Saturday, November 7, 2015


The Doom community has produced tons of fantastic texture sets throughout its history. The Darkening's E2 took inspiration from Quake II, but its aesthetics languished in obscurity due to a restrictive clause that prohibited use of its textures... until recently. The only mapset I knew that played with the pack was Yashar Garibzadeh's The Darkening Aftershock, which of course had to be run on top of DARKEN2. This, however, is Ol' No Name, a four-map episode released in 2015 by Doomworld Forum superstar Octavarium. The author exploits its resources at a level as befits The Nameless Project's reputation for vanilla trickery, but in a Boom-compatible context, which adds a little something more.

As far as story goes... there is none! At least, nothing outside of the implied action of the levels themselves, much like Suspended in Dusk. I presume that you're the last marine left alive in this particular base, arriving literally right after the slaughter and into your own private nightmare. After an incredibly difficult and demanding opener, the author settles into a slightly less punishing groove that takes you on a fantastic adventure through the bowels of the military complex before escaping the confines of the base. Even then, you've still got a ways to go before you can count your blessings.

So, yeah. I had two big surprises going into this mapset. The first was the crushing, unrelenting assault of MAP01. There is no safe space, at least not for awhile, and my natural inclination on getting saddled with the regular shotgun is to look for something with a bit more punch. However, moving in any direction is going to dump more monsters on top of you, especially if you manage to squeeze into the adjacent room and palm the combat shotgun. It's a rude awakening and one Hell of a way to kick things off. If you can weather the storm, though, you'll be more than ready to tackle the rest of the levels.

The second was the texture pack from The Darkening's second episode, but not just that. There's also a commitment to detailing that shows complete and total love and care in the placement of every single linedef. There are so many little, unique touches that are easy to miss but great to pick up on. Of course, Octavarium's dedication comes at a price. As claustrophobic as these levels are, I often found myself getting snagged on innocuous bits, like backing into recessed computer monitors or other things, and being summarily dispatched given the fairly demanding level of difficulty. It's really easy to think you're going to juke a revenant rocket, or even Hell knight plasma, and then take it right on the chin after your fat ass gets hung up on something.

Which is unfortunate, because these levels look so freakin' good. I just wish that player maneuverability felt more slightly more reliable. Not that it really matters in "Supertzar", since you are infinitely more likely to get caught on monsters than the level geometry. Octavarium's MAP01 is the polar opposite of "Entryway", throwing you directly into the action with its foot on your throat and requiring a lot of wrestling for you to gain any ground. In contrast, the following level is much, much longer, combining the horrifying room-flooding traps with an adventure-map sensibility but with a lot more breathing room between the sucker punches.

"Blood" offers a more focused experience that spreads the traps out ever so slightly and offers less jumbled spaces to move around in... except for that ruined media center to the northeast, of course. Darkness pervades the level, and continues to be an obstacle in the final map, which also eschews the base trappings that dominated the previous three excursions, a direction hinted at in the northern portion of MAP03. It's the simplest level, fielding even less enemies than the opener, but their placement is among the most exacting of the set, culminating in a madcap dash through a cavern as you attempt to outpace a flood of skeletons, putting you between a rock and a hard place once you've reached the bottom.

Once again, the Ol' Nameless Project has reared its stylized head... and I'm happy with the results. If the sadism of UV puts you off, the author is far more accommodating in the lower difficulty levels. It'll still be tough, but some of the worst thorns have been clipped. And it's worth it, both for the wild action and the outstanding level design. If you get hung up on some bullshit, well, have a laugh; I know I did.

by "Octavarium"

You arrive fresh after the slaughter of this techbase, only to walk into countless ambushes that will leave you reeling. It's an absolutely punishing pistol start that saddles you with the shotgun; you've got to do some amount of clearing, because racing to the switch that opens up the cargo bay and snagging the combat shotgun will only result in so much more shit flooding the floor and no place to hide, including space-consuming monsters like arachnotrons, mancubi, and cacodemons. The arch-vile placement is the very height of dickish, especially the one backing the baron in the exit tunnel; no place is safe. Once you get into the eastern area, you can sort of breathe, since the author isn't as insistent as cramming beasties down your throat. The balcony and the overlook fights are pretty cool, since you've got just enough room to twist around and focus down either the revenants and then the arch-vile or dance between the mancubi blocking the exit and the cacodemons harrying you from the outer ring. It's rough stuff on UV... looks very snazzy, though.

MAP02A Rite of Passage
While many of the traps that Octavarium throws at you are reminiscent of the previous level of Hell, this map is much more manageable on average, filled with lots of incidental fights in addition to those nasty murderous ambushes. It's also way, way longer, consisting of an enormous military complex with a ruined basement / foundry, outdoor areas including a helipad, and the nexus of halls that make up early portion. There's a lot to see and do and a bunch of secrets to uncover. The ambushes never really slack off in terms of intensity, though you might be facing down standing-room only demons instead of a tidal wave of zombies or revenants, so always be on the lookout. One of the more interesting gimmicks takes you through a storage area only for the lights to go out and you pick your way back through the darkness. Most of these set piece battles are utterly claustrophobic, but with some careful positioning, you can eliminate most of the threat. The red key fight is a prime example; ducking behind the columns on the east side protects you from the revenants and Hell knights while giving you plenty of room to shell those pesky cacodemons to death. The finale balances a pair of Cyberdemons against demons as spoilers, a hangar full of mancubi in the back, and a tower you just cleared, now being restaffed courtesy of your friendly neighborhood arch-vile. A little orchestration goes a long way, since Octa gives you plenty of room. Oh, and the environments are just gorgeous; there are a lot of little touches that you'll miss, and are greatly appreciated.

Blood is Thicker Than WaterMAP03
Deeper into the heart of the base with another oppressive level based around a series of water silos that eventually yield a gruesome bounty. "Blood" combines the slower pace of "Rite" with the claustrophobic action of "Supertzar", resulting in a level where you'll be watching your every step, lest you stir a lurking revenant or arch-vile from its slumber. A lot of enemies are tied up in the northeastern section of the level, a darkened battlezone with a couple of safe areas where you can park and deal with your space invaders... if you know where you're going. Another nasty trap occurs early on, where a pool of blood drains down, trapping you in with a cadre of commandos you'll be desperate to dispatch. I like all of the mysterious machinery that dominates the northern portion of the level, and the mess of overgrown caverns adds another dynamic to Octavarium's bases. Very dark... and very deadly.

MAP04Be Quick or Be Dead
This is the smallest level of the set in terms of monster population, but it isn't any easier. I think that the title is owed to the finale, a horrific descent into the deepest level of the caverns where a flood of revenants pours out over the rocket launcher - which you've been anticipating the whole time - and pushes you toward the bottom, where you might be able to get some infighting action when you unleash the Cyberdemon... but, I dunno. The layout makes passing him off to the skeletal horde really dicey. I found it much simpler to let all the revenants filter down and then run up to grab the RL. In any case, it's a huge pain to pass through, but one of only several tricky encounters. When you grab the blue key, you spawn in a horde of shotgun guys, imps, and revenants that stalks the lower floor while more skeletons and an arch-vile take up position on the high ground. Oh, and the cacodemons and pain elemental that immediately attack in an attempt to drive you from your perch. Merely getting into the enormous cavern requires sorting out spectres running around in the dark, among other things, with an emphasis on tactical combat. The change in scenery makes for a nice finisher. It's really, really tricky, though. Good luck making it to the final elevator.

This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2015 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
SunlustDon't Be a Bitch RemasteredDoomed Space Wars
ErkattäññeChaosCore CTFCrumpets
SkulldashBest Gameplay ModPrime Directive
Swift DeathDoomRL ArsenalPinnacle of Darkness
BreachMordeth AwardOl' No Name
ValiantChaosCore CTF32in24-14
50 Shades of GraytallMockaward
Sheer PoisonInstaDoom
dead.wireMapper of the Year
Return to Hadrondannebubinga


  1. Did you enjoy this pack, in spite of the detail you can get snagged on sometimes?

    1. "Once again, the Ol' Nameless Project has reared its stylized head... and I'm happy with the results. ... And it's worth it, both for the wild action and the outstanding level design."

  2. Only just now saw this, thanks for taking the time to play and I'm glad it didn't completely suck haha. Definitely could have been better in a lot of places though. Reading through this also made me realize just how terrible I am at naming things... but oh well. Thanks a bunch, Samus! - Octavarium

    1. heck, I'd love to see you tackle any resource pack considering what you got out of this one!