Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Blessed Hex (BLESSED.WAD)

by Christian Hansen

The first thing any self-respecting Doom author does is plan out an epic series to build on the charming narrative of either of the IWADs and cement their place as the maker of one of the most talked-about PWADs on the /idgames archive. Well, uh, I'm not saying that Chris Hansen was in the self-congratulatory cloud. But, his first four levels were part of a series he had dubbed Doom 3: Ad Infernos. The Blessed Hex is the second level in the series, following The Revenge of Avind. It's a single map replacement for MAP22, which usually results from a combination of which Doom II track and sky the author preferred.

The story so far: You won! You beat the biggest badass of all, wreaking untold devastation across the living end and putting a definitive end to the invasion. You pull up your Dick Tracy wrist watch and send the signal to be pulled back from the inferno to whatever's left of your home base... but that's not where you arrive. As it turns out, the few demons that you didn't slaughter during your one-man march to the bloodsea were hard at work developing technologies most arcane, and when your waveform hits the aether the infernal intellects grab it and send it back... to the past! To a time when Hell's mighty army was at its peak strength. They miss the landing zone, though, and you are spared a lethal ambush. Which leaves me wondering - if you whoop all of the asses now, will you keep Doomsday from ever happening?

AVIND was a pretty low-key map featuring only Doom II trash monsters. Its most difficult moments involved attrition and a platforming segment. BLESSED continues in the same direction, with an added dash of resource starvation. You'll want to scrimp and save until you get to the blue key room, which has an essential secret packed with a box of shotgun shells, bullets, and a chainsaw. Given the presence of rockets in a late-level room with no launcher to be found, I wonder what kind of progression Hansen had in mind. The opening pits you against a pack of imps with the only shotgun available in the room beyond, in the hands of a zombie. Pushing beyond either will pit you against a friendly neighborhood crusher, and any progression beyond that requires taking a quick walk through some hot lava to get to the other side. It's a walk you'll have to take several times, risking some health and armor loss with every pass.

There's also the teleporter annex to the northeast, a detour that places you in the middle of a chamber that looks like it's got some fancy lighting going on... but those are actually deep, dark pits of no escape. What larks! Supposing you grabbed the secret, the enemies inside - some imps, demons, and lost souls - should offer little resistance. And, well, excepting the pockets of chaingunners you'll find in a few locations, The Blessed Hex is more about a hostile, unaccommodating environment than exacting enemy placement. The visuals are pretty cool, though. The lighting in the opening room with all the imps is pretty sweet; the lava-filled courtyard has your endgame target on brazen display for a nice visual hook; and there's a rocky wilderness to the west that seems tailor-made for baiting the small squad of demons into bullet-saving melee combat. The teleporter terminal is neat, too, and while the pitch-black pits got me, they're part of a cool centerpiece.

BLESSED has some pretty snazzy architectural improvements over its predecessor, and while I am not enamored of scavenger-style play, it's a short enough level that it's not too painful to adjust. It will be interesting to see where Chris moves from here, and if you're looking for a survivor-style challenge that's fun-sized, you might try The Blessed Hex.



  1. It's funny how you can just ignore the imps at the start, and when you come back to that room later they will be all killed by the crusher. See my demo on DSDA.

  2. Hey man, just found out about your review blog and gotta say I love it to bits. It's what I've wanted for ages, keep it up!

  3. Imagine my surprise when I spotted my name on the latest reviews! I regularly visit your excellent blog, so I had read somewhere some time ago, that you intended to delve deeper into my body of work. But I never thought you'd actually go ALL the way back! Ohh, the humanity! Here I thought that people only knew about my stuff from CH Retro and onward. Yikes! Guess not.

    But seriously, I'm very grateful for your interest and I'm glad you found most the gameplay in these old levels enjoyable, despite them being full of weird newbie stuff. AND despite me a complete a**hole with cheap, nasty tricks and health starvation back in my early mapping career ;) And yes, it's going to be a trend for the next many, many levels, so prepare for some complete douchery from me! I better apologise in advance: Sorry!

    Thank you again for the interest and thank you for all the hard work you do!

    1. i am nothing if not thorough and nothing if not accommodating. I'm already seeing stuff I'm glad I didn't miss out on so thank you for sharing these!