Hell Revealed


Fact Sheet

Authors Yonatan Donner Haggay Niv
IWAD Doom 2
Engine standard Doom engine
Date 1997/05/03
Levels 32

Review by Colin Phipps

Just warming up... Of course, anyone who takes an interest in in Doom should have heard of this one, especially if, like me, you take an interest in demos. For those that don't know, Hell Revealed has the reputation of being the classic ultra-hard megawad for Doom, and it has become the playground of the Doom gods.

I have to confess that, as a merely mortal Doom player, I used to be pretty sceptical about Hell Revealed's reputation; it's mainly well renowned for its difficulty, and we all know it's pretty easy to make hard Doom levels. Indeed, if you just watch demos of it, it can look like the whole episode is just a series of yards packed with heavyweight monsters.

But once you play it yourself, you realise why this episode has achieved classic status. Of course it's easy to make a hard level by packing in monsters, but Hell Revealed manages to make good, hard, quality gameplay.

It's not all about mad hordes of monsters either, there are plenty of smaller fights thrown in too, including a lot of good traps. There are a lot of secrets scattered throughout the episode too.

The new music imported for most of the levels helps too, there are a good mixture of pacey and haunting tunes, which are well assigned to the different levels. Apparently the new music mostly comes from Rise of the Triad.

  1. Into the Gate - Hell Revealed has a plot of sorts: that you've no idea what's going on but you have to go through this jump-gate to find out. So this is a kind of tech base housing the sane end of the gate. Just a little warm up level.
  2. Gateway Lab - You arrive in the base on the other side of the gate, a level of mainly cement and grey stone textures. Some areas are a bit boring but generally it's pretty good, nice use of lighting and computer panels to give detail. There's plenty of action, with a range of fights and traps, still with just the basic enemies; it's not too hard but keeps you busy. The level progression is quite interesting too.
  3. The Dumpster - A great little level. The texturing is a bit boring in some areas, but the gameplay is great, with lots of clever fights. You have to think as you fight, the placement of cover, the design of areas, is all geared into the play. The level progression is good too, very non-linear but you can just follow the course that is set you and have no backtracking to do.
  4. The Garden Terminal - A slightly unusual level, mostly set outdoors. The blockish architecture doesn't fit this theme so well I thought. Anyway it still pretty good. The fights were a bit of a disappointment, no serious traps that I recall. The fight in the main garden area is fairly good, but the other fights were fairly straightforward with a chaingun.
  5. Core Infestation - A level in the classic Knee-Deep style, with lots of stairs, lifts, and the good old Doom 1 textures. The main unusual feature of the level is that most of the fights take place through windows (you see into another room and kill them through the window). There aren't many toe-to-toe fights in fact; the level is interesting to play, but there is little danger and an excess of health. There are a few nasty fights though so be prepared! It's a very non-linear level, fairly simple to get around though; there are some secrets to look out for too.
  6. The Round Crossroads - A nice level centred around a circular courtyard with other areas leading off or overlooking it. The initial yard is certainly the best part of the level, the overlooking enemies and central building making it quite difficult to subdue. There are some tough enemies in the side areas too.
  7. Arachnophobia - Yes, it's spider madness - fighting hordes of arachnotrons and a few spider masterminds inside a large hell hole shaped like a giant spider. It's tricky early on, with dozens of arachnotrons shooting at you so you just have to keep on the move and gradually wear their numbers down.
  8. The Jail - Not a very glamorous map, quite dull, spooky, and predictably with lots of cage bars. This means there are quite a few monsters you don't have to fight; the use of caged monsters as fixed firing positions made for some good fights though - there are a few really good fights here. A lot of fights are just grinding through groups of enemies with the SSG though. There is a good haunting feel though thanks to the music and the lonely feel of the level itself.
  9. Knockout - The classic imp yard at MAP09 One of the classic Hell Revealed levels. Primarily it's a level about big crowds of monsters, with good selection of monsters and architecture which makes the fights more interesting - for example there's the yard where hordes of imps teleport in, but there are mancubi stationed on overlooking ledges which shoot over the imps which can catch you out. There are some good traps and secrets around too. The first half of the level contains some good stylish architecture, but the later half was a bit scrappy.
  10. Chambers of War - This level is mostly contained in a plaster and wood building on a hill. Despite being segmented into rooms the level still manages to be dangerous in places, with wandering revenants and a few good traps. Once you exit the building there's an unusual outdoor maze full of spectres, unusual because the maze has very low walls that you can see over - which makes for a rather nasty trap when you find what you're looking for :-).
  11. Underground Base - There are an unusual mix of styles at this level, with the main areas continuing in the wood and plaster style, with side areas ranging from industrial through to a stone cavern and an underground river. The level is most notable for the various interesting uses of archvilles, but there are also some cyberdemons and a spiderdemon to kill, and there's also a large cavern where you get various enemies overlooking the cavern to kill off the contents for you. There are some traps and secrets to keep you on your toes as well.
  12. Great Halls of Fire - A spacious level, with various different areas fanning out from the start room, including a maze, an arena with pillars containing a cyberdemon, and an acid hall. The good gameplay continues with a number of clever fights and traps, although the inclusion of a non=secret computer map gives a few things away.
  13. Last Look at Eden - This level almost defines the large yard style I mentioned in the intro. It's a series of large stone-walled yards, with smaller feature side areas. Each area has its own complications such as balconies or contained buildings, from which some monsters snipe while others are free to approach the player. There is a definite shift in favour of the more heavyweight monsters too, in particular in the main yard which is populated with a number of mancubi and barons. The player's best bet is to get them fighting each other, forcing them to play quite aggressively.
  14. City in the Clouds - You might have thought, with all those arachnotrons and revenants shooting down into its streets, that Downtown (Doom 2 MAP13) was quite hellish enough. This, the Hell Revealed version of it, is definitely much worse. The central area of the level is a walled yard holding a cyberdemon, with arachnotrons on the surrounding walls. The rest of the level is Downtown-like buildings with imps and revenants firing down at the player. The first half of the level consists of running around getting the many enemies fighting each other — the cyberdemon can be made to do much of the work for you. Once the outside is cleaned up there's more work to do clearing out the buildings, which contain various fights and traps to be overcome.
  15. Gates to Hell - An interesting level design, based around an octagonal central yard with 8 portals (presumably the gateways of the name) to a ring of 8 surrounding yards. There are some good self-contained fights in these areas. The level has a nice bricks and metal feel too.
  16. The Path - This level feels a lot like The Living End (Doom II MAP29) with its rock and lava caverns feel, but whereas in that level all the action takes places on ledges around the edges of the cavern, in this one the player spends most of the time on a narrow broken rocky path which winds around the floor of the cavern, with a selection of barons on the path itself and mancubi shooting down from ledges. There are also a number of revenants which are particularly effective in these surroundings.
  17. The Black Towers - A small city-like area with three black towers, each containing one of the keys. There's a a good hectic opening fight, but most of the level is a pleasant change from the rest of Hell Revealed with smaller fights with a lot of traps.
  18. Hard Attack - Quite a gruelling level, due to both a high proportion of barons, and because of the layout of the central area - a high narrow walkway surrounding a large yard, which is crowded with monsters most of which have to be tackled by bringing them down a lift a few at a time. There are some clever fights mixed in though.
  19. Everything Dies - Apart from a good start fight due to the limited space available, the rest of the level is very linear and straightforward. Pretty basic scenery too.
  20. Judgement Day - A kind of marble mansion level, with several areas fanning out from a large central hall. The usual steady stream of heavyweight opposition to deal with, as usual getting them fighting each other cuts down the numbers. There are a few cyberdemons, although these can be evaded if you're tiring of the grind.
  21. Siege - You start this level in a safe house packed with ammo and health. From the name I had been expecting to have to defend this house against an attack, but in fact all the opposition are further ahead in the level. Only a few dangerous fights but plenty of ammo and health to spare.
  22. Resistance is Futile - A level based on a yard containing two large buildings divided by an acid river. The difficulty goes up another notch at this level, because it's truly packed with heavyweight monsters, so in particular at the start it's very dangerous, with nowhere safe and hundreds of monsters after you. There's very little margin for error throughout the level, and there's an incredible amount of firepower lined up against you. At least you get plenty of health and ammo.
  23. Ascending to the Stars - A kind of space base, with lots of tough individual areas. Plenty of opportunity to get the opposition fighting each other. Some good secrets too.
  24. Post Mortem - Even by the high standards of Hell Revealed, this is an exceptionally brutal level. The whole level is set in a vast underground cavern, flooded with acid, similar to The Living End (Doom 2 MAP29), with most of the monsters and action taking place on rocky ledges. The start is "complete murder", with a small space crowded by barons, overlooked by two groups of revenants on nearby ledges, and caught in a cross-fire between hell knight and arachnotrons. You're forced to spend the first several minutes of play down in the acid itself, picking off the wandering cacodemons and the revenants overlooking the start, just to make the start area safe(r). It's a gruelling struggle all the way through, with a number of cyberdemons to be reduced, powerful clusters of revenants and other monsters on overlooking ledges to be silenced, and a number of further releases of pain elementals and other monsters into the cavern which keep things active. A real struggle and a great feeling once you beat it.
  25. Dead Progressive - A bit of a breather after the previous level, this is a compact and packed level. The level is a yard divided in two by a couple of buildings, initially crowded with arachnotrons and cacodemons, with mancubi firing down from the buildings. It's tight but there's plenty of health and ammo around. Once you clear the first wave, there are a sequence of switches to hit to open up the exit, each of which releases some more enemies into the yard. There's a particularly good fight on a bridge for the final key-card, where bars come down trapping you on the bridge with chaingunners firing from both ends. Fun.
  26. Afterlife - A very surreal level, which gives the impression of a number of buildings and features floating in space. The level affords relatively little cover against the overwhelming monsters present, so in each area you are forced to fight your way into whatever buildings or side areas are available.
  27. Cyberpunk - The main features of this level is a maze infested with cyberdemons - there's lots of space, but god help you if you try this one at UV. Apart from that the level is a fairly sparse nukage factory, nothing that exciting.
  28. Top Hell - There ain't room in this hellhole for the both of us This level centres around a large hall overlooked by cyberdemons. The monsters are a bit more sparse at this level, so you're left with plenty of room to manouver the enemies into fighting each other.
  29. Temple of Hell - A bit of a breather at this level (only one cyberdemon :-) ). The architecture is an appropriate mix of marble and hell, Ultimate Doomish in style. Apparently the pentegram in the final area is finely calculated with sines and cosines to be as accurate as possible - nice to see someone making the effort.
  30. Hell Revealed - Did I already say "complete murder"?

Like any episode it's not all brilliant stuff; there are definitely a few duds in there, MAP19 most obviously. Probably the main worry is that the fairly slow warm up to the harder levels may mean that some players don't stick with it; the relative lack of detail by today's standards, while more than made up for by the layouts and atmosphere later on, could deter some modern players. And there are some real outstanding levels later on in the episode that nobody should miss - Last Look at Eden, Post Mortem, and Afterlife are unforgettable.

While primarily a megawad, Hell Revealed imports some other resources too to complete the experience. I've already mentioned the new music imported. There are also some new graphics, most obviously the new status bar (red, to match the colour your screen will often go during play...), as well as replaced title and help screen, endoom screen, and graphic versions of the level names for the intermission screens.

Conclusion: one of the outstanding classic megawads. Overwhelming monsters, oppressive atmosphere, and outstanding levels. Don't be deterred by its reputation or difficulty (admit your weakness and play at Hurt Me Plenty like me if necessary), this is an experience not to be missed.

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