Saturday, June 18, 2016

Absolutely Killed (KILLEDC2.WAD)

Previously, I had not had the pleasure of experiencing Ryathaen's work. I know that he made a handful of maps for 1 Monster, but that's one of the many megaWADs I have yet to play. In 2016, he published Absolutely Killed, an episode one replacement for the original Doom to be played in limit-removing ports. The title sounds something like a monster-heavy experience, evoking shades of those slow-rolling OG Doom slaughters. Absolutely Killed is decidedly oldschool, however, in its design sensibilities. I don't mean that its design is 1994 randomness; quite the contrary. Ryathaen's layouts are, for the most part, tight and quite efficient. The difference is in the way it plies gimmicks instead of and in addition to ordinary combat.

It's an offshoot of Doom gameplay that is typically reserved for secret levels, the community having come to an opinion that anything that hinders the player's ability to fight monsters - apart from the monsters themselves, and even then not so much - is at odds with a hypothetical Platonic ideal of Doom, i.e. run and gun. A few of these gimmick maps are fairly normal, like "Boxed In", which feels like something that mouldy do as far as all the sector machinery and the way it messes with the player. The secret level, apart from having to move around a Baron in a tight space to open, turns into a pretty normal arena fight, notwithstanding all the slow lifts. "Battery" is a normal if open adventure, complicated by fireballs from both sides of the map.

And then, the rest. "Barons of Fun" forces you to use barrels (and a few other things) to destroy the goat men, sort of like a downscaled Cyberdreams, which lets it go in some new places. Shit, the exit in "Aardwolf" is available at the beginning. It's finding the secret one that's the hard spot. Both "Hots" and "Maze" use damage floors, but the former is all about avoidance and the latter rad suit / time management. "Light" has three different gimmicks for three different key wings, all based around the same principle. Lastly, "Kill or Be Killed", which has a very strict time limit - kill the Barons before the bars lower, lest you be nibbled to death.

Absolutely Killed replaces Knee Deep in the Dead, but it doesn't lay any claim to Romero's aesthetic sense. Its themes are consistent to the individual areas and varying from level to level, with a detailing approach that seems mostly born of vanilla minimalism excepting a few big things like the crazy hexagon room in "Light". It's an abstract setting that you could sort of pigeonhole into E4 or E2 if you were really desperate to, but there's really no need to, especially since Ryathaen's focus on gameplay gimmicks puts this mapset far from being a nostalgic journey through memories of 1993. Add another year, though, and you might be getting somewhere...

I had a lot of fun seeing how the author adapted the gameplay ideas to each individual level, and the maps are usually short enough to hammer home a feeling of arcade action. I will be on the lookout for Ryathaen's next release; it's a refreshing break from all these fun action-packed mapsets, proving again that there can be more fun in Doom than slaying demons.

by "Ryathaen"

Barons of FunE1M1
Ryathaen establishes the scene with an E2 theme, complete with soundtrack. What awaits the intrepid Doom marine? Why, an obstacle course, o' course. The author introduces your ten Barons and then dumps you in a series of interesting scenarios where you must use barrels in order to kill your hated foes. He eases you into this with a more or less normal setup for the first baron, but the second requires you to time the explosions while ducking down a 64-wide corridor, the third involving a race against time lest you be blown to bits yourself. The fourth is, uh, a little more typical, with a Cyberdreams-ish setup that includes a telefrag and a crusher. Secrets grant more barrel-killing ammo and durability, including the shotgun, which is basically functions as a power-up since it does not take multiple shots to do the deed.

E1M2Boxed In
Continuing on with a more traditional outing where the author plays a brilliant bit of keep away with the plasma rifle. You'll be thwarted on several occasions with the geometry of the main chamber changing to spite the player, on one instance lifting the gun up on a giant wooden cube. (Pro players will be able to grab it from the get go, but it ruins Ryathaen's tricks.) Opponents include demons and imps on the floor, mixed with shotgun guys, and plenty of cacodemons and lost souls to trip you up, especially when those cube-ish obstacles appear as you try to hook your way around the upper platform. A charming, cheeky experience.

Call Apogee Say AardwolfE1M3
A level after my own heart, full of obtuse secrets. Of course, you're free to just proceed on to E1M4, a bold move by the author. If you're otherwise inclined, prepare to do battle with secret switches - some of them shootable - and three-dimensional mazes. There are barely any enemies to worry about, though there's one sizable but classic teleport ambush upon snagging the blue key. You'll also find a BFG if you can figure out the color-coded teleporter maze, which may or may not have a minor shortcut. I'm almost disappointed that Ryathaen didn't include the "CALL APOGEE" graphic. Almost.

E1M9'O' of Oscillation
A simple level that starts out with a deadly waltz with a Baron before your pillar lowers into the main event, an arena surrounded by timed lifts populated with imps and hitscanners, plus whatever's on the ground. The first wave involves grabbing the blur sphere and then using your matrix powers to slay all the hitscan snipers while demons, more Barons, and other things teleport into the center. Afterward, you'll move through the tiered lifts, suffering occasional waves of lost souls and, later, cacodemons as you make your way to the exit. Or, uh, you could always use one of those pillars to make a major shortcut. Fun, frantic action.

Hold the HotsE1M4
Some very careful texture and thing selection creates the illusion that this level is scored with infernal fissures that cast baleful light and heat that you will do well to stay out of. It isn't too bad to work around them, but when you combine them with the plethora of hitscanners and surprises to be found in the western chamber, plus a relative dearth of health, you'll start to feel the burn. The northwestern chamber is a sort of heat maze that's setting you up for an inevitable conflict with a friendly Cyberdemon, made tricky with all the heat lines and a force of Barons at your back. On the other hand, it's a prime infighting opportunity!

E1M5Battery Park
I think I'll go for a walk... on platforms sticking out of a sea of blood... and to the east, galleries of imps throwing fireballs. To the west, Barons standing atop pillars, dispensing their own munitions. Also, there'll be bunches of teleport ambushes on the platforms, especially one major gauntlet at the end that includes cacodemons and a Cyberdemon. It's a pretty cool "never stop moving" level, though I wish there was a tad bit more health, since you've got so much to keep track of during the final sequence that errant rockets and a few scattered hitscanners become a major threat.

Don't Go Into the LightE1M6
The title says it all, but the penalty of the light varies based on the key area. The yellow one is pretty straightforward; if you don't grab the little cells in the cages and beat back the Spiderdemon, supposing it doesn't kill you with bullets, it will push you into lethal light. The blue key zone is just teleporter lines, and mostly harmless except for a crusher. The red key has the rest of the monsters; the step penalty releases area control Spiderdemons that aren't too threatening unless you cock up right at the beginning, but all the Doom trash enemies do their darnedest to get you to put your feet where they don't belong.

E1M7The Pain Maze
Ryathaen is bound to turn off some players, here, as the vast majority of this base level is covered with slow burn toxicity. While there are a few safe spots for you to stand, you're on something of a time limit given that you need rad suits to stave off death via attrition. Further confounding the issue is that this is a large and otherwise relatively normal level, with some really cool firefights like the big brawl for the blue key that invokes lost souls and other infernal beasts and the big finale, which forces the player to fight on three fronts: imps behind a cage wall to the east, and mirrored, successive pressure in the bottle you drop into, culminating in three Barons on each side. Very fun, but I imagine the radsuit stuff will drive people nuts.

Kill or Be KilledE1M8
The pressure's on! If you don't kill the five pedestal-bound barons before time runs out, those five cages full of demons will spill out and overwhelm you. The barons lower the BFG and some starter ammo so that you can mop up the nasties. If that sounds easy just from my description, keep in mind that the Barons tend to wiggle around, and there's a bunch of spectres and cacodemons running interference, so you only have so much room for error. When it all comes together, though, it's a blast. A super cool finish to a wild WAD.


This post is part of a series on
Doomworld's 2016 Cacowards

The Top TenBest MultiplayerRunners Up
Tech Gone BadAeonDMWarphouse
Ancient Aliens32in24-16THT: Threnody
Nihility: Infinite TeethBest Gameplay ModBloodstain
MutinyDoom 4 DoomStrange Aeons
Absolutely KilledMordeth AwardEchelon
Elf Gets PissedDoom the Way id Did:Shadow of the Wool Ball
ComatoseThe Lost Episodes
Alpha Accident: Terra NovaLudicrium
Japanese Community ProjectMapper of the Year
Blades of Agony E1Lainos


  1. Hey kmxexii. Thanks again for the review. I'm a huge fan, so I was blown away when I saw how generously you'd written about AK. I also just wanted to let you know that a finalized version is on /idgames now if you want to update the link:

    1. a little late from me since i updated this back when you posted, but thanks for the heads-up!

  2. This is definitely something 'different' compared to the vast majority of UDoom episodes. Not for those looking for a classic experience but absolutely should be tried.

    1. yeah. gimmick mapsets like this one make for fun, arcade-like gameplay. i imagine you can do even more manipulating DeHackEd

  3. ^Indeed, most UDooM episodes tend to have classic gameplay with not a lot of changes in the formula. This one, it bucks the trend with gimmicks ahoy!