The DWmegawad Club plays: The Darkening, The Darkening 2, & Crusades

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What is the DWmegawad Club?

This is a place where we settle down, have a cup of tea (or drink of your choice) and take a month to play through a megawad on our own, together! Any keen observations, criticisms, or frustrated ranting about it goes here in the discussion. As long as you want to say something about what you've played, feel free to speak your mind.

 

Can I join?

Sure. The only rule is that you have to play at least some of the levels in our monthly megawad to contribute, but you're generally encouraged to finish the whole thing, even if you've played it before.

 

What levels am I allowed to post about?

We’re going to be playing one map per day. The Darkening starts on the 1st, The Darkening 2 starts on the 12th, and Crusades starts on the 24th.

 

Do I have to post an entry every day?

Nope, not at all. This is only for our more enthusiastic members. As long as you play through it with us you’re part of the club.

 

When do we vote on the next month’s megawad?

Voting begins on the 25th of the current month. Remember to add one “+++” before your vote to make it easier to count. For example:

 

+++ Ultimate Doom

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>>>DOWNLOAD THE DARKENING HERE<<<

>>>DOWNLOAD THE DARKENING 2 HERE<<<

>>>DOWNLOAD CRUSADES HERE<<<

 

Are you afraid of the dark? No? Good! This month we’re playing through some classic Doom episodes, starting with The Darkening (which we play on the 1st), The Darkening 2 (which we start on the 12th), and Richard Wiles’ Crusades: An Unholy War (which we start on the 24th). Note that the last set is for Ultimate Doom.

 

Author & Maplist for The Darkening:

MAP01 - “Scary” by Jan Van der Veken

MAP02 - “Bloody Hell” by Jan Van der Veken

MAP03 - “Entropia” by John Bye

MAP04 - “Relentless” by Travers Dunne

MAP05 - “Hand of Doom” by Jan Van der Veken

MAP06 - “The Mines of Death” by Nick Baker

MAP07 - “Dead Simple II” by Nick Baker

MAP08 - “Discordia” by John Bye

MAP09 - “Military Complex” by Jan Van der Veken

MAP10 - “Under Earth” by Travers Dunne

MAP11 - “Stone Tyrant” by Adam Windsor

 

Author & Maplist for The Darkening 2:

MAP01 - “Outpost Mortem” by Ola Björling

MAP02 - “Biotech Terror” by Jan Van der Veken, Derek MacDonald

MAP03 - “Binary Compound” by Adam Windsor

MAP04 - “Vindication” by Anthony Soto

MAP05 - “Melt-Down” by Richard Wiles

MAP06 - “At the Heart of Decay” by Jan Van der Veken

MAP07 - “Waste Processing” by Nick Baker

MAP08 - “Lucifer’s Laboratory” by Richard Wiles

MAP09 - “Hard Core” by Jan Van der Veken, Ola Björling, Anthony Soto

MAP10 - “Plasmorgasm” by Richard Wiles

MAP11 - “Powerplant” by Ben Davies

MAP12 - “Toxicity” by Ola Björling

 

Maplist for Crusades:

E4M1 - “The Awakening”

E4M2 - “Night-Watch”

E4M3 - “Berzerker”

E4M4 - “Haunted House”

E4M5 - “The Witching Hour”

E4M6 - “Trooper’s Graveyard”

E4M7 - “Bloodbath”

E4M8 - “Gateway to Quake”

E4M9 - “Running Scared”

 

BONUS CONTENT

Doomwiki: Darkening | Darkening 2 | Crusades

DSDA: Darkening | Darkening 2 | Crusades

Kmxexii reveiws: Darkening | Darkening 2 | Crusades

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OLD THREADS

 

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I just played Darkening 1 & 2 for the first time this year. And Crusades I think last year. I might join in for Crusades, but heads up folks: it's a mean WAD. (If I don't, have fun, and a Merry Christmas, and I'll see you next year.)

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All right, here we go.  ZDoom, continuous play, Hurt Me Plenty difficulty with saves as and when I feel like it.  I've played both parts of The Darkening before, but Crusades will be new to me.

 

The Darkening, MAP01: Scary

 

This one lives up to the name of both the WAD and the map, given the pervasive gloom, muted texture scheme, and downbeat, menacing music track, the last especially doing much to shift the tone and atmosphere away from the usual MAP01/D_RUNNIN antics.  It's compact, squarish, and depends a little too much on a single brick texture for my tastes, but it's a fierce enough introduction to the WAD, with the player under fire from sergeants right from the start and an interesting layout that asks the player to walk the level's loop twice.

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                         Sweet, these WADs seem legit. Definitely on board for this.

 

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                         Nice serious midi without too much cheese.

 

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                        “This site can’t be reached” - :(

 

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MAP01 - “Scary” by Jan Van der Veken

gzDoom - UV – pistol start/saves

 

Seeing a little bit of Quake sneaking in here and there. Kind of an interesting series of events to get the BSK. I really liked being given arrows after flipping a random switch. That takes care of the more annoying aspect of any Doom map, blind backtracking to find out what a switch did.

 

Overall, a short and not too crazy start. The fake exit ambush was legit if you weren’t ready. Plenty of lowbie fodder for a good warm up map.

 

I like the simple but effective title and intermission art. It works. Hopefully the maps kick it up some from here.

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PrBoom+, HMP, continuous, frequent saves, no music, infinite tall things.

 

MAP01

I don't believe I have played the original Darkening since it was first release (unlike Darken2, which I know I re-played a few years after its original release).  Certainly I don't remember this map at all.

 

A pretty easy intro level here, nicely executed in brick and metal.  The influence of Quake visuals is pretty obvious (and will generally remain so throughout the wad, IIRC).  The techbase doors look a little out of place, but that's a pretty minor quibble.

 

Not a huge fan of the blue key backtrack, which seems a bit pointless.  By the time you reach the exit, pretty much everything is dead anyway.  I do like that you can see the exit from the start.  I have a soft spot for that gimmick.

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glboom+, UV, pistol starts, no saves

 

map01 fda

not much to say about this one - the only thing i disliked was the chainsaw; give me a berserk!

also an early green armour would encourage using the chainsaw if you have to put it instead of the better ;) option.

Edited by rehelekretep

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Eternity, HMP, continuous, can't be bothered digging out exactly what my settings are.

 

MAP01

 

Short, easy, and well-textured. Nothing about the design really leaps out at me.

 

I might go back afterwards and IDDT it to find the secret I missed.

Edited by grommile

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The intro song sounds a bit like Hurt by Nine Inch Nails.

 

01 - just like Crusades, The Darkening begins with a level that doesn't look like anything else found in the wad. A strange decision... It's an odd opener with convoluted progression and uneventful gameplay. Looks cool though (nice bricks), except I dislike the white teleporter (only destination should be white, it's a law!) and that arrow below the exit sign. There is something arcadey and unfitting about it. Overall, a weak start to a good wad.

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MAP02

I don't remember this map, either.

 

The combat here is still pretty mild and largely straightforward. The turreted imps are pretty tiresome.

 

Probably the toughest moment was actually due to finding the mega-armour secret. The chaingunners can hammer you from below while you're unable to see them. It was still a net benefit to go up there, but it's definitely optimal to come back and kill them before you access that secret.

 

I liked the 'different coloured brick' texture they've used to mark secrets a couple of times here. And wonder of wonders, we're now two maps down and I've found all the secrets on both. That doesn't happen very often!

 

Looks-wise this is predominantly in the same brick and metal theme as the last map, though with a techbase section that you visit at the start and end of the map. I didn't think this section was all that well integrated with the rest of the map, visually. It felt like quite a jarring shift. Other than that quibble, the visuals were good. There's even some effort at pseudo-3d effects in the main courtyard, though those are placed so high on the walls that I didn't notice them while playing – it was only when I viewed the map in DB2.

 

Some rather bitsy switch-hunting in the progression here. None of it is what I'd call obtuse; it all opens things nearby; but it did sometimes feel a bit like busy work.

 

I did like the use of windows to create multi-directional threat, especially since the main 'cross fire' area got restocked with monsters part way through the map.

 

 

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Didn't vote for this lol but I'm going to replay The Darkening. I have more vivid memories of the second episode so I'll skip it. Maybe I'll return for Crusades since I didn't play it.

 

MAP01: Okay opener overall, the gameplay is forgettable with only an ambush that happens but it looks good and it has a nice mood. I remember that this wad had a rather strong Quake feel, which is present from the start. I loved how the blue key was concealed, and the map is very small so it isn't difficult to find. 

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02 - oh yeah, much better. Stylish design, kickass music (yay Mission Impossible), good action. Acquiring the SSG is necessary in order to have fun, but it's an easy secret. Too bad the level is so damn brown though. The teleporters are ugly too, who the hell makes otherworldly magical substances GRAY? That's simply criminal. But I love how the door at the start is already open, that's rather original.

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Mainly hopping on for Darkening 2, but I won't pass up the opportunity to replay the original!

 

Map01 'Scary'

Glboom+ - UV Pistol Starts - Saves at keys if necessary (none used)

A fun little opener, and short enough that there isn't really much to be said. There's some creative things in the level, such as the raising arrows and the imp/shotgunner ambush (which actually got me haha). To be honest though, although this map is rather memorable, there isn't enough present to really write more than a few sentences about.

 

Map02 'Bloody Hell'

same as first level

Generally better than the first level. Generally, for maximum fun, I'd recommend grabbing the super shotgun first then running to the armor, which is probably good advice for most Doom levels, really. Similar to the first map, there's some creative uses of raising and lowering floors to change the area around you and show the way forward. There's several nice secret areas scattered around the level. My favorite is the underground one with the portal, which looks pretty cool. It's also quite a bit harder than the first level, but if you actually die anywhere- well...

 

Overall, in these first two levels we do see some cool stuff. However, we also see what, in my opinion, is the WADs biggest shortcoming: overuse of brown. If you expect the brown to end anytime soon, you're probably going to end up disappointed. Luckily, the levels (generally speaking) get more fun so that offsets the samey texturing somewhat.

 

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Dobu that's a terrible misuse of an apostrophe in the pic you made, and to be honest, it makes me love you just a little bit less.

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Sorry, I was rushing in order to start my Joy of Mapping map. No hard feeling's.

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MAP02: Bloody Hell

 

It's neither the bloodiest nor the most Hellish of maps, but this is a pleasing little fortress or pseudo-urban tangle nonetheless, with the player starting out toward the middle of the level and working outward, even if the southern sector of the map isn't really set up in such a way as to present an early threat to the player or for its denizens to make an inattentive marine aware of their presence.  I like the consistent use of pipe-like structures as start/exit rooms and transitional spaces from one level to the next; while it faintly calls to mind hints of Super Mario Bros. is provides a nice little bit of design consistency and forms part of a vocabulary of navigable landmarks that the WAD can call upon to guide the player through its spaces.  I do like the teleporters that seem halfway between sparkling Quake starfield portals and eerie 2001 monolith designs, too.

 

Aesthetically I get what these first two levels (and I guess the WAD in general?) are going for, a kind of Quake-in-Doom aesthetic in which soft gloom and muted, understated colours apply, and I think it works, but I also think people are right when they observe that it's not necessarily playing to the strengths of the engine or of Doom design culture in general; you can do it like this and have it work (it's certainly working well enough here!) but I feel like Doom is a game that balances and contrasts the gloomy with the garish, the muted with the lurid, and I wouldn't blame any player whose gut reaction is that, within this aesthetic, one-half of the expected design equation is absent and the WAD feels like it's missing something as a result.

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I know nothing about these wads but I'm expecting classical 90's gameplay.

PRBoom+, UV, Pistol Starts, No Saves etc.

 

MAP01 - “Scary” by Jan Van der Veken

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Small, short, and very brown opening map. Walk forward, shotgun some dudes n' Imps etc.  Not much else to say.

 

MAP02 - “Bloody Hell” by Jan Van der Veken

A bit more meat to chew here. The opening Shotgunners are quite rude and chunked most of my health straight away. It's nice to get the SSG early, but the regular Shotgun is better for the scattered, weak enemies. It's still very brown and the gameplay is not particularly exciting. Pistol Start balance seems alright so far. Not grabbing ammo for weapons not yet in the map or anything.

 

MAP03 - “Entropia” by John Bye

Just as I was falling asleep, this map comes in with some fun surprises. It's largely corridor crawling of the crampiest kind, but the dense groups of enemies are satisfying to take down with the SSG and rockets. Wasn't expecting to meet an Archvile this early either.

Edited by Spectre01

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MAP02: It's a very well done map visually, it has nothing really elaborate but it looks good. Iirc the courtyard with the fake 3d effect is (was) mentioned in the old forum guides of vanilla tricks. The action was adequate. The teleporters are an obvious imitation of Quake ones but they look ugly with that texture, and I wonder why they didn't use the animated texture that look close to the original which is present in the wad.

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Nothing else to say. Here is my full UV Max try.

 

The Darkening Episode 1 all maps UV Max in 42:11-darken-4211.zip

 

Note that the secret in map10 is inaccessible without idclip cheat.

 

Just a random run to finish. Sub 40min is possible but I don't wanna take the risk at the moment.

 

By the way where should I post my demo in speed demos forum? In misc part 3?

 

Youtube version

 

 

Edited by lirui1001
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03 - another secret SSG that is thankfully trivial to find. You can obtain the soulsphere right from the start too by bumping into it. I don't understand that pinky horde on the street: what's the point? And what the hell is THIS? Overall this map is kinda uninspiring, with awkward cramped spaces and naive monster placement, but the rocket launcher allows you to have some fun. Interesting way to mark the exit.

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MAP03: I think it features many traits that are typical of John Bye, from what I recall of his other works I have played. Gameplay isn't really engaging with clean-ups of rooms or tiny corridors, and the useless group of pinkies that patrol the courtyard. Maybe he wanted to bait the player to think that there was something to find out there? Visually it's very simple, I didn't mind the excessive brownness though that flat for the outdoor area is very poor choice. The work on the lighting is good, and it's cute when you pick the soulsphere the sectors around become dark. I really appreciated the work to make the various parts with differents sky heights in the outside.

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MAP03

There's definitely such a thing as too much BSTONE2, and this map sets out to prove it. Huge parts of the level are swathed in it. There really needed to be more done to break it up a little.

 

The gameplay is generally similarly drab. Progress is very linear, often through 64-wide corridors. The level map have co-op starts, but I wouldn't much enjoy playing it that way. Not that I didn't make the same mistakes myself, when making maps back then.

 

I did like the AV fight. Pairing him with a bunch of small riff-raff to keep rezzing makes for a pretty fun little scramble. Probably isn't as enjoyable if you've missed the secret SSG on this map (or on the one on map02, if you're playing continuous like me), though.

 

There's some nice use of lighting on the level. The splashes of light from the windows are good, for instance. They'd work better with the fake ceiling trick, but that wasn't a commonly known engine exploit at the time.

 

I missed the way to raise the route to the supercharger, but you can grab the thing by running into the platform anyway, so I got the benefits of 100% secrets, even if I didn't formally find them all.

 

Overall, one of the weaker offerings of the set to date (and hopefully of the set as a whole).

 

 

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MAP03: Entropia

 

This one's kind of on the underwhelming side, monotonous and way too claustrophobic for me to have fun with, especially with the various doors that serve to make a tight, twisty passage through the western end of the level even slower and more stop-start.  The recurring placement of keys literally a single, small room away from the doors they're intended to open quickly starts to feel a little bizarre; once is quirky, twice is perplexing, and by the third time it starts to feel as though the inclusion of three keys is being treated as an inflexible rule despite the way that the scale and layout of the level simply don't support it.  The introduction of three new monsters - arch-vile, mancubus, and revenant - likewise feels rather gimmicky, like they're being thrown in for novelty's sake rather than because each is being introduced according to any sense of pacing or in a scenario that makes the best use of the strengths or traits of each.

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6 hours ago, lirui1001 said:

Nothing else to say. Here is my full UV Max try.

 

The Darkening Episode 1 all maps UV Max in 42:11-darken-4211.zip

 

Note that the secret in map10 is inaccessible without idclip cheat.

 

Just a random run to finish. Sub 40min is possible but I don't wanna take the risk at the moment.

 

By the way where should I post my demo in speed demos forum? In misc part 3?

 

 

Yes, this is where I would post it. Cool you did this, thanks!

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MAP04

Lots of high areas here, and pretty good use of the opportunity to have the player experience various levels from multiple heights: running through a trench, then up on the platforms, and so forth.

 

I'm not really a fan of the custom tekmet texture that is used a lot here. I think the map would have profited from something that contrasted better with the bricks and brown that we see everywhere.

 

Combat's generally pretty good, and there's an uncommonly well-designed (especially for the era) spiderboss fight in the map.

 

100% secrets again. My favourite was probably the supercharger one. Glad I found it after I fought the old brain on legs :)

 

 

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04 - this map has one of the best mastermind fights I've ever seen. Very fun and thrilling with him getting closer and forcing you to move. Otherwise it's kinda depressing due to everything being brown and all these barons/etc requiring too much time to kill (give SSG sooner pls). Or is it my headache? I dunno, I remember The Darkening was pretty fun in multiplayer a few years ago, but at the moment I'm not enjoying it that much. All maps so far were brown, linear, a bit slow, and surprisingly confusing considering the fact that they're so short. This wad better get good soon!

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MAP01 - “Scary” by Jan Van der Veken

 

Pretty cool opening map, it's got some atmosphere and whatnot to it, I dig the design, no complaints with the combat. Some of the progression near the end is a little cryptic but worked out fine. Cool music.

 

MAP02 - “Bloody Hell” by Jan Van der Veken

 

Another cool map, playing on HMP continuous in GZDoom by the way, I like aspects of the design philosophy, the layout and monster placement etc. It feels like authentic Doomery, can be a bit zany with the teleporting progression a bit, but not too zany. Solid stuff.

 

MAP03 - “Entropia” by John Bye

 

Good straightforward map, I enjoyed it. Agreed it can be a bit claustrophobic-y, but for that type of thing it worked relatively well for me.

 

Edited by PsychoGoatee
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Map03 'Entropia'

Glboom+ - UV Pistol Start - Saves at keys (if necessary)

Hey I remember that mancubus!
This map strangely gets easier as the map goes on. You start out with scarce ammo (I kept switching between shotguns to conserve shells) and scarce health. You also get to fight an arch vile in a very small room. However, once you get past that, the map gets incredibly easy from that point forward. The map is mostly small rooms and halls, which is kind of disappointing because map02 was much better in that regard.

 

Map04 'Relentless'

Same

Well there went the difficulty curve, and not really in a good way. After you do get properly armed, you're good to go for the most part, but it takes FOREVER to get armed. Have fun plinking at an arch vile with your shotgun because you haven't been given a decent weapon yet (the Plasma gun has too little ammo to be useful.) Some of the jumps can be easily foiled by infinite height which is annoying. The Spider Mastermind fight is cool - requiring you to use a horde of imps as a meatshield.

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MAP04: It's very stingy with ammo in the first parts, until you reach the RK and then you are actually supplied too much. Not sure about the PR fight, killing the arch-vile with the cells seems the best thing to do but then you have to poke 2 barons with the SG; the SSG comes very late. I remembered the mastermind battle, definetely the best part of the map, and it's cool that the level has so many heights variations to go through. It's still very brown but the tech theme was a nice change. I liked that metal texture with vertical stripes.

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MAP04: Relentless

 

There's some fun stuff to be found here, including our first peek at a truly boss-tier monsters in the form of the Spider Mastermind that, as noted above, can and perhaps should be tackled by employing the adjacent imp gang as ablative armour, especially given the lack of ammo for the plasma gun and rocket launcher and the relative paucity of cover in the arena where it's encountered.  Past that stand-out encounter, this is the WAD's first flirtation with an industrial/base aesthetic rather than psuedo-urban spaces of decaying brick; the spiral staircase especially put me in mind of the end of Quake's E1M1 for some reason, albeit taken in the opposite direction.  I enjoyed the secrets although it feels like a little bit of a shame that they're both in the same area; I guess the rest of the map has too many thin walls to incorporate secret closets, and too many expanses of monotexture to conceal a secret door or switch.  The height variation is nicely done here, with plenty of climbing, jumping across gaps, ascending or descending by smaller amounts than discrete levels or floors within the larger structure.

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Hello

 

MAP01 Scary

 

Modest, modest beginning map, nothing wrong with that. Actually kind of difficult in a way, due to the hitscanners, plus one trap where the armor is, but you can leave that one. A wise decision to put a chainsaw in that secret there though, as ammo is not entirely plentiful.

 

MAP02 Bloody Hell

 

Classic PWADs had the formula down for its maps, hitscanner heavy, and some windowed areas with secrets. Get rid of those pesky hitscanners which dot the groundscape and the windowscape, as well as the many corners that merely serve as asides, and there's not much to worry in this particular map. Heck, the entire area past the red door is actually kind of disappointing with the imp cages in comparison to the hitscanners.

 

MAP03 Entropia

 

What was I saying about hitscanners and windows? Oh yeah. Well this one is certainly much, much harder than the last two let me tell you. Not much can be said for the courtyard of demons, they are kinda lame here, but the cramped fights in general are certainly tough. You tell me how well you can fight that frickin' mancubus without having to backpedal because even finding a safe wall in the room isn't necessarily enough sometimes. We also have our first arch-vile and some revenants too, plus the bigger room with the knights and barons. And the secrets being at the start are quite interesting in themselves.

 

MAP04 Relentless

 

Does it live up to its title? I think it does!

 

We've got some harsh hitscanner-heavy combat of course, but if you can tell, crowd control is what's most important. With hordes of smaller enemies in a big field where that last key is, then the whole right side of the map, get your saddle and ride through the hellspawn, but don't expect it to be a smooth ride. That staircase area has to be revisited at least twice, for red and yellow keys, and then the yellow switch. We also have an interesting spiderdemon fight. Fun map.

 

...

 

Hi

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