Monday, June 16, 2014

Odessa 6: Kastle Baron (ODESSA_6.WAD)

by Bob "Odessa" Evans

After being gone for so long, Bob Evans returned from the mists of time to put his clause-bound Odessa series on the /idgames archive. In spite of there being an Odessa 14, not every level in between made it to a releasable state. Only Evans knows what happened to Odessa 4 and 5; presumably they weren't up to snuff or exceeded Doom's limits. In any case, after conquering the subverted health club of Odessa 3, skip a few scenes and you're on to Odessa 6, Kastle Baron. There's no leadup, you're just slaying more demons on your noble quest, and this time it's in a castle, a setting Bob favors, as we all know well.

The first and biggest piece of advice I can offer you is to remember where your key doors are. More to the point, the yellow and blue barriers are found off the first major hallway, prior to the pentagon-ish room that dominates the level's center. Actually, I don't think the blue door is initially revealed the first time you can bump into it, so that's one of many obstacles of obfuscation you'll have to endure to make it to the end of the kastle. Odessa 6 feels a little more like Eternal Doom-era Evans than the past levels have. A lot of the map, like the crate storage section, is fairly straightforward, but the opening sets the tone, as you have to figure out how to get inside the castle before you can set about clearing it out.

I love most of the visuals. The giant throne room is a plus and Evans has things clearly segmented off so you can't get too lost. The flashing cage maze to the east, though, as well as the moving platforms plus seizure lighting to the west, rub me the wrong way. Neither is very threatening without some sloppy play on your part. Cool moments - that midtexture-bound platform that looks safe until it lowers into the pit, revealing the truth of your exposure. I also enjoyed the "Containment Area" homage, which was deceptively straightforward. It would have been cool to see something more daunting than a pain elemental pop up, but it seems that Evans is easing the player into the Doom II bestiary.

While the combat may not be as memorable as the puzzles Evans has laid before the player, I think that's more or less the point of his authorial style. If you like exploring nice, large castles and hunting for secret passages, this should be right up your alley. Players that get stuck in standard Doom levels should probably give this one a wide berth, though it might help break you in to prepare for much harder stuff.

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


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