Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Unknown Chasm (CHASM.WAD)

by Christian Hansen

Chris Hansen was part of a wave of Doom authors that debuted in 97-98 and established themselves in the years that followed; like his good buddy, Paul Corfiatis, Hansen is still making PWADs. This one, The Unknown Chasm, was his third original release. It is a single level for Doom II published in August 1998 and occupies the MAP03 slot, which is interesting as the previous level - The Blessed Hex - was made for MAP22. As I mentioned before, it's probably because of the song and sky combination, especially since the followup is for MAP25. Oh, yeah - this is part of a series, Chris Hansen's Doom 3: Ad Infernos.

The story, not that important. After devastating the realm of pure evil and suffering, you prepare to return to the land of the living via some cool teleportation device that's supposed to send you back to UAC HQ, and it probably would have, if it weren't for the fact that the demons somehow got their hands on time travel technology and are able to use it like some kind of quantum ray and grab your waveform or particle cloud or whatever the fuck you are in transit and reroute it back to the apex of Hell's power, except they put you in the wrong place so that you have time to get your bearings before going medieval on their asses. Things get less specific after that, with little framing for your adventures in Hell beyond the titles of the levels themselves.

Another interesting tidbit... While Hansen may have picked this level for its sky, you won't see very much of it. You begin on the wrong side of a deep chasm, leaving you no choice but to dive into the depths below. After picking through a short cave you wind up in an underground city, complete with paved pathways. It's got some of the Doom II city feel with the imps in the caged windows, but Hansen's detailing is ever so slightly more appealing. One of the biggest breaks with the previous levels is the expansion of the bestiary. Cacodemons make a pretty big showing, mostly at the onset of the level when you're investigating the city, and you'll encounter a Baron as a sort of mini-boss encounter.

On the other hand, some of the combat is very much in line with Hansen's survivalist leanings. If you're anything like me, you'll start to run out of ammo when you hit the storage room, which pits you against a little pack of lost souls. There's a pretty damned easy secret plasma rifle available right there, but if your movement is anything less than fluid, you'll wind up on the floor and do a walk of shame where you take the teleporter back to the entryway to the underground city and foot your way back. Speaking of which, I ran around for a long time trying to figure out what the switch in the eastern tower did before I noticed the sluice. I guess my brain wasn't geared up yet!

I like the building exteriors and the interiors, with the exception of the yellow door building, are pretty snazzy. The leap to the exterior staircase to the north and the way you have to snake around the teleporter that got you there is a fun DoomCute moment and while the level's climaxes can't help but crumble before the might of your plasma rifle, a Baron presented as a substantial fight usually gets a smile out of me. If you don't mind a little light combat and maybe grabbing a semi-secret plasma rifle, you'll probably enjoy The Unknown Chasm.



  1. Look out in Monument, you just might recognize this ghost somewhere...

    1. by the time i get to Monument, i might not

    2. Ha ha, yeah, I think I recognize the Monument level that grew out of this. Neat.

  2. Very cute level. It's true you run out of ammo pretty fast, but I still just grazed through. Love 90s levels.