After looking through my article schedule, I suddenly realised that it has been about a month since my last “Doom II” WAD review. Since I still wanted to keep up this tradition and look at something “Doom”-related this month, I thought that I’d write a quick “first impressions” article about something that I originally hadn’t planned to review (but, luckily, still took screenshots of out of habit).
I am, of course, talking about the v1.666 demo of “BlooM” that was released last autumn and is probably out of date by now. If I remember rightly, I happened to spot this one morning a few days after Halloween last year (yes, I write these articles several months in advance) and I just had to take a look at it.
Since the minimum version of GZ Doom (3.7.2) needed for the demo was slightly too modern for my computer, I ended up using another source port listed as compatible – version 2.8 of Zandronum.
However, this caused some visual glitches and missing sprites. This wasn’t too much of an issue for me and the game was still very atmospheric and enjoyable most of the time – but missing sprites made the endings of the second and third levels somewhat confusing. Likewise, I only really had a chance to play through the WAD as Caleb. Plus, although later versions of “BlooM” may or may not be in a different format, the demo was compressed using 7-Zip – which requires downloading a free program to uncompress the file.
Anyway, let’s take a look at v1.666 of “BlooM”:
“BlooM” is a project that aims to create a mash-up of “Doom” and “Blood” 🙂 This is more than just a simple sprite replacement or TC, but a complex project that aims to mix both things in a much more creative and original way than you might expect- with new monsters, textures, levels etc… Plus, in addition to a new introductory segment which explains the backstory behind everything, the game also gives you the option of playing as either the Doomguy or Caleb too – with an animated character selection menu too (which I had trouble taking screenshots of. But it looks really cool).
One of the first things that I will say about this WAD is that the atmosphere of it is utterly amazing 🙂 This is how to make a horror FPS game! It takes the dystopian sci-fi of “Doom” and the gloomy oldness of “Blood” and blends them together in a truly unique, creepy and atmospheric way that also takes inspiration from classic gothic and/or Lovecraftian horror games like “Quake” and “American McGee’s Alice” too. This is a really cool-looking WAD that is worth playing for the atmosphere alone.
Although the demo I played only contained about four levels, one of the really cool things – apart from the unique aesthetic – is that most of them are made up from segments of “Doom”, “Doom II” and “Blood” levels that have been rearranged in some rather imaginative ways. Not only does this create a fascinating tension between the familiar and the unfamiliar (with this uncanniness also adding to the creepy atmosphere too), but it also allows the strengths of these classic designs to really add to the gameplay too.
Not only do the new textures lend this disparate mixture of areas a consistent feeling and aesthetic, but the game also adds some new areas to link them together too. These areas are, in a word, stunning.
One of the best elements of the connecting areas are probably the “American McGee’s Alice”-style floating tiles, which add a certain level of eerie Lovecraftian strangeness to everything. This eerie feeling of being somewhere strange is also helped by a few clever uses of teleportation that have the effect of making you feel uncertain of reality itself. Seriously, I love the strange shifting world of this game 🙂
As for the actual level designs themselves, the four levels I played had a very old-school feel to them. They are large, sprawling non-linear things that require the player to explore and find keys. Yes, I got stuck and/or lost a couple of times whilst playing, but the level design is like a slightly more expansive and dramatic version of the kind of classic levels you’d expect from a challenging 1990s FPS game 🙂
This WAD also does something rather clever with it’s monster designs too. Instead of just using monsters from “Doom II” and “Blood”, the creators of this WAD have quite literally frankensteined the monsters from both games together in order to create a bestiary of new monsters 🙂 And it works! I’m still surprised at how well the monsters from both games go together. Not only that, the monsters will also sometimes have different behaviours and attacks than you might expect as well 🙂
Earlier, I mentioned that you could choose to play as either Caleb or the Doomguy. Although I only played through this WAD as Caleb, one of the cool things that I noticed was that – in addition to the standard “Blood” weapons- there was some new stuff too. In addition to a revolver and a single-barelled shotgun, one of the coolest moments in this WAD was when I happened to pick up the invulnerability sphere, only for the screen to go a dramatic shade of red and for Caleb to suddenly morph into some kind of creature who can literally tear monsters apart with his claws.
The game’s gothic horror atmosphere is also enhanced by the music, which is more on the “Blood”-like side of things, with lots of ominous ambient noises and stuff like that.
All in all, although this demo is probably very out of date by now and also had a few glitches when I played it with Zandronum 2.8, I was still absolutely blown away by how cool this WAD was 🙂 If you want an atmospheric gothic horror “Doom II” WAD that is both similar to and very different from “Blood” – whilst also including elements inspired by “Quake” and “American Mc Gee’s Alice” too – then this one is well worth playing. It is a creative, fun and thoroughly enjoyable WAD 🙂
If I had to give what I’ve played a rating out of five, it would get a five. Play it.