.  Drops from zombie provided enough ammo to fend off ground level forces without pulling out the plasma.

     Stairway secured, the switch at the top lowers the ledges full of nobles.  So I run scrambling only stopping long enough for the SSG and frantically search for more power to fight off the anticipated wave.  That's a well played scare there, after realizing what really happens.  I went towards the red key location on all my attempts.  Some barons ended up there which depletes most of my plasma.  The huge mass of hitscanners that gets revealed nearby claims a few pelts.  I didn't notice the rocket launcher lying in the shadows until my winning run; that sure would have helped to more reliably deal with the hitscan mob.  Plus, lobbing rockets in a mass of squishies can be satisfying.  Rest of the map felt less deadly with the rest of the monsters taken out in relatively safe manners though still enjoyable.  Map gets a last laugh when I acquire BFG without a single survivor on the map to use it on.  Didn't work out how to reach the computer map and invisibility on the crates and sitting at max stats at the end, little incentive to search.


    This turned out to be a fun map for gameplay.  It can get messy if rushed but observation felt really well rewarded.  And the various quirks help it stand out.  A top pick out of the set so far.

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Now, map16 to map22 including secret maps. Again, spoiler'd for convenience.



Map31: "Down The Drain"
1337/1337 kills, 1/1 secrets

Yeah no, nope. I'm gonna be doing a copout and skipping a replay of this map. This map is just an excruciating experience and doing a UV-Max of this once is all I need to experience from this map. It is just an exercise in frustration, no doubt deliberate and there is some method to its madness, but I didn't enjoy it at all.
Just to list a few of the frustrating moments you are likely to face in this map:

-> Ghost monsters because enemies would get stuck on the door before you kill them who get crushed by said door, including heavies.
-> Enemies opening a door during their pathfinding towards you which would wake up the connecting room when you fire.
-> Every archvile nest in the center of every section.
-> The entire baron section.
-> The entire cyberdemon section. 
-> Backtracking to collect ammo.
-> Worst of all, ammo is actually relatively limited as I was running low on supplies towards the end, thankfully I did not but I can't fathom the frustration someone might feel after having gone far into map only to run dry.
-> The entire secret exit sequence.
->The layout while thankfully pretty simple (I wonder what the person who made 1squares.wad would think about how far his concept would've been taken :P). the amount of doors in between each subsection of the sections can make moving in between sections for ammo and the like extremely tedious.

The hyperactive anime MIDI which doesn't even loop nicely, the 1337 monsters (ignoring lost souls anyways), the barebones detailing, and well, basically the entire premise of this map indicate from the moment you start that it's not supposed to be taken entirely seriously and more so a joke. But acknowledging that, I still didn't have any fun actually playing this map especially as it would take me several hours to do it again. I can understand what this map is going for but for me, the sheer tedium and frustration this map provided managed to trump any appreciation I would've had for the adherence to concept. Thus, I have no qualms tossing this level down the drain. 


Map32: "WW1.wad" 
190/190 kills, 1/1 secrets

I remember not minding this map too much on my first playthrough, perhaps because it isn't as much of a mountain to scale as the previous map, because on replay I didn't like it much either. Again this feels like another joke map, the hitscan hell coupled with E1M1 music make it pretty obvious but here again, the joke ends up falling short of making up for the annoyance of playing this map. I'm iffy on the concept itself but in some sense, it does accomplish what it set off to do. Don't really have anything else to say, didn't enjoy this one either but it's atleast pretty short.

Map16: "Vidhead" 
144/144 kills, 6/6 secrets

Returning to the "regular" roster, we get Vidhead. This map is again, better on replay. I'm not sure on the blue key placement since the only reason I only found it on my first playthrough on accident, especially since it's on damaging floor, but I suppose the mancubus sounds would give some indication. The large hitscanner hall that gradually gets filled with stronger hitscanners actually ends up being rather dangerous when the archviles teleport in as they also double as meatshields for the archviles. solid map.

Map17: "Passive Social Test Lab" 
161/161 kills, 1/1 secrets

I like the idea of this map much more than actual playing it. The archvile firewall is an innovative concept and works really well, but in regards to actually playing the map and clearing it up, didn't have much fun with it. I felt the same with the huge archvile crowd in the final arena alongside the cyberdemon party in the main area. Overall, I can see what this map is trying to do but actually playing it felt tedious.

Map18: "Slime Activation Facility” 
50/50 kills, 0/0 secrets

I hadn't played anything past map17 on my previous playthrough of DTD. Anyways, this kind of a forgettable map truth be told, the only thing I remember much of is the large slime crusher in the blue key room to get rid of the cyberdemons. I like the monkey (?) design of the automap and the large slime pit you drop into at the end but otherwise, not much else, it's alright I suppose.

Map19: “The Empty Box Abyss”
54/54 kills, 0/0 secrets

I loved map19. First off, the entire setting is pretty cool, a large ocean of nukage with a few islands of crates you can lower with enemies on the prowl. The low enemy count doesn't make combat feel tedious and there is a sufficient amount of radsuits provided. I think the lowering crate mechanic was telegraphed well with the first crate island with a radsuit and progression might seem obtuse but I was able to piece it together. I think the fact that there are only a few hitscanners in the level does make the several invisibility spheres suspect so I didn't mind it much. Plus the exit was on a crate you couldn't lower. The only complain I have is that a lot of the invisibilities are located too high up and recognizing which crate carries them can become a hassle when you're running low on radsuits to scale up and locate them. Otherwise, l really enjoyed this.

Map20: "The Top of the Bottom"
125/125 kills, 3/3 secrets

It's always sunny in a rich man's world but not in this map, this is on some kind of subterranean island :P. I liked the usage of arachnotrons to block your access to your weapons, I ended up using the baron trio to deal with them. Due to the rather dark setting of this map, specters were pretty well used as a threat. I liked the setting of this map on an island of abstractions with a central tower and it played pretty well to boot. Coupled with the fun ABBA MIDI selection, I really liked this map too.

Map21: "Niven's Ravine"
150/150 kills, 3/7 kills

I guess I was supposed to ignore the cyberdemon canonically, or maybe he just revived himself I dunno. From the tower we've risen into hell which has also gone "down the drain" so to speak. The secrets whcih give you heavier weapons early is pretty neat, plus the secrets area itself looks nice. I like how the initial cyberdemon returns in the final area to take you down now that he has an excellent vantage point across the ravine. I also enjoyed the verticality of this level and I liked the immediete connection to the previous map, linking the two episodes. Good stuff. 

Map22: "Pournelle's Hole"
99/99 kills, 2/3 secrets

The initial tyson segment is fine, don't have much to say about it. I really liked the infight though, the crampage helped by the decor makes the arena rather interesting since you only have the rocket launcher and have to pick between the midtiers closing in on you and the large amount of lowtiers occupying space. It's a really fun fight and after this, you drop a rather long distance towards the final area. I like the main fight here since you can either let the cyberdemons infight with the revenants or risk having all of the cyberdemons lower into the arena and deal with more than one of them at once, I prefer to just kill the cyberdemons as quickly as I can and deal with the revenants later. You can actually return to the starting area through a lift that takes a comically long time to lower and rise but I like how the map wraps back around to itself. Another good map. 


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