KZDOOM6: Hidden Valley of the Aliens (KZDOOM6.WAD)
KZDOOM6 HIDDEN VALLEY OF
by Kurt Kesler
Boom appealed to Doom PWAD authors with several advanced features, like BEX, custom color maps, silent teleporters, and "limit removal". Kesler was one of many mappers that experimented with TNT's engine when it became available, producing his KBOOM series of maps in 1998. It was only natural that when the ZDoom engine came along with several more advancements, chief among them ACS scripting a la Hexen, Kesler would try it out, too. KZDOOM6 is the penultimate entry in the self-explanatory KZDOOM series, a MAP01 replacement released in 2000. While the valley setting is pretty much a commonality of his later works, the brick and mortar structures built into the landscape are not.
KZDOOM6 is a large level sparsely populated with monsters, many of them imps. The progression is pretty linear; once you find out that neither the red nor blue keys are in the starting area, it's off into the valley, a long trek through a naturalistic setting with tons of trees tripping up the imps and demons running around. The opposite end has two structures, one of which requires crawling through the underground to access, with a flawless silent teleporter trick that I didn't realize until I checked the automap some time later. Once you grab preferably the red key, you embark on the return trip, fraught with more than a few imps and cacos, plus a couple of other surprises.
The speedy shotgun is back, though with none of the enemy modifications that made it necessary back in KZDOOM1. The combat isn't too punchy but the monsters that pour of the geothermal generator cave caught me off-guard. About the one thing that will almost definitely trip you up is the exit trap, which killed me with explosions a few times before I cheated it, killing the resulting revenants and arch-vile from the doorway when you're intended to be locked in there. It's a neat effect but seems like too sharp a shock the way it's set up. I like the secret stuff, like the soulsphere on the cliffs, or the plasma rifle that you can run back to with the blue key... or snag with an easy vanilla leap early, because why the fuck not?
As always, another enjoyable play from Kurt. It feels less complex than some of the other KZDOOM entries, but it's a pretty cool adventure, another excuse for the Doom marine to run amok and slay a bunch of demons - err, aliens. If you want to blitz around some ancient ruins and don't mind a retread of scenery as long as it's in reverse, go ahead and give this one a shot.