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Moonblood is a 32 level megawad for Doom 2 that sees us once again take up our shotguns and battle the forces of hell throughout six episodes. It starts off innocently enough, with a Zombieman that has its back turned to us like in the original game. After gunning him down, we will soon be faced with a far more effectively positioned enemy force. While many mods opt to throw a bunch of enemies your way, Moonblood instead chooses to use fewer, but more dangerously placed foes. It becomes more a matter of understanding Doom’s weapons and enemies, over never taking your finger off the trigger to stay alive.
That’s not to say this mod is easy, mind you. There is danger around every corner and you will quickly have to analyze the surrounding area to not get pelted at all sides. It starts off with relatively low tier foes like the shotgunners and imps, to get you into the groove of things. Even being near a window early on can prove particularly fatal to your health, as the hit-scan enemies are all too eager to catch the player unaware. Moonblood is quite difficult, but it takes its time to slowly reintroduce every enemy and weapon for those that haven’t played Doom in a while, or are for some reason playing this before the vanilla title.
As you will quickly notice, there are no new textures in sight. That will retain throughout most of the mod, though it does make it that more impactful when something new crops up, like in the last level. With that said, the mod author Deadwing does a brilliant job at making each level feel completely unique from anything vanilla. The placement of the default textures are used to great effect to create new environments, such as a Colosseum or a twisted hellscape. It also contains a far greater sense of verticality to its levels to make the stages more complex and grand in stature.
It should be noted that Moonblood is not a mod where you are meant to be able to jump. You will destroy its intended level design if you use that source port feature. There are some sections where you will need to get through some “platforming” via holding the sprint key then barreling across a small gap like in Doom 2 however. You will also find some light puzzles scattered across the 32 levels. These are typically rather simple and require you to flick some switches while trying to make it to a specific location in time. They are a nice change of pace and not all that difficult, minus one exception during map 18 that I ended up shamelessly cheating my way onto the platform.
One of my favorite aspects of this mod was its soundtrack. Just about every level has its own unique track and I found the laidback tone of the music really pleasing. Despite the fact that you are very rarely not fighting for your life, it really helps you slide into a zen-like mood and easily keeping your calm against absurd odds. No doubt that some of the situations you are thrown into can feel cheap, especially in the later levels, though while it may get a couple of curses out of you, it never feels trollish. Moonblood doesn’t abuse the most annoying foes like the Archviles or the Elementals, nor the high tier boss enemies. Everything else is fair game though, and they prove more than enough to easily kill you should you drop your guard.
Moonblood’s workhorse enemies are definitely the Arachnotron and Revenant monsters. Far too many encounters feature these two, in my opinion, adding a bit of repetition. It does a really good job at distributing health and ammo however. I nearly always found myself in a battered state and keeping my eye on that ammo counter. Neither of which were ever too sparse, yet few enough that the tension remains pretty high. The eagle-eyed Doomer is more likely to be much more stocked up from discovering that map’s secrets, but for my fellow blind as a bat gamers, there is enough to make sure we don’t end up having to get into a fistfight with a revenant.
Following up on me being terrible at finding anything even slightly hidden, I’d imagine that two of the levels are secret stages, since the campaign consists of 30. With such a large number of maps, it wouldn’t be shocking if a few of them ended up being stinkers. There are some sections like trying to walk across narrow platforms while being under attack that are not all too great, but looking at the level overall, I’d say they are all quite decent. Level design remains good all throughout and I’ve never found myself lost. If I had one complaint it is that some switches are not all too visually clear as to what they do.
In total, it took me around six and a half hours to get through it. There was no story, though a few episodes did contain some text at their end. While there is no plot, it does have a neat progression of otherworldliness as levels get more abstract the deeper in you go, and eventually finding yourself in the gates of hell. There is nonstop brutal action for most of the playtime and some moments of sudden silence that has you on edge thinking “this is it, they’ve finally introduced the Cyberdemon” only to be proven wrong yet again. If it isn’t all too apparent now, I quite enjoyed my time with Moonblood. It is a straightforward, high-skilled mod without much bells or whistles, but has it where it counts, in both its level design and pacing that never leaves a dull moment.
Link to get Moonblood mod: https://www.doomworld.com/forum/topic/92979-moonblood-megawad/