Saturday, May 10, 2014

Beyond Death (K_BD.WAD)

by Kurt Kesler

Kurt Kesler made a ton (11) of KBOOM levels before making Beyond Death, another 1998 MAP01 replacement to be played in Boom. Presumably, he wanted to distance it from his other works because it was inspired by Quake II rather than adhering to his range of BASE, METL or BRICK. In spite of being inspired by Quake II, it doesn't have any Quake II-ish textures. Rather, it just uses the original Doom assets (with a bit of editing) to create an aesthetic that's different and reminds me in some ways of The Darkening's E2, though the feeling is very vague.

Beyond Death is superlinear, apart from the fact that you have to first head east and then head back west through the section of the level you just came from. Outside of the installation are some cool naturalistic settings like the large canyon criss-crossed by bridges which help make it feel less rail-roady. I also like that view of the massive complex poking out of the lava at the end, a nice look at potential things to come but never came. The compound levels are very clean with virtually nothing to get snagged on but monsters and very well lit due to the existence of an army of tech lamps on the ceilings. I'm still not sure what's up with that rapidly changing marble panel in the water room.

The action is pretty light excepting the canyon bit, which has monsters at varied heights and some fliers (cacodemons) to catch you off-guard. Mostly, you'll be slaughtering imps, both ways through the gray water room. You also get to nail some zombies while walking through the brown canal district but all of the real fun is in navigating the eastern canyon, and I guess shelling the final area's guardians with rockets, plus a nice surprise behind the exit door you may nonetheless be expecting. It may not be nonstop craziness, but Kesler keeps you occupied through the whole map. It would have been nice to see him tackle something a bit less linear, but I've come to realize that just isn't his style.

Beyond Death is a cool departure from the Kesler standard. I wish he would have done more levels in this vein; it's a nice experiment, very clean and action-packed. All in all, a cute coda for the KBOOM series, though KBOOM12 was just a couple of years away.

This post is part of a series on
Kurt Kesler's KBOOM series



  1. Keep it up with these reviews, you tend to nail it every time. While you review a lot of old stuff, this is a really good thing. I've got a hankering for the old days and it's really good to look back and see what the legends of Doom were doing all those years ago. Every map nowadays seems like it's trying to get into Slaughterfest and I feel that Doom is moving further away from what made it great, and closer to the crappy custom maps where people used to insert 10,000 Barons, Cyberdemons and BFGs. Kurt Kesler not only has an awesome name (if it is in fact his real name and not an internet handle), he was a prolific mapper who visibly improved his craft. Never thought I'd say this about Doom, given how much I love maps with advanced features, but long live the old guard. - MajorRawne

    1. I disagree about Slaughterfest, but having played through stuff like Speed of Doom and Combat Shock, I have a different idea about that stuff than you, anyway. I think that a lot of the people that are really passionate about playing and mapping for Doom right now are filling a perceived gap in the available material that challenges them. I don't think it's a crime if you can't wrap your brain around it, and it's kind of silly to be mad at them for making what they enjoy. Yeah, Kesler was a pretty cool dude.

    2. Harder maps are more common nowadays because the days of the community being filled with keyboard-only users are over. Maps that are on-par with the id iwads in terms of challenge are not considered difficult like they used to be. Plutonia and Hell Revealed type gameplay are now the standard.

      Also, if you find a map too hard on UV, You could always go for HMP instead, or even HNTR. Most of these so called "slaughterfests" tend to only balance UV (sometimes HMP aswell) to be hard. The only cases I can honestly think off where it'll be super hard no matter what setting, are Sunder, Newgothic, and some maps in the Slaughterfest megawad series.