Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hanging Gardens (HGARDEN.PK3)

by Paul "Skillsaw" DeBruyne

Hanging Gardens is a single map for GZDoom by Paul DeBruyne, released concurrently with Lunatic. It's the only part of an abandoned project he deemed worth releasing. It was supposed to take place on some kind of desert base, and judging from some of the elements present, it appears to combine elements of Serious Sam's gameplay with Doom's, but after having played DeBruyne's other maps I think this kind of slaughtery action is just his style. It also has a few new monsters, pulled from the Realm 667 Bestiary, the Suicide Bomber and the Archon of Hell. If I'm not mistaken, HGARDEN also has its own special effects pack, derived from Nash's gore mod.

Indeed, the map takes place in a desert garden of some sort. You won't see any sand, but it's gorgeously decorated with planters and pools of water both high and low. It's tiered in such a fashion that height increases from the northeast to the southwest. Expect lots of stairs and lots of chokepoints. Since it appears to take place at high noon, there's little lighting to speak of. Actually, the bits you do see really help convey the sun beating down directly on you. The foundation itself is a tan color that contrasts nicely with both the water and greenery.

Gameplay is undeniably a slaughter, and it's all open-air. You're immediately confronted by a pack of imps you have to blast through, then decide to go up or down, frantically fighting your way to a location that isn't inundated with Hellspawn. While you have all sorts of projectile-throwing trash cluttering up the open areas, Skillsaw has seeded a number of platforms with mancubuses and arachnotrons to serve as additional distractions beyond the carnivorous road blocks. To make things worse, there are no shortage of cacodemons to be found, the whole mess combining into quite the opposition.

Weapons 3-5 are acquired at the map's onset. The BFG and plasma rifle are found in strategic locations you'll have to fight your way to. And there are a generous number of soul spheres and ammo caches scattered about like morsels for Pac-Man. Once you've cleared out the incumbents, you have to grab three keys. One has no strings attached while the others invite waves of violence in the vicinity. The blue key is the more interesting encounter, showcasing a number of Suicide Bombers that give the attack the aforementioned Serious Sam feel. There's an arch-vile there, too, but he's deftly handled. The red key is a more difficult trap as the monsters are more varied (including some pain elementals) and considerably spread out.

When you've got everything you can open the exit door, which unleashes three Archons of Hell. Never having fought one before, they play like amped-up barons, firing either spreads of plasma or cool-looking comets. They're not very dangerous, really, given that you probably have a cranked-up BFG and solid cover to work around. And from there, well, the end! Hanging Gardens is gorgeous and plays quite well, assuming you're fond of slaughter maps. I'm intrigued with where DeBruyne was going with this whole thing, but it's fun to play with what he's deigned to release.



  1. this wad is excellent! im really diggin this Nash Gore mod. Hopefully Mr.DeBruyne makes more in the future.

    1. anyone know any Doom 1 or 2 WAD's with Nashgore? Thanks ;)