Demon of the Well
E2 FDAs #2, maps 16-20. Onwards!
Map 16 -- I remember this from the screenshots thread. Looks rad, although I think it'd probably be even better with some more pronounced lighting contrasts. Anyway, I wasn't playing so well this time around, and I die here once when my reflexes just seem to momentarily quit on me, but like map 15 before it I think this is one of the easier E2 maps (not that this is necessarily a criticism, mind, I don't feel that each map needs to be incrementally more difficult than the one before it). The reason for this is that the player has a lot more control over the rate at which the various monsters are released, so things are less likely to snowball out of control, and a methodical/cautious player is able to handle the battle in stages and collect his/her wits and comfortably stock up between combats. I technically find both secrets but don't make very good use of either of them; if I had timed the use of the V-sphere more wisely on the exit run the whole thing would've been a snap.
Map 17 -- For the record, this is my favorite from this new batch of levels, not unlike the library from E1 in tone and style. It really had me on the ropes, too...I die twice here, and am hanging on by a thread at one point during the third attempt, as well. This is the polar opposite of the steady pace of map 16; seemed like the early waves can be triggered/managed at the player's discretion, but at about the halfway point mechanisms behind the scenes just start releasing wave after wave of monsters into all of the different points of the layout, and at this point it's not a question of trying to keep control over the situation--you just can't, full stop--but in just scrambling nonstop to survive, fighting for every second of safety until you finally start to turn the tide again. The unorthodox rockets-first weapon progression (not that said progression is terribly pronounced given the size of the map) and the nonlinear/unfolding layout make this very replayable as well. This is brilliant stuff, probably the most fun map in a set full of them. Shit, I even love the setting. I'm all about crypts and tombs and whatnot.
An end to the gushing, though. There is one thing I noticed that may be an issue; by the time I finally won and was ready to leave, I could hear a cyberdemon and some other monsters stomping around in a closet somewhere, but they never arrived to the party. Now, I didn't get 100% secrets, so I know it may just be that their appearance is tied to one, but I thought I'd mention it anyway, since it occurred to me that the monster teleportation space in this one gets pretty congested pretty quickly, and maybe they just missed the bus somehow.
Map 18 -- Man, aliens sure are shitty pilots, aren't they? Apart from the UFO this is naturally less visually interesting than many of the other maps (and I'm going to make usual broken record suggestion that it might look a bit sharper if it were slightly darker), but effective enough on a thematic level. I appreciate what it does with the gameplay, though--this is sort of a 'defend the stronghold' map of sorts, which makes a nice change from the corner-to-corner scrambling of the previous few maps. Avoids being too one-note by gradually cutting down on the number of safe spots the player has over time; very classy. The cyberdemons that appear at one point will unfortunately be pretty easy to cheese for players that want to do that, but I think trying to preclude this to a really pronounced degree would require you to make layout changes that would hamper other aspects of play, so it's probably not something to worry about. Maybe for UV skill at least you could have an additional wave of arch-viles or the like that teleport in at some point near the end in an attempt to flush the player away from the safety of the area around the elevator, dunno....I still wasn't playing very well but I make it through this one on the first shot, largely because I was able to control when/how I made certain moves almost entirely. Still fun, regardless.
Map 19 -- Heh.
Map 20 -- Not a lot to say about this one, it's thematically very cool (although not unprecedented), and I can't help but like the endless torrent of imps and pinkies (thankfully they weren't nobles, that would've taken a while). The sloppy play continues, but again I make it out on the first go, just because the sheer amount of running room finally expands somewhat, although it's still informally restricted by all of the molten lava (which is fine). Revenants and arch-viles are conspicuous in their absence here, but I don't think most players will miss them, as the nature of their attacks would tend to make the situation exponentially more stressful than it currently is. Maybe there's a little too much health on the central rock formation, I feel like I got away with very poor play (even by the day's generally low standards) in this one. Still enjoyable anyway, again.
This WAD's something special, man, and I mean that. Very much looking forward to the finale.