Saturday, January 10, 2015


It's a wonder there aren't more community episodes. Why wait for a whole bunch of people to crap out the maps needed for an entire megaWAD when you can just band together and churn out an episode in a theoretical third of the time? Well, Doom lacks the dynamic range of action found in Doom II, and community Doom II episodes suffer from the mystique surrounding the megaWAD status that devalues anything that has less than 32 levels with some kind of inherent superstition. Also, in spite of being a mere episode, it took Bedlam two and a half years from its inception to release in mid-2014. The dream is still out there, though.

Bedlam replaces the E3 slot, and while it doesn't make any sort of claim to a story, it starts out in Hell's underground and eventually moves into the upper area. There was some gentle guidance from Memfis, who started the whole thing, but the authors are more or less left to their own devices. It's a pretty cool collection of Doom levels, kicked off by Memfis and then varied thru the mapstyles of Antroid, C30N9, NoneeLlama, purist, Sokoro, and Dragonsbrethren. The levels tend toward the longer side of things and by my reckoning the authors escaped the usual trap of borrowing from the original Doom, coming up with some pretty novel settings. I especially like purist's E3M6, which is pell-mell to start and has a ton of outdoor action.

The combat is pure Doom, basically. If you don't like the slower pacing, Bedlam won't turn your head. Doom fans will be right at home with the occasional swarm thrown in that forces you to either blow your rockets or deftly weave around as you thin your foes out one shotgun blast at a time. The later maps get really thick with enemies, with "Devilish Project" having almost twice as much as the second-highest count. At the very least, the Barons are used in such a fashion that you can almost always shoot them up with the rocket launcher rather than grind away at them with lesser arms, the one major exception I can think of being part of a memorable slow-paced retreat with the chaingun in a narrow tunnel.

Having Doom maps from a bunch of different authors is always fun. The difference in preferences helps the themes and monsters from getting stale. Though it took a long time, I hope to see more community episode releases in the future, in E3 or in any other theme. Cool stuff, dudes.

by assorted authors

Lost GatewayE3M1
by "Memfis"
A short, opening level that's pretty easygoing. Not a whole lot of crazy stuff once you grab a shotgun though you'll have to fight monsters as tough as a cacodemon. It's got an interesting irregular layout that when melded with all the flesh gives it a distinct aesthetic. Nice secret with the green armor.

E3M2Dying Quarters
by "Memfis"
This time Memfis takes things a bit tougher. "Dying Quarters" has some cool atmospheric areas like the tunnel that leads underground through to the exit and the windows that seem to look into a black void. Combat is still easy but there's a bit less health to go around in spite of a secret berserk pack you can grab to spice things up. The only really nasty trap is a cacodemon teleport that may grab you by surprise the first time you teleport in. The lighter difficulty lets you balance speed vs. risk and I had a merry time running around punching stuff into giblets. I really like that step pyramid-like structure to the north.

Buried TombsE3M3
by "Antroid"
Antroid pulls off this cool non-linear network of infernal tunnels and marble ruins. The ammo balance starts off weighted against you but as you slowly clear out the level you should get a nice stockpile going to facilitate fighting. The scant resources make for an interesting early game, especially with the baron walking around, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. Combat is slightly more intense once you enter the northern area but the standout fight is the red key battle of the northeast section where you're put under a potent imp assault, courtesy of a bunch of architecture you just walked past. Neat map.

E3M4De Torture
by "C30N9"
A more basic / simple level that's, again, underground and chiefly tunnels. The combat is pretty pedestrian excepting the big circular area to the northwest which starts out as a dangerous winding stairclimb and in a flash becomes a massive cacodemon clusterfuck. The opening action is alright, at least, since a bunch of monsters come storming your position and have you under assault for a good little while.

Twisted MonasteryE3M5
by Norbert "NoneeLlama" Dávid
I don't see much of the monastery in this one, but that's alright. NoneeLlama lets us see a little of whatever passes for daylight in Hell in this little slice of Inferno. It's a bit heavier with high-HP enemies, including barons, so get ready to do some baron vs. shotgun action at some point. An optional plasma rifle will soften some of the blow, and there are three secrets I didn't find that should make things a bit simpler for you. The only bit I'm not overly fond of is the toxic tunnel section but, like a chump, the rad suit was the last thing I found. The opening is a bit of good survival horror as you fend off a nice drip feed of enemies with limited arms.

E3M6Caco's Cauldron
by Chris "purist" Bourke
Chris does a bang-up job with this Hell level where some cherry-red battlements overlook a series of infernal cisterns. From the first shot, it's on, and the level of exposure ensures that you're on the lookout for ammo and weapon upgrades so that you can put down all those zombie snipers and maybe take down the cacos that are chasing you. My initial run sent me deeper and deeper into the southern section, going so far as to summon up a wall of barons. I eventually muscled past, but it made for an interesting experience. The most challenging fight is the secret exit guardian, which plays with light and shadow plus a handful of free-roaming lost souls that will challenge you if you squandered all that cell ammo. Very cool map.

Cursed MirrorE3M9
by "Sokoro" and "Memfis"
This is a "Warrens"-ification of "Lost Gateway", adding on a few extra areas plus a super secret requiring four different switches that has a shrine to the original author. The tacked on areas are actually kind of cool. I'm not sure how to feel about those cherry-red and DOORTRAK columns, but it doesn't bother me, at least. The big show is the Cyberdemon fight, but as long as you don't let the lost souls bother you, you'll be alright, supposing you find the ammo cache. As for the rest, whatever. At least you can do some risky play to snag the BFG at the end and try to line up those barons for maximum splash.

E3M7Lodestone Keep
by "Dragonsbrethren"
Dragonsbrethren provides a pretty large level that uses teleporters but not in a way like "Limbo". You're irresistibly drawn to a particular dais out in the wildlands of Hell, and that's where the exit lies, but to reach it you'll have to navigate the eponymous keep. The layout is simple enough but it's lousy with monsters and traps. The mess of crushers near the home stretch is liable to fuck you up but you can also turn the traps on your oppressors, as is the case with the baron room, which stands opposite a big cage of cacodemons. While the combat never gets out of hand, the author uses tricks to constantly drop you in the thick of combat which keeps the adrenaline steadily flowing. I appreciate the novel take on teleports, looking more like leaps of faith. I wonder if the Keep is supposed to be in the air...?

Devilish ProjectE3M8
by "Sokoro" and "Memfis"
Another Sokoro / Memfis joint to close us out, but rather than just build on a finished map, Sokoro takes a scrap and then develops it in his own particular idiom. It's a pretty cool level, though the pacing has some issues because the ammo is mostly kept in large caches at key point so that you're short at the start and then full-up on shells and bullets later on. The monsters are practically choking the hallways and the author comes up with some decent combat scenarios that will keep you on your toes, like the blue key battle's ring of imps and cacodemons, or several sections that are heavy on the lost souls. The penultimate, outdoor area is a nasty crossfire given all the fliers but I'd be more concerned about the boss. You have to stand pretty much at the edge of your platforms for auto aim to activate and then dash behind the rocks over a damage floor for your next shot. Still, riotous fun.



  1. There was a lack of E1 and E2 action in 2014. Not a whole lot I can think of besides Chris' The Wailing Horde, which is E2, but a single map not an episode.

    On the other hand this and Incineration provide some decent E3 action, and Draft Excluder takes the cake with its mainly E4 action (with some twists). Somewhat odd, often there seems to be a tendency to mimic the early episodes of UDoom, but in 2014 it was decidedly aimed at the second half instead.

  2. Well while typing the post above, I shamefully did forget about 20 Years of Doom. That obviously has some E1 and E2 action, though I honestly didn't feel it with Sid's maps in either cluster. The others were all better though.

    1. i think there were some deimos eps that got released, plus visions of eternity. eps just get a lot less press.

    2. VOE was released in December 2013. I did miss a pretty good Deimos themed single map Phobus made for walter. I can't think of any good full E2 replacements in 2014 though.

    3. 2013 is practically part of the 2014 "season"

  3. I can't decide if this or Incineration is the better E3 was from 2014. Either way, both are solid, if suffering from the chronic Doom I low difficulty issue, but it's still enjoyable. Too bad E1 got hardly any love in 2014. :( [Pretty much nothing I can think of except for first few VOE maps which technically are as much 2013 as they are 2014]

  4. As you say in the review a community project for just a single episode replacement is rare, but there's no reason really not to do it! I'm not sure I'd call this 'spectacular' stuff, but it's good casual fun and also E3 was a good pick IMO for the episode to use.