Review: “Alkylation” (WAD for “Doom II” / “Final Doom”/ “GZDoom”)

2015 Artwork Alkylation review Sketch

Well, I was looking around Doomworld for a new “Doom” WAD to play a couple of months ago, when I stumbled upon one called “Alkylation” and decided to give it a go.

I should probably point out that I played this WAD using the “GZDoom” source port, although it’ll probably work on other modern source ports too. Plus, unlike my last “Doom” review, this will actually be a full review rather than a “first impressions” article.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Alkylation”:

Screenshot_Doom_20150122_042009

“Alkylation” is a 13-level WAD for “Doom II” that features new textures, new monsters and new weapons. Unlike many WADs of this size, it is actually divided up into three short self-contained episodes.

Although this is a really cool touch, it also breaks up the flow of the gameplay slightly, since you’ll have to re-collect all of your weapons every 3-5 levels:

Even so, it's pretty rare to see something like this in a modern "Doom" WAD.

Even so, it’s pretty rare to see something like this in a modern “Doom” WAD.

The first episode (“Handle With Care”) has a rather classic “Doom” kind of feel to it. But, a lot of new sci-fi textures, a couple of new weapons, good level design and a plethora of new monsters keep it from getting boring.

This new monster that you'll encounter near the beginning of the first level is called a "cacolich"... and the only reason I know it's name is because it can kill you in about two seconds by spitting a stream of green fire at you.

This new monster that you’ll encounter near the beginning of the first level is called a “cacolich”… and the only reason I know it’s name is because it can kill you in about two seconds by spitting a stream of green fire at you.

The second episode (“Xenothanatos”) is probably the best one of the three.

Unlike the other two episodes, this one has a fairly gothic style and atmosphere that reminded me of both “American McGee’s Alice” and the original “Quake“. Seriously, just take a look at this wonderfully creepy corridor:

Curiouser and curiouser...

Curiouser and curiouser…

Not only that, the soundtrack in this episode surprisingly gothic and, again, it reminded me a bit of Chris Vrenna’s excellent soundtrack for “American Mc Gee’s Alice”. But, that’s not the coolest part of this episode. Not by far.

No, this is literally the only “Doom” WAD I’ve ever played where you get to fight Cthulhu. Yes, you heard me correctly:

YAY!!!!! It's Cthulhu!!!

YAY!!!!! It’s Cthulhu!!!

One of the later levels in this episode also features something vaguely resembling a storyline. Although this mostly just consists of the keys being given cool-sounding names like “Kurigaltzu’s skull”, there is actually a puzzle in this level.

Yes, a puzzle. In “Doom”.

You need to press these buttons in the correct sequence. There are clues earlier in the level, but it's still surprising to see.

You need to press these buttons in the correct sequence. There are clues earlier in the level, but it’s still surprising to see.

The final episode in “Alkylation” is titled “Negentropy” – it’s heavily based on the original “Quake” and it’s pretty much the only episode in this WAD to feature significant quantities of the classic “Doom” monsters in addition to the new ones.

Yes, it's wonderfully nostalgic...

Yes, it’s wonderfully nostalgic…

As you would expect from a final episode, it’s also slightly more difficult than the previous two episodes.

Whilst the first two episodes are enjoyably challenging, the gameplay in the final episode is probably the most fun – for the simple reason that there are a few “arena”-style areas that are filled with large numbers of monsters that you can only really get through if you think tactically. Yes, it isn’t exactly a “slaughtermap” episode, but it’s still great to see this style of gameplay occasionally.

Talking of monsters, one of the things that really impressed me with “Alkylation” was the sheer number of new enemies you encounter throughout the game.

Although some of them are just cleverly-altered versions of the “classic” monsters (such the “Cyber Baron” who is, as you might expect, a cross between a Baron of Hell and a Cyberdemon) and some of them are monsters that appear in quite a few other “Doom” WADs, there are also quite a few totally new monsters too:

Like these creepy creatures from episode two that will actually teleport right in front of you if you run away from them.

Like these creepy creatures from episode two that will actually teleport right in front of you if you run away from them.

Many of these new monsters are significantly more powerful than their “classic” counterparts and this really adds a lot more variety to the game, since you will have to come up with new strategies to defeat them. Not only that, this also obviously helps to keep the game enjoyably challenging too.

Both of the new weapons in this WAD also deserve a mention too. The first new weapon you will find is one called the “plasma shotgun”. As the name suggests, it’s a shotgun that fires three powerful plasma projectiles.

Since you don’t find the Super Shotgun until fairly late in each episode – it’s one of the most useful guns in the game. However, ammo for it isn’t always that abundant, so try to save it for the more powerful monsters:

Like this one...

Like this one…

The other new weapon is the nailgun. If you’ve played “Quake”, then you’ll know how this gun works. It’s a surprisingly powerful weapon, however the high rate of fire and the scarcity of ammo for it mean that you should probably only use it when you really have to.

Like now!

Like now!

All in all “Alkylation” is an absolutely brilliant WAD. It’s challenging, it’s imaginative and it’s crammed with new stuff that keeps the game fresh.

Plus, I am absolutely in love with the second episode of this WAD too. As horror-themed levels go, this episode has some of the best that I’ve ever seen!

If I had to give “Alkylation” a rating out of five, it would get a solid five.

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