And, yes, I was cowardly enough to play it during the day…
As I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t reviewed a “Doom” WAD for ages Seriously, it’s been at least two or three weeks since I last reviewed anything “Doom”-related.
So, since I saw some really intriguing gameplay footage from a WAD called “The Ghoul’s Forest 3” (in this Youtube video that I also linked to yesterday), I though that I’d find the WAD and check it out.
[This review contains SPOILERS and FRIGHTENING IMAGES.]
I should probably also point out that I used the “GZ Doom” source port when playing this WAD. Because “The Ghoul’s Forest III” uses dynamic lighting, you will need to either use this source port or possibly ZDoom.
The download also comes with a low-resolution version of the WAD (which I haven’t played) that may or may not work on other source ports. At the time of writing this review, I was only able to play this WAD for about 20-30 minutes- for reasons that will become apparent later.
Anyway, let’s take a quick look at “The Ghoul’s Forest 3”:
In case you haven’t guessed already, this is a horror WAD
“The Ghoul’s Forest III” is a single-level WAD. You begin in the middle of a dark forest that is haunted by four ghouls that you need to kill in order to finish the level. And, in case that sounds too easy – you are only armed with a bow and a quiver of thirty arrows.
Enjoy the campfire, it’s pretty much the only source of light in the entire game….. Oh, and it goes out once you leave this clearing
One of the first things I will say about this WAD is that it is incredibly atmospheric and creepy. Seriously, the medieval weaponry and settings in this level make it look a bit like something from “Game Of Thrones”. Plus, if there’s one thing creepier than being alone in the dark, it’s not being alone in the dark.
Unlike some other horror games that use this technique, you actually have a vaguely decent level of visibility whilst you’re wandering around the forest and looking for the ghouls. Yes, you can only usually see a couple of trees that are nearby, but it prevents you from getting completely and utterly lost:
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really come across very well in this screenshot, but the trees near you are actually visible in the game.
The gameplay in “The Ghoul’s Forest III” is, as you may expect, quite different to most other “Doom” WADs. It’s slow, suspenseful and occasionally quite frenetic.
Each of the four ghouls you will encounter has slightly different characteristics and combat tactics. Usually, you will hear the ghouls a few seconds before you actually see them – so headphones are an absolute must when playing this WAD.
When the first ghoul appears, you will hear creepy noises and you might see a small light on the ground moving towards you. Unless you shoot at this light three times, then this will happen:
Yay! It’s a jumpscare!
One cool thing about this ghoul is the fact that, like all of the other ghouls, he has a really dramatic death animation that will briefly light up the surrounding area – as well as making you feel like a badass for defeating him.
The second ghoul really isn’t that scary. He’s a fast-moving flying skull that bursts into flames when you shoot him a couple of times. The third ghoul is fairly similar, except that he screams loudly, moves even more quickly and is almost invisible.
The fourth ghoul is much scarier than these two though. I only saw it once. It’s a bright, glowing spectral figure of some kind. Of course, I only saw it for a second because I was running at the time and thought that it might be a good idea to keep running. But, no, after a couple of seconds, a loud scream rang through my headphones and a montage of stills from various horror movies quickly flashed across the screen:
This was one of the less creepy ones. I’m not sure what movie it’s from though.
It was at this point that I was just too frightened to play any more. Yes, this WAD isn’t the scariest “Doom” WAD that I’ve ever played (that honour goes to “Lasting Light“, even though it’s technically a mod rather than a WAD), but “The Ghoul’s Forest 3” still frightened me – despite the fact that I was playing it during the day. I dread to think how much more terrifying this WAD would be if you played it in the dark.
Still, one of the reasons why I don’t consider this WAD to quite be as frightening as “Lasting Light” is because of the bow and arrow. Yes, it’s a fairly weak weapon with a low rate of fire, but it’s still a weapon.
Yes, even having a bow and arrow makes this WAD slightly less scary than it should be.
If you have a way of fighting back against whatever horrors are lurking in a game, then the game ends up being more about combat and tactics than about horror. As scary as this WAD is, it would have been about ten times scarier if you’d have had to hide from the ghouls rather than kill them.
All in all, “The Ghoul’s Forest” is a really good horror WAD. It’s suspenseful, it’s dramatic and it’s surprisingly creepy. Just make sure that you play it during the day….
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get four and a half.