Saturday, December 5, 2015

Death Tormention (PE4M_ALL.WAD)

Paul Corfiatis has made a lot of maps, and more than a few of them have been specifically in the style of Doom's fourth episode, Thy Flesh Consumed. Death Tormention is the beginning of a series of such works, released in 1999 in between his first two megaWADs, The Twilight Zone and The Twilight Zone II: Final Dreams. It's apparently vanilla compatible, but the .DEH only works in source ports, I guess. There isn't any sort of attempt at setting up the plot in the .TXT, but you can glean some stuff from the end text.

Whether this occurs concurrently with Doom / Doom II or sometime after the fact is anyone's guess, but the scene is a Hellish invasion of Mars, the player initially stationed at Gunda Base. The monsters are staging their invasion in the eponymous Death Tormention, which is where you've got to go to put and end to things. The end screen also mentions your next destination, The Twilight Zone of Terror, which marks this as a prequel, I believe to TWZONE2. Mainly because Paul declares that your actions have rendered the Spiderdemons extinct and none of them show up in The Twilight Zone II.

Death Tormention is a pretty decent E4 replacement. Paul's Doom II work jumps all over the place thematically whereas his stuff for the original Doom tends toward something more consistent. The last thing I played of his was 2014's Incineration, a replacement for Inferno. It's clear that fifteen years have put a considerable gap between the author's craft circa 1999 and now. Which is to be expected, of course. Paul managed to work out most of his early stylistic foibles over his first thirty-two levels and while Death Tormention is not as polished as the stuff he is putting out today, it is a more or less dependable play that does not go out of its way to screw the player.

Continuous players will easily sleepwalk through the challenges Paul has placed before you, but pistol starters beware. Weapon placement makes some of these very slow and potentially dangerous plays. Barons figure pretty heavily and you're not guaranteed a plasma gun until you're halfway into the map or further. You've still got way more room to maneuver than in something like Crusades, but monsters have a bad habit of sneaking and bunching up on you. Paul also shows a lot of fondness for the Cyberdemon in this set, but you've usually got a pretty easy - if not always fast - method available with which you can dispatch them.

Paul does a lot of borrowing. On the most obvious level, he's pulled most of the map names from Plutonia, with one from Evilution, and you'll be able to spot some homages to the IWADs as you make your trek across the Death Tormention. Of course, he also gives back, and this episode marks the first work of Paul's to come with its own soundtrack, a portent of things to come. Grabbing Plutonia names seems so humdrum when pitted against the absurd outpourings of the author's imagination, but I guess the author wasn't ready to play it straight in his own voice.

Death Tormention wouldn't be among my first recommendations for Doom episodes to play, but if you've gone through the acclaimed stuff or just have a hard-on for Episode Four, you could do a lot worse. Certainly, I'd be interested in seeing what Paul had in store if he ever hunkered down for a Death Tormention 4...

by Paul "pcorf" Corfiatis

A pretty basic warm-up with a heavily orthogonal layout with some overtures of "Hell Beneath". There's plenty of meat to slay, like a couple of packs of imps, and you can have just about every weapon in hand through the secrets, which have the chaingun, rocket launcher, and plasma rifle. The most memorable encounter in my mind is the shotgun guy teleport hoedown. The blue armor shrine, visible from the beginning, is a very cool touch, and I like the southeastern balcony, which gives the level a bit more dimension.

Turning away from marble, at least in the level's opening. "Slayer" is a mixture of wood, red brick, and blood / marble. Battling specters in the blood tunnels isn't so hot, and the huge mess of shotgun guys at the top of the pair of elevators is a nasty start. The eastern section is pretty cool, though, throwing you against a bunch of demons up front with a baron bringing up the rear; lots of stuff for you to train your shotgun on. There's also a Cyberdemon, but the invul (and secret BFG, if you can find it in short order) will make quick work of him. A neat development.

A very fast brown concrete and metal level whose design calls to mind the work of John Anderson, especially with those instant-opening doors. The layout makes for some pretty good action when you're not clearing hallways; the outdoor area will have monsters from various areas gravitating toward your position at the start and grabbing the blue key ushers in a mixed horde of all the "regular" Doom monsters that lets you go nuts with the rockets and plasma you've gained. Cool little level.

A bog standard hub map that takes you north to south and then west to east. The opening shootout is a little hectic, but Paul has plenty of health laying around. Barons are pretty prominent in this map, but the rocket launcher and plasma rifle are anything but secret, which should speed things along. There's no saving the switch bridge area behind the blue key door, though. You must patiently wait for four micro bridges to rise from the muck deep below, culminating in a cramped firefight with two cacodemons. Incredibly boring. All this for an E4M7 homage, though I admit that the bullets flying around makes for a moderately exciting battle. The big surprise is another Cyberdemon, but if you don't have an itchy trigger finger, Paul has set him up for easy disposal.

A simple but nasty level that brings to mind some of the jerkier bits of Thy Flesh Consumed. I'm mainly thinking of the hall of barons that will blockade you at the switch that opens the door to the blue key hallway, but there's also a BFG vs. Cyberdemon duel available in the pillar / lava chamber. Snagging one of the BFGs (there are two in here) will make baron control a snap; otherwise, if you find yourself pinned in like I did, you'll have to make a hole and then try to squeeze past to hunt for the secrets you know you missed.

E4M5The Omen
Lots of picking through enemy hordes in this marble-icious level. It isn't really necessary to grind down the imps and cacodemons that show up at the beginning, but if you don't, you'll have to watch your back while you take care of the hordes in either side of the northern room. Paul has some interesting architecture in this map and a few cool setups. The plasma rifle / yellow key room is a fave, though you'll still have to lure the barons away to start the puzzle sequence. Once you've got the gun, though, it's all over.

A sewer level that is interestingly packed like a Chris Klie map. It makes for a fairly labyrinthine layout, but nothing you can't take care of. The only problem is the toxic cistern near the center of the level that serves as the map's crossroads. You'll have to nip over it, back and forth, depending on whether or not you get turned around in your quest for the keys. The gameplay is pretty claustrophobic as a result of the interior spaces and maze-like corridors. You'll want the semi-secret plasma gun, which is acquired through a walkover trigger that kicks a baron into the northeast tech corridor. There's actually another secret exit in this level, in case you missed it in E4M2... but I wouldn't recommend taking it unless you want to do the Time Warp.

E4M7The Crypt
A very large level, this one with elements of "The Inmost Dens" and I think a tad bit of "Unruly Evil", among other things. It's really slow to start since you won't have the chaingun OR the plasma gun until after getting the red key. The pacing explodes once you make it past there, though. It would otherwise be the best level of the set, I think. I like the granite caverns to the west and the baron tower that guards the yellow key. The main run from south to north has more of that cursed symmetry, but you'll be too focused on the meat to really care. The northern "Inmost Dens" area is pretty brutal with all the shotgun guys... Stay safe.

A two stage fight in a "Tower of Babel"-esque arena. The first pits you against four Spiderdemons. There's tons of ammo and an invul, but the smart money is in tricking them into killing each other and then finishing off the survivors. The other bit is against a Cyberdemon who can't move, and Paul gives you a BFG, so between everything afforded to you, it's a foregone conclusion as to who's winning unless you flamingo it up.



  1. Actually this is among my favorite Pcorf mapset, probably because it has a lot more energy in the gameplay in comparison to his Whispers of Satan.
    Anyway, another fantastic review, keep it up! :)

    1. I think I'd definitely still say Death Tormention 3 is the best wad to have significant involvement from pcorf, and also the best Death Tormention wad. As for the best wad he made virtually or entirely alone, I'd have to think a bit more.