Monday, August 29, 2016

Somewhere in Time (INTIME.WAD)


At the risk of repeating myself... Plenty of Doom authors have opened up the editor and, imagination brimming, set out to make a full megaWAD. Sometimes, things work out! Often, though, they don't. In Katamori's case, his vanilla megaWAD - Somewhere in Time - suffered a major setback when he lost some of the work around the MAP15 hump and beyond, I believe due to a computer malfunction / hard drive failure / something of the like. After attempting to muster enough gumption to push through, Schmidt gave up, instead capping off the work he had finished and released this fifteen (well, sixteen) Doom II map set in 2016.


The story is, uh, par for the case as far as Doom II megaWADs go. There isn't a whole lot of initial context, but it looks like Doomguy is battling Hell on Earth again, perhaps as some sort of mop-up operation after returning from the inferno after the events of Doom II. After making it to some sort of sky base, you travel to several other worlds overrun by Hell, one a barren wasteland and one an infested metropolis, tracing back Hell's path from our home to its source. Will you be victorious? For this outing, perhaps, but the only thing I know for sure is that Doomguy's adventures never end.


Katamori cites Reverie, Revolution!, and Scythe. I've yet to play Revolution!, but I see some parallels in the comfort with which Reverie embraces vanilla gameplay tropes that some may now find tiresome and the abbreviated level sizes that more mirror the length of Scythe's sojourns. Somewhere in Time feels less like a sweeping Iron Maiden epic and more like a series of vignettes that makes Hell's entrenchment seem more scrappy than stronghold, like they threw all their weight behind the invasion of Earth while leaving behind only the forces required to secure their supply lines. For the player, that means levels featuring a good bit of action that are over fairly quick, though they are often complicated with height variation and teleporters, staying pretty far away from flat map syndrome.


The opposition starts out pretty light as befits MAP01 but ramps up quickly. I think Katamori has a greater love of lost souls than I've seen in awhile, but the monster placement is otherwise unremarkable, leaning heavily toward incidental encounters and traditional monster closets. I'm actually pretty fond of the "Dead Simple" level; while taking on mancubuses on a higher level using the combat shotgun will be a frustrating experience for min/max Doomers, it's a unique gameplay dynamic that stretches out the time the player spends dodging fireballs given that half the pellets are likely to hit the ledge below and the dead time involved when wielding the super shotgun. The arachnotron segment is a similarly inspired encounter, showing that Katamori works well in the context of pitched battles.


Somewhere in Time is a comfortable mapset, great for a break of light gameplay when you've been hitting the Plutonia bottle too hard - or, rather, when the Plutonia bottle has been hitting you. Perhaps, one day, we'll see that Iron Maiden megaWAD I've seen him daydreaming about, and I'll see it somewhere, in time.





SOMEWHERE IN TIME
by Zoltan "Katamori" Schmidt

Into the UnknownMAP01
A small, isolated base built largely from red brick. It's a decent megaWAD opener, a bit too convoluted in its progression and height variation to fit the idea of an easygoing "Entryway" clone. Imps on pillars in the outdoor area and several monster closets in the cargo room - one with the appearance of FIREBLU warping reality - point the way toward interesting things to come.

MAP02Hidden Storage
Another red brick compound, this one loaded with crates... and meat to match! Cacodemons and Hell knights appear to take your shotgun blasts. The combat shotgun secret, situated after you've likely killed all but one of the monsters in the level, would feel like an insult but for the fact that it will be indispensable for continuous players. I like the blocked-off cargo room and boxed-off passages that suggest a greater level depth. The two cacodemon tango is my standout encounter.

Metal CorridorsMAP03
Katamori steps things up with this dark and grungy, teleporter-rich level. Players who hang out too long in the opening yard - a fairly easy thing to do - must contend with a slow-rising pain elemental while wielding a paltry shotgun. There are also quite a few revenants in the lower halls, though most of them will be slain with the rocket launcher, which while dangerous in cramped confines is used to great effectiveness in the outdoor miniboss encounter with the dual mancubuses. All the teleporter navigation in a small space leads to a slightly confusing experience, but it's quite alright.

MAP04The Sleeping Factory
Another tight map, putting some pressure on the player with two hallways each staffed with a handful of imps and two mancubuses. After that, your only real threat before the final is from hitscanners hiding behind mesh screens in the dark, and there aren't many. The final surprise is a doozy, though, dropping you in the middle of a pack of imps and Hell nobles assisted with an arch-vile. You've got to be quick to get some cover and then surgical before you go putting your boot on some Baron throat. I mean, you could always run, but you're the Doom marine! It's a cute level, complete with a big, silver helipad.

The Parking HouseMAP05
Even larger, and this time themed after a parking garage. The concrete theme gives the level a certain edge over its more abstract forebears, and the increased monster count - even if a lot of them are just in a big sloppy horde at the bottom of the garage - is a nice twist. The sequence of switches you need to hit in order to enter the garage proper is a bit laborious, but it's preceded by a small underground maze that's hidden on the automap, emphasis on small. The only thing that may trip you up is trying to reach the super-secret, a tribute to Katamori's earlier publication, Katamori 1024. I like the punchy action and oblivious demons viewed from windows and air ducts.

MAP06Sky Raid
Starts out with a fairly manic outdoor section that pretty much begs you to keep running for the combat shotgun (yes!). Once inside the installation, you'll get the meat of the level, some sort of floating station in the sky with a few staged sniper monsters as something of a joke. Most of the enemies are on the big walkway that leads to the southeast, starting light but moving quickly to a cavalcade of Hell knights and then a mix of cacodemons and pain elementals for the return trip. The final switch guardians might put some fear in you, but they're really easy to handle unless your eyes glaze over.

The Black VoidMAP07
A little bit different from your basic "Dead Simple" clone, if only because the monsters are largely incapable of physically infringing on the player. They have the firing advantage, though, and the first fight - with the mancubuses - is made difficult if only because the combat shotgun is less than ideal for confronting monsters on a ledge. The arachnotron bit in the infernal void has the spiders very far from the player, using the rocket launcher with a bunch of lost souls acting as a spoiler and a damage area on the outer ring to limit your playing area, not to mention instant death if you leave the platform.

MAP08Hellbrary
More Hell in the void, but some forsaken library outpost that's claustrophobic and stuffed with some heavy monsters. The combat shotgun comes easy, but the rocket launcher is in a weird room with a cloud of lost souls for maximum spoilerage and the plasma gun isn't available until you reach the exit, though I imagine it's a great way to escape and handle the final teleporter trap. Just a tight, highly atmospheric level.

Ode to NovemberMAP09
A small shotgun and super shotgun blastathon with a lot of imp snipers waiting on the surrounding cliffs. It's an earthy level at the outskirts of a fortress with a nasty dead tree, where you begin. You pick your way to a marble temple and then back, invoking a light arch-vile battle before the first Cyberdemon of the set. Just be careful you don't clip into one of those poles while you're dodging rockets! The gnarly tree is a nice set piece.

MAP10Jungle Dusk
A small techbase bound by a crude jungle. Action is VERY slow; Tyson masters will make great use of the Berserk pack offered at the very beginning. For everyone else, it's shotgun and chaingun time, except for the timed arch-vile showdown. You'll really want the secret plasma gun for that fight, unless you want to get cooked. The small arms emphasis allows the outdoor teleport ambush and red key traps to put a lot more pressure on the player, original Doom style. The question will be whether you're ferocious or frustrated. The ZIMMER jungle that surrounds and intrudes upon the level is very DoomCute.

Wasteland FactoryMAP11
This one sort of reminds me of "Metal Corridors" with all the small hallways and teleporter action, but less drab and more STARTAN with some gore like a blood-flooded cargo area and bodies piled high outside. Speaking of which, most of the thrilling action is in the outdoor area, the inside mostly imps and incidental hitscanners. It's a very short level, fielding less than 40 monsters to start.

MAP12The Fallen Stand
Another misbegotten outpost, but the scene has changed to a ruined city. Katamori differentiates his previous bunkers by creating a cracked and broken path, underlaid by lava and overseen by imp snipers and other beasties, that the player must climb in order to reach the upper level. Plutonia survivors may have a bad reaction to the main trap, a breakaway wall containing a bunch of revenants and chaingunners. Oh my! The cacodemons on the final push add a nice bit of pressure. The caged imp in the final room... not so much.

The Wasted LegionMAP13
A short and straightforward romp through the still burning underground city. I detect a hint of "The Waste Tunnels" in its execution, especially in the northern section with the crenellated hallways full of lost souls, the successive switch-opened monster closets, and the caged monster basement. Nothing too crazy; I kind of like the pillar-humping fight with the arch-vile that serves as the level's climax.

MAP14Arch of the Valkyrie
Another very short level in a sort of gothic brick and metal style. The "arch" is the outer area of the map and has two legs, with a switch at either end. Pressing the switches unleashes identically staged forces that you then must fight through using combat shotgun and chaingun. After the cramped lost soul fights that open the map, the rest is pretty light fare, though I imagine some players may have trouble navigating the four Hell knight finale around the blue key.

Hellstorm's EyeMAP15
A superfast boss shooter level in the heart of the city, minus the boss brain. You may burn all your invul artifacts before you figure out how to reach the exit; there's a room hidden in the level's periphery that houses a switch that opens up one of the obvious doors, then granting access to the exit. If you're not too scatterbrained, the invuls plus the BFG should make this a simple experience.

MAP31Thanks For Playing! :3
Relaxing on Katamori's private island, a cute way to close out the mapset. Since E3 doesn't need its sky, it works out rather well.

SOMEWHERE,
OUT THERE

2 comments:

  1. I've always been inclined for playing complex, heavily edited map WADs; if this WAD is any good of adding different versions of the original map sets it might be worth a try. I guess its due to me being involved in the Doom mod community since last year and not even being born around the release of Doom, so any WADs under the year 05 is usually skipped over, but there are a few gems from back then.

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    1. very little of this pwad borrows from Doom or Doom II, and i would not describe it as complex or heavily edited.

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