Saturday, May 31, 2014

Odessa (ODESSA_1.WAD)

by Bob "Odessa" Evans

It feels weird being able to write this, but, here goes. Bob Evans came back to Doom around its 20th anniversary and brought with him the two holy grails of Doom history (sorry Bob!). More specific to Evans is the remnants of his Odessa series, which has now been washed of its draconian distribution clause. The other, yet to materialize, is a complete archive of the Compuserve Action Games database, which no doubt contains other missing relics of the past. ODESSA_1 is the first entry in the series, of course, released in 1995. According to Evans, it grew from old Dungeons and Dragons character he had by the same name, which explains his penchant for castles, dungeons, and adventure-game stylings. Here, you have to square off in an arena against three different challengers. Later installations carry a bit more story.

The original ODESSA is not nearly as obtuse as Evans's Eternal Doom maps, if you're familiar with those. You may run into some dead ends that only reveal their purpose after revisiting the rest of the level, but you never have far to go, and the revealed switches are usually in obvious locations, like right next to what they open. The only one that really got me was the button that lowered the FIREBLU bars to the elevator returning you to the entrance. Evans has quite a few traps prepared, but nothing very dangerous. About the worst I caught was some lucky chaingunner flak while killing the shotgun guys at the parapet overlooking the arena. It's a nice big outdoor area with an elevated platform where you'll do the three challenges.

Which, for any experienced player, won't be too harrowing. The first is a wave of barons, followed by a wave of revenants, and lastly a Cyberdemon. Each stage has some prep time with health and ammo and weaponry so you're never hurting and while it may suck to have to run back to the arena corridor to move on to the next round the author has been kind enough to throw some monsters at you on the way back, even if they ARE only Doom trash. There's also a stash of medikits you can't miss, so there's a ton of leeway in your favor. I like a few of the purely incidental situations, like that window you can open up to reveal some lost souls to the south.

ODESSA is a pretty cool early Doom II level. It's still pretty Evans as the progression isn't spoonfed, but I had a fun, quick blast with it. If you like maps that involve a bit of searching around and perhaps some thought, this should be right up your alley. I'm glad to see that this finally made it to the archive; it was worth waiting for!

This article is part of a series on
Bob Evans's ODESSA series


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