Thursday, December 17, 2015

Death Tormention II (PE4_DT2.WAD)

1999 saw the release of two Doom episodes bearing Paul Corfiatis's name. The first was Death Tormention, Paul's in-depth study of the Thy Flesh Consumed aesthetic that is so popular among authors. The second was, you guessed it, Death Tormention II, which shows a lot of personal growth... and a few unhealthy fixations. This episode is also among the first of Paul's collaborative works, joining fellow Team Insanity member Kristian Aro in the beginning of a long and fruitful friendship, as well as Chris Harbin, who is known for Operation: BIOWAR, if you know him at all. The bulk of Death Tormention II is a nine-level episode with a .DEH that apparently only works in source ports like Boom. Paul has also included three bonus levels that are pretty silly and underdeveloped and which are hiding in the secret map slots for Knee Deep in the Dead, The Shores of Hell, and Inferno.

The end text of this episode is even more incomprehensible than the last. I don't really know where this fits in Paul's own Doom chronology, if it in fact fits at all. One might assume that it's the sequel to Twilight Zone II, just as Death Tormention was its prequel. If so, then you've returned from the dreaded Twilight Zone of Terror to do battle with the source of the demons, only to travel once again through the Death Tormention on your way back to Earth, which is where your story begins. The ending, which is a bit of a downer, reveals that there was actually one last Spiderdemon masterminding the invasion of Earth, so the enemies weren't as disorganized as you thought while you tracked down Johnny Boy. The bitter yet strangely hopeful ending mulls over the idea that the human race should leave Earth to its own devices since the demons are so intent on conquering it and seek its fortune among the stars. If you've played enough Doom WADs, though, you know that you can't run away from trouble. There ain't no place that far.

Death Tormention II takes a flying leap forward in terms of layout, architecture, and aesthetics compared to the vast bulk of Corfiatis's work that came before. Maybe focusing on a single, coherent theme allowed him to buckle down and improve his craft in earnest, as opposed to bouncing between texture schemes and gimmicks. Maybe it was the participation in Team Insanity, a group of his peers. Or maybe it's the fact that he had like more than seventy maps under his belt. In any case, I welcome the changes, regardless of the duds. Kristian Aro went through the same process with his 20 Days in Hell to 32 Hours in Pain, oddly enough. Harbin's donated level doesn't meet quite the same standard, but it's got some cute touches, and it's definitely more substantial than the bonus maps, which Paul included purely for funsies, going so far as to beg people not to badmouth the WAD for their inclusion.

Death Tormention II is also a really tough journey. At least, from a pistol start player going in blind. Paul shows a lot of love for berserk fisting, and at the very least, he's made sure that packs are available at or near many of the level starts. The secrets, if you can find them, will be just about what you need to make it through, even if the placement on some is baffling (like the rocket launcher at the end of E4M5). Aro is a much more accommodating author in comparison, but it's nice to know that I've gotten pretty good at punching cacodemons, something I found distasteful in previous outings. I'm not sure if continuous players will fare any better, given how nasty the first few levels will be.

The other ultra-hard survival style E4 mapset I'm familiar with is Crusades, but there are some big differences in how the difficulty plays out. Richard Wiles opted for gameplay that was really tight on health in addition to ammo and worked a lot of its combat by claustrophobia. Paul offers you a bit more room to dodge around in and get your 'zerk on and I think that his levels are decently stocked with health. Going in to it whipped my ass until I started playing the ultra-conservative. The UV gameplay by its very design encourages a slow pace that's not very action-oriented, which may stick in the throats of people wanting to sleepwalk through some cool marble maps. Unlike Crusades, turning the difficulty down actually lowers the monster count in Death Tormention II, so at least there's that.

Paul and co. have knocked out a pretty cool episode for Doom, regardless of however it plays on UV. It'll be cool to look at where they went some six years later in the acclaimed Death Tormention III... and maybe, some day, Death Tormention IV. Until then, here's one E4 that's definitely worth seeing.

by Paul Corfiatis, Kristian Aro,
and Chris Harbin

Hell GateE4M1
by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
Death Tormention II immediately sets itself apart from its predecessor with this opening level. While short and orthogonal, the architecture is pretty eye-catching, and the difficulty is unforgiving. There is a dearth of ammo, which makes the two big packs of monsters - nearly all of which are concentrated in the eastern area - very tricky to handle. Try and let infighting take care of as much meat as possible or you'll resorting to fisticuffs. At the very least, there's an easy telefrag setup in the exit room.

E4M2Return to the Abyss
by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
This level's layout originally appeared in Twilight Zone II as MAP24, "The Abyss". The retread shows a lot more polish, and while it has some of the same problems as E4M1 re: ammo (including a befuddling berserk pack right at the exit, of all places), the secrets are far more forgiving, though the plasma gun plus cells is pretty much mandatory. I still found myself just scraping by around the time I headed into the red rock tunnels, after baiting the welcoming party into slowly taking each other out. The bunch of demons and specters that arrives in the northern area comes as quite a shock.

Crazy KeepE4M9
by Chris Harbin and Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
Not quite as cool as the previous two maps. The music selection leaves things feeling a bit off kilter and there are a ton of barons to contend with, both as installed turrets and as meat walls. Now, it's actually got an interesting braid layout, even if it means that raising the bridge across the chasm takes forever. The barons hanging out on the rock is pretty cool and the body poles are a nice way to... liven up the outdoor area.

E4M3Villa of Schotchies
by Kristian Aro
Now this is more like it. "Villa" is a Hellish keep located in the familiar granite outcrop of nightmares past. While most of the main sections feature a lot of symmetry, the author has varied up the design on both sides - and monster encounters - so you're constantly left guessing at what's going to hem you in next. There's a boatload of shells if you aren't fortunate enough to locate the secret rocket launcher or plasma gun, but the secrets aren't bad at all to puzzle out. Monsters are plentiful, with combat leaning toward claustrophobic. Taking out specters in the blood trench room is not so great, but I love the bit where the lost souls come down from on high once you've got the red key in hand. Cool map.

Going After Ashley!E4M4
by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
If you don't know what you're getting into, you're in for a world of hurt. This is a fortress in whatever passes for an ocean in Hell, starting in an isolated cavern area and then moving into the main dance, which is a pretty simple hub / key door arrangement. Pistol starters will squeak by until the tech annex behind the red key door, which becomes instant cacodemons, forever. Regardless of how you play, all the meat will likely come as a shock, and there are likely to be some "Excavations" if you can't find the secret chaingun, or more importantly the rocket launcher stash, which requires some cat-like behavior. Of course, you might be able to crowd surf until you can grab the BFG located off the exit room and go back to clear everything, but that's not for first-timers. After figuring out the chaingun / RL, I'm not nearly as annoyed by all the monsters. Just the switch porn with the bar gates to the east.

E4M5Pain Temple
by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
Originally released as the Special Edition bonus map for the original Death Tormention episode. This map is one big fuck-you to the player, whether it's the opening faux-secret that telefrags and teases anyone looking for the BFG (setting the tone); the mirrored labyrinth hallways that link the blue and red key doors together; the rocket launcher secret, which feels all but useless considering how impractical to use in the context in which it's given; and the lack of ammo. The one plus is that pcorf has supplied a berserk pack, and Tyson aficionados should feel at home in what turns out to be a pretty lively fisting. The pace is pretty slow, though, and may carry an air of desperation depending on the player. When you finally relax and stop worrying about ammo, it's pretty fun. When you do find the BFG, you'll probably want to save it for the opportune moment in that catwalk room.

Threshold of PainE4M6
by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
The vast underbelly of a significant marble fortress. If you're not prepared to go Tyson, then you might want to tone down the difficulty. Several walls of cacodemons and seemingly limitless packs of demons and specters await, compounded by the restricted movement space considering that the two largest areas are mostly nukage that's been bisected with a catwalk. That's not even counting the claustrophobic opening fight, where you'll need to blitz past a bunch of nasties to grab your fist of the north star, only to eventually come to grips with the Cyberdemon sitting on the plasma rifle and guarding the switch that grants access to the blue key. Time to sit and shoot. Somewhere amidst this melee nightmare is some cool macrotecture. Do you have the power?

E4M7The Unholy Ages
by Kristian Aro
This is more or less what I expected when I loaded this episode up. Aro submits a massive fortress full of claustrophobic - but fair - gameplay. There's usually some place for you to back up in, you're not in any danger of running out of ammo, and the rocket launcher and plasma rifle are available near the very beginning. The fanciest footwork you'll have to do is take the two cacodemons out with the shotgun in the opening hub. The rest of the action is a drip feed with the occasional brace of barons; one of my favorite bits forced you to quickly dash toward a door, turn around, and then hammer them with a rocket barrage during their inexorable advance. Just a good, fun, slow burner. Also - LOL at that snatch of the "Force Theme".

The Last HuntE4M8
by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
Paul's finale looks weighted toward the berserk fist, but if you take the time to methodically clear all of the key annexes, you've been duped. BLAZE through this one, use care when slaying the Spiderdemon, and then grab the invul from its arena (and the BFG, if you didn't already use it) and then go clear the nasties that have no doubt accumulated around the exit teleporter. The little challenge gauntlets kind of remind me of "Hectic", for some reason. I like the cheesy teleporter beam.


E1M9The Scary Maze
by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
A silly techmaze level that kind of tries to exploit that "Hunted" vibe, but there are only a handful of barons to confront, with the exit room filled with like a bazillion shotgun guys. I guess the dearth of barons does add a tad of tension.

by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
A tiny caged arena with all of the main weapons vs. four barons. Most of you ought to be able to do this standing on your head. At least it's over fast!

E3M9The Bagpipe
by Paul Corfiatis aka "pcorf"
A silly level wherein the author draws a crude picture of a man blowing into some bagpipes and then creates a semi-interesting abstract death arena filled with lost souls that you have to navigate with your chaingun. As far as jokemaps go, it's okay. The hidden shotgun guy is a potential spoiler.



  1. This wad is a definite step up from DT1 IMO but my fave of the series is definitely the thurd. I also think Kristian's maps are overall a tad better/more exciting than Paul's.

  2. E4M7 is my favorite. Kristian's maps also tend to be my favorite in wads by both Paul/Kristian (DT3 and especially Whispers of Satan are also examples).

    I'm pretty sure Kristian is Paul's brother, BTW. Just mentioning (not sure if you've mentioned it already in a review - sorry if this is a repeat of something you've already said at some point).

    1. paul and kristian are demonstrably not brothers, at least not in the sense that you mean. Kristian hails from Finland and Paul hails from Australia. they have definitely enjoyed a close correspondance over doom and other things, but im almost absolutely sure that they do not share a parent between them. go ahead and check out Kristian's levels prior to Death Tormention II and see if you see so much as a mention of Paul. you won't, but you might hear about his best friend Lauri Kivinen and, in 1dofhell, a Robin Aro. thank you for this hilarious post

    2. Sorry I had thought they were. It wasn't intentional that I posted this wrong information though...must have been confused