Friday, October 12, 2018


by "memfis"

There are a few things that I've observed to be more or less consistent through memfis's authorial career. He prefers to make small levels; draws inspiration from older PWADs; and is fascinated by the works of outsider groups. I believe that all of his solo releases are in packages of six levels or less and Kashimir is no exception. Published in 2011, it's a MAP01 replacement for Doom II meant to be played in any executable. The author has mined two particular sources and both are cited in the accompanying .TXT - the infamous Nuts, and the community's capstone for the golden age, Requiem.

The latter is mainly due to a wall texture in the starting room area. The B.P.R.D. effect seems to have sailed over the heads of at least four idgames commentators but the link is pretty obvious if you've ever played Nuts or heard its background music. It's a MIDI-rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir"! The very same one used as the soundtrack for this PWAD. Admittedly, it's not the first thing that I think of. Most people probably remember the insane bodycount and seemingly-endless circle-strafing. At another time I might have disparaged the level for not holding to the impossible expectations of someone who constantly listened to LZ's longer songs. Even now I am imagining some sort of epic desert adventure map. This better resembles the actual Kashmir, though, since Robert Plant was himself inspired by a wasteland in Morocco.

It's a very low-key level. There are less than fifty monsters and all of them but the climax encounter are Doom II trash enemies with no chaingunners in sight. Most of the work is done using the shotgun but you have a chainsaw available should it strike your fancy. The mines portion is a cute opener with a tech non-sequitor. You could get overwhelmed here if your first instinct is to just dive into the monsters in front of you but that would be an enormous tactical blunder. The nearby chainsaw and shotgun will be more than enough. Even if you have to pry the latter from the hands of a closeted cannibal.

The real threat is overexposure. Most of this is due to a relative dearth of health, a hallmark of memfis's design, when combined with the various snipers in the tiny green valley that follows as well as a pair of teleporter ambushes meant to catch you off-guard and shave off precious hit points. I suppose that the outdoor area is more of a sinkhole with a side-path and a few tunnels leading in and out of it but it's a nice scene that inevitably cribs from "Circle of Death"'s texture scheme. The level's three biggest monsters comprise a trio of cacodemons and are mostly threatening due to the awkwardness of your initial position.

Kashimir is a pleasant micro-map. It may initially impress you as something better reserved for a larger mapset but it's definitely worth a play, especially if you're into shorter adventures like Demonfear or Scythe.


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