Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Inn-Escapable (INNESC3.WAD)

by Mike "Impie" MacDee

Mike debuted in the community making relatively vanilla Doom II levels in terms of action if not necessarily the intended settings. Impie made his first major mark exploring the Cthulhu mythos with Strange Aeons but he also delved into Alone In the Dark's Derceto manor. He additionally riffed on a toy line (MAX1 and MAX2, the latter for Heretic). Inn-Escapable doesn't reference a recognizable property because it actually comes from a series of one-off adventures that he composed for the HeroQuest board game. It doesn't look like it's currently available on his website, though. INNESC is a MAP01 replacement for Doom II that apparently requires a ZDoom-family port but not for any obvious reason. Jumping is not recommended as it could break the level.

The story doesn't make as much sense when taken outside of the context of its fantasy trappings. You were sent by an archmage named Tobias to obtain a powerful artifact called the Aeon Scythe which is capable of distorting the fabric of reality. You were given a special case and instructed to handle it with care. These details come to your mind as you watch in a drunken haze as the artifact plummets to the floor of your Inn room. Once it bounces everything you see is bathed in bright white. When you come to things look a little different. Mainly, there's a rippling portal to who knows where in the place of your chamber door.

Impie describes the level as an attempt to feature space-time puzzles. These sorts of mechanics have famously featured in The Legend of Zelda series. Most folks in the Doom community will probably remember the light / dark worlds of TNT Evilution's "Wormhole" (MAP04) but there is no real interplay between Ty's realities. More pertinant examples include "Time Warp" from Going Down (MAP05) and No End In Sight's "Parallels" (E4M2). Mechanically you are looking at different areas with similar floor plans and some kind of sympathetic action, e.g. raising a useless pillar in one world may allow you to bridge a crucial gap in another.

Inn-Escapable takes the premise but extends it across four iterations. I initially thought that this was going to be some sort of crazy "escape room" scenario but the explorable area of your tenement actually includes four rooms and a long balcony. You don't have a lot of space to get lost in and this gives you a small area to check for clues. The puzzle element most likely to trip players up involves the "sympathetic actions" aspect but differs from the rest because the others' effects are permanent. The main advice that I have to give is don't pour over the periphery of the level for weird triggers. Everything for you to do occurs inside the space where you can move.

All of the interesting architecture and stuff is seen outdoors, though. Each dimension has a particular theme, manifest both inside and out. You have generic medieval, Wolfenstein, futuristic, and Gothic Hell-city. The monster types are just as themed, too. The first world has trash monsers; the second blue-clad Nazis; the third mostly zombies; and the last puts a heavy focus on revenants and lost souls. Thank goodness that every weapon besides the BFG is available. Hitlerworld was the roughest spot I had because there are so many hitscanners and the balcony / window arrangement helps them to get in a ton of cheap shots. I wouldn't personally worry about trying to kill all of the monsters in the Hellscape; so many appear to get caught up at the foot of the balcony and are a pain to shoot.

Inn-Escapable is a fun, simple puzzle level. I would have loved to see something with an army of interactive bits a la Jim Flynn's "Monster Mansion" from Eternal Doom (MAP31) but this is a quick switch-hunting fix. Its short length may make for a more intuitive entry point for folks who like the idea of the genre but hate getting stretched over a massive adventure.


1 comment:

  1. I revisited this idea in the third episode of Realms of Dr. Chaos. That version is way more in-depth and exploratory, and i prefer it to this one, which is probably why it's not on my site.