Are the Catacomb games worth getting?

Of course it's very hard to ever find these games anywhere, they seem to be forgotten. But if I find them anyway, hopefully legally (though I don't know if I'd support the creators if I bought them now), are they worth my time? I played the Abyss demo, and it looked like a nice action-RPG. I was put off by the bad graphics (bright EGA, and bad FOV angle) and the ancient engine (no DOSBox back then), so I didn't get too far. I found the monsters damn cool and menacing looking. Does the game advance well, though?

Also, as an alternative, does Shadowcaster offer similar gameplay, on a better engine? Is it easier to find than Catacomb?

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Not really. You can look on YouTube for a two-minute gameplay video, and you've seen everything there is to see. The whole game is more of the same, including the music.

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Shadowcaster is certainly easier to find.

I can't compare the gameplay since I never had one of the Catacomb games, but Shadowcaster is a great action/exploration FPS and the theme of the transformations is used well.

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I find them difficult to tolerate for more then five minutes. They start to grate on your nerves fast, and I start to feel motion sickness a few minutes in.

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I don't know; this one looks quite epic (Abyss), offset by the bad FOV. If only this had source ports... Or at least a Catacomb Abyss TC for ZDoom or, muhahahahaha, Eternity...



Note that, unlike with Strife, id Software and Softdisk still exist.

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This seems like a game where I'd play for a few hours too long, then get sore eyes and motion sickness from the endless 90's maze turning.

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I'm amused at the super-clumsy "sky effects" in that clip. The blue sky turning to dark blue, then grey, and then black in the beginning, and then the brief flashes of white to show thunder I suppose. The way it's done, it looks like graphical glitches rather than a deliberate implementation.

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printz said:

I don't know; this one looks quite epic.


printz said:

Or at least a Catacomb Abyss TC for ZDoom or, muhahahahaha, Eternity...

I'm sure Sodaholic is up for the challenge!

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The first Catacomb is the only one actually made by iD Software. It's the one that has a skull with hair on the upper right-hand corner. The ones shown here are sequels made by other studios Softdisk contracted.

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I played through Abyss back in the day. It was pretty fun back then, but these days it's probably even more dated than Wolfenstein.

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I played most of these games one or two years ago. In my opinion they are not something you would have to play (especially Catacombs 3D was super boring with its 8-second midi loop playing troughout the game, slowly melting your brain), but for some reasons they are "interesting" games nevertheless. There is something so fascinating about how the simplest techniques can create an illusion of threedimensional areas. I still think this kind of "3D" has a lot of potential that could not be exploidet to its fullest because of the limited technology at the time. Because of that, I try to do some stuff with a similiar graphical style in a wad of mine.

Aside from that, I always had a weird preference of dated looking games from the 90s. But this must be pretty normal on this forum.

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printz said:

Catacomb Abyss video

Heh - "Ankle deep in guano" at 6:50, it's obviously an id game.

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As far as I can tell from a bit of searching (without going through with buying it) this is legit as supposedly Softdisk sold off their old stuff to Flat Rock:
https://www.virtualsoftware.com/ProdPage.cfm?ProdID=302&Catacomb-Abyss-3-D-software-download

Overpriced, if you ask me. Maybe if it was $9.95 for the whole trilogy.

I pretty much have to agree with MSPaintR0cks, they're "interesting" games but gameplay-wise really kind of bad.

Also, Shadowcaster has very little resemblance outside of the orthagonal "3D" environment, and would probably be more fun.

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I thought Abyss was shareware? Or the shareware is just a part of what's sold there?

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printz said:

I thought Abyss was shareware? Or the shareware is just a part of what's sold there?

The registered version gets rid of the wait screen, that's the only difference as far as I know.

If removing that isn't something you care about, just get Catacomb Armageddon and Catacomb Apocalypse.

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printz said:

... Or at least a Catacomb Abyss TC for ZDoom or, muhahahahaha, Eternity...


I nearly completed a TC of Catacomb Abyss for Doomsday in the distant past (I still have the files around).

It was somewhat of a re-image though; I was toying with the idea of fast gameplay against swarms of weak foes set against music from Castlevania and Phantom of the Opera.

GreyGhost said:

Heh - "Ankle deep in guano" at 6:50, it's obviously an id game.


ID didn't make the 'Catacomb Trilogy'. ID made 'Catacomb 3D' for Softdisk. Softdisk then took the engine after ID had left, to make the trilogy of Abyss, Armageddon and Apocalypse.

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Then there were the two that I had when I was a kid "Curse of the Catacombs" and "Terror of the Catacombs". Both were published by Froggman, but same engine and all that. I really enjoyed them, but then again I was 8, so any game with violence was awesome. Admittedly the weaponry was very limited, you had your one shot magic blast, a special blast that fired several shots in a row, and one that sent out blasts in a circle around you. Looking back they aren't really games to write home about, felt pretty much the same as Wolfenstein with worse audio, but I do still think it has some really cool enemy designs, and they were extremely varied. It had skeletons with chainguns, two headed demons, water monsters that would stay below the surface, poking their eye up until you got close enough, and evil trees that came to life. Plus giant killer rabbits. Quite a menagerie, plus one thing I really liked was that the environments were varied, unlike Wolfenstein, which honestly I never finished because every level ended up being exactly the same.

So yeah, there's definitely worse games that came out during that same time period, and if you get a chance to play them I'd say do it. A few years ago I went back and played through them again and I had fun, but the nostalgia factor was probably pretty high. Just don't expect anything amazing, and be prepared for horrible sound effects. But again, I really liked quite a few of the enemy designs and I love me some old fashioned sprites.

Oh, and it's not an RPG, it's an FPS. Unless you count collecting keys and being able to carry healing items as turning a game into an RPG. And there's really no story or advancement, you just go through levels killing stuff until you get to Nemesis and kill him.

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Curse and Terror are re-releases of Armageddon and Apocalypse; outside of a Froggman logo instead of a Softdisk one and some uglier (imo) title screens, I don't think they're any different.

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I'm starting to wonder if the Doom community is reliable on opinions about such games, considering that many of them already take dim views on Wolfenstein 3d, which is for me the game I grew up with.

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printz said:

I don't know; this one looks quite epic (Abyss)


Abyss is interesting for what it's worth, or at least it's better than the first one. I only played these games just to see what is was like to play an older version of Wolf 3D.

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Stilgar said:

Curse and Terror are re-releases of Armageddon and Apocalypse; outside of a Froggman logo instead of a Softdisk one and some uglier (imo) title screens, I don't think they're any different.


Yeah, after doing a bit of searching you're right. Curse and Terror were just re-releases of them, but when I was 8 I didn't really have the internet on hand to search. But thanks for clearing that up, I've always been a bit hazy on the whole Catacombs lineage, so it makes a bit more sense now. Still, the skeletons with chainguns is just awesome.

As for Prinz's comment. I grew up with Catacombs, but ended up playing the shareware of Doom before I played the Wolfenstein shareware. Wolfenstein isn't a bad game, but over 6 episodes of the same four weapons, and the same five or six enemies who all react the same except the dogs with the melee attack, and the mutants that can both shoot and melee attack, it gets old. I like variety in enemies, and Doom has it in spades, and Catacombs has more variety than Wolfenstein, although it is technically inferior.

But all those points aside, once Doom came out I gave up on either of them. I still play it every week at least, and it outshines any game made since. Mostly due to mods, but the core game is still amazingly balanced.

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They are all available in a 6 dollar pack on GOG. It has all the first person games as well as the 2 overhead games. The original overhead ones are decent. The first person ones are nothing fantastic, but are certainly worth a try.

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printz said:

I'm starting to wonder if the Doom community is reliable on opinions about such games, considering that many of them already take dim views on Wolfenstein 3d, which is for me the game I grew up with.

honestly, Wolfenstein 3D is dated, but it's at least playable despite the redundant lives and scoring mechanic (why use extra lives when you can save anywhere instead?) i got the Catacombs pack from GOG, and it's really just not that fun to play. the movement is clunky, the combat is either very easy or very frustrating, it doesn't look that good graphically, and it's the same music track on every level. all of it. the same. same exact song.

it's interesting as an example of really old-ass FPS games, but it's not something you would enjoy these days. really.

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William Blazkowicz said:

They are all available in a 6 dollar pack on GOG.

Currently half price for their Fall sale.

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Technician said:

I'm sure Sodaholic is up for the challenge!

Heh, not quite, a bit busy with other obligations and personal projects. I'm not saying much about the project these days, but I haven't given up on the stoner cat project. It has, however, been restarted in Unreal Engine 4. Asset-wise, it currently just uses what I had in the Doom engine version and really isn't suited for any public display such as screenshots.

Doomhuntress said:

why use extra lives when you can save anywhere instead?

Because you keep your score even if you die (and it also makes 1-ups useful to spend to get more points when doing levels over). Of course, that is if you care about points at all, and most people these days don't seem to give a shit about points.

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If someone is making a Catacombs TC, I'm in.

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They are not bad, they just really, really show their age. It could be fun to play a couple maps than move to Wolf 3d and than Doom. Just so you can see how much of a leap forward each newer game took. But, that is pretty much the only reason I can think of for buying them. Well that and collecting them if you collect Id and Softdisk games.

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