A horror map is a thematic style of mapping that is centered around designing levels with the horror-genre in mind, making use of typical genre elements and tropes to evoke a feeling of dread, creepiness, moody ambience and uneasiness. Horror maps try to scare the player by using unconventional design choices that splinter from traditional Doom level design philosophies.
Horror maps' main goal is to create an atmosphere that makes the player feel scared. As such, common elements used in this type of levels include: dark levels of brightness, uneasy music (or a lack of it), unsettling imagery, confusing layouts, new sounds, new monster sprites, challenging gameplay, etc.
The original game has always had horror elements attached to its visual and narrative theme since its inception, however, they have not been the main focus of the saga, with the exception of Doom 64 and Doom 3. With action and fast-paced combat being the main gameplay style of the classic games, horror elements were used secondarily, usually in the form of background elements, such as the implementation of gore sprites or satanic imagery.
Due to the limitations of the original Doom engine, a great majority of early horror maps were rustic and simple in their design, with only a modesty of new additions being done to try and create the needed horror ambience. As such, a great majority of known horror levels tend to implement new features commonly found in later ZDoom-based source ports.
Designs found in horror maps
- Unconventional geometry
- Dark sector lightning
- Flickering lights
- Color filters
- Muted environments
- Enclosed areas
- Tight corridors
- Heavy gore usage
- Justin Fisher
- Randy Estrella
- Tim Heydelaar
- Paul Schneider (BlueEagle)
- Mike Hill (Cutmanmike)
- Rachel Schmitz (Negatronica)
- E2M1: Landing Pads (Aliens TC) (known for not having enemies)
- Happy Time Circus
- Soundless Mound
- The Ghoul's Forest
WADs that feature multiple horror maps
Aliens TC (Doom 2 version) is considered one of the first horror WADs ever
Soundless Mound, a level inspired by Silent Hill
The Ghoul's Forest, a popular jumpscare-themed map