Monday, March 4, 2013
Lost Way (LOSTWAY.WAD)
If Russian author Lainos is known for anything, it's his crop of expressive, exploratory city levels. Works like 5till L1 Complex are known for their sheer size and non-linearity, so his Lost Way - also release in 2012 - comes as quite the departure. LOSTWAY is a single map for Doom II to be played in limit-removing source ports with .OGG support, preferably PrBoom+. It's a city level, of course, the textures drawing from the same fountainhead as Overdose, but there's a little something extra poured into the pot, an Egyptian flavoring that suggests something beyond his usual oeuvre.
As you may have guessed from the context of the intro, Lost Way is both much shorter than its contemporary works and far more linear. It's a very cinematic level, starting on a ruined city street where the player takes refuge from snipers inside some kind of apartment / hospital complex before hiking down a canal to the end, a courtyard outside some nondescript mansion. Somewhere in the tenement you see shades of that Egyptian thread, with hieroglyphics peeking out from behind the ruined walls, a nice departure from the usual Hellification. The finale's courtyard is cornered with four immense obelisks that are vital to your progression.
Lainos claims Lost Way is for professional Doomers on UV. It's kind of rough starting out, such that I'm not sure it's really appropriate as presented. There's very little health and ammo starting out, and fighting the monsters on the opening street with just the pistol (and maybe a shotgun if you're lucky) is a recipe for disaster, not to mention the canal crawl with sergeants all along the southern edge. The whole thing seems like it's set up for a more cinematic retreat than UV-max, which I could appreciate if that were the case. There is some decent combat to be found, though, in the final area. Activating each obelisk will unleash its own particular wave of monsters into the area for you to dispatch with some more relevant weaponry, topped off with a visit from you-know-who.
Lost Way may be a bit overtuned but it's a cool intro map that could have served at the beginning of some wonderful city / Egypt hybrid series. As it stands, it's an unusual but welcome Lainos-romp that feels like a vignette from one of his much larger levels. If you thought works like Overdose were too unfocused, you can try out the opposite end of the spectrum with this release. Once again, I offer a plea for Lainos to return from that ether where all retired mappers go to grace Doom II with more cool stuff, but thank him anyway for this little morsel.
NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST