HorrorScope Halloween: Doom – 23 Mods For Your Circle Of Hell
Standalones – Free Damnation For All
Running on a truly standalone engine has some bonus perks. Among them being that if you strip out all the official Doom content, you can fill in the void with whatever you want and release it as a full, free standalone game. Here are some notable releases, all of which are free to download for Windows PCs.
Not so much a game in its own right as a project to create a truly open-source version of Doom. In essence, this is Doom with all the serial numbers filed off. Not much to look at, but it plays identically to Doom, just re-skinned to avoid legal disputes. Not much use for those who own the whole series already, but for those of us with nothing but pocket lint and good intentions lining our bank accounts, it’s a true boon, as it’s compatible with almost all Doom level packs and quite a few mods, too. Things might get a little weird if you play anything with partially resprited weapons and enemies, though.
Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl
Streets of Rage as an FPS? One of the most unusual ideas to be spawned from the open-sourcing of the engine for sure. Great, chunky comicbook graphics and a very Sin City-esque plot hold this one together, as you punch and bludgeon your way across the city one thug at a time on a quest to recover a lost daughter. It’d be very film noir if it wasn’t so ridiculously over the top, with peak questionableness being a rather awkward battle against a Village People themed gang inside a nightclub.
Action Doom 2 isn’t the greatest – the first-person perspective doesn’t really lend itself too well to retro arcade melee combat – but it’s worth a mention for its sheer originality and replay value. The story branches wildly, leading you off on entirely new adventures depending on which way you turned early on in the game. As an aside, the original Action Doom took on Metal Slug/Contra-style shooting, complete with enemies lobbing big, chunky brightly-coloured bullets your way, all of which are instantly lethal. Worth a look, although it’s not a standalone release.
Harmony is an interesting little anomaly. This fairly short freeware FPS may move and play more than a little like Doom, but the aesthetics are entirely its own. A strange, surreal post-apocalyptic world rendered in clay and stop-motion animation, you play as Harmony – a futuristic amazon of sorts – fighting against the mutated men of ruined future Earth. While the gameplay is relatively straightforward, Harmony does have its moments, like a trip to a church where the local congregation are worshipping a nuclear missile. Tread carefully. As with everything else on this page, it’s available completely free, and the WAD file from it is compatible with the latest version of ZDoom.
Mega Man: 8-Bit Deathmatch
Probably infringing on someone’s copyrights, this one, but nobody at Capcom seems to mind. A good thing, as this is one of the most impressive Mega Man fan-games ever made, and a great game in its own right. Perfectly capturing the look, sound and feel of the classic NES series, this is a better adaptation than anyone could have possibly predicted. Almost every character is represented, along with every weapon from the series, and each of the arenas usually has some interesting gimmick or hazard to contend with.
While clearly multiplayer-focused, there’s a very fleshed-out singleplayer campaign here, too. While primarily based around botmatches, it gradually takes you through the environments and enemies of each Mega Man game in turn, and caps off each chapter with a boss fight. The gelatinous Yellow Devil is even more nerve-wracking to fight in first person. For those wanting something a little more traditional, there’s also a singleplayer/co-op mission mode among the multitude of mods on the official MM8BDM forums.
Probably the strangest of all of Doom’s cousins is Chex Quest, an officially licensed FPS series given away for free with boxes of Chex cereal. Stepping into the deliciously crunchy armor of the Chex Warrior, you travel around space, battling the villainous Flemoids. Unlike Doom, you’re not out for blood here; all your weapons (including a high-powered melee spoon) are designed to teleport your foes home safely, rather than kill. In short, it’s Doom For Kids. Funny how nobody got upset about that.
Originally billed as a trilogy, only the first two episodes of the game were officially released. Thankfully, one of the original developers returned to the project years later, completing the Chex Quest saga and releasing the whole series as a standalone, freeware game. Truly, this is a tale of passion and a love for cereal that transcends corporate advertising. As mentioned earlier, it’s also compatible with the Samsara mod, just in case you want to cut loose and murder the entire Flemoid population. You monster.
I’ll See You In Hell… Until Next Time
And there we have it. Thank you for joining us on this grand trip from the shores of hell to the wholesome, sugar-frosted armor of the Chex Warrior. We hope you’ve found some of these recommendations useful, and hope even more to see some of you lurking around on the Zandronum server listings over the coming weeks. Join in, and share the fun – we promise the community is lovely and won’t murder you in your sleep. Really!
Of course, we only covered a minuscule fraction of the total available mods for Doom here, so feel free to share your favorites and recommendations in the comments below. Even with over 4500 words on the subject, we didn’t even have time to touch on Doom’s deathmatch scene, or any competitive mods. Don’t take our omission as suggestion that they’re not still alive and kicking. A look at the Zandronum server browser should put you on the right track for finding the more popular ones, at the very least.
Til’ next All Hallow’s Eve is upon us, then. Sweet dreams, dear readers, and don’t let the Pain Elementals bite.