Wednesday, December 29, 2021


One reason that I have been working my way through Memfis's entire back catalogue is because when Kuchitsu was given a Cacoward in 2013, it and Voyage to Deimos: E2M1 were his only solo releases that I had played. I was intending to start my journey back in March of 2013 but I've always been biting off more than I can chew. It was more convenient in the long-term to wait, anyway, since he had several dozen levels crafted from 2011-2014 that weren't uploaded to /idgames until June of 2014. Download is a three-level minisode for Doom II that was published on Doomworld a year prior in 2013 before eventually making it as part of the mega-dump. It's intended for limit-removing ports, specifically using prboom-plus's vanilla ruleset (-complevel 2).

Download has somewhat of a framing story. Someone named Yuki is downloading what I assume is a relatively large file - 15 minutes worth - and starts to imagine Doom levels as he waits to the soundtrack of Gary Numan and Depeche Mode. There's a bit of Memfis's self-deprecation in here as "[Yuki] doesn't want you to know what [the file] was", which is sort of but not really a candid disclosure. It's appropriate enough given that the author "[doesn't] need opinions and rumors." I'm not well-versed enough in Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, OR the Tubeway Army to know what the tracks for MAP01 and MAP02 are but "Cars" is easily recognizable in MAP03.

This minisode has a quickly escalating difficulty across the levels as well as within the maps themselves. "Bissa" is relatively casual with its overgrown ruins aesthetic. Ammo is kind of tight but Memfis is more content to deliver enemies placed in order to compromise the player's safety, often in a sneaky fashion. Early ambushes are low-density but punch pretty hard. It all leads up to a big yard brawl but the threat is still fairly low. "One Big Dump" is much harder, the equivalent of sticking your head into a hornet's nest. Monsters are perched everywhere and it feels as though the encounter design results in a long series of temptations to blow your cell ammo in desperation, particularly when you fight on limited safe ground in the sluice. The payoff is that the finale is when you're going to wish you still had all your cells to blow.

"Download Complete" is a meatgrinder, one of those short but cramped levels that leverages "modern" sensibilities about encounters to create more organic puzzles. The opening shootout isn't too bad, the big hook being survival until the super shotgun column lowers. The second, big brawl is where the action is. There are two different options to besting the multi-front battle, one of which involves performing a relatively simple arch-vile jump to a BFG ledge. The other is a more grueling combat shotgun melee and largely dependent upon where you killed the monsters in the first wave. I'm assuming that you are making your big stand in the blue armor alcove.

MAP01 and MAP02 have some superficial architectural and aesthetic similarities. There's one primary texture - vine-covered stone first and bright blue brick second - and there are two main planes of action in each. There is a sense of escalating environmental danger, however, in that there are few damage floors in "Bissa" while "One Big Dump"'s lower tier of play is offal punishing. In fact, the event that begins the brawl also causes some of your very limited real estate to become submerged. MAP03 dispenses with most of the hazards as the combat has completely taken over the show. The one damage floor is guaranteed death as you're supposed to navigate over it as a semi-secret.

Download may be a let down for folks who were hoping for a more classically-inspired jaunt but the contingent of Doomers who are really into engaging combat ought to have a blast. If you're not, well, the best you can do is play on ITYTD for the damage nerf and ammo boost. As always, it will be interesting to see how Memfis decides to experiment next.

by "Memfis"

This starts out pleasant enough as some vine-covered ruins with a vaguely Plutonic feel that kicks in once you grab the shotgun. Ammo is tight to start with but you need to be way more worried about the available health. There's a secret green armor in a cool-looking room that's worth discovering and easy to miss. The author chips away at the player with all sorts of little surprises like a Hell knight that blocks you in to a gatehouse. He also pairs meaty threats with pesky shotgun guys that demand more immediate attention. I like that the way to the second yard triggers the big bridge as a giant lift. It's easy to miss the first time you do it since it also triggers a... distraction. The climax as you head up the stairs makes for a solid lock-in arena fight. 

MAP02One Big Dump
This is a bright blue brick outpost. The color is kind of hideous and it's a bit run down with at least one collapsing wall as well as dingy, poo-colored water. It's also a murder-trap. The author has lovingly seeded the layout with monsters in seemingly every nook and cranny. The start is hot in pretty much every sense but Memfis thoughtfully provides a plasma gun at the onset. There are a handful of ambushes where it may seem to be a highly convenient option. One of these lowers the level in the sewage basin - a damage floor - and forces you to fight with comparatively little real estate. It's a battle of attrition with a nasty killing blow as the final battle is a lock-in horde that is backed by an arch-vile. It may be best to save all your cell ammo for "One Big Dump" at the end. This twisted me as a lapsed Doomer into uncomfortable positions but it was fun to bounce back against the author's diabolical encounters.

Download CompleteMAP03
Memfis drops you right into the thick of it for this knockabout amalgam. It's a rough start and your initial survival involves ducking and weaving until you can snag the combat shotgun. When you've cleared out the initial threat, the author has prepared what basically amounts to a second hot start. It's probably too much to put together on your first attempt but the Berserk and BFG are on that isolated ledge for a pretty good reason. The arch-vile jump is easy enough to set up when you're expecting it, though it does require a fair amount of cooperation from the zombies. Trying to duke it out as a two-front battle using the combat shotgun seems, uh, more grueling, and contingent on what you kill in the opening to the blue armor room. A fun and fast combat puzzle.


No comments:

Post a Comment