Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reverie (REVERIE.WAD)


Reverie is the other vanilla-compatible megaWAD Doomworld forum superstar valkiriforce released in 2011. It's also the one that won a Cacoward (as well as the coveted Brandon D. Lade award, courtesy of Doomworld forum superstar Gez). Why Reverie and not Doom Core? Well, this is basically Doom Core 2.0, by which I mean the same principles and influences are present, tempered by experience gained up to and including Reverie. There's more coherence, more polish, and just higher quality all around. The story follows the marine from Doom, who realizes that the events of the past few games never happened – they were all a dream, produced by his coma-fueled imagination. He must therefore fight his way through another horde of demons, symbolically battling his illness. If victorious, he will return to reality.

Krizik's goal was to produce a mapset whose aesthetics and gameplay echoed the big names from '95 to '97. Icarus, Memento Mori, Requiem, Cleimos... I think he reached his target in some ways, but the underlying design is valkiriforce to the core. Except for the fact that the texture themes change from level to level, I don't think anyone could mistake this for having more than one author, though I've noticed a shift to incorporating more arena-style fights into the maps. The levels are also smaller on average than the ones in his previous megaWAD, Doom Core. It makes for fast but difficult challenges with rapidly changing aesthetic themes that keep things fresh.


If you're unfamiliar with valkiriforce's style of gameplay, it's very trappy, with plenty of puzzles. They're rarely if ever obscure with the exception of the purposefully complicated MAP31, an homage to the works of Bob Evans and Jim Flynn. He's also fond of shipping you off to entirely different map sections via teleporter, like MAP08, which employs the concept in a very big way (and is also fairly puzzle-involved). As for combat, a common complaint concerning Doom Core was the ubiquitous nature of everyone's favorite monster, the commando. His presence is largely toned down, though there are still a few chaingunner traps that may leave you reeling.


Another point to mention is Reverie's vanilla compatibility. It uses a plethora of Olde mapping tricks: lots of 3D bridges, lifts, deep water, and most interestingly the arch-vile ghost monster bug in MAP18. You'll want to use a port that correctly emulates the old resurrection behavior (if only for that particular level). Like its forebears, it attempts to reach beyond vanilla's limits without actually exceeding them (besides the occasional savegame buffer overflow, but whatever). It's very traditional, but in Krizik's inimitable speedmapped style. Whether that's a good or a bad thing depends on what you look for in your Doom WADs. Reverie doesn't have a lot of innovation, but some of its features resurrect evolutionary offshoots of Doom gameplay that might as well be innovation for all we see them today, and I think that's commendable in and of itself. (Make more levels like MAP31 please.)


I playtested the first third of Reverie as evidenced by the .TXT (though not the credits screen), but I'm hardly biased. I think I had some choice words to say about map difficulty at the time, but playing it now, most of my earlier misgivings have evaporated (probably because I suck less and wasn't playing it in a different port than I'm used to). I'm still critical at where he caved to some playtesters in MAP08, but then again I didn't get the Keen puzzle prior to his placing lost souls up there. All in all, Reverie is a very good mapset for anyone who wants to revisit those glory days of Doom during its height of popularity. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for classic action in unfamiliar (well, mostly unfamiliar) settings.





REVERIE
by Michael Jan "valkiriforce" Krizik

Stratos GateMAP01
Ye Olde "Entryway" knockoff. Well, more like Ye Olde MAP01, which has some "Entryway" homages. There's the starbase room with the green armor, or the exterior shotgun secret, or the first interior room, which is similarly themed to the familiar penultimate chamber. Mostly violent gameplay, with the opening pitting you against no less than five sergeants and the main chamber housing two commandos on pedestals in the middle of an imp crossfire. The whole opening sequence is pretty good, all told. I particularly like the outdoor starting area.

MAP02Soldier's Stand
Small violent techbase set in the mountains with a bitch of an opening. Dropping down the tube is about the last thing you actually want to do. The foyer is an absolute shootout, packed with zombimen you'll want to kill asap. The rest shows Valkiriforce's penchant for puzzles, particularly the lift bit that bridges the crate room and the brown, barrel-filled annex (not to mention the secret sequence). The ending is a neat little piece that evokes the opening of "2001: A Space Odyssey", with a few imps partying around a monolith-like structure.

The Cup of WrathMAP03
Short and very straightforward run through a series of mostly circular rooms connected by raised walkways. The opening is disconnected, though, a dangerous start-up where you're restricted by a waist-high wall while a number of hitscanners attempt to get at you from around the central obstruction. The rest is mostly standard room-clearing with the exception of the dangerous fortress entrance and the blue key trap, which is a bit unfair to the player as a number of commandos and sergeants shuffle into the upper ring with no safe spot to stand.

MAP04Divine Judgement
Very light brown level with tan brick and stone (and some wood). Most of the action takes place in or around liquid-flooded areas, some toxic, some not. The starting bit is the major exception. It's not absolutely choked with switches but there are certainly some buttons to press, with a few more intricate puzzles at the map's beginning and near the end (the yellow key sequence). Action typically puts the player in exposed positions with semi-limited mobility, like the cacodemon / imp cage fight near the opening or that evil hell knight / spectre romp in the northern outdoor area, both strong contenders for my standout encounter.

SubstanceMAP05
Starts off feeling kind of like a Chris Klie map with the way space is used in the western half before moving into an Orin Flaharty-style finale (reminiscent of his Memento Mori maps). The western area is jam-packed full of hitscanners with a few oddities like a pain elemental in the basement or the lost soul room. My standout moment is the level's final area, though, with the careful annihilation of commandos before having to rush the hell knights, coupled with a very neat soul sphere secret in the center. Fun stuff.

MAP06Sledgehammer
Very fun puzzle-tacular romp through a mixture of vine-covered ruins and techbase. I especially like the four courtyard area right before the blue key with quite the puzzle progression. One particular gauntlet has a sort of leapfrog progression as you fight through side-corridors to get a shot at a switch in the next room that opens the next door. Some really good fights, too, like the battle right around the yellow key (diabolical!) and the wave that teleports in when you lower it. Great visuals, great fighting; I love it! Also I don't remember there being five barrels around that final surprise, hah.

LazarusMAP07
Haha, wow this map is coming back to me. Starts out as a really cramped corridor affair with some abstract architecture before turning into a "Dead Simple" free-for-all in a Hell fortress style. There's an outer ring you'll have to clear with sergeants in the hallways and mancubuses in each corner and the center ring, which has hell knights, demons, and four corners with two revenants and a mancubus each. Once you manage to sort that stuff out (with the aid of a berserk pack and possibly a megasphere) you can tackle the arachnotrons, who are comparatively easier to handle.

MAP08Triplet II
"Triplet II" might as well be three completely separate maps joined by a hub. It's in tribute to Jim Flynn's "Triplet", from the Enigma Episode, but it only really shows in a few sections, most notably the yellow key hub. You can conquer the map areas in any order but you have to return to the main room with all three keys in order to exit. The red wing is a nice mountain base with a dangerous key guardian. The final fight is a bit tricky as well. The yellow key wing is the Flynn love-letter, with an elevator / switch puzzle followed up with a pretty big homage in the main room, a superstructure emerging from the ground as well as the imp tunnels. The structure fight is pretty obnoxious but you get two soul spheres, one before and one after, so it's all good. The blue key wing has a very dangerous circular fight with a number of revenants. It's aided by an invulnerability, but still pretty tricky to clear the upper tier. The highlight is a color-coded puzzle. I'm still miffed that Valkiriforce caved and put numbers on the platforms, but I'm also amused as people still ask for the solution. All in all, a very fun map, and it's loaded with tons of secrets.

FractureMAP09
Very small techbase map apparently inspired by Sverre Kvernmo's Derelict Station, which would explain the short ruined section to the west. It's actually a pretty tough map; you'll feel underarmed until you find the plasma rifle or SSG / rocket launcher teleporter. There are a few chaingunners gumming up the hallways but more importantly a squad of mancubuses in the red key room (ammo sponges and no easy assault) as well as the catwalk sandwiched between two pillars of revenants (and a secret room with rockets that dumps more revenants into the red key room). Come to think of it, I bet I you could use those guys to soften up each other... The final battle is my standout encounter, a pair of arch-viles befuddled by recently slaughtered zombimen.

MAP10The Tech Towers
In direct contrast, here is an enormous techbase map. Well, its closest analogue among the classic megaWADs is Memento Mori II's "Corporate Hell". It's a network of enormous towers with various makes. The grounds themselves are pretty sparsely populated, but with arachnotrons and mancubuses, so they're still pretty dangerous if you ignore them. You might get the impression from the layout that it's pretty open exploration. In reality, you'll have to conquer the towers in a relatively linear series. There are a lot of neat hooks, like stairs building fast in front of you (a Flynn favorite) and some SFX like pseudo-3D bridge and, at the very opening, swinging doors. I'd say my two favorite parts (it's a biiiig level) are the opening tower, which has a nice sequence of dangerous firefights, and the western area inside the outer wall. It's got a concrete block maze that slowly introduces monsters as you flip switches with a couple of very unwelcome surprises, punctuated with quite the love-in at the top of the bloodfall. Oh, and watch out for the deathtrap that is the yellow key area.

Hello, Cybie!MAP11
This is a very small techbase with a vexing finish. It's got outdoor sections to the north and south, the north of which is absolutely choked with revenants and arachnotrons. Thankfully Valkiriforce has seeded the area with barrels that block movement; it's also possible to cause some infighting with no actual risk to yourself. My favorite fight picks up right after the SSG grab; some bigger monsters get dumped into a crowded room and you have to fight to stay mobile. That trench with the arch-vile is pretty nice, too, though. I should also mention the existence of a neat-looking treadmill.

MAP12Armageddon Valley
Very short map that begins in a crashed spaceship, after which you crawl into a network of caves and ruins. It's pretty cramped but pretty safe, though bits like the hell knight room may be a little tricky with the room you have to dodge. The architecture is really nice here, with details like columns just peaking out from the valley walls or the actual network of caves. The standout encounter for me is a teleporting arch-vile that blinks between several jail cells before winding up in an outside area to plague a chamber ringed by cacodemons. Also of note is the number of secrets packed into this map despite its modest size.

Stronghold EarthMAP13
A large network of ruins scattered in a mountain range. It may seem like a massive map but at least one section, the southern area, is mostly space. It also looks pretty sharp, especially the eastern ruins and that shattered bridge. There's a lot of good, intense fighting to be had. The opening is a little different, with the three-rocket monsters in wide open areas, but once you get into the ruins you get some tight encounters, namely the big shootout prior to acquiring the red key, though it's stuffed with goodies. One of the tougher moments is a tight corridor showdown with a Cyberdemon, though my favorite bit is a series of monster closets punctuated by an arch-vile. Also has a nice ending.

MAP14Tyranny
Very short fortress level that brings to mind Chris Klie's MAP03 from BF_THUD!. There's an outer ring of monsters you should clear, which is pretty straightforward, provided you know where to grab the SSG. The inner ring after raising the drawbridge is a bit more tricky; expect to do a lot of ducking in and out as there are a number of barons and their ilk to clog things up. The meat of the interesting stuff happens in the two key wings (the arrows on the floor evoking shades of MAP08 from the same WAD). I'm not sure how fond I am of the pit shootout but the western area with its hell knight tango is pretty neat. The crux though is in the center aisle, with revenants pouring down the snaking tunnel as you frantically backpedal. Very fun diversion.

Blade RunnerMAP15
This is another take on a "Downtown"-style level, except there are a row of buildings separated to the north that you will visit on several occasions. The nine main buildings house most of the action and leave you feeling fairly exposed for a good while. Many of the snipers that harry you will be difficult to deal with and a few pockets of resistance are incredibly dangerous (especially the upper floor in the northwestern construct). Some favorite moments include the column building trap and the huge wave of monsters that pours in when you grab the yellow key (pretty fun to bomb the alleyway). Also of note: a tiny tribute to Chris Klie's Catwalk in the middle southern building. The secret exit isn't too terribly hard to find, but it's four switches (and three secrets) deep, so keep your eyes peeled.

MAP31Metal Mansion
This is a dark metal masterpiece in the style of Flynn and Evans Eternal Doom maps. You will have plenty of secrets to uncover; Krizik's sole concession is that ammo and weapons are not hard to come by (in fact, he gives you nearly everything at the map's beginning!). As you explore, locomotion becomes much easier. The fights aren't that tough but he's stuffed the level full of harder monsters, with the giant catwalk in the center being the star attraction as far as bullet Hell goes (don't take that head on if you can help it). You'll also find a fair number of arch-viles to contend with. All three keys are accessed via puzzles. More importantly, all three key switches that open the secret exit are hidden as well. Actually, I'm rather fond of both Cyberdemon fights. Overall, this is a good level, but for a niche audience. Know your limits and if you feel you must give up, the normal exit is right at the beginning.

DeadlockMAP32
This is a small arena-style map where you hit switches, slightly opening up the area and introducing tailored waves of monsters into the battlefield. You get all the weapons at the beginning and there's generally more than enough ammo to take on the opposition. The first real snag will be acquiring the plasma rifle, which sets the tone for the other two major fights, both of which are easily handled (unsurprisingly) by running into main bunker, though the first will require just a little finesse. Very fun!

MAP16Dark Zone
Short, simple level where you combat four different areas in the order of your choosing from the central hub, a tower in the center of a crater lake. Three of the ancillary areas house keys required to activate three switches in the fourth, which grants access to the rest of the tower (your exit route). The most novel of these scenarios is the yellow key battle, which occurs on a desolate stretch of road where you must battle quite the oncoming force in a narrow area. I hope you've gotten good at dodging mancubus fireballs and revenant rockets! The southwestern hub is a more traditional affair, but no less cramped, and has a neat battle in its sole outdoor area.

FatalityMAP17
Same basic idea behind "Dark Zone", except it's in a tan stone outdoorsy area and most of the hub traveling is done on foot, with the hubs themselves lowering the key pillars found at the beginning. The red key wing features most of the action, where you have to conquer the three parts of another hub (accessed via teleporters) before you open up the rad suits and switch which takes you to the lava tunnels, granting passage to the final room. The aforementioned teleporter hub is kind of cute as the areas you visit play out more like little challenges, with the canyon wall crawl serving as my standout encounter.

MAP18Sleeping Spirits
This level should be played in a source port that correctly emulates the ghost monster behavior. Why? Well, as you traipse around this gorgeous spooky mansion, you'll be pursued by a sheer force of nature – a pack of spectral imps. It gives quite the air of desperation to your hurried exploration as you search for more rockets to put the last one back in its dusty grave. Likely one of the best moments has you running outside through the thick rain attempting to find some reprieve, only to run into the arms of two hell knights. Once you silence the last bubbling fiend, you're free to enjoy the map at your own pace, marveling at little touches like the TV in one of the quarters. Besides the imps, my standout encounter is predictably the yellow key sequence, which is quite the horde of spirits to have disturbed. Very nice.

Dusk TownMAP19
Short, kind of outskirts-style map with two courtyards separated by a wall you'll traverse. Whether it's actually a town or not is debatable, but it has its own little features like a tiny crematorium and an office of some kind. It's kind of brutal, with the standout fight occupying in the second courtyard, requiring a bit of infighting to come out mostly unscathed. It's also got a neat little staircase leading to a lookout on the upper tier.

MAP20One Such Reverie
I have to love a map that encourages indiscriminate plasma rifle usage. This is a more interesting abstract level divided into three parts. The first is a large metal base with a distinct outdoor front and back. The other two, accessed by teleporters, happen in sequence and feature more mountainous terrain, one dominated by a large catwalk over some toxins while the other has a little gate puzzle (pretty easy), later punctuated with a Cyberdemon battle. My personal standout encounter is probably the ambush waiting for you in the main base after hitting the switch at the top of the stairs; the real main focus are the minor puzzles, like getting onto the upper level near the opening or the previously mentioned gate sequence (shades of keep away).

SunriseMAP21
Short, straightforward and TOUGH AS NAILS. There's a central arena and a southern wing that houses the blue key that starts the incredibly slow gate to the exit. All the while an army of Hellspawn pours in through two different teleporters in the back. You have two megaspheres at your disposal, but they require a little work. Toss in the pyramid of chaingunners and regardless of where you decide to hunker down, you'll have one Hell of a time defending your position. The big push will occur when a pair of arch-viles warps in near the end. I would caution against saving all the backpacks to cap your shotgun ammo – you're gonna need those cells and rockets.

MAP22Egyptian Plains
Very cool Egyptian-style level. Rather than the usual stuff you start out within the pyramid and get to fight your way out, ending in a sewer section. It's a little rough in spots, like one particular commando ambush or the tricky opening room. The real kick in my pants happened near the end of the sewer section, two sharp shocks involving everyone's favorite demon sorcerer. Of course, I should know by now not to stroll blindly into what may very often be a trap, but I can't help myself. They're both easy to deal with if you exercise any sort of thought. There's also a surprise fight with a Spiderdemon, which you could have seen coming with the way Krizik was handing out plasma ammo.

Cyclone RiderMAP23
Very tough map that wouldn't feel out of place in, say, Hell Revealed. The opening is a gauntlet of staged monster encounters, the most dangerous of which is a mixture of cacodemons and pain elementals, which added 100 more monsters to the map alone. There's also a cool Spiderdemon on staggered platforms fight that you can easily game to your advantage. The rest of the map is a dungeon crawl filled with dastardly traps, particularly the yellow key sequence. It's just kick to the face after kick to the face; most of them are basically trivial to clear if you've seen them once, and given enough health, you can probably weather some of the more dangerous ones until you have time to react. Health is at a premium, though, so tread lightly.

MAP24Sewer System (Arch Vile's Den)
Yes, there's kind of a sewer system here and yes, you will fight a number of archies. There aren't that many, though, excepting one quite notable encounter where you hit the den itself. The rest of the map has you sorting through two non-sewer wings to get the blue and yellow keys. The yellow side has an opening battle with a bunch of mancubuses that's a pain to sort through but gets you your very own rocket launcher. The blue side showcases more of the sewers, with a nice catwalk through cascading water and a quick above-ground jaunt for a breather (nice to have ammo lying around and not get ambushed). My standout encounter besides the arch-vile den would be a slow elevator gauntlet. Not particularly lethal, but a shake-up regarding action.

Sever TomorrowMAP25
Starts out looking like an arena map based on some crossroads with an opening similar to "Cyclone Rider" and then quickly distances itself with a long trek through a brick labyrinth to get the red and blue keys. There's some neat features like a pseudo-second floor (complete with faux-3d catwalk) and one of my favorite moments in the WAD, where I pushed an arch-vile back into a teleporter by hosing him with the plasma rifle, then following him through for a telefrag. It just feels so good. There's a few nasty showdowns that take place in the beginning area; the Spiderdemon was a little tricky but only if you get careless. The Cyberdemon thankfully has a lot of infighting opportunity. All in all, pretty fun.

MAP26Fallen Angel
Small cave-based level that brings to mind (to me at least) "Excavations" from Icarus, more due to its cramped layout and final wave of encounters than any lack of ammo. Of particular note is a chokepoint near the exit that's thankfully sectioned off with a monster blocking line, otherwise you'd be busy getting ganged up on by a horde of chaingunners and their arch-vile masters. As it stands, you'll have to be careful, but not too careful or you'll never punch through the meat shields. I also like the way the SSG pillars are used to facilitate progression halfway through the level.

Godspeed!MAP27
A "Living End" style map inspired by PRCP's "Terra Incognita", "Godspeed" brushes aside some of the style's familiar features. No damage floors in the main section, for one (yay!). Also, the map both begins and ends above ground. The rest is tricky but rarely abusive gameplay, with battles like the ridiculous library fight or the southwestern room with the bridge over lava standing out as definite highlights. What makes this map a little more free-form is the fact that you have to find all three keys (in any order you like) as well as find the teleporters to the switches adjacent to the final area, where you get a pretty run of the mill Spiderdemon finale. Very nice play!

MAP28Turbine Accelerator
This is a large, complex waterworks-style map. It's a bit tough getting going at first because ammo and weapons are scarce, and the proper direction (if indeed there is one) is difficult to divine. The rocket launcher and plasma rifle are all located behind some entrenched opposition, the rifle being the easiest to acquire. Once you've sorted out your ammo problems you're free to enjoy the encounters on their own, like the series of encounters leading up to the red key, or the northwestern courtyard. Unfortunately, Krizik's final trick, a deep water effect at the map's end, neuters the rest of your challenges as none of the monsters outside the water can shoot back at you. Regardless, a cool map.

SalvationMAP29
If this is what Valkiriforce dreams about, I shudder to consider his nightmares. This is a kind of arena-style fight based in a simple square area with a walled-off circle in the center. All the armaments are provided to you; the main challenge begins with the four Cyberdemons stomping around the ring, exacerbated every time you activate a key pillar, which dumps a new wave of monsters into the fight. I mean, you could take the Cyberdemons out at the beginning, but my successful attempt kept them alive until the end as a useful distraction. The first two waves are straight up revenants, with the second two mixing arch-viles in. I'm not sure how you'd tackle the fourth wave outside of saving the invulnerability for that moment, as the third was bad enough. Pretty tough and rewards strategic thinking.

MAP30Final Doom
Krizik's finale resembles more Evilution's "Last Call" than boss shooters of yore by putting a substantial amount of gameplay before the Icon of Sin. It's a surreal map that begins on a house surrounded by water, taking you through caverns and halls including suspended animation commandos, followed by an enormous atmospheric hallway with four pairs of monsters. It's a little tricky, especially considering the second two pairs, but easy once you have it figured out. The boss shooter itself is pretty straightforward, though Krizik has given the IOS a fair bit of health, making your delicate balance on the pillar more annoying than usual, especially as he is so kind to seed the arena with a pair of pain elementals, among other nuisances. At least you don't have to time your shots! A great ending.

CAN IT BE THAT THERE'S SOME SORT OF ERROR?
HARD TO STOP THE SURMOUNTING TERROR
IS IT REALLY THE END, NOT SOME CRAZY DREAM?


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2011 Cacowards

The Top TenBest Multiplayer
Plutonia Revisited32in24-11: Occupy Doomworld
VapordemoBest Gameplay Mod
LunaticBrutal Doom
Double ImpactMordeth Award
Vanguard1994 Tune-up Community Project
ReverieMapper of the Year
JenesisSkillsaw
IceboundHonorable Mentions
Mandrill Ass ProjectDoom II Redux
Khorus's Speedy ShitDoom64 EX

4 comments:

  1. Heh, fun read as usual. I enjoyed making this megawad, even though it was a bit of a torment with people wanting one thing and another (like the numbers on the color-coded MAP08 among other things). I really enjoyed making MAP31 and would like to make more like it if I ever find the inspiration to do so. ~vf

    ReplyDelete
  2. You've put out a lot of great material for 2011; I can only assume 2012 will be as good if not better. I'm looking forward to playing Cleimos when I finish this span of more current WADs since it's cited among your influences. And I hope this review gets more people playing Reverie if they haven't already!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing this megawad, it's one of the more fun ones I've cooped. Your blog is such a good resource to find new megawads, if we can't find new wads we get bored with the game, thanks

    ReplyDelete
  4. A solid throwback to the 1996-97 era, complete with a really nice soundtrack. valkiriforce has some design and gameplay quirks but I was able to get over them and enjoy myself.

    ReplyDelete