Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Demonfear (DMONFEAR.WAD)


Adam Windsor created Demonfear over the span of several years, releasing it in six episodes over 1995 and 1998. When finished, he collected the levels into a megaWAD and published it in 1999. The final product consists of a full thirty-two maps for Doom II, playable in vanilla. The intention was a complete replacement functional in solo, co-op, and DM play. It even has a story .TXT to go along with it which helps to set the tone of some of the levels with the occasional hint. As usual, Hell has caught Earth by surprise, and it's up to you to defend the planet, starting with the military base you were stationed at. After running around (and beyond) Terra for the first half, you enter a portal and continue the fight in a sort of twisted facsimile of our dimension.


Demonfear's major hook is that the levels are very small, and for the most part, simple. Imagine a megaWAD of MAP01-sized offerings, with a few exceptions. They're also decently challenging on UV, excepting the fact that the levels are short enough that Windsor's few surprises rarely leave you reeling for long. DMONFEAR is the polar opposite of most other classic megaWADs, particularly works like Eternal Doom. Its levels lend themselves to a more arcade-like feel, less focused on the adventure behind larger Doom maps and more the thrill of the action as you purge them of their Hellish invaders. And it succeeds!


Some things to note... The vast majority of Demonfear was made in 1995, spilling over into early '96, after which he contributed to a variety of community projects before capping the series off in '99. Windsor had started work on the final episode, but the levels he had done were used to fill out Requiem's maplist so that the work as a whole could see the light of day. If you love this mapset and want more, you can check out Requiem's MAP20, 25, 26, which were supposed to be MAP26, 28, and 27 of Demonfear, respectively. And, uh, while I'm at it, Windsor notes that REQ25 and 26 have the wrong names; what's called "Chaos Zone" should be "Excoriations", and vice versa. MAP32 - "Bitter Herb" - wasn't MADE for DMONFEAR, but it's very much in the same style. Short, sharp, and fun.


I think Windsor did a good job. The first twenty-seven maps of this pack might not have the production value of the last five, but I found them entertaining and enjoyed the narrative included along with the mapset, reinforced by the structures and action contained within. It compares very well to at least one of its inspirations, Prayers of Armageddon, which of all things only manages to succeed at mimicking Demonfear's level size. It's a fast and fun diversion, perhaps not as meaty as other collections, but great for a break.





DEMONFEAR
by Adam Windsor

ESCAPE INTO CONFLICT

Wolves in the KitchenMAP01
Small little bunker-style level with some room searching. There's a bit of a survival aspect to it; if you poke around in the wrong areas before finding some very handy ammo, you'll be reduced to pistol whipping imps and running from cacodemons. Finding the keys isn't strictly necessary but it helps a bit, and if you're playing consecutively, the armory will make things very easy.

MAP02The Colonel's Car
This is a house map made difficult from where the ammo is in relation to its denizens. Pistol starting requires a fast and furious foray into the inner chambers so that you can grab adequate ammo to clear out everything else, particularly the ammo-sponge hell knight I see wandering around outside. If you can fight past the crowd of imps milling just inside the rear entrance, exploring the rest of the rooms should be a simple task.

Gettin' GasMAP03
A tiny city map at a mock-up of a gas station. It's actually pretty dangerous, with an arch-vile thumping around outside and a couple of revenants in a darkened building harrying you as you try to grab the keys to exit. The only thing I don't like are the revenants, only because they're kind of a pain to kill for 100% (don't fire until you see the whites of them firing!). The rest of the action is fast and furious, though, with a little bit of claustrophobic imp-clearing in a faux-3D building.

MAP04Transport Nexus
A blistering zombie slaughter that will have you on your toes catching bullets until you round up the last few keys. There are some imps mixed in but they're not at all threatening; just go to work with your SSG in clearing those hallways of their observers and try not to get hit too hard. Zombies have a bad habit of surprising you as Adam loves waking up the entire map for that OG Doom wandering monster feel. Very fun.

Communication BaseMAP05
Another house-style level, but Windsor ups the stakes with several streams of monsters that teleport into the playing area, triggered upon achieving certain objectives, like grabbing the yellow key. It's classic survivalist mayhem as you fend off replenishing streams of monsters (a modest total of 55) while hunting for ammo and, more importantly, health. There are two barons thumping around which aren't as easily felled as the other beasties. Finding the SSG (with the blue key) will do you a lot of good.

INTO DARKNESS

MAP06The Ammo Dump
Short little techbase with a bunch of monsters clogging up the halls. The north side is way more important to clear than the south; it's got shotgun guys lurking around and you'll need the ammo. There's a bit of a hunt but Adam was kind enough to mark the wall that lowers to reveal the yellow key, so you should be able to find it unless you're a drooling idiot. The eponymous storage space provides some much-needed munitions, which as long as you don't hit the staircase switch should make dispatching the exit guardians a snap.

The WallMAP07
Not so much a wall of marble but a mobile wall of hell knights and barons that will leave you spent for ammo unless you find at least one of the level's secrets. Dispatching the guys on the ground floor is tricky with the playing area but once you've thinned out the herd you can take your time with the rest of the monsters, including a pair of mancubuses. Short but sweet.

MAP08The Hatred
A nasty three-tiered combat zone where the enemy entrenchments are all serious threats, either from sheer hitscanner volume or wild cards like the pain elemental. The final line has an arch-vile that must be surgically removed before working on the ammo-sponge barons, but if you can take him and the commandos out, the rockets on the sides should make it an easy job.

The BridgeMAP09
A little Hell mansion / fortress with some tricky installed opposition. The arachnotrons in the yard (plus the troopers and revenants) make hanging out tricky so your time is better spent indoors where there's an arch-vile playing king of the mountain, best handled with some SSG jabs. After you clear the interior the yard should handily follow. Windsor's revenant placement is a sneaky touch. They're very eager to greet you.

MAP10The Shuttle Bay
A cool base level, purportedly with a shuttle. It's mostly simple room clearing with a few snags but the ammo and health are plentiful (especially with the secret passages) and that extending bridge effect to the "shuttle" is a step beyond what I'm used to seeing from Windsor. He sensibly gated off section "A", keeping all the action in the "D" terminal.

CITY OF NIGHTMARES

Space StationMAP11
A cute little semi-symmetrical space station rendered with silver main hallways. It's claustrophobic combat, but nothing too demanding as long as you're watchful. There's an arch-vile, but he's harmless unless you get sloppy. What you should really be concerned with is grabbing some decent weapons and not letting the commandos and other meanies sneak up on you.

MAP12Edge of the City
One of the world's smallest city maps. Given the size, it's appropriately claustrophobic and features a lot of hunting, almost like a house level where all the rooms are connected via one common network of hallways. It's still pretty dangerous with a few enemies that tend to sneak around and some less than straightforward fights if you don't have the SSG, like the mancubus and one particular arch-vile. There's a sewer leg to run through but it's pretty safe projectile monster fighting with just enough room to dodge fireballs.

The UndergroundMAP13
Two short, parallel sections of subway rails with some associated waiting rooms. Like MAP04, it's over very fast, but features almost constant fighting as the commandos and other monsters boil in from the next room. The second track is a little awkward to handle with the revenants up top and the hell knights in the trench, but you're in a significantly safer position than the opening.

MAP14City Hall
A simple Hell building kind of level with some considerable opposition on the front steps, not to mention all the beasties lurking in every room. There's also a mancubus liable to get the drop on you outside if you're not careful. It's a fun, fast trip punctuated with an arch-vile in the exit that you can't just keep trapped inside, a nice decision by Windsor.

The Proving GroundMAP15
A single challenge level involving a Cyberdemon, two mancubuses, two arch-viles, and some stuff not worth talking about. You'll probably end up using the rocket launcher to take care of the relatively weaker monsters before moving to the Cyberdemon, who you can then confront at your own pace. About the only really safe spots in the level are in the channels on either side of the bridge; they're a good place if you need some refuge from searing fires.

MAP31White Magick
Super short brown metal and beige stone, uh, place, that's mostly filled with imps. As long as you grab the ammo in the starting cubby platforms you should be fine through all of it, including the pain elemental and revenants. There's a SSG hidden in the level but it's not that useful; the rocket launcher by the revenants is a much nicer armament.

Black MagickMAP32
It's "White Magick" reloaded. Things are a bit darker with a lot more gore strewn about. And, uh, it's a fair bit trickier than its companion level. Instead of a megasphere on the center pillar, there's an arch-vile, and ducking into the side areas will wake up some cacos hungering for your delicious nutrients. Handling the exit room isn't all that bad given the circumstances. Fun with just a hint of roughness.

THE CORRUPTION

MAP16The Lesser Temple
A short marble temple level in two parts. The first is the temple facade, which is mostly zombimen with a couple of commandos in towers that are pretty easy to dispatch. The interior is a bit trickier with an arch-vile running around and a few imps; you'll have to expose yourself to deal with him effectively, at which point one of the lurking former humans is liable to potshot you. Dang chaingunner. The temple looks pretty neat.

Chamber of HorrorsMAP17
A cramped little slaughterhouse made of brown brick, metal, and skin. The action is pretty claustrophobic, with a quick dart to grab the shotgun almost required rather than applying the chainsaw to a handful of imps and demons. When you kick the monsters out of the trophy rooms your job's pretty much done; the final wave waiting in the exit room is one big, easily (if slowly) slaughtered pack.

MAP18The Infernal Gardens
Mostly outdoor area surrounding a bunker on the north side with a little moat. The hitscanners at the beginning are a little threatening but the real surprise comes when you grab the blue key, a very nice moment from Windsor that actually added some tension. He could have added some stronger opposition behind the blue key doors; once you deal with those arch-viles, all you've gotta do is pour some rockets into some Hell nobles.

Flood of FireMAP19
A small section of city streets inundated with mortally perilous lava. It's an unusual choice for Windsor. Safely killing monsters is paramount as is moving fast so you don't wind up frying. It's got a decent progression with most of your first half spent plinking away at the lost souls coming from the back. The row of shotgun guys in the back with more aggressors from two directions is probably as dangerous as it gets.

MAP20The Greater Temple
Adam isn't kidding; this level clocks in at an unheard of 100+ enemies, feeling more like a regular Doom II level than any that have come before. It's still home to Windsor's spartan design standards but I can actually name a few larger memorable encounters, like that room with the Hell knights in the walls and the imps in the foreground, or the several arch-viles, one of which is placed specifically to sneak up on you. It's a simple but effective and fun map, feeling less like a temple with the way it's laid out and more like an assemblage of Hell fortress rooms, but I like it, particularly the opening visual.

THE REALMS OF HELL

The GatewayMAP21
Weird little Hell map with some cool surprises. The first big room is the imp / mancubus hoedown which has fireballs flying in virtually every direction, including from the furnace at ground level. The later area is chock full of monsters, including an arch-vile that knows how to get around and could spell trouble if you're not prepared for him.

MAP22Unquiet Spirits
Thinks take an unusual turn in another compact beige brick level... Windsor saw fit to use some basic tricks to make some unusual gameplay. There's that bit with the zombies on the pedestals, for instance. Killing one will release its lost soul to stalk you. Err, unless you skip them and fiddle with the pedestal lowering switch, which will likely ruin the effect. Neat visuals.

Abandon HopeMAP23
Nasty little Hell fortress with some neat siderooms, including but not limited to an enthroned arch-vile. The opening is a defense against a tidal wave of zombies easily felled with the chaingun, but if you tarry too long, the Hell knights start encroaching. There's a rocket launcher to the right, but I think the greater goal is to grab the SSG in the southeast corner, which makes the arch-vile significantly easier to handle. There's a decent ending scare, but if you saved the rockets you'll put an end to it in short order.

MAP24The Scourging
A fast mostly outdoor level. You start in some kind of little cathedral / outpost and then fight your way through the outer yard to grab the yellow key and head back in to the switch. The most threatening monsters are the revenants, with the commandos coming in second, as the zombies are pretty easily dispatched with the chaingun. Fun and fast.

Metal HellMAP25
An interesting factory-type level that has among other things a Spiderdemon and a Cyberdemon to slay. Actually, my most memorable encounter was the very first one, featuring two arachnotrons in an awkward firefight with limited SSG and rocket launcher ammo. The rest of the map is pretty cool, though. The Cyberdemon machinery room was pretty neat. I wasn't too sure about the mess of zombies in the plasma rifle inlet but now that I think about it, it's probably a good way to prevent you from just blitzing past the Spider. Cool stuff.

THE HEART

MAP26Detour
A tiny outpost of Hell with a few tricky fights that make it feel a lot longer than it actually is, considering you're confined to the shotgun and, if you can figure out how to get it, the chaingun. The first big one is five cacos, which goes about as quickly as can be expected with your armaments. The second, three revenants at the exit, is a bit more intense as you're firing rockets as you either shotgun weave or chaingun stun, and is the definite highlight of this diversion.

Hell's ParadigmMAP27
A very cool subterranean Hell level with some neat marble architecture and a few good encounters. It plays a lot better if you find the tucked-away SSG, which I would personally use to stick it to the monsters in the central chamber rather than plink away with the normal shotty. The Hell knight fight for the red key is delightfully claustrophobic and there are a few arch-viles to keep you on your toes, so beware and have fun.

MAP28The Fire Pits
Another subterranean map, this one going from red rock caverns to a man-made compound. Combat comes in three major stages. The first area is more free-form and is mainly cleaning ground trash out before focusing your fire on the Hell nobles on one side and the arachnotron on the other. The basement is significantly more bothersome with the commandos and pain elemental on the other side. Patient players can let the final wave of barons gather up and then fire every rocket you have into their hobbled mass.

Fortress HadesMAP29
Windsor's penultimate level has the second-highest monster count in the level (unless that arch-vile gets out of control). It's actually pretty relaxed with a gimme BFG and a condensed E2M8 showdown based around some kind of odd, long symbol. Some nice surprises like the commando / pain elemental combo. The only thing I can say is make sure you dart into the mancubus room to grab the chaingun at the very least or you'll be spending some quality time with fatso.

MAP30Demonfear
A very simple IOS level with a neat gimmick. You're still under siege from boss cubes but all the moving platforms rise and lower automatically and slowly. However, the platforms are where the cubes spawn in. You can probably hammer away at the head with autoaim and get it from splash damage but you can also hop on the platform, just as long as you play it safe and don't get yourself telefragged. Pretty cool!

WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR BUT FEAR ITSELF


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's Top 10 WADs of 1999

Batman DoomThe Darkening
KZDoom1Crusades
Chord GJägermörder
Twilight WarriorDemonfear
Tei TengaHerian 2

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. I have to admit, these days when I look at Demonfear I mostly just see the things I don't like. It's good to know people are still having fun with it despite the excessive number of doors and other blemishes :)

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  2. This is still a fairly good megawad, if not quite a classic. As far as small map megawads are concerned, it should be pretty clear to anyone familiar with popular wads as to which one stands as the true almost unarguable classic of its kind in the community...I'll just give the hint that it does throw in a couple large maps at the end. And it hasn't been reviewed here yet.

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    1. Hey Brandon, don't talk about WADs in terms of which ones you think are popular or use descriptors like "true almost unarguable classic".

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    2. When am I allowed to classify a wad I refer to as (objectively, not subjectively) 'popular' or 'classic'?

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    3. When you do it on your own blog

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  3. @Adam, your maps were pretty good, even if short but I have to admit that they were cool! I finished this megawad a few months ago using Aeons of Death (5.29.1) mod and for most of time, I think it was pretty easy. I don't think I even died at all!

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    1. Demonfear has a decidedly different play experience if starting from scratch on every level on UV.

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  4. Ah, I loved Adam Windsor's maps back in the day, but I haven't played one (except his sole Alien Vendetta map) in years. I never finished Demonfear IIRC, but I have a hankering for days past, so I'll trot Demonfear out and re-live the glory days. Wasn't Rats in the Walls a Requiem map of his? At the time I thought that was one of the best maps I ever played and I doubt that opinion will change when I play it again. And bear in mind, I used to be a very angry and extremely harsh reviewer, so for me to love a particular mapper's work in those days, he must have been exceptional. - MajorRawne

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    1. If you never finished Demonfear, you should, because the latter levels are definitely the best in the set. Yeah, Rats is in Requiem.

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  5. I was unsure when you said the levels were short. Sure, I had no reason to believe you were lying but I still felt that way. Maybe it's because most of the wads that I played are bigger in size and exploration and the fact that I try to find everything before I move on to the next level, which could take a long time.

    Well, I reached MAP10 in 15 minutes so yes, these levels are quite small so far. Heh, I'm greatly enjoying how small these maps are!

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