Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Deneb Colony (DENEB.WAD)

by "Lainos"

Lainos was quiet during 2013 following a flurry of activity back in 2012, a year which saw his massive Object 34: Sonar, 5till L1 Complex, and A.L.T., where he was something of a producer, finishing off with a little tribute to Doxylamine Moon: Overdose called Lost Way. In 2014, he decided to drop another morsel on our laps, titled Deneb Colony. Like most of his maps, it's a single MAP01 replacement for Doom II to be played in Boom-compatible ports, prBoom+ preferred. It has more in common with Lost Way, though, in that it isn't the kind of visionary mastodon that he's known for.

Deneb Colony is a little side story in his 5till L1 Complex universe, which began back in Clan [b0s]'s Sacrament, where some kind of rapture event has left the earth roaming with bloodthirsty monsters. Lainos tells the stories of individuals that managed to escape the transformation and fight for their survival in an empty, post-apocalyptic universe. Deneb appears to be another survival shelter like the Phoenix colony in 5L1C, and while Lainos notes that it's named for the brightest star in the Capricornus constellation, the blood red moon and Terran trappings suggest that the colony is still on Gaea. Your task is to send an SOS message at the colony and then escape, not that there's really anyone left on Earth to help you.

This map looks really sharp but nothing can disguise the fact that it's boxy as fuck. The opening outdoor area is pretty cool with that colonnade and lights and you do get some neat areas like the conference room / office area to the west, but the intended realism means that the actual map layout is pretty boring. Once you get indoors the author is cramming interesting scenarios into uninteresting room shapes, or rehashing the best of '94 with segments like the grid 64 spectre maze with shotgun guys patrolling the walls. It's not horrible, since the action and appearance is still there, but all of the square shapes dull some of my enthusiasm.

Deneb Colony definitely succeeds at being "a tricky one". Part of this is due to low ammo stores, which makes the bevy of pain elementals you have to fight through near the beginning a very tricky situation. You'd be remiss if you didn't grab the rocket launcher first, just to keep that nasty five-pack from getting out of hand. The outdoor areas also have plenty of snipers on ledges to smack you around if you stop to catch your breath. The southern section has my two favorite fights, the first being that pachinko pillar sluice with the revenants on the other side that becomes desperately tricky when you drop down inside, having to burn your rockets to punch through to a safer space to handle the rest of the skeletons filtering through to the other side. The sewer crossroads is a nice battle, too, with a monster and room layout that makes circle strafing less than straightforward.

More than anything, I am glad that Lainos is still mapping. The 5L1C is a cool if depressing universe to visit and I look forward to treading on its lonely streets again in the future, hopefully with map design that borrows from his more abstract ventures. Deneb Colony recreates that atmosphere, and even has a few bits of scripting with stuff like that exploding array.


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