Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bloodflood (FLOOD.WAD)

by Sverre Andre Kvernmo

Sverre Kvernmo was a late addition to id's Master Levels for Doom II project. He sought out id and sent them a batch of maps for admission. All of his submissions came from a megaWAD he had been working on, where the player acts as a Cyberdemon cast out of Hell's ruling council, now seeking revenge. Four (well, five) maps made it into the Master Levels. The rest he uploaded to the idgames archive individually as Cabal 1-7. Bloodflood is contained in cabal1, though it occupies the MAP03 slot. As part of the Cabal series, it depicts the ousted Cyberdemon decimating one of the Cabal's blood depots, which helps to power their black magic rituals, and is apparently your first major blow against them.

Stylistically the map looks like an early Doom II starbase level. I say that because of its use of metal, piping and other modern textures. The layout is a bit odd, to say the least, as it reflects the fact that Kvernmo designed this primarily for deathmatch. It also looks fairly short. The gameplay doesn't suffer for it, however. Rather, Kvernmo's tricky deathmatch traps have been co-opted for some very nasty single player encounters. Granted, this means that his map layout rarely serves his monster placement, but anyone looking for a challenge without getting inundated by monsters should find this a nice departure.

And it is pretty challenging. There's a grand total of 45 health laying around the level, not counting a scant few health bonuses and a berserk pack you will likely be in dire need of at some point, vs. 130+ monsters. You'll be tight for ammo even if you berserk / chainsaw all of the easier targets. It's very much a scavenger map, and with an open enough route that you can decide how to go about tackling it. Which supplies are worth risking when? It's all up to you. And that's not to mention the tougher encounters you'll be ill-equipped to handle at first glance.

One of the trickiest rooms is the blue key room. Kvernmo uses several bits that restrict player movement while leaving him / her exposed, also seen in the berserker room and rocket switch. Here you face a gauntlet of challenges, from clearing out the maze, to dealing with an ambush you should prepare for, to handling chasers that appear as you attempt to flee your lethal immobility. You can find this kind of activity in a somewhat different format in the map's titular encounter, which is a bugaboo. Upon leaping into the darkened pit to grab the rad suit you'll be in close-quarters with several demons and a cacodemon while chaingunners fire at you from a back room. If you manage to flee the flood, you'll have to handle a pack of former human sergeants populating an earlier-cleared sewer shaft. When you finally catch your breath, you can hit the light switch and take the chaingunners out at a slightly more human pace.

There are a few details that keep this from being just another hard map. One, the blood flood fight is pretty cool, bitching aside. It was a great hair-raising moment and when your hard work spills out into the rest of the map, creating some positive feedback for obtaining your objective, it's great. There's also a bit of a clever secret involved with the secret yellow key that grants access to a powerful weapon at the map's end, which I imagine is far more rewarding in a deathmatch context. I still think it's a nice touch. Lastly, and I'm not sure whether Kvernmo planned this, but there's a semi-secret monster I would have completely missed had I not been blowing up barrels for fun. I don't think you'll really wake him up otherwise, which will keep you from getting that coveted 100%.

Bloodflood is a map that will kick you around and take its time doing so. You will rarely be able to make any advancement without some sort of cost and its encounters have been thankfully tailored to fit its deathmatching sensibilities. It's also got some great single-player features that give it a distinct air of imagination. While it's not the prettiest map in the world, it gets its point across, and for that and other aforementioned reasons I would recommend this WAD to anyone looking for a challenge, especially fans of Kvernmo's work. And, if his .TXT is to be believed, it's also bitchin' for deathmatch.

This post is part of a series on Sverre Kvernmo's Cabal series

Bloodsea KeepDerelict StationBloodfloodThe Watchtower
Temple of DeathWe Who are About to DieThe Express Elevator to HellEye of the Storm
Mephisto's MaosoleumBlack TowerThe Image of Evil


  1. So is there actually a way to get the yellow key in single player? Sorry if this question seems out of nowhere but I've driven myself crazy trying to figure it out for myself.

    1. after loading the map up some four years later, i zeroed in on the clue, but it's a bit finicky. the wall behind the evil eye symbol - but not the ENTIRE wall - is a secret switch that lowers the pillar.

    2. Thank you so much. I promise I'll try to avoid pestering you about this kind of thing in the future.