(Editor’s note: from our delightful forum, Senior Writer Jerry Whorebach looks back on Friday to the class PC game, Doom..)

Something I loved about Doom was the thematic consistency of the episodes. The shareware episode, Knee-Deep in the Dead, was Romero’s baby. It took place in some kind of space base, where the levels had names like Hangar and Nuclear Plant. It was slick and polished and non-stop fun. It was exactly what you’d want out of a sci-fi shooter.

Episode 2, The Shores of Hell, was made up of all the levels Tom Hall started back when he still thought they were making System Shock. Tom stormed off in a huff when he found out the other guys were more interested in selling enough copies of Smash TV in 3D to buy everybody two Ferraris, so they hired Sandy Petersen ten weeks before release and told him to turn Tom’s drafts into something playable. The result was a collection of tight, overdetailed, realistic human facilities blown out into these huge Satanic abstractions vomiting demons out of every orifice. You’ll be stalking through a warehouse where the amount of geometry wasted stacking individual crates of various sizes and shapes borders on the autistic one minute, only to find yourself circle-strafing around unadorned stone obelisks on a floor textured like writhing intestines the next. The impression is of a facility teetering on the brink of madness, one foot in the oppressive order of MegaTraveller and the other in the sucking chaos of Call of Cthulhu. Even the level names remind you you’re losing control, with titles like Containment Area and Command Center in the first half giving way to Halls of the Damned and Spawning Vats in the second, all culminating in the Tower of Babel where you face the living embodiment of this bipolar techno-demonic schizophrenia: the Cyber Demon.

After that came Episode 3, Inferno, which was pure Petersen and pure cosmic horror. Levels became more open and non-linear, but also simpler and more traditionally dungeon-esque, with a medieval emphasis on keys and locks and traps and treasure. Game spaces got even more abstract, but the abstraction was easier to accept in the context of an alien dimension that’s also Hell. The early outdoor level where the map followed the contours of a human hand was just the sort of goofy high-concept breather the game needed at that point to remind us all just how much FUN we were having, playing this most awesome of video games. That was followed by a bunch of tricky, playful, experimental maps with plenty of the bread and butter blasting action you’d gotten so good at by that point, and then a bizarre end boss that didn’t make a whole lot of sense until you remembered, oh right, games designers.

I just hope whoever’s making the next Doom understands that what made the Cyber Demon so fucking memorable was all the intentionally and/or accidentally brilliant level design going on around him :(

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Jerry Whorebach