Single Status Update
Ranking ***** (5/5 stars)
There are sometimes when we stumble ourselves with something that, no matter how much or from what angle we see it, it is definitively out of place.
For some people, this feeling we get when we found something of that kind, is unsettling.
For me, this is the one and only thing important on every narrative experience i dive into.
Be it a book, i want it to be thought provoking, placing more questions than answers.
Be it a film, i want it to be reflexive, making us conteplate things we oversight on everyday life.
Be it a game, i want it to be innovative, experimental, and if it necessary, at the risk of chase away potential players.
Three is a Crowd is, from a narrative and gameplay stand point, the perfect blend of all the three things above mentioned. And this is made on the most limited of all the possible settings of our good old Doom engine: Vanilla setting.
To achieve this, Scypek2 made a lot of sector trickery and an amazing use of almost all engine capabilities and limitations.
The maps are a perfect evilution of what made Doom 2 original design still fun and engaging throught time. Leaning on the abstract most of the times, but also giving us a little sense of place that let us wonder about the intrinsect architecture of our surroundings. Scypek2 take the things even further and make that possible using almost just stock textures.
But even if the locales are somewhat reminiscent of almost all things we use to know, Scypek2 made us feel out in the wilderness again, like it was the very first time, feeling defensesless, alone, don't understanding the mechanics of the world we found ourselves, and most of all, alienated from what we may expect from it.
There are not much games out there that can achieve this.
Only Doom made us felt like that, 26 years ago.
But Three is a Crowd, no matter how manny times you boot it on and off.
Almost everytime is like the first time.
Rough, difficult, and masterfully painful.
Now onto the three things that make out this marvelous mapset:
-Story & contextual storytelling: From the get go we are presented, even if we don't read the megawad companion .txt, with the main narrative.
The player is just a soldier, that, while playing some Scrible with it friends during the routine job, has to go on check about some strange things sounding out there, just to found him being drawed onto the game of a diabolical mind that just want to have fun with our pain. Unfortunately, the soldier is captured after finding the way to confront the mechanical devil of the deeps.
One of the first soldier friend, seeing that he doesn't return from the scouting and worrying about his fate, goes on to search his friend, just to find himself also being just a pawn on the gaming table of this unknown overseer. On the more dramatic moment of the game, the second soldier founds a way to comunicate his remaining friend the way to save his captured friend, and fight the upcoming demise of the friends at the cost of his own life.
The third and last soldier, make his way through the last part of the chess board, engaging on awfuly premeditated traps and beating them with his cunning ability, even making a friend in the process, and friendship that unfortunatelly, didn't last long, but still, friendship and courage win. The soldier found a teleporter to the demonic dimension.
After a really thought arena, the third soldier is able to reach his first captured friend, but is unable to save him from his imprisonment, so he goes to face the entity that played with them, just to be put on a sheer poisoning puzzle of desperation and pain.
What the jestering demonic giant didn't expected is that this soldier was able, not only to solve the final puzzle, but he was also able to liberate his imprisoned mate.
Now, the first soldier is free, and he is free to anihilate the monstrous and playful demon.
No matter how much the walled face tried to overpower the soldier, he defeated every encounter, and finaly, spur some vengeance into his melting joking brain.
After that, the first soldier is alone on this strange dimension, but on the ending pic, we see him reuniting with his brothers in arms, and the demon that help them against the mischievous titanic horned one.
If this doesn't ring like a total epic, like a message, like a masterfully crafted poem, i don't know what this rings to.
-Maps design: They are simple on the presentation, but full of interesting details that give a lot of context to the mapset in general. Hell is not as we know it, its just a little similar to it, but really different in nature. Techbase is not at all as it should, it is full of mortal gimmicks and darkness. And the city, is melancholy on the sunset at is full, playing with our desire for a heavenly rest.
Most of all, and what made me realice that this mapset is a full circle onto all the designing schools we have on Doom, its that it uses almost completely the abstract style of the original games, giving just little hints of realism for an innmersive effect.
Top notch design, even when it may be somewhat plain at first sight. It works not only on purpose, its work on subliminal level, as we are expecting details and hidden things on every corner.
-Gameplay: The gameplay is, hand in hand with the previous topics, an intended effect of the experience.
We found puzzles and challenge alike, with not one over other. Crafted and mixed as no other mapset did before and proving that this combination of mind bending maps and hard encounters are not only possible, they make for a perfect gameplay as no other.
Three is a Crowd is can be seen as naive mapset at first, poking fun on the abstract design of the first era of Doom mapping, but later on, we found that this is not only made on purpose, we played along it and couldn't resist to have fun with it. Making us realice what old time mappers of the first years of Doom always wanted to do: craft a compelling experience that could mesmerize us.
Scypek2 made true the long forgotten dream of our 26 years long standing community.
You made something that is art.