Well, it’s been about a month or so since my last “Doom II” WAD review and I suddenly remembered that I should probably carry on this hallowed monthly tradition. So, after clicking on the “Random File” button on the /idgames Archive a few times, I ended up finding a WAD from 2011 called “Brother’s Temple“.
As usual, I used the “GZ Doom” source port (version 3.4.1) whilst playing this WAD, although it will also apparently work with version 2 or higher of ZDoom too.
So, let’s take a look at “Brother’s Temple”:
“Brother’s Temple” is a short-medium length single level “Doom II”/”Final Doom” WAD which includes a skybox from “Final Doom” too 🙂 The WAD’s creator describes it as being “Plutonia-feeling” and since The Plutonia Experiment is my favourite “Official” Doom episode, I was instantly intrigued.
In essence, the WAD has an atmosphere and visual style that is reminiscent of the best parts of “Final Doom”, but differs somewhat in terms of difficulty, level design and gameplay.
Still, for something that pretty much just uses the default graphics, it looks really cool. Thanks to the red sky and stone textures, it really does look like some kind of abandoned ancient temple – complete with the kind of walkways that you’d expect from a “Plutonia” level, in addition to some really cool flourishes – such as broken stones floating in lava and ominous red mist effects – that surpass what you’d expect to see in “Final Doom” 🙂
But although this is a cool-looking and atmospheric WAD, the gameplay differs a little from “Final Doom”. The most noticeable example of this is how the level handles difficulty. Unlike “Final Doom”, this level doesn’t challenge the player by throwing lots of mid-level monsters at them. Instead, this level achieves most of it’s challenge through the use of weapon progression and claustrophobic set pieces.
For a lot of the level, you’ll be using the basic shotgun (with the super shotgun only being found in an optional area that you can miss completely) and the chaingun. Chaingun ammo is relatively limited, so the basic shotgun automatically makes each battle twice as difficult. In addition to this, expect to find yourself trapped in claustrophobic areas with several monsters and relatively little room to dodge.
Although both of these things aren’t the best way to challenge the player, they are handled fairly well – with lots of lower-level monsters meaning that the shotgun doesn’t feel underpowered for most of the level and the claustrophobic set pieces often making use of a really cool-looking red mist effect that adds a lot of awesomeness to these otherwise slightly cheap segments. Experienced players will find this level to be mildly-moderately challenging and the level never really feels unfair either. Still, it feels relatively easy compared to “Plutonia”.
Interestingly, this WAD also seems to take a rather traditionalist attitude towards jumping. Although, given that the level has been designed with the traditional “no jumping” limitations in mind, this is barely noticeable.
In terms of the level design, it’s better than I’d initially expected 🙂 Although it gets off to a slightly linear start, the level quickly becomes a lot more non-linear – with a good mixture of corridors, outdoor walkways and other such things to keep everything interesting. As mentioned earlier, there’s even an optional area (which I only found when I was looking for more health to get through an upcoming claustrophobic set piece) that rewards exploration by the player 🙂
I love how there are multiple ways to get to different parts of the level (eg: you can approach the blue door from either side) and how the level is large enough to encourage exploration, but small enough that you’ll never really get lost. It’s a really well-designed level but, although there are a few moments that reminded me of “Plutonia”, the style of design here is intriguingly different and kind of it’s own thing too. This is kind of hard to describe well, but the level felt a bit “wider” and larger than a typical densely-designed “Plutonia” level. Still, this fits in well with the ancient temple theme and really helps to give the level a bit of a unique atmosphere.
All in all, even though this level has slightly more style than substance, it’s still a really fun level. Although it is nowhere near as difficult as a typical “Plutonia” level, it not only captures the atmosphere of that episode but also adds some intriguing new stuff to it too 🙂 It’s a cool-looking, but mildly-moderately challenging level that was fun to explore and play for the 15-20 minutes it took me to complete it 🙂
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a four.