Friday, July 18, 2014


by Rich "CROW" Kyanka

Reviewer's prelude in 2022: Rich Kyanka committed suicide after his abused wife was granted a dissolution of marriage judgement. Here is a GoFundMe that establishes a trust to provide for both of his daughters.

1994 marked the beginning of Doom's stone age, an era where pretty much everyone was just stoked that they could make a Doom level and upload it for the rest of the world to enjoy. Standards eventually improved and tools became more sophisticated so that it's pretty rare, now, to see something like a '94 level appear on the /idgames archive without the author asserting zero effort or deliberately trolling people. RCK, though, is sheer '94 enthusiasm, and from Rich Kyanka, to boot. You might now him better as Lowtax, the Something Awful guru. Back in '94, he went by CROW, a paean to what was undoubtedly one of his favorite programs, Mystery Science Theater 3000. In spite of being his first level, it's set in the E1M4 slot. I think this usually meant that the author preferred its music?

RCK is a pretty big level. It has huge ceilings, big ugly chambers, and not a whole lot of monsters to occupy is square footage. I say that with about 130 fiends lurking around, but they don't leave much of an impression. Well, the spectres you're bound to bump in to do, and there's one scenario with a Spiderdemon on the ground and two Cyberdemons on a balcony that with a little time can be solved almost effortlessly with a little infighting. There's plenty of room to maneuver around in, though, which probably meant more back in '94 when it wasn't exactly clear what you were looking at over huge distances and keyboard controls with a run key meant getting a fireball or two upside the head every now and then.

Nah, the biggest threats here are Kyanka's death traps. It's the kind of stuff that makes players froth at the mouth now but must have been taken less seriously back in the day. My favorite is the invisible wall room, which has an inside track and an outside one. When you grab the key, you've got to make it out fast, because the entire room becomes a slow crusher that will slay you dead if you linger. There's another rough crusher trap guarding the plasma rifle, more of a long hallway with a fake switch at the end. The crusher won't outright kill you, since it's a fast one, but it might if you stay in long enough. There's also a toxic barrel room where the floor is radioactive just by the sheer amount of waste lying around. Not a huge issue until the lights turn off and you have to make your way out with the illuminated platform removed and a bunch of zombies in your way.

RCK is 1994 to the core, but it's playable, if very empty. There are a few novel scenarios but nothing that really speaks to what most players nowadays think a level should play like. It's more of an example of what boundaries the author attempted to push. Enjoy this, one of Kyanka's few contributions to the Doom community. He would go on to make RCK2, plus MISSION1, which either vanished into the sands of time or was never released.



  1. Whoever was trying to put all that nukage in barrels must have been panicking at the time. They did a pretty haphazard job of arranging them. Storing your cardboard crates in a pond is typically a way to ruin their contents as well. This facility would never pass inspection.

    1. The on-site OSHA rep must be pretty heavily bribed

  2. Haha I just learned today that Lowtax made some WADs in an SA thread and then I come here to read some random reviews and stumble across this? It's like fate or something. Anyway that's my Lowtax Doom story, thanks for reading it.