Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Aqueous Rise and Fall (AQUEOUS.WAD)

by Christian Hansen

Christian Hansen made a lot of single level maps during 1998 and 1999, originally publishing them on the now defunct "Doom Zone", but uploading them to /idgames in 2000. While all of these were made for the collective experience we've come to know as Doom II, some made use of the Final Doom IWADs. The Aqueous Rise and Fall is part of this category, being a MAP13 replacement for The Plutonia Experiment released in 1999. While it uses the textures, it's actually pretty far from the Casali style of gameplay, not that that's any surprise if you've played any of Hansen's previous releases. And, like a Doomer after my own heart, he's included an in-depth narrative.

Given the phrasing - "destroyed the gate-keeper and saved Earth once again" - I'm inclined to believe that this level is a sequel to The Plutonia Experiment. It seems that Hell's most recent invasion was slightly more widespread than initially thought, with their infernal grasp extended to a number of secret bases, each more secret than the last. Today, you're tasked with clearing out the complex that... creates super-coolant out of ordinary water, which they then use as the cooling medium for the teleporter gates. I'd like to know how that one works; we just filter the fuck out of it. This kind of facility also has secret elevators hidden in the ceiling disguised as part of the machinery, perfect to stage your surprise attack from.

AQUEOUS is a jungle ruin, minus the jungle, plus a lot of water. The Plutonia textures give it a nice algae / moss-ridden feel and there's a lot of different heights at which you do combat, with rooms and walkways built into the large walls of the processing facility. Navigation is made complex by the reliance on teleporters used to navigate the ruins, which makes it slightly harder to get at all those chaingun snipers you'll see peeping through the windows. And there are a lot of commandos. The glut of them may have you run into potentially hairy scenarios just to be rid of them. But, imps and chaingun zombies form the bulk of the level's muscle, so it's not so bad.

The heaviest encounter involves two mancubuses and one revenant all performing overwatch in a U-shaped canal with a slight feeling of "The Inmost Dens" about it. The arrangement lets you avoid the skeleton while you take on either of the fatsos, so it's more of an area control battle than anything. There's also a "Barrels 'o' Fun" moment toward the end which results in the deaths of a bunch of chaingun-toting zombies. The level's biggest gimmick is directly related to the title; the chamber to the west has two doors, one of which can only be activated by raising a platform of water.

The architecture is pretty sharp and has that quasi-polished Plutonia feel with some neat details like the channels coming off the little cistern that dump into the western room, or the faux-lightcasting in the southern balcony / walkway thing. I also dig the northern balcony leading to the dingy green exit corridor. Certainly, it's not nearly as punchy as anything the Casalis ever made, but it's nice to have an adventure in the Plutonia theme without having to be continuously on your guard, especially since this level's biggest secret involves a combat armor and backpack rather than essential weapons or ammo. So, if you like the aesthetic of Plutonia but don't like its knockabout gameplay, you might give The Aqueous Rise and Fall a shot.



  1. This is another Hansen map you might not-so-expectedly come across is some form again...

  2. There's something about the visual design of Chris Hansen levels that speaks to me.