Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Estranged (ESTRNGD.WAD)

Foodles is a more prolific author than this blog suggests. He has two Doom episodes to his name and a Doom II hub, all of which I understand are recommended, but which I haven't played. My sole bout of exposure was his joint venture with Esselfortium for Back to Saturn X E1, so I can't say I really had a clear picture of his sensibilities... until now. And how! Estranged is a full megaWAD for Doom II, to be played in Boom compatible ports, released (more or less) in 2015. Like any self-respecting one-man megaWAD, it's apparently been in development a long time... just how long, I dunno, since there wasn't a .TXT when I played it (in a "finalized" open beta). From a perusal, it looks like it started out as "Unleashed" and then morphed into "Uncaged" in 2011. Now, we've got Estranged.

The tale, old as time. It looks like the Unfortunate Airhead Corporation dug up an ancient gate on Earth and, once again, demons poured out of it for another global invasion. Edwards has a bit of a twist, though - rather than do the ol' tech - city - Hell standard, you start out on base and teleport to Hell, making some headway before getting kicked back to the dig site where this whole mess started. After a grueling trek through the wilderness and UAC facilities, you go in through the demons' out door and take the fight to their own turf, this time without any funny business.

Estranged has an unusual feel for a Boom-compatible megaWAD. Foodles went with total vanilla resources, using a combination of Doom and Doom II's textures for his palette. And, while this is technically a mapset for Boom-compatible ports, the author's aesthetic execution more closely resembles vanilla Doom as far as the level of detailing. This isn't always the case, but Foodles's architecture is simple, clean, and evocative, establishing a rigorous standard that avoids looking garish. Apart from the problems endemic to using the Hell textures themselves, of course. If you hated the color scheme of "The Spirit World", I doubt that Foodles's Hellscapes will turn you into a believer.

Estranged's main success is as an adventure-oriented mapset, much in common with 2013's Hellbound. The author's layouts and action orchestration tend toward linear cover / corridor shooting, but the levels are steeped in vistas of locations that you're either going or have been to and there are plenty of visuals unique to Edwards's genius that keep your imagination fueled. Some of the later levels have a more modern vibe that keep you dodging fireballs from afar while you root the opposition out, and a few like "The Floating Fortress" (MAP15) and "Flame Peak" (MAP27) obscure their linear nature with a feeling of mounting progress and a constant drip feed of action that build to well-deserved climaxes.

There are also some cute authorial touches that take Estranged even further from the current, perceived standard of professional action gauntlets. Take "Crater", for instance, which starts you off next to the exit - located behind a fence - and then takes you on a lengthy, circuitous adventure so that you can finally jump down on the other side. "Deadlands" has a basement illuminated by some cool lightcasting... until metal covers slam down over the torches and force you to battle skeletons and other demons in the dark. Darkness also plays a role in the less accommodating finale of "The Tomb", an otherwise light level whose secret exit pits you against a handful of arch-viles in the pitch black with only a combat shotgun to protect you.

If you've got the proper mindset, you'll enjoy Estranged. Key points include vanilla flavoring, adventure pacing, and a prevalence of claustrophobic combat, with a few segments (like MAP26 and MAP32) composed of total Hell-on-wheels slaughter. Its mostly classic soundtrack also sports a few outliers, either sound like the Doom equivalent of swashbuckling or coming straight from Rogue Legacy. Though I did not find its action as engrossing as I would have liked, the atmosphere of adventure - like Hellbound - was more than adequate to draw me through the entire experience, and I'm glad.

by Matthew "Foodles" Edwards

A bit more substantial than your typical MAP01. The interior area is littered with imps and zombies and has one revenant guarding the yellow key door, accessed after a coiling trek through the tech walls. The exterior area has some zombie snipers running interference, but the chaingun is all you really need to turn these emissaries of Hell into meat. I like the look of the outdoor section. The yellow key ambush is pretty safe. A good warm-up.

MAP02Waste Treatment
Some neat, simple architecture in this dumpster dive. Unfortunately, it's loaded with demons and specters, turning it into classic Dances With Shotgun action, grinding away at enemy packs with your trusty friend. When it's not throwing walls of meat at you, it's pretty cool. Foodles forces you into the toxic trenches in a hostile environment. The ledge-bordered western area makes up most of the level, if not the action. Nothing too crazy; just lots of Doom II trash monsters to kill. The shotgun guys you engage on taking the blind drop - both in the room and outside - are the biggest hazard outside of eating a revenant rocket like a dope.

Survey CentreMAP03
This level is alright. It alternates between tech fortress and naturalistic canyon, with a lot of awkward gunplay in the open air considering your quasi-limited movement space and how you'll be dodging revenant rockets and lost souls and trying to snipe those hitscanners. The northwestern leg of the journey isn't too interesting but for the optional cavern containing some ammo and health, which triggers a wave of easily contained imps and spectres... Yeah, it's easy, but it's also a fun little diversion after the tiny, symmetric bunker. Foodles wisely drops you off right back at the beginning after grabbing the red key, making for a complete adventure circuit.

Two sections of techbase divided by a large, poison-filled cavern. You poke your head outside a few times, but the only situation where it's threatening is when you have to cross the bridge, yellow key in hand. This is a very slow level, filled with more shotgun and chaingun action... Well, there's actually a secret rocket launcher available right near the beginning, which I figured out after I got about 2/3 of the way through the map. It would almost certainly help against the higher-HP enemies, but you can make do with slot 3 and 4. Some cool rooms, as usual. Interior areas are filled with cramped combat, but none of the enemies are immediate threats beyond the couple of pain elementals in the easternmost hallway, who are pretty easily dispatched with your meagre arsenal.

Dust N BonesMAP05
Foodles lets you know that he's knockin' it up a notch by handing you the combat shotgun right at the beginning. Of course, exiting releases three revenants in the entrance room right behind you. You better run. This ditches the cramped base stuff for a wide open marble complex. The connecting tunnels are tight, but all of the action is packed into the outdoor areas. The opening is about as manic as it gets, with the skeletons pushing you out into the open and fatsos and arachnotrons on the ground floor, and other unsavory things lurking in every other yard. The Cyberdemon guarding the red key is a big snooze, though you do have to make it up to his pedestal to grab all the rockets you'll use to grind him down from his perch. Simple, but fun.

A linear trek through Hellish topography and snatches of marble peeking out from the red rock. "Razor" has a slightly different sense of balance than the previous maps, starting you off with a chainsaw and then pushing you into chopping some demon meat. Pretty soon after, you've got a slow shotgun waltz with an arch-vile with a couple of imps running interference, and it's tough to use the room he starts out in since there's a clutch of lost souls floating around. After that, stuff kind of settles into a by-the-numbers cover shoot.

More of your Hellish sojourn. This one's got a lot more open air, opening up with a big ol' brawl with a few fatsos, plus invading lost souls and demons as spoilers. If ammo seems tight, that's because there's a combat shotgun and full ammo past the dudes, who you are more than welcome to sprint by... supposing you don't want the rocket launcher, which is tied to the death of all things mancubus, an interesting choice. The cavern crawl that bookends the outdoor areas is flush with specters, so if you hate shooting quasi-demons in the dark, you'll hate this particular leg of the journey. The end is a bit pitched battle with arachnotrons on the outer ridge laying down cover fire while fliers close in on one side and revenants / Hell knights pursue you from the other. It's still tricky with the shotgun twins, but I imagine it would be a frustrating grind if you didn't jump down with the RL in hand. I like the towers as scenery.

This level's pretty big and ultimately non-linear, sort of a mix of most of the Hellish themes, whether it's red rock and stone or granite caverns or marble or wood, all without being garish as Foodles transitions well between sections. All you do is pick one of three different doors from the opening outdoor area and then go on a brief adventure segment, crawling through blood and other bits of infernal terrain as you make your way to the prize at the end of each leg. While the branches interconnect at certain points through passages locked by the other keys, if you're a thorough player, I doubt you'll get much use out of them. Standout encounter is the teleporter arrival to the southwestern section, a blind ambush that ought to put you back on your toes if you've gotten used to Foodles's pace.

Torture ChambersMAP09
A simple but tough outing with a predominant wood theme. Hell's basement starts off with a very tough brawl that teleports in a long wave of spectres in through your escape route, forcing you to deal with the wandering shotgun guys, cacodemons, and imps that lurk around in the combat shotgun chamber, whose barred gateways make moving around less than intuitive. It's the high water mark, with the rest of the fights operating around more constricted settings with a few arch-viles that attempt to throw your game off by teleporting like the Hell-bound sorcerers they are. There's a pretty sizable secret area housing a plasma rifle that adds a bit of depth, not that you'll be using your scant few cells for anything besides fighting your way back out.

Another slice of the Hellish wildlands, this one obviously mining the atmosphere of "Slough of Despair" with the song choice. And, indeed, the opening is a network of granite trenches more maze-like than E3M2 and loaded with congestion and claustrophobia, especially the beginning. Finding the SSG is a must. The western wood and red brick area is full of high HP enemies but slaying the balcony monsters, whether it's the mess of Hell knights and commandos or the big wave of skeletons that follows, is made much easier due to a monster blocking line. I'd be more concerned about the prevalent pain elementals, which slow down the speed at which you can clear. The southeastern leg is a spooky basement filled with revenants and arch-viles that turns into a pretty tense plasma gun burn once the lights go out (a pretty cool gimmick, covering the torches). The catwalk to the exit area is kind of cool; would be a neat motif to vary up the central area.

Barren KeepMAP11
Plenty of space to move around in, but you'll have to do some serious legwork to get the combat shotgun or rocket launcher, which speed the rest of the level up immeasurably. The opening yard is a big ol' crossfire with mancubuses on the ground and other things potentially filing in from the cave. The northern yard is a lot bigger and has some troublesome arachnotron snipers - just what the rocket launcher ordered. There are free rockets on the central ruin, accessed from the teleporters in the blood cistern... not that you'll need them. Really, getting some decent weapons without killing too many enemies is the hardest aspect of "Barren Keep" outside of making sure that you're not pinned down by arachnotron plasma. The southeastern battlement leading to the SSG is just the right height to provoke arachnotron fire without actually exposing you, so be careful while you dodge between the crenellations...

MAP12Dig Site
Back to a more traditional setting... kind of. It's a dug-out ruin with an adjacent base complex that's swarming with low-tier Doom enemies. In a neat touch, stepping on the ominous altar teleports you into a bad situation with you surrounded by cacodemons. Foodles shoves a combat shotgun into your hands, though, so you can get to work. The battle in the hall immediately before it is scripted pretty well as the author dumps a cacodemon on you, giving the imps and demons some time to close the distance and get in your face.

Dark HeartMAP13
Foodles milks a more horror-oriented atmosphere as you trudge through the bowels of the base, including the inevitable bits of sewage. The monsters almost feel properly entrenched, like they're actually lying in wait as they guard the switch that lowers the blue key. They've also got a few nasty tricks up their sleeve, like the trip wire that takes you from the sewer exploration you were expecting into a very nasty close-quarters brawl. The final steps take you through two very big ambushes, the first of which is pretty much only navigable by rocket launcher suppression fire. The second is flush with cacodemons, Hell knights, and pain elementals, but you can choke them all at a bottleneck and grind them down with the combat shotgun if you're hard up for ammo.

This is a pretty cool natural chasm level. Foodles takes his naturalistic style and adds a bunch of verticality for a rockin' good set piece complete with decaying, ruined bridge, though ousting the entrenched revenants is a thorny job. The meat annex through the oldstuff with the Hell knights and cacodemons makes for an interesting corridor... not strictly necessary to clear, but why not? Plus, it's the only way to grab the secret, which gives you Even More Rockets. The techbase section is not as thrilling to clear, and if you pick the wrong direction, you'll find yourself backtracking to the beginning of the fork to hit a single button (tip: north, then west!). The symmetric exit room is inexplicable and seems more like a throwback to Doom II's techbase finales than anything else.

The Floating FortressMAP15
This is an enormous, linear coil around the eponymous structure, "The Floating Fortress", a tech platform surrounded by water... and a few islands. It's one, long outdoor corridor crawl, but Foodles packs it with action every step of the way. Expect to oust snipers of all varieties as you pick your way through this never-ending battlement. There's only one supremely annoying encounter, two pain elementals in an open area. Heaven forbid you should give one of them enough velocity to float back, to the edge of the map, before taking his sweet time to get back to you. The central compound is a low-grade slaughter fight facilitated by the BFG, with a potentially long clean-up time as you pick all the snipers in the outer ring off. The final guard is a potentially hectic fight; just load up all your BFG ammo and seek out the arch-viles. The secret keys are pretty fun to find. You'll need all three to lower the secret exit teleporter. Cool level; my stepson really digs the music.

MAP31The Tomb
For whatever reason, this gives me a big Legend of Zelda vibe. It's a really short level that has you plugging through some verdant topography with a handful of zombies as your only major opposition... provided you aren't trying to access the secret exit. Chasing the three keys down isn't the hard part, it's descending into the dark tomb, feeling your way to the switch, and then dealing with five arch-viles in the pitch black dark. Good fucking luck, considering you generally won't see them until they are walking past you or charging up to attack. Just pray for some sort of regulation by luck.

Void WalkerMAP32
Foodles opts for the slaughter route in four parts. The first is an infernal topography with Cyberdemons at one end of the valley and Spiderdemons at the other and a huge force of revenants that pops up as you try, foolishly, to cross the stream. The second is a green marble and granite chasm filled with blood that's not nearly as treacherous, though you'll have to jump back and forth around that pack of revenants or suffer some sort of death comet. The third is a fortress in a crater with a toxic moat surrounding it. This one is just begging to be circle-strafed to death. The last is an encounter with a pack of arch-viles on a bridge suspended in the void. You have two invuls and plenty of cells; as long as you don't waste too much time getting blasted off the path, you should be fine. Clearing this level isn't so bad; getting 100% kills, what with all those demons on the valley walls, will be the hard part. The suspended in void aesthetic of the final segment is pretty cool.

MAP16Battle Room
Uhhh, yeah. Back to Earth with this clean and congested base map. You're going to be pushing against demons the whole way through, whether it's past the mancubus to snag the combat shotgun or around the Hell knights to give yourself some breathing room or just about every moment of hallway clearing. The pitched battles around the keys are pretty cute. I especially like the red key fight to the southwest, laying down rocket fire on mixed Hell knights and revenants as they teleport in, but with enough proximity to make things feel dangerous. It certainly beats the mess of revenants to the north or handful of arch-viles to the east. The final encounter is pretty good, too, a masterful moment of claustrophobia that forces you to provoke infighting between the Spiderdemon and some revenants / demons while keeping tabs on stuff so that you don't get boxed in / shredded by superchaingun fire.

Twisted RealmsMAP17
And now for something completely different! This is sort of an E2 in Doom II style; that is, a dark, foreboding techbase with some corrupted elements that's fully staffed with beasties. It leans more toward the original Doom than its sequel, since it doesn't even have a combat shotgun, and there's at least one arch-vile plus bruiser twins encounter you'll want the secret BFG for. I really like this level, plus its unforgiving start which has you run a route away from barons and past other creatures until you grab your rocket launcher and make a stand, after which you can start making a space for yourself. Fun little pain train.

A fortress built around some collapsing natural landscape... It's got the same sort of vibe as "Floating Fortress" in that it's a linear cover shooter, but on a smaller scale and with more emphasis on base and ruins than abstract machinery. It's also pretty manic, since Foodles is less reliant on snipers in the rafters and more willing to let monsters in cramped spaces do the talking, like in the beginning with the enormous clusterfuck of demons, cacodemons, and revenants. Madness! The one spot that's sure to annoy players is small network of bombed-out rooms near the map's center, which has a wave of revenants and an arch-vile in a super-cramped space, followed by a timed switch puzzle that's like four scrambles deep. Herding cacodemons in the final outdoor segment is much more breathable. And all this just to jump behind a fence that's right at the beginning of the level... A cute touch, actually.

Haunted MinesMAP19
This is a brutal, underground level characterized by high-HP monster fights and a distinct lack of health. If you can obtain the secret soul sphere and / or megasphere (especially the latter), you'll be comparatively well off. The initial appearance has all the look of a straightforward grind until you see the yellow key fight. To his credit, the author lets you see what you're up against before you go rushing into it, so have fun navigating the three rows of arachnotrons, revenants, and pain elementals into some semblance of sanity. Crowd surfing helps a lot, especially as you root out those meatballs. After that, it's on to surprises; the northwest corner is especially nasty with surprise pain elementals. The basement is cramped rocket launcher suppression fire; good luck killing it all before your supply runs out. The finale, not so bad. You can cheese it by lowering the southern wall before firing a shot, then running around the outside of the marble compound once you've woken up the skeletons until most of the nasties are thinned out. Thank goodness. Just don't fall off the ledge.

MAP20The Rift
Continuing on with the thundering difficulty... This level starts out on Earth, and then forces the player through a Hellish gauntlet in order to get to the other side of the gate that leads to... the exit teleporter. The opening chaos is pretty cool and I dig the marble enormous staircase look. The western leg has a pretty cool catwalk crawl going on with you picking off mancubuses on either side. The eastern track is where the action is, with two main confounding factors. Sprinkled among the cacodemons are a few pain elementals, and there's a horde of revenants mixed with a few arch-viles in the northern cavern. If you're short of rockets, you're looking to have a tough time pulling teeth. The finale is a bit more understandable, but all the projectiles flying around don't give you a lot of leeway while you try to sort out the chaos. Stuff flying in from the exit room has a tendency to sideswipe you.

Hell HoleMAP21
Your second formal excursion to Hell begins with this quasi-Tyson level that's formed mostly of open-air, rectangular chambers within which lurk nasty monsters. You could tackle this level several ways, but it's ultimately building to the BFG, which is located under the "guard" of a couple of mancubuses. You don't have enough ammo to go hog wild, since you really need it to kill the loathsome Spiderdemon that guards the switch that opens the exit, but a combination of infighting and some precise BFG work where warranted should give you plenty of margin to kill everything. Or, y'know, just blaze through the level, kill the Spiderdemon, and jump down the Hell well. The power is yours.

MAP22The Bloodworks
This level is built around a giant marble juicer in the opening courtyard. It's probably a nice way to save some ammo, but there's enough lying around that you're probably better served slaying the demons on the ground. Like some previous levels, "The Bloodworks" is more about picking your way through trenches while monsters attack from the high ground. You won't get the rocket launcher until you've done your initial clear of the eastern section, and while it's handy, you're eventually gonna have to turn it on the ultimate Doom II sniper - the Cyberdemon - who works as an annoying spoiler in a bid to block you from the exit. It won't be quick. I do like the Hell knight ambush in the tunnel, which looks hopeless at first until you realize that the trap also opens up an elevator on the opposite side. I also like wading into the western area's enemies, though having to run the tunnel / battlement circle a grand total of three times is a bit much.

Eye of MiseryMAP23
A Hellish outpost in a network of red rock chasms. Also, Death Race 2000! Foodles pretty much drops you in a bad situation that gets worse and worse as you run his gauntlet. When you find your way outside, you can kind of relax, but you've still got some monsters occupying the central structure and both the northern and southern paths are full of entrenched enemies just looking to end your run. Slow and steady wins the race, so just take your time and oust those troublesome monster pockets while darting to and from cover since you won't need those rockets for the Cyberdemon... provided you figure out how to get the secret plasma rifle.

MAP24Scorching Back
This mix of ruins and Hellscape is basically a Doom level in Doom II's clothing. You're limited to the shotgun, chaingun, and rocket launcher, and the only Doom II monsters that appear are the Hell knight and loathly commando. At 262 monsters, it's slow going, though it starts off with a BANG as you frantically stun and shoot your way through a crowd of mixed enemies, paying special attention to the zombies and then trying to work the rest out. While it's got the pace of a level riddled with HP sponges, the adventure part is rock solid, taking you through underground chasms and some pretty cool vanilla-ish set pieces. Too bad the action rarely lives up to that manic opener.

The DepthsMAP25
A sprawling, creepy trek through the darkest portions of Hell. Most of this level is characterized by lighting that wink on and off, which will annoy players who are more sensitive to such changes. Even when the lights are static, they're mostly dark, doing a good job of obscuring things like revenants and Hell knights as you carefully pick your way through the treacherous tunnels and caverns. You're also more than free to pick around as you fancy, though if you've got a long road to get back to the high ground if you jump into the Stygian mud. The optional areas are your plasma rifle pickups, both of which come with similar teleport ambushes. The level sort of turns into a series of hallways once you get past the red key door, in stark contrast to the rest. The exit area is at a 45 degree angle to the rest of the map, though... not that you'll notice while you're actually playing.

MAP26Valley of Defilement
This seems like a straightforward slaughter set in a big, Hellish valley, but there's an interesting twist. Moving out of the starting area locks you into one of two paths. In retrospect, I think that the west route is shorter. Foodles uses a big pop-up trigger to hide the other half's enemies, so you won't even see them unless you take the return trip found in the exit room. Both paths dump you in the same finale, a total mess where infighting - as great as it is - will only go so far with the monsters involved, your big problem being the four Cyberdemons. It's all about taking cheap shots when you can and keeping your head down. The rest of the level is dominated by uniform packs of enemies that aren't necessarily large, but aren't engaging apart from the enormous crossfires they generate in locales like the main chasm that the right path spills into. There are some cool bits of architecture hiding out in the Hellscape, though.

Flame PeakMAP27
Another engrossing adventure level in the same vein as "The Floating Fortress". This time, it's a slow crawl up and around an infernal mountain with a fair mix of damage floors and claustrophobic yet open air spaces. One particular motif you'll grow to either love or despise is serial ambushes by flying enemies, cresting over the rock walls and keeping you on your toes. The two hardest fights are 1) a pair of Cyberdemons guarding the opposite end of a platforming section, so even if you make it across with the BFG, good luck dodging in the relatively small space on their side, and 2) the initial assessment of the peak itself, which has an arch-vile with three pain elementals in one corner, a Spiderdemon in the center, and two arch-viles backing a pack of demons in the other. I'm not patient enough to find the wild strategy to handle this stuff so I'm glad that Foodles almost always has an avenue available for a strategic retreat.

MAP28Astral Plane
This time, your gauntlet is a series of infernal outposts erupting from an infinity of lava. While the arrangement of the islands has the look of a sandbox level, the actual progression is not so much. The little fortresses are pretty cool and, while most of the combat leans toward incidental congestion, there are some neat moments like the demon / Hell knight rush atop the mancubus battlements (confounded by distant attackers) and the eastern sequence with the lavabound docks that comes with a pretty good pincer attack ambush, and the cool little arch-vile duel at the top of the tower. Both this one and the big ol' demon horde at the north end of the level can be backed off and then dealt with as a single front, but it's got a pretty good atmosphere for a MAP28; it's not as showy as what we've all come to expect out of MAP29, but still feels like it's building toward something big. Also, wise choice separating the Spiderdemons with a marble wall, not that you can't just zerg them with the secret BFG.

Once again, the Rogue Legacy track shines through, doing a fantastic job of complementing the setting to establish the atmosphere. This is an underworld hunt through a sprawling mixture of ruins and bloody tunnels; the goal is to grab all three keys, two of which are the final element of long, dangerous treks to the east and west. The blue key just requires you to take a blind elevator to Sheol and then find your way back to the beginning, a neat twist on the usual key grabbing excursions. The layout of the enormous cavern to the southwest is pretty cool and a nice scene-setter considering it's not exactly stuffed with enemies. Both legs are pretty treacherous with enemy positioning, and you'll do pretty good to approach these congested corridors with a tactical mindset. The finale is one of the more devious multi-Cyberdemon showdowns of the set, since the two arch-viles in the back will prove bothersome should you not. On the other hand, once they're out of the way, you've eliminated the only real threat considering the Cybs will kill all of the ground troops leaving you to enact a long, slow shower of plasma.

MAP30Chimes at Midnight
The concept feels like a different take on "Astral Plane". Most of the combat takes place on platforms that are jutting out of a vast sea of lava, but the presentation is way more open and the islands - which resemble a sort of platforming race track - are much closer to the ground. The combat is pretty grueling and mostly reliant on exposure, with some nasty parts like the two pain elementals and cloud of lost souls right before the first berserk pack. The BFG 9000 is optional but might as well be required for some of the headaches it will save you, especially in the finale. Lots of this is dodging fireballs coming in from anywhere and everywhere and clearing out your enemies as you creep along. I like the two tower fights to the northeast and northwest, with some wicked cool architecture in the western one and a neat two Cyb fight in the other. I almost think it's more fun to fight them with the plasma gun than the BFG... because I completely forgot I had the latter. The Icon is enemy overload; don't rush the switch, since the mancubus and arachnotron snipers will straight fuck you up. Thankfully, there is no timing associated with the pillar; just ride it to the top and pump some rockets into its diseased brain and enjoy your victory.



  1. I honestly think this wad plays quite a bit better than Hellbound, I don't see where the comparison comes from. I'm not saying I love the gameplay here, just that I think Hellbound is a much stronger case of beautiful looks/atmosphere but uninteresting gameplay compared to Estranged.

    Foodles' best work might still be Spire, a ZDoom semi hub he released in 2010. (Not to be confused with pd1's episode 'Spire Complex' or with prower's single map 'The Spire'.)

    1. i drew a comparison in that they are both, in my mind, ADVENTURE ORIENTED MAPSETS, referring not to ADVENTURE games a la Sierra but a feeling that you are on some sort of a contiguous journey, with gameplay leaning toward incidental monster placement. that is the primary sense in which i compared them - to quote from my closing intro paragraph, "the atmosphere of ADVENTURE".

      estranged's smaller scale offers a level of action that's more to my taste since the opposition cannot stick around long enough to fester in the player's mind; its claustrophobic trappings also limit the amount of meat that you have to pound out at a single time. it is NOT as detailed as Hellbound, a fact which i stressed - "And, while this is technically a mapset for Boom-compatible ports, the author's aesthetic execution more closely resembles vanilla Doom as far as the level of detailing. This isn't always the case, but Foodles's architecture is simple, clean, and evocative, establishing a rigorous standard that avoids looking garish."

      however, just because estranged's execution is not identical to hellbound's does not forbid me from drawing a favorable comparison where i think one is warranted.

      also, i wonder how closely you even read the review or if just have a case of selective reading judging from the way the last comment is written, since Spire is implicitly mentioned in "He has two Doom episodes to his name and a Doom II hub, all of which I understand are recommended, but which I haven't played", which is the second sentence on this page.

    2. In this case yes I did just read the last paragraph. But I did want to give my opinions, and I think Spire is a bit more special than his UDoom episodes.

      I maintain my thought that Hellbound is worse in terms of the 'slogfest' aspect though.

    3. something i don't dispute... but NOT reading the whole review and THEN posting a comment that might have been allayed but for your ignorance is, like, really annoying and shows the superficiality of your involvement, especially if your opinions involve questioning my point of view. it's quite possibly the most genuinely offensive comment i've ever received on this blog.

    4. Sorry I didn't mean to be offensive, I won't jump so quick again but can we take a chill pill on this now please?

    5. The guileless urgency of your character makes this sort of repeated exchange inevitable. I'm not going to "take a chill pill", which implies that there is no reason to be annoyed with you, which means you won't learn how to stop, if you are at all capable of tempering your behavior. But, there's no reason to continue to shit up this comments section, which is (mostly) reserved for Foodles's brand new megaWAD, Estranged! Thanks for the maps, dude!

    6. I do understand why you're annoyed with me, just 'take a chill pill' meant I didn't want to continue this conversation in this page any longer. And you don't either, so I won't. In fact I don't even care if all these comments stay up, whole thing is just moot to me at this point as I should've just read the whole review first (for starters).

    7. but hey i guess if foodles made an ep1 and an ep2 he might feel obligated to do an ep3, supposing he isn't totally bored of the theme after making so many hell maps for estranged

  2. Off topic, but I'd rather see Chris Hansen feel obligated to do another episode of revised map, in combination E3/E4 style (since Monument is in E2 style and he did an E1 style episode way back in 2002). Between the two styles he has 8 maps I think, he'd only need to dish out a boss map at most.

  3. Many quite good maps in here, some I didn't enjoy as much...but my favorite has to be Map15 - open outdoor design done right, great sense of scale, looks good without suffering from overdetail a bit, wide open chaos done well. Would be great map IMO even as standalone release.

  4. Great megawad, always love these sprawling adventure type maps like the last third of this have.