Well, since the novel that I’m reading (“Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson) is taking longer to read than I expected, I thought that this would be the perfect time to review another “Doom II”/”Final Doom” WAD. After all, it’s been a couple of weeks since my last WAD review and I want to make sure that at least one appears this month.
So, after clicking on a random WAD on the front page of the /IDGAMES Archive, I ended up with a WAD from 2011 called “Abandoned Mansion“.
Although I used the “ZDoom” source port whilst playing this WAD, the level has apparently been designed to be vanilla compatible. So, it’ll work with pretty much any source port. And probably “Brutal Doom” too, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Anyway, let’s take a look at “Abandoned Mansion”:
“Abandoned Mansion” is a single-level WAD that contains new music. Bizarrely, it takes up the Level 21 slot though. So, when you start a new game, you’ll have to type “IDCLEV21” in order to skip to this level. I’ve never quite understood why designers put single levels in any other slot than the first one, but it happens sometimes. So, remember that this WAD only changes level 21.
As for the level itself, it’s a short-medium length level that features non-linear level design, albeit with a fairly linear progression. For the most part, this works reasonably well since it allows the player to do a little bit of exploring but also means that they’ll never get stuck or lost whilst playing. This is helped by the fact that the level is divided into three distinctive areas.
At the beginning, you have to fight your way through a rather gothic courtyard- complete with cemetery- and find the yellow skull key in order to get into the mansion.
The mansion itself is an interesting little area, that consists of a central corridor with several locked and unlocked doors branching off from it. Once you’ve got through all of these, you’ll find yourself in front of a teleporter.
But, instead of ending the level there, there’s a fun little surprise in store for you. As soon as you step through the teleporter, you’ll find yourself in a hellish arena where the air is heavy with projectiles and the nightmarish roar of a Cyberdemon can be heard soon after you start dodging the projectiles.
After fighting your way through this area and raising a rather cool-looking bridge, you can complete the level.
In terms of the gameplay, it’s reasonably good. In addition to the smooth way that the level flows, it also has a bit of a difficulty curve too. Although experienced players (even out of practice ones like me) will only find this level to be mildly challenging, the level’s combat is pretty enjoyable, with a small to moderate number of mid and high-level monsters.
However, the difficulty is kept relatively low thanks to the generous amount of ammo on offer. Seriously, by the end of the level, I was able to defeat the Cyberdemon with the plasma rifle and still have more than enough plasma left over for the monsters that remained. So, yes, this level would have been more enjoyable if the amount of ammo lying around had been reduced a bit.
In terms of the new music, it’s really cool 🙂 Apparently, it has been taken from something called “Hell To Pay” and it’s this wonderfully atmospheric, droning MIDI tune that really helps to add to the level’s “90s horror game” vibe 🙂
All in all, this is a reasonably fun way to spend twenty minutes. Although this level won’t provide experienced players with that much of a challenge, it flows really well, it has a nice three-part structure and some interesting moments. It’s also cool to see a haunted mansion level made using the vanilla textures too (the only other example I can think of is possibly “Derceto“).
If I had to give this WAD a rating out of five, it would get at least three and a half.