Monday, December 2, 2013

Drown Stone (DSTONE.WAD)

by Chris "lupinx-Kassman" Kassap

Drown Stone is the second map to have come out of Brian Knox's Secret Santa project, this one also Boom-compatible and finding release in 2013. A bunch of authors signed up and were randomly seeded with each other. Whoever you got, you had to attempt to produce a level in their style, after which the work would be presented in the thread, with a grace time for everyone to guess 1) who the author was and 2) which author he / she was imitating. DSTONE is Doomworld forum superstar lupinx-Kassman doing fellow superstar Stuart "stewboy" Rynn, to unusual results. All I really know of Kassman is his larger adventure levels so this offering - which is scaled to the polar opposite of Claustrophobia - comes as a surprise. 

DSTONE is something of a space fortress set on a rock in a hallucinogenic nebula. It's got a bit of a humorous blurb from Kassman that sets things up (including the stewboy MIDI) that sets it in the span of Kassman's Nebula 95 series, also like Secret Santa a WIP at the time of this writing. I'm not yet sure if it really fits the goofy tone of the former (not having played it), but it's a crazy level with a lot of action that's great fun to play for all of its 66 monsters. The first thing you'll see is that you have to be quick to grab a shotgun, after which you'll be under assault from a variety of locations, either on pillars or on the walkways you'll be accessing very soon...supposing you manage to figure out how to get out of the first area.

It's a very vertical level; where Tropiano's Forsaken Overlook had mostly low-tier monsters sitting on cliff faces, you'll have some bigger bads like baron-ilk throwing plasma down on you while you battle through the trench that makes up the beginning of your playtime. Once you make the first loop and grab the SSG, things cool down considerably, and the height of the upper tier makes taking out the arachnotrons with the rocket launcher very simple. Really, the only major surprises left will be the ambush on hitting the final switch - the monsters teleporting from little islands to mess with you - and the final encounter, which I hope you were saving the plasma rifle for as the revenants and cacodemons are quite meaty and in your face.

Drown Stone is very clean and very cool. I think lupinx did a great job of getting outside of his comfort zone and offered some cool fights to boot. Hopefully he gets some good takeaway from the experience to apply to his future works. I'm also looking forward to the rest of the Secret Santa experience, you slackers!



  1. Cool, didn't expect to see this. Thanks for the review! I see what you mean about the map becoming a bit easier after getting the SSG, and I probably should have made more monsters appear after getting the blue key than a single caco. I made a slightly more puzzle oriented version of this map called "Drown Stone Casette B" for the nebula 95 thread on doomworld, though I still think the gameplay in the original boom version may be more appealing to players. I'm surprised the sky is blue, since I could have sworn I used cc4's cloudy sky as the backdrop for the boom version, but the blue sky in the shots actually seems to look better, so awesome =D. The thing I liked about stewboy's maps is that I felt they were kinda fun to run around in even when you weren't fighting monsters, which is why I put more emphasis on a weird vertical layout. =P

    1. Yeah, some people despise aspects of Doom mapping like platforming, but it made it a very interesting play on top of all the monsters.

  2. Not as impressive as the Overlook, but a fun romp. I wish Snakes had more maps to share.