Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Russian Doomer Loki claimed Project Ragnarok was his first WAD. If this is true, then it languished on his hard drive for awhile, as he released Strange! to the archives some six months prior. STRANGE1 is a single map for ZDoom, set in "a water dimension". It's split between blue and gray. The blue, of course, comes from the water, which dominates the map. The gray comes from the concrete ruins that jut from the drink like some inundated temple. The color theme is very strong, down to the blue torches and blue key. It's very simple, and yet more pleasing to the eye than many of the maps found in RAGNAROK.
STRANGE is a large map but the actual playing area is small. You'll encounter 78 monsters, but they're all low-tier trash excepting the final encounter. The primary antagonist is the water, which is lava. Navigating the ruins is pretty easy, though you'll have a bit of jumping to do. In one particular instance, you'll have to do some rocket jumping. I've never rocket-jumped in Doom before, so getting the timing down was a learning experience. Loki assists things along by placing soul spheres on every tier of the spiral staircase and placing lines that stop you from blasting yourself off the ledges (which is great because it's pretty tightly-wound). Lesson learned: rocket jumping is fun!
Rocket jumping is about as exciting as this WAD gets as three arachnotrons vs. a ton of rockets and pillars providing cover isn't at all challenging. There are only a few other puzzles, one where you raise the bridge to the exit walkway (no-brainer) and the exit walkway itself, which has some rudimentary crushers in your way. Explorers may get some more fun by finding the map's distant areas, a pit with a bunch of normal jumping to get a shotgun and some enormous building that appears to be pumping water into the water dimension. Or, just goof around with the rocket launcher. I did both!
Strange! isn't very strange. It's a short semi-puzzle map that could serve as the introductory level to a much larger piece showcasing vertical movement. As it stands, it's short, simple, and fun. I like the unified look and, while it lacks a lot of interesting combat, it's a nice beginning and has actually piqued my interest in some of the more arcane genres of ZDoom gameplay. If Loki decided to take this concept any further, I'd be genuinely interested in the outcome. As it stands, this map is a light snack that may divert your attention while waiting for more filling morsels.
BY THE HOARY HOSTS OF SHOGGOTH!