Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Twilight Zone (TWZONE.WAD)

One of the Doom community's most prolific WAD authors, Paul Corfiatis debuted in 1998 with a Doom II megaWAD entitled The Twilight Zone. It's had a number of updates and facelifts, notably the removal of John "Dr. Sleep" Anderson's two publicly available Inferno levels and the 2004 edition, which gave the mapset a stern tune-up, attempting to fix some of its most serious criticisms. Some people prefer the original feel, untouched by the surgeon's knife. I myself am playing through the most recent edition, which looking at some demos available on Youtube isn't very different from its progenitor. Paul doesn't give much of a story to the levels; it looks like your standard "find and kill Baphomet", with the finale text implying that the player started his journey from his bedroom, if he isn't just fighting in his dreams.

TWZONE is a one-man megaWAD. Corfiatis's mapping predilections are wholly apparent, and some things that are unpalatable to modern players populate his freshman release. The occasional interjections by SS Nazis are the least repugnant offenders. Paul seems to have a certain affection for the much-maligned secret police of Doom II, which has carried over to levels as recent as 2011 (MAP01 of PC_CP.WAD, for instance). Of course, it's not reverence, or you wouldn't be slaughtering them wholesale. He just seems to accept the SS Troopers and their associated paraphernalia as natural residents of Hell, alongside the arch-vile and pain elemental.

No; the big problem with Twilight Zone is that Paul has a lot of backtracking for the player, especially in the early levels, during which there are zero new encounters. Some people may denigrate monster closets, but they would be a welcome addition to what ends up being a ton of dead space in between map objectives. When you're not engaged, you're noticing the simplicity of Corfiatis's architecture, and while the updated lighting helps, it can only take things so far when you're walking across the map for the second or third time.

When you're actually killing monsters, it plays pretty well, though there are too many easily-slaughtered hordes of zombies to my taste. A lot of the time I gawked at monster counts only to roll my eyes when I saw a platoon of troopers. Still, there are some balls-hard combat situations you'll run into, and a few maps built around spamming your BFG. Another occasional hallmark of these maps is the use of MAP32's Keen, often accompanied by amusing portraiture. It's rarely used in a clever fashion; rather, the Blazes are typically grouped together and must be slain in a perfunctory manner.

Rounding out the selection is a collection of music files from contemporary works – Doom, Doom II, Heretic, TNT, and possibly more, for a varied yet familiar feel . All bitching aside – The Twilight Zone is a serviceable megaWAD and an adequate debut from Mr. Corfiatis. While it doesn't contain the overwhelming quality of contemporary mapsets (especially circa '97), it's a fun, mostly lighthearted play whose only real obstacle is getting past the periods of time when you're strolling to faraway map objectives. If you've played all the highly-recommended mapsets, it won't hurt to give this one a go. Well, unless you're allergic.

NOTE: The 2004 re-release of TWZONE comes with three levels in the E1M1, E1M2 and E1M3 slots. Don't even bother loading them; they barely register as conceptual pieces.

If you'd rather play the original version,

by Paul "pcorf" Corfiatis

Nazi Combat BaseMAP01
Small, grey concrete techbase with an otherworldly jaunt through Hell. Layout is square but pretty fun with lots of hordes of easily-slaughterable zombies. The action develops toward the end but the fights are more pitched, with you confronting troops of enemies arrayed against you in fighting units. Still, the combat is mostly interesting, like with the Nazi ambush room or the blue key endurance tunnel, a place you shouldn't dawdle.

MAP02Bustin' Bones
Quickly breaking into something more formidable with this Hellish level. You'll want to know the location of both secrets, with the rocket launcher making the opening much more palatable and the BFG / invul secret all but necessary for the switch trap in the Nazi ambush room, which is a hectic (and pretty cool) fight. The puzzle that follows is less fun. I'm not fond of the arch-vile mosh pit, where you either have to use infighting or sheer balls to oust the problem children, but that whole mad rush from the fork to the plasma rifle (your salvation) is pretty neat. The opening area has a very nice look. What I really wanted from this level was a combat shotgun.

Storage HouseMAP03
A pretty cool little level based around a canyon and cavern complex. The opening is a dangerous crossfire where you really just want to grab the RL, some ammo, and duck inside, battling the monsters in the dark where it's difficult to see. The outer area doesn't have many enemies, but there is a pair of Spiderdemons that you can provoke into some delicious infighting. I would say the second underground cavern is my favorite encounter, though.

A very short marble map that nonetheless feels like forever because of some deadend backtracking with nothing to show for it. You'll have to walk to the chasm at the exit twice before you can leave on the third approach, with no fighting after it's already been cleared; some ambushes during the back and forth would really help things out. I do like the detail in this level, like the wall of souls at the beginning, and the final fight has the possibility to get hairy.

Underground HellMAP05
This is a pretty neat Hell level map with one major exception. There's a very long, tense descent into the dark depths of the map. The very least you can do is throw a teleporter in at the end so that the player doesn't have to climb the whole thing again, much less with no new monsters on the way to slay. Bitching aside, it's still a fun level (albeit full of dead-end backtracking, looking like a mainstay of Paul's), with a devious opening and nice bits like the lost souls in blood. Looking at Olivera's own criticism, it seems one of the worst offenders (a two-minute long bridge raise) has been significantly toned-down. I kind of agree on the weirdness of the techbase portion.

MAP06Hell Knight Station
Short concrete base map with a few surprises; a few nods toward E1M1 keep it feeling familiar. The hell knights, despite the name, aren't that conspicuous; you'll probably find the cacodemons more threatening, and a pair of Cyberdemons more frightening. They're quickly warped to and dispatched by crushers, thankfully. I like the descent down into the cavern, which could have been a little longer. I also like how clear-cut this level is due to the winged key layout. A little simple, but preferable to wondering what unmarked wing of the map you just opened.

Bad Newt BaseMAP07
Small, simple base map with some good fights. I particularly like the large outdoor area with the marble compound, which has just enough enemies running around that you can't be too careful (and a nice mix, isolated so you have to work to get infighting going), and a rocket launcher should you decide to blow it early. The E2M3 homage, not so appreciated. The only other part that stands out is the exit room with the bridge and its revenant guardian. Some very nice lighting.

MAP08Seeing Red
The infernal brick design is cool enough, but the amount of times you have to return to the opening room is annoying, even more so when you have to walk through the entire dungeon – with all monsters previously slain – to hit the yellow key switch, which opens up a door all the way back at the beginning room. The combat is either desperately tedious or standard SSG fun with some higher HP monsters, depending on whether you find the stash at the level's beginning or not. I'm not that broken up about the secrets – which seem to be standard fare for pistol starters – but backtracking through so much dead space is pretty bad.

The Ultimate AdventureMAP09
A weird, multifaceted map that looks like it starts out in a spaceship before a stop at a bar and then more Nazi slaughter. The Hell tunnel is one of the cooler sections of the map, with some dark and dangerous ledge treading. I didn't find the rocket launcher, but if you do, it will be indispensable in clearing the room housing my standout encounter, which is first flush with a horde of mancubuses backed by barons. The climax involves downing two Cybers with one invulnerability and unless there's a BFG on the map I don't know about, you're not going to get them both in time, so work fast. Only downside: walking backward through the whole Hell segment.

Small, pretty straightforward level based on a grid of four crossroads elevated above circular pits. The sidetrips take you through a variety of places – marble, tech, and even more Hell as you blast through the contained Hellspawn. The only real highlight (for me) is the arch-vile room, which requires a quick assessment. Pretty fun.

Containment AreaMAP11
A neat little tribute to E2M2. Starts out hunting through a small crate maze which grows larger as you explore it and flip the necessary switches. It's mostly rote zombie slaying until you hit the northeastern section, beyond another little E2M2 tribute (the northeastern column room – love the lighting). It's another containment area of sorts – cells filled with different monster compositions. They're hardly threatening but it's a decent bit of action, clearing out each one to flip the switch to the next. Afterward you have to run all the way across the base to a hollow victory.

MAP12Dark Base
Short techbase with an infernal secret. The combat is unfortunately boring with one major exception, as most of the monsters are zombies, and many of them are staged in easily-slaughtered packs. The big caveat is the final room, a subterranean Hell with monsters staged so as to easily sneak up on you while your attention is directed toward the hell knight, or the cacodemon, or the lost souls, or maybe the difficult to see spectres. Granted, if you find the level's sole secret, it should be an easy battle to tackle.

A dark metal fortress whose finale includes a display room of hanging Keens, along with portraits of the boy himself. Perhaps the sole biggest novelty is the fact that the level's wings have the good sense to teleport you to a reasonable location, rather than trudge back to the center. You'll be battling lost souls in an inferno and taking down a series of monsters slowly teleporting into the northern, marble section. Getting past the toxic pit with the spectres could get really ugly if you're not packing a berserk fist and just a hint of good fortune. The pair of revenants in the center room is my standout encounter.

Well, not exactly. Things are getting pretty sensible. I like the cage run at the beginning of the map, which you can brave again for some hefty rewards (though I don't know when they're accessible). The spectre / cacodemon fight that follows is also a nice freshener. For all the good, though, you end up with an enormous, vined marble maze that's one long yawn (and you'll need to explore it for the blue key and maybe the SSG). Also a rare appearance from the pain elemental, here, guarding the rocket launcher (and a handy secret switch). Overall, I'm liking the direction this WAD is taking, maze or not.

The Forbidden CityMAP15
And now for something completely different, a city level with a mostly open layout. The progression through the buildings (arranged in a rough 3 X 3 grid) is linear, but it's not difficult to figure out where you're going to go next. You'll have a tougher time locating the level's seven secrets, including the exit, which arrives wholly unannounced. Standout encounter for me is the teleport trap in the northeastern building, which actually has some teeth. The initial battle for the streets can have a few surprises, too, depending on where you go.

Paul gets meta with this techbase, which is mostly beige except for the gray stone area to the northeast and the tech maze immediately prior. It's a very basic map with but a few instances of interesting architecture, like the western balcony that overlooks the Hellish outdoors. Combat is among the same lines, with most of the excitement confined to the opening firefight and the ambush lying in weight toward the exit – an unusual tactic from Mr. Corfiatis. Have fun figuring out the secret exit.

Hellkeep, 6 Dec, 5139 ADMAP32
A remake of "Hell Keep" in a futuristic setting, among other things. It's a little tougher, not the least because of the opening, where your surest bet is to draw the two side commandos to fight each other while you take out the middle. Besides some up close and personal SSG combat, the only interesting item is a strange tribute hall containing Massmouth and his mortal enemy, locked in a staring contest. I have no idea who the portraits are of.

MAP16Dungeon of D'sparil
Starts out courting Heretic with a midgame jaunt over to a nice-looking techbase. The opening action is fast and furious, requiring you to do a bit of monster dodging or risk running out of ammo until you've cleared out the cathedral. The opening of techbase is deadly dull, though. Imagine slaying four mancubuses in a row with the plain shotgun. Later on, at the exit, you'll do the same to three barons and a revenant. The crowd fights in the rest of the level are pretty engaging, but the lack of the SSG (or just some more rockets) makes those fatty monsters immensely boring.

Mucus Production PlantMAP17
Ye Olde Sludge Factory. It's a small level; the main area is a techbase filled with trash, mostly. There's a decent nuke maze in the level's southern portion, and the revenant shootout to the northeast demands some respect. The real standout, though, is a very efficient teleporter trap around the red key. I'm not used to seeing so many monsters teleport into so small an area so quickly in the context of this WAD...

MAP18The Base of Joe
Very cool straight up techbase that evokes the aesthetics of Episode One, though the hordes of monsters and traps you'll encounter suggests something different. Since all the monsters are low-tier, you'll hardly feel the fact that your weapon of choice will likely be the normal shotgun. You'll also likely find yourself running low on ammo during much of the map, unless you're a chainsaw fanatic (and of course can find it). Standout encounter to me was the huge swarm of lost souls, which gives the impression of a barely-stemmed flood as you hold the mass back at the door. The exit room slaughter is a nice bit of combat as well.

Painful MemoriesMAP19
Short and straightforward beige fortress with a slaughter insertion that serves as its standout encounter. It's actually a bit tricky as a handful of arch-viles teleport in at random intervals along with a Cyberdemon, so you have to keep careful watch of what's going on as you try to knock down the priority targets. The northern section of the map doesn't really compare, though it looks pretty good with the dual blood fountains and as usual excellent ambient lighting. Pretty fun stuff!

MAP20The Last Battle
It's an IOS map, but victory is less than straightforward. Somewhere along the way you'll probably bump into a four way Cyberdemon brawl, but Paul has dropped enough supplies to make it a non-issue. The wrinkle is in the Icon itself. You can pump rockets into its brain for as long as you want without making any actual progress; the solution involves the brain, but is entirely different.

The Lost FacilityMAP21
A dark metal techbase that unfortunately lacks a lot of interesting encounters. Most of your time will be spent mowing down hordes of zombimen or shotgun guys, and the hall of caged lost souls is just weird (but looks pretty cool). The closest you get would be the yellow key crossroads or maybe the pain elemental / hell knight pairing, and those are stretching. That said, it's got some good, clean progression and the corpse maze in the level's center barely registers as an annoyance.

A very cool first half, set in some molten caves, contrasted by a less than stellar second half. The rad suits and bonus items from exploring the lava floes was very neat. The incredibly long rising walkway in the southern pit makes things just drag, though, and I'm not terribly fond of the series of concrete drop downs leading to the yellow key area. Action is lightweight, killing zombies and lots of spread-out lost souls. The biggest fight is the yellow key ambush, and that is skillfully neutered with a few rockets or plasma spam. Still, a fairly nice run.

Remember that switch setup in the huge ambush room of MAP02? Well, imagine that same scenario except six times, on a silver spacecraft, and you're not expected to survive the monster packs you unleash trying to finger switches. There's also an unnecessarily long elevator whose untextured side is impossible to ignore as you wait your trip down. I will at least say that Paul's lighting is impeccable and the solutions to the switches are 7R 4L 4R 3R 5L 2LL.

MAP24The Great Pyramid
A larger level from Paul, ostensibly set within a pyramid. The ancient feeling doesn't really gel after the opening room; much of the level feels more tech than anything (well, except for that green marble buildup to the Cyberdemon). Maybe a UAC-remodeled pyramid? MAP24 also has some very annoying backtracking, made worse by the long lift from the northwestern teleporter room. There's still some decent action, even if the Cybie encounter is neutered (two soul spheres and an invul!). Two unique vistas, I'll mention - the outdoor view of the pyramid at the exit and the inexplicable gallery where some of the most hated monsters are crushed to death.

Very short techbase map but crammed full of monsters, as if the metric ton of cells wasn't obvious. You'll have two major teleport traps to bypass, both of which can be solved with liberal plasma spray. The first is the more dangerous – you're trapped between monster fronts and have to watch both sides. The fact that Paul teleports several monsters at a time makes for much more delightful combat, which is pretty much the sole draw of this level. Pretty fun.

A pretty solidly-themed silver techbase, I guess in space? While there are a fair amount of worthless zombie packs to mow down, there are a few novel encounters, like the rocket launcher room where imps on the sides distract you from the mancubuses on the ground. There's also the northeastern area, bearing an unseen until know rock texture used for some deadly crusher traps before quite the surprise at the heart of the spiral. You'll want to grab some of the level's secrets for a considerably easier time with that one. I also like the optional northwestern room; options are fun.

Something different. This is a gauntlet of four separate map areas, completed successively. The first is a wood and mortar level whose star attraction is a series of drops onto ledges housing single arachnotrons. Not too interesting. The second is an infernal marble and red rock map with a blatant "Gotcha!" situation. The third is a tekwall maze that looks like ass but plays okay, with an interesting cherry red bridge section that might catch some players off-guard. The finale is an outdoor bit with a penned Spiderdemon and its babies and a Cyberdemon you're meant to telefrag. Okay gameplay, okay design.

Very short marble and metal map that's very easy. The only sneaky bit is dropping into the nukage to lower all the weapons, and you'll only really need the BFG with all the cells you'll be tripping over. What with all the invuls, none of the encounters really makes a lasting impression, whether it's the three Cyberdemons in the northern pit or the Spiderdemons waiting for you when you get back. As it's kind of like godmoding, it's probably more fun to see how fast you can push through the big guys...

This is a pretty cool map that's composed of two brown metal sections with a journey to the "Deimos Anomaly" (E2M1) in between. Gameplay is fast and furious (and easy), using mostly low-tier baddies. The Anomaly section has scads of demons to SSG down; there's a decent shot at using a teleport line to make them jump closer to the player, but it doesn't play off well. I like the detail of using the skull keys to mark the locked doors. Favorite section is probably the Inferno-ish cavern that precedes the E2 homage.

MAP30Pray for Hell
After grabbing some underwhelming weaponry and laughing at the baron, you head into the main icon fight. Except, well, you're going to have to fend off six boss shooters at once in a pretty small space while waiting for the winding pathway (which you can't hope to cross) to slowly raise. Successful attempts will involve keeping a wall of flying monsters stunned with the chaingun in front of you to absorb all the enemy fire while you frantically run back and forth on the final leg of the ledge, waiting for it to reach the exit. It's pretty hard stuff, so enjoy punching Romero's head.



  1. Twilight!

  2. Some levels are not bad, but just about any other non-jokeward you pick from Paul is better.

  3. Doom Builder removed the lift texture in MAP23 when I facelifted the level and I didn't check because I was new to Doom Builder back then. Twzone was an experimental wad I made in the late 1990's, had lots of fun making it. -pcorf

    1. "experimental" to me is a diplomatic way of authors distancing themselves from stuff that doesnt really meet their current standards, like kristian aro's 20 days in hell or cyb's doom jr. that said it was a fun play and the only real problem (myself discounting the myriad expectations of modern pwads) is the pacing. thanks for stopping by, im looking forward to eventually diving through the rest of your catalogue!

  4. Was a fun romp to play through this online. Though I agree that the architecture is pretty squarish in these early maps, I thought the constant changing of theme throughout the megawad was a nice way to keep things interesting. Oh, and zaniness is always appreciated. The saga reaches max zaniness in the sequel.

    Paul also updated Twilight Zone 2 in 2014, which was an old favorite of mine. While the music and map updates are a neat change, he also removed a good deal of the original content (new sounds, sprites for the cacodemon, and decorations that could be destroyed.) IMO this content was kinda part of the wad's if you get around to twzone2 and are curious to see what the wad was like with the original resources, I took the cut content and put it in a wad that can be loaded with the updated version:

    1. clool! I'll keep this in mind for when I get around to it!