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The intermission screen with a visual presentation of all the Knee-Deep in the Dead levels.

Knee-Deep in the Dead is the first episode in Doom/The Ultimate Doom, and the only episode in the shareware version. The episode takes place in the UAC installations on Phobos, one of the moons of Mars.

Designed mainly by John Romero (every level was exclusively by him, except E1M4, which was started by Tom Hall, and E1M8, which was also started by Hall but finished by Sandy Petersen), the levels have a unique graphical style characterized by extensive use of STAR textures, large amounts of highly saturated brown and green in general, and a misty, mountainous skyline.

Romero did not make any other maps in the original Doom, but authored two maps in Thy Flesh Consumed, the only author who contributed to both Thy Flesh Consumed as well as one of the original three episodes.

Because of Episode 1's singular inclusion in the Doom shareware version, the Episode 1 style levels have become one of the most popular and easily recognizable Doom design themes. Fan-made levels utilizing exclusively Episode 1 textures, and emulating Episode 1 play style, are commonly referred to as techbase levels.


SPOILER WARNING: Plot details follow.

His fellow Marines dead or possessed, the Doomguy must fight his way through the various UAC buildings, each overrun by demons and zombies. Finally, he reaches the Anomaly, the portal to the interdimensional gateway between Phobos and Deimos, and there defeats two Barons who guard it. Unfortunately, the only place to go next is through the gateway to Deimos, which is even more strongly controlled by the forces of Hell.

Spoilers end here.


End of Episode Message

Once you beat the big badasses and clean out the moon base you're supposed to win, aren't you? Aren't you? Where's your fat reward and ticket home? What the hell is this? It's not supposed to end this way!

It stinks like rotten meat, but looks like the lost Deimos base. Looks like you're stuck on the shores of Hell. The only way out is through.

To continue the DOOM experience, play The Shores of Hell and its amazing sequel, Inferno!


Routes and tricks

The majority of single-map strategies also work in episode runs, although the most hazardous tricks (such as rocket jumping on E1M4) are avoided even in Compet-N recordings, for reasons of simple arithmetic. First, whereas a single-level recording almost always finishes under 50% health, one cannot survive seven or eight consecutive levels without adopting a more conservative approach, or at least making a lot of detours to health pickups. Second, even world-class players sometimes need hundreds of trials to meet their own standard of quality for a given map, and that number would grow exponentially with the number of maps in a run, if exactly the same routes were used.

See the individual walkthroughs above for specific tips.

Current records

The Compet-N records for the episode are:

Run Time Player Date File Notes
UV Episode 05:00 Drew "stx-Vile" DeVore 2005-04-02
NM Episode 06:46 Drew "stx-Vile" DeVore 2003-03-03
UV Max Episode 18:18 Drew "stx-Vile" DeVore 2002-07-31
NS Episode 11:03 Drew "stx-Vile" DeVore 2002-05-02
UV -fast Episode 24:45 Radek Pecka 2001-03-20

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