Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sticky Blood (STCKBLOD.WAD)

by "Memfis"

Memfis somehow established a reputation - one that he wasn't necessarily happy with - of producing short, relatively low-key levels and drawing inspiration from classic releases. Sticky Blood, a MAP01 replacement released in 2011 to be played in a limit-removing port, is small but I would not describe it as remotely laid back in its action compared to his previously-released Kashimir. Like most of his publications there is a complete lack of a framing narrative so it's up to you to decide where you want to fit in the Doom II multiverse. Since it uses the third sky from Thomas van der Velden's Revolution! you could make an argument for it taking place in the realm of the Old God, Chaos. Not to be confused with Realm of Chaos.

Where Kashimir employed relatively sedate monster placement whose power was amplified by the available health and ammo, Sticky Blood throws you right into a real murderbrawl. There is hardly anything that one might consider an inherently safe space. You begin with a few imps standing right next to you on the starting structure; a caged arch-vile who's directly adjacent; a horde of revenants, imps, and demons on the lower level; and a gate complete with a gargantuan guardian. If you hit the ground running only to flee desperately into the inviting cavern, well, then you're going to have a bad time.

Hmmm... Short level, hot start, no safe spaces, pretty rough going. Where have I seen this before...? Oh, yeah, Swift Death. Of course, SWIDEATH was released some four years later in 2015 and STCKBLOD cannot hope to approach the worst excesses of franckFRAG. They feel like brothers in arms in their emphasis on tactical movement even though the gameplay styles are different. My memory of Franck's design is something like an overcrowded normal level where much of Memfis's focus is on the deadly dance in the courtyard. I feel as though you're meant to draw the horde into destroying itself or teaching its members to catch Cyberdemon rockets with their teeth. It feels more like a miniature slaughtermap than, say, an elaborate death trap.

It's really fun to take this sort of high-energy action and distill it into something that's bite-sized. There are a lot of classic slaughter tropes, I think, just pared down to a more manageable scope. Memfis makes it look good, too. I like the architecture of all the different areas including the northern gate, the starting cobblestone fortress, and the naturalistic cavern. The use of blood makes for a nice color contrast. The inner keep doesn't stand out very well against the beige stone cistern but you'll hardly have time to notice all of these things while you're dodging fireballs, rockets, and plasma.

If you're looking for a short slaughter encounter then Sticky Blood might be exactly what you're craving! If not, well, you ought to look elsewhere unless you think that the half damage and double ammo from ITYTD is gonna help you out because the rest of the difficulty settings are all the same.



  1. After reviewing maps for nearly 10 years, have you ever thought about focusing on making maps yourself instead?

    1. I've thought about making maps instead of reviewing them for a long time. I'm afraid that it's easier to find the time to focus on sporadically playing and writing instead.