Well, due to a combination of hot weather and the fact that I’d been feeling less motivated to read than usual, I’m still reading the next novel I plan to review (“Practical Magic” by Alice Hoffman 🙂 ). As such, this seemed like the perfect time to make sure that at least one “Doom II”/”Final Doom” WAD appeared here this month, given that I almost broke this hallowed tradition (thanks to playing some Build Engine games recently).
As usual, I used the “GZ Doom” source port (version 3.4.1) whilst playing this WAD, although it will also apparently work with Prboom+ 220.127.116.11 and Zandronum 2.1.2 (and presumably later versions of these ports too).
So, let’s take a look at “Greymood”:
“Greymood” is a medium-size single-level WAD that also contains new textures, skyboxes and music. Given that the WAD’s text file points out that it was inspired by a depressive mood, you should expect a level that is more on the gloomy and gothic side of things. This is both a good thing and a bad thing.
On the plus side, this WAD is very atmospheric and contains a good mixture of wintery segments, “hell”-style segments and segments that reminded me a little of a game like “Quake”. In addition to some wonderful dirge-like music and a few new textures (eg: a grey skybox, new switches etc…) that really adds to the atmosphere, some segments of this WAD also have really cool-looking lighting that is an absolute joy to look at.
On the downside, this WAD’s visual gloom can sometimes go a little bit too far – with some areas consisting of almost impenetrable darkness that can make it difficult to find switches and/or where to go next. Although this is probably a visual metaphor for the mood that inspired the level, expect to rely on either trial and error or the in-game map in order to navigate a few parts of the level.
But, enough about the visual design, what about the actual gameplay? Well, this level is one that experienced players will probably find at least moderately challenging and is also a relatively mild introduction to the “slaughtermap” genre of WADs for newer players. In other words, although a lot of the level plays out like a fairly traditional “Doom II” level, expect a couple of segments where you are trapped in small-medium sized arena areas with more monsters than you can fight.
These are reasonably fun, since you have to rely on things like tactics, hiding behind cover, circlestrafing and running past monsters to find switches. Even so, they are on the relatively easy side of things with – for example – the final “Icon Of Sin”-style segment containing a couple of invulnerability spheres. Even so, the WAD adds challenge in a couple of unexpected ways.
A lot of these consist of things that seem “frustrating” at first, until you notice all of the clever design choices. For example, you are given a BFG before the final battle, but it’s very easy to miss due to all of the shadows surrounding it. Likewise, whilst I won’t spoil too many details, the set piece you have to go through to get the red key is actually a very basic puzzle in disguise 🙂
This brings me on to the fact that this WAD takes a rather “traditional” attitude towards jumping, with the ability to jump being disabled by default. However, given that the level is designed around this limitation, it never really feels too much like a limitation.
As for the actual design of the level, it’s really good 🙂 It’s has enough non-linearity to require exploration, whilst also being laid out in a way that ensures that you’ll usually know where you’re supposed to go next. It also contains a good mixture of traditional-style segments and small-medium sized arena battles, that help to keep the gameplay feeling varied.
All in all, this is a rather fun level. Yes, the lighting can sometimes be a little bit too gloomy and a couple of moments might seem a little frustrating at first, but this is a fairly solid, atmospheric and moderately challenging level that will provide 30-60 minutes of fun for experienced players 🙂
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a four.