#586: Chosen

A fun romp from the wild and woolly days of ZDoom

june gloom
5 min readMay 17, 2024

Initial release: June 17, 2003
Platform: PC (Doom mod, for ZDoom)
Developer: LilWhiteMouse

We’re coming up on the thirtieth anniversary of Aliens TC, which is almost certainly the very first total conversion mod for a game ever made, and definitely the first for Doom. We can point to it as the inflection point for a cottage industry of total conversion projects over the next several decades, some of which have gone on to become commercial products themselves, like Counter-Strike.

All that being said, total conversions for Doom are relatively rare compared to, say, Duke Nukem 3D, which has a bunch, or Half-Life, which saw multiple projects go commercial. Doomers almost as a rule tend to prefer more classic gameplay. Fortunately, the advent of ZDoom in 1998 promised many, many new tools and features for modders to use, and in the quarter century since its release, its successor GZDoom has become a premier commercial game engine. But all the fancy stuff had to start somewhere, and in 2003 LilWhiteMouse, a one-time prolific Doom community member who has since disappeared without a trace, released Chosen, a short Egyptian mythology-themed wad that was as impressive as it was strange.

Set in an unspecified moment in ancient Egypt, the story begins with Kissa, a devotee of the god Seth. One day, a manifestation of Seth appears before her and gives her a quest: the god Apophis, seeking to destroy the mortal realm, has fashioned out of obsidian a giant serpent, Uraeusis. Uraeusis’ charms are effective on men and gods, but Kissa is a woman, and so Seth chooses her to enter the underworld herself and stop Uraeusis before he can cross over to the mortal realm and become invincible.

Like many ZDoom wads at the time, Chosen is cutscene heavy, with two maps out of the ten dedicated to an intro and outro, a third dedicated to difficulty selection a la Quake, and a full three levels dedicated to a multi-stage boss fight, complete with their own cutscenes. What’s left is pretty alright, but it makes for a very short game, as these are not terribly large levels. The first, “Underworld,” will probably take the longest time as it’s a winding path up a pyramid, and you’re rather short on health while enemies hit hard and take a beating.

The bestiary is extremely truncated compared to the base game; the armies of Anubis, Isis and Sekhmet, who have fallen under Uraeusis’ control, are all represented here. Anubis warriors are simple jackal-headed melee fighters; the shield variant is rare, but throws spears at you and behave similarly to the centaurs from Hexen in that they’ll hide behind their shield upon taking damage. Sekhmet’s cat-headed archers are annoying but easily dispatched; more infuriating are the winged harpy-like warriors of Isis, who clearly use Lost Soul code but are far more aggressive. You’ll also face scarab beetles and mounds that spew them endlessly, and on one occasion a pair of angry sphynx statues will come at you (but are easily torn apart by the sandstorm staff you just picked up.) There’s also Uraeusis itself, but past the first phase, fighting it requires non-conventional means.

Your armory is also similarly truncated, and on top of that it’s rather weak. You start off with a golden khopesh, and this will probably be your primary weapon as it does good damage. You also have access to throwing axes, but they are slow moving and don’t do as much damage as they really should. Eventually you’ll get a bow and arrow, taking up the shotgun slot, and this will likely be your main ranged weapon despite its own weak damage. Slot four is an ultimate weapon of sorts, a staff that summons sandstorms that function a lot like the mage’s lighting spell in Hexen. Rounding out the arsenal is a staff that shoots explosive beetles, but it behaves just like the firemace in Heretic so it’s pretty useless except in one particular situation.

What’s striking about Chosen is the aesthetic. Instead of intricate pixel sprite work like what we’re used to nowadays, Chosen replaces every sprite with new ones fashioned out of clunky 3D-rendered models. It’s a very late 90s/early 2000s kind of thing to do, and the end result is either charming or impossibly ugly, depending on your personal tastes. Mouse also uses a pretty thorough Egyptian-themed texture set, though I am unclear as to the provenance of these assets. She also makes use of module music rather than the typical midi, relying on world music-sounding electronica that’s pretty striking right off the bat. The end result is something like one of the more obscure shooters of the mid to late 90s, a strange forgotten thing that only a few hundred people remember until Night Dive dust it off and put it back up for sale. Chosen of course is free provided you have Doom, but the vibe is there nonetheless.

I didn’t hate my time with Chosen. When it gets going, it’s pretty good, but it’s very much a product of its time. If its graphics don’t turn you off, its brief length and lopsided difficulty might. It was one of many attempts of the era to wed story with gameplay and while it certainly did better than most, it likely did not have a lot of takers back in the day thanks to the negative community reaction to a glut of amateurish, script-heavy ZDoom mods by modders who fancied themselves the next Hideo Kojima. But Mouse was a brilliant creative mind who left behind a lot of projects, both finished and not, and while she had her idiosyncrasies, she was doing stuff nobody had thought of at the time, with longtime community superstar Enjay recently outright calling her a genius. Chosen might be more of an experiment than anything else, but I think there’s value in the concept — it may be worth resurrecting the ancient Egypt theme for a new generation.

I don’t know where Mouse is now — her last release was in 2010 and she disappeared entirely in 2016 — but I hope she’s doing well.

-june❤

Chosen is available at idgames.
Level reviews can be found at JG3D.

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june gloom

Media critic, retired streamer, furry. I love you. [she/her]