The Catacomb Abyss

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AutoAdmin
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The Catacomb Abyss

Post by AutoAdmin » June 9th, 2014, 7:42 am

Feel free to rate and discuss this game.
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MrFlibble
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Re: The Catacomb Abyss

Post by MrFlibble » June 10th, 2014, 4:08 pm

Awesome, thanks for adding this one! ^_^

In my opinion, The Catacomb Abyss is a very nicely done game. I think it can be called a spiritual predecessor to Heretic and Hexen, similar in both the theme and the fact that is uses an engine developed by id Software.

Even though it's a EGA game, it looks very good, and has some interesting features that Wolfenstein 3-D (which utilizes the same engine but runs in VGA) lacks. One notable thing is a much greater variety of monsters, not only in appearance but also in behaviour: zombies rise from the ground, skeleton warriors walk out of walls, and troll-like creatures move underwater to ambush the player. There is a great variety of environments as well, and each level has a distinct theme (crypt, mine, abandoned aqueduct etc.). Some of the monsters only appear in certain levels that have their "native" environment (like underwater creatures that are found in the Ancient Aqueduct level).

Another feature in The Catacomb Abyss that wasn't that much used in first-person action games of the time is destructible items. If the players are not careful with their aim, they may end up destroying useful power-ups which lie around in the level (this does not affect items which are needed to complete the level, like keys). Most items are not used upon picking them up (as it is in Wolfenstein 3-D), but are carried around in the inventory to be used when necessary. The only exception to this is the hourglass artifact which temporarily freezes time.

There is no automap, but navigation is somewhat facilitated by the fact that each level is divided into areas that have unique names. The name of the current area is always displayed on the top of the HUD. Additionally, the player has a crystal ball (which is essentially a radar) that displays the positions of all monsters nearby. However, the player needs to collect several gems of different colours throughout the levels to be able to spot different types of monsters.

There isn't much variety in weapons though. The player's basic attack is a single fireball, of which there is unlimited supply, and the two other spells that can be collected in the levels are what could be described as alternate firing modes for the same fireball attack. The Zapper spell rapidly fires a stream of fireballs for a short time, while the Xterminator spell shoots a salvo of more powerful fireballs in all directions around the player. On easy difficulty, the regular fireball attack is generally sufficient to defeat most enemies, but on the normal difficulty setting the other weapons become more useful as monsters are much tougher.

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Re: The Catacomb Abyss

Post by DOSGuy » June 12th, 2014, 5:44 am

Thanks, this game is long overdue. I suspect that your excellent and detailed review is due to my lack of review on the site. I woke up early a few days ago and tried to add the game before work, which meant getting the screenshot, uploading the files, adding the disk image for online play, adding a link to purchase the game on GOG, etc., and I ran out of time to actually write anything about the game! I had hoped to write a review during the day and have it online before anyone noticed, but work and life kept me too busy.
Today entirely the maniac there is no excuse with the article.

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MrFlibble
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Re: The Catacomb Abyss

Post by MrFlibble » June 12th, 2014, 9:36 am

Well, I really like this game so I try to mention its upsides whenever I can, in part because it is somewhat underrated IMO (as one would expect for a EGA game without music or digitized sound effects which came out after Wolfenstein 3-D).

Also it really ties in well with Raven's Heretic and Hexen in terms of themes, and I have a slight suspicion that perhaps Heretic was even directly inspired by either Catacomb 3-D or The Catacomb Abyss. There's not only a hooded protagonist in both games, but also the quartz flask item (well, it's not called that in The Catacomb Abyss, but it's a purple potion that can be carried around in the inventory) and the hourglass item (the Timebomb of the Ancients in Heretic). Many enemies in Heretic and Hexen also seem to have predecessors in the Catacomb games, like the floaty hooded mages or water trolls.

BTW, here's a nice YouTube channel with playthroughs of the Catacomb first-person games, as well as some other 2.5D FPS games of the time:
http://www.youtube.com/user/kraileth/playlists

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