Thursday, April 28, 2011

Slaughter Until Death (SUDTIC.WAD)

Perhaps no team of Doomers is better known in the early days of Doom than The Innocent Crew. Thomas and Dennis Moeller (aka Panza and Grindcrusher / Vorthalak respectively) raised the bar on PWAD level quality from near the beginning and continued to do so until they left to map for id's next big release, Quake. In their wake, they left two Doom episode replacements, a partial conversion (and megawad) for Doom II, and three community megawads, also for Doom II. They never really bothered with stories; they just liked making maps for the Hell of it.

Slaughter Until Death is the earliest of The Innocent Crew's efforts (that I know of), a full replacement for OG Doom's second episode released in 1994. Thomas and Dennis have a way of making Doom maps that creates much more cohesive environments and challenges than other Doom PWADs I've played (and indeed, more than most IWAD levels). SUD hits on some of the themes that dominate TiC's efforts, the biggest of which is the image of the cross, normal or inverted. There's some custom textures, too, but nothing impressive, especially when rendered under the full-bright they tend to paint with when not showing off.

What shines here is thing placement and map layout, creating tough but fair encounters. Granted, they love to throw the occasional pack of easily-slaughtered zombimen and the multitude of shotgunners that lurk around keep you pretty well seated for ammo, but the Moellers had an early grasp on the near future of encounter design. Stylistically, the maps tend toward a fusion of Hell and normal textures that doesn't suggest anything particular. With all the wood and marble, one might even go so far as to suggest it's E4-ish, but it significantly predates Thy Flesh Consumed.

1994 gets slagged for being party to a lot of horrible Doom PWADs, and yeah, a lot of people released the equivalent of horrible crayon drawings, but the Moellers were there near the very beginning to hold a light for the community to get them beyond the original Doom and into their own demon-killing fantasies. If you won't touch 1994 with a ten-year pole, give Slaughter Until Death a shot, or the followup, The Evil Unleashed. If you still think 1994 sucks, well, good thing it's 2013 and people are still making maps.

by Thomas and Denis Möller

E2M1Flying Guts
by Thomas Möller
A neat little level. There's way too much shotgun ammo for my tastes but considering it's almost entirely populated by sergeants and imps, it's to be expected. I like the construction but the outdoor areas you see are a little bland. I appreciate their architecture; they just seem under-detailed. As a whole, it's decent, but no great shake.

Mysterious HallsE2M2
by Denis Möller
Much better than E2M1. I especially like the sequence with the skull pillars leading to the red key. Really, the detail here shines along with the encounters, loading the area up with demons and spectres. Still way too much ammo, though it felt pretty balanced for a while.

E2M3The Blazed
by Thomas Möller
The layout of this level is pretty imaginative. Thomas uses lifts and gaps to create the illusion of three-dimensional space and exploration and seeds the level with a large amount of distinct architecture, like the toxic room with the pillar staircases. The demon pit trap was a big shock for me, perhaps my standout moment. The entire level is less straightforward from pistol start than the previous two. Of particular note – there's plenty of secrets in this map, and one particular section is a whole adventure unto itself.

Death PainE2M4
by Denis Möller
Among the more memorable moments, I'd put the imp crossfire with demons porting in, as well as that highly telegraphed (yet which still got me) crusher. A lot of the secrets here are REALLY hard to find; even without, however, it's fairly well-balanced, using cacodemons and demons to soak up those shotgun shells and keep the pressure on the player.

E2M5Mutilated Corpses
by Denis Möller
I happened upon a most ingenious construction here that makes a an intersection into two separate hallways depending on which direction you approach it from. A progenitor of the false bridges, perhaps? The raised tower section near the end of the normal exit is also a memorable area, though the constant opening and closing of doors is slightly tedious. Regardless, this is an exquisite map. A little burgeoning with ammo, but at this point I'm getting used to it.

Arena of PunishmentE2M9
by Thomas Möller
A bit harder than the other maps so far. Not sure how I feel about the crenelated maze in the south end. The way to lower the blue skull key platform (and raise the stairs back to the beginning) wasn't terribly obvious but the rest of the map was pretty straightforward and those demons making noises in the outside area kept me on my toes for awhile. The arena itself is perhaps the most memorable piece of architecture, though excepting some demons sneaking up on you, it lacks for an equally striking battle.

E2M6Damned Bastards
by Denis Möller
The first time I played this map was in Al Dewey's Heroes. I recall it was a particularly noisome pistol start. I'm happy to say I recognize few if any changes between the two, making it just as devilish. From having to take on the opening hordes with nothing but your trusty pistol (and, okay, a chainsaw) to only getting your other hitscan weapons toward what I'd call the map's second half, it's a nice lesson on relying on your survivalist resources. The biggest complaint I can level is in the caco trap, only because of the tricky damage floor involved.

by Thomas Möller
I dig this crazy opening and the return of that upside-down cross doorway motif. I also like the details here like the execution squad in the southern portion of the map or the cathedral with the imp heads just barely out of view, making for an unnerving surprise when they're awakened. In the end, I think the central area's lifts drag down the gameplay, but I love most of the map's surprises, especially the chaingun room, where the extra bodies don't seem overwrought.

E2M8Baphomet's Throne
by Thomas Möller
A large outdoor area containing a giant cross-shaped structure, at the head of which is the end of level boss. A fine ending; it feels a little sparse but it's loads better than the original episode's final boss levels (well, maybe not E1M8). Plenty of shotgun shells and rockets to go around, too. Just don't dodge into a column.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1994

Crossing AcheronAliens TC
Doomsday of UACGalaxia
The Unholy TrinityReturn to Phobos
Slaughter Until DeathThe Evil Unleashed


  1. There's a lot of good to say about Slaughter Until Death. It was great fun, exactly the kind of thing I like to see in Doom maps - lots of action, traps, and it looks great.

    1. As far as early gameplay and design goes, it's hard to beat The Innocent Crew.