Tuesday, April 16, 2019


by Karthik Abhiram Krishna

KA was a fixture of the early source port BOOM era. He started out making vanilla compatible levels and while he eventually moved on to mapping for engines with raised limits he never gave up the basic set of features. His biggest claim to Doom fame is his Congestion Control, one of Doomworld's Top Ten WADs of 2002, but he also worked with Brad Spencer - one of the core components of the Alien Vendetta team - as well as his brother Varun. Ick wasn't his initial finished level - an honor afforded to KARTHIK2 - but it was the first one that he felt worthy of uploading to the /idgames archives. Released in 2001, it's an E2M1 replacement for the original Doom.

ICK doesn't have a given story and the level design defies any attempt at pinning it down. The name comes from his use of the ICKWALL texture. The map is definitely more complex than his sea legs venture but it pushes the pendulum clear to the other side. Abhiram moved from wide-ass open hallways and chambers to cramped, irregular rooms built in the flat sort of Dungeons and Demons style. It's basically a moldy, concrete labyrinth. The one "What the fuck?" design feature that I cannot wrap my head around is the use of freestanding platform barriers (mated flush to the ceiling), largely in the eastern room. It's like he drew the outer wall in an editor and then decided to put up a few baffles to complicate the player's path but could not figure out how to turn them into real walls or attach them to the existing geometry.

The level feels pretty bloody due to how small it actually is. You can do most of if not all of the work with the shotgun but you have a rocket launcher available to soften up the inevitable Bruiser brothers. There's also an early berserk pack so Tyson players can get their punch on. One already has, looking at the Doomed Speed Demos Archive. The only segment where you don't have some room to back up would be the hallway right after the poison pit, the latter passing as the trickiest segment of the map. A couple of cacodemons try to eat up your enviro suit time so when you return it will have worn off, forcing you to eat some hazard damage.

Even with these pitfalls considered Ick is an easy outing. The only trouble that I can see would come from super-aggressive Tyson play. I'm curious to see how Karthik progresses to becoming the author of one of Doomworld's Top 100 WADs. If the leap of quality between this and his first limited release is any indication it should be an interesting ride.


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