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Overview

Originally titled, " Passage to Transylvania", Cryptic Passage for Blood is an expansion pack by Sunstorm Interactive for Monolith Productions' first person shooter, "Blood". It was the first expansion released for the game and the only officially sanctioned third party expansion pack released for Blood. Being released prior to Monolith's own " Plasma Pak" expansion, none of the new enemy types were able to be included, though the game did include a new episode, additional multiplayer levels and a brand new ending cinematic (essentially a slideshow).

The storyline is set at an unspecified period of time after the events of the first game with Caleb setting out to retrieve a scroll that was stolen from him by an ancient god. While the story isn't referenced throughout any other Blood materials and despite being developed by a third party, the events of Cryptic Passage are considered canon.

Levels

Old Opera House
Including the hidden secret level, ten new single player levels comprise the Cryptic Passage episode. The levels are more varied than those found in the Plasma Pak expansion and each has a specific theme or style attached to it.
  • CP01: "Boat Docks" - The first map begins with Caleb stepping off of a small rowboat onto a pier leading up to a cave system. The caves give way to the multistory boat house from which the title of the level is derived.
  • CP02: "Old Opera House" - Following the last level, the entirety of his mission takes place in and in the streets immediately outside of a large opera house. Multiple references to Phantom of the Opera are scattered throughout the level, from posters to a secret basement area with a large pipe organ.
  • CP03: "Gothic Library" - A large library-based level featuring an open, circular, two floor lobby.
  • Gothic Library
    CP04: "Lost Monastery" - Freely released as the demo for the expansion pack, Lost Monastary is a large level going through the "Holy Order of Capathia" monastery. In addition to the monastery proper, there's a large amount of terrain to explore on the outside, including rope bridges through the mountains, the surrounding caves and a river system that routes through the entirety of the level.
  • CP05: "Steamboat" - Similar to E1M3, "Phantom Express", this level utilizes features of the Build engine to create the illusion of taking place entirely within a moving object. Beginning on the lower level of the bow, Caleb must fight through the various levels of the boat, open the escape path via the bridge controls, and escape on a small speedcraft in the lower aft, behind the steamroom.
  • CP06: "Graveyard" - While the original game only had smaller cemetery plots, Graveyard is a full fledged rendition, complete with a series of underground crypts.
  • Steamboat
    CP07: "Mountain Pass" - Despite the name, the level is actually the mountain pass, hidden mountain storage facility and a number of caves, tunnels and pockets.
  • CP08: "Abysmal Mine" - This level begins in the water before rolling into the mine shaft and off-shooting tunnels. A small factory, series of waterfalls and brief outdoor segment complement the mines.
  • CP09: "Castle" - The final level of the expansion and the home to the series of boss fights. Flows in on the mine cart that exited the previous stage, transverses through the castle (with a trio of stone gargoyles and a mother spider along the way), and then on a boat to the final battleground. The final showdown is with two Cerberi in a small circular room.
  • Boggy Creek
    CPSL: "Boggy Creek" - Among the most praised maps of the expansion, Boggy Creek is a large outdoor level with Caleb on a guided boat tour from the Grim Reaper. The rotted out house in the middle of the woods was prominently praised in the Adrenaline Vault review.

 
 
 Four "BloodBath" (multiplayer) levels were included with the package as well:
  • CPBB01: "Crypt of Despair" - Set within a graveyard, complete with a crypt area and a mausoleum.
  • CPBB02: "Pump Station" - A hydroelectric plant with a functional subway system.
  • CPBB03: "Unholy Cathedral" - Temple setting; includes a sacrificial pit (a la Temple of Doom)
  • CPBB04: "Deadly Inspirations" - Medieval castle with multiple overlapping pathways.

Reception

Emil Pagliarulo from Adrenaline Vault wrote one of the most positive reviews for Cryptic Passage,  stating that the fresh themes for the expansion were in many ways better than the original game. He criticized "The Lost Monastery" as one of the weaker maps of the pack but still felt that it was well designed and had solid enemy placement. The rest of his review praised each level in detail, ultimately culminating in an overall review score of 90/100 ( link). Gamespot reviewer Stephen Poole had an overall similar impression of the expansion, but felt that the underwater areas were slightly too numerous, criticized the game launcher and install times and was equally disappointed in the ending ( link).

Computer Games Magazine wrote the most negative review, stating:

"If you really played all the way through Blood and you still want more, it may be time to think about expanding your horizons. But if you're seriously determined to stick with Blood, Monolith themselves are working on an add-on, and it's bound to be more interesting than this package. It could hardly be less. Add the lack of originality to the lack of quantity and you get a lack of desirability. Skip this one."


Derivative Projects

"Boggy Creek", "Steamboat" and "Gothic Library" would later be remade in the ZDoom engine as part of the ZBlood project. ZBlood is a 25 level, Blood-themed, total conversion for Doom II using the ZDoom engine's enhanced features to better simulate various attributes of the Build engine, though it lacks proper room above room support. Levels have been redesigned around the limitations and additional secrets and minor changes have been made to the maps to make them feel "fresher".

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