Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Odessa 12: Chambers (ODESSA12.WAD)

by Bob "Odessa" Evans

If you've been following along, you know the drill, but here's the skinny for those just dropping in. Bob Evans released most of his Odessa series back in 1995 as single levels for Doom II, then contributed the most diabolical levels of Eternal Doom, finally kicking out Odessa 14 before disappearing off the face of the earth. In the interim, Compuserve - the sole host allowed to keep the '95 maps - died, thus creating a situation where the only place you could find any of them was via the very shovelware discs his restrictive distribution clause was designed to prevent. Thankfully, Evans came back to Doom, re-releasing his stuff so that I can now tell you about Odessa 12. After clearing out the underground bunker from Odessa 11, you move on to this, a silent complex housing a torture chamber where the aliens are tormenting your fellow soldiers. Of course, it falls to you alone to wipe them out.

The basic idea behind "Chambers" is the same as the previous map, "Sojourn", except the overall layout is less straightforward. There's a whole annex locked off by an optional blue key that houses a reward, the BFG9000. If you can remember that there was a blue key door you passed by, then feel free to collect on it. The annex also has some other goodies, like a rocket launcher and a few nasty surprises. One of them is a commando hiding in a hole behind one of the stairwells, also key to solving the mystery of the BFG... I think. Another entirely optional area is devoid of anything save some plasma and rockets in the back and a rather obvious soulsphere. The visual is quite striking, and were it not for the fact that I knew I'd killed every other monster on the map, I would have expected some kind of ambush here.

The rest of the level is typical of the Odessa series. You've got to do a bit of sleuthing to get out of the opening area, just to remind you that you are playing an Evans map, after all. Then, amusingly enough, it's back the way you came, followed by an oh so slow crawl up a staircase where every stair drops and slows gameplay to a crawl. It's easily my nadir of the level and it doesn't help that you can get chased back down, doubling your fun. The blue key is acquired off a semi-secret area accessed by a bunch of timed triggers and I don't think you can even get there without having run the loop through to the starting area once already, so that just fans the flames of dissatisfaction. On the plus side, when you get in there you get a nice surprise as all the demons wake up along with some imps to create an imposing wall of sound that pays off when all the enemies turn loose. You may feel safe on top of the little dais, but don't get cocky.

The main goal, of course, is the torture chamber mentioned in the .TXT. It's a microcosm of Evans elements, specific to its own particular area, that must be escaped in order to use the red key to exit the level. It's also true to the story, with some definite victims hanging about. The arrangement suggests that you've disturbed the baron from his work... The thing that caught me up was the reveal to the hidden passageway that grants access to the key itself, though after banging my head for awhile it's plain to see why the solution is what it is. That three-way teleporter is just an enormous red herring, I guess... The finale feels like a bit of a letdown. Two Hell knights and two arachnotrons? I guess dodging might be a little tricky but if you've made it this far I can't see how that will trip you up. Stuff like the revenants in the wooden hallway section is much more exciting.

If you haven't got enough Eternal Doom action or just love puzzle maps in general, you should download and play ODESSA12. It's got everything you're fit to stand and possibly a little more depending on what you get out of Doom. The combat is a little light, but when so much of your time is spent combating the level structure itself, you need any break you can get.

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


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