A garden, I think.
Review by Anarchic Fox|
Mission Name: Red Ridge
Mission Type: Apebeast Warren
Map Size: Tiny
Difficulty: Very Easy
No. Times Played: 3
Difficulties Played: Normal and Expert
Loot Found: 986 out of 986
Secrets Found: 0 out of 0
Pros: It's painless to beat... and the first few moments, at least, are interesting
Cons: Utterly rudimentary architecture, completely arbitrary design, no sense of setting, poor gameplay
Bottom Line: This was the author's first level, and it was completed in ten hours. Those are two facts that should not go together.
Is it a cave complex? Something akin to the Maw of Chaos? Or an apebeast lair, perhaps, which just happens to adjoin a lava flow and some old brickwork? The sad truth is that the Red Ridge only makes sense as a series of hollow boxes, covered with random Maw textures, joined together without any overall vision or sense of what exactly the location is supposed to be. This is why you will find tunnels, supposedly deep underground, apparently carved out of grass, while others nearby have patterned wood panelling and earlier ones are of unidentifiable red, purple and blue stuff (one room, perhaps a cooled lava flow, even has a wooden beam sticking out at a convenient point). The gameplay just consists of a few AI patrolling or standing around in these random hallways, with lighting so low that you'd almost have to make a conscious effort to be seen, and some loot and quest objects thrown in at either obvious or arbitrary (and tough-to-spot) places along the way. The story's alright -- or at least, it could have been made to work fine -- and the readables are good, but with the rest of the level being so poor I don't think you'll be caring much about these aspects. The mission also shows some good ambient work, and some effort to bring some depth to the place by way of readables, but when everything else about the haphazard level is nothing short of random, there's no way that such efforts can have any significant effect. Of course, the level is not at the level of being a pain to play through, but from your entrance through a huge stone mouth, to your exit through an Art Deco door in a wall of grass, you won't find anything to remind you of what wonderful things the Dark engine is capable of.
Story: 2 -- It's there, but a whole lot goes unexplained, and the setting makes no sense at all.
Atmosphere: 1 -- Either the look of this level or the lack of any coordinating idea behind the placement of its rooms will effectively smother your immersion in this mission. There are some good ambients and readables, but they aren't enough to overcome the rest of the design.
Gameplay: 2 -- A few patrols, and some treasure, are present. However, the design and placement of these is too simplistic; they have nothing interesting to offer a player. With the low lighting you'll find in this level, the only challenge to be had is spotting a necessary cranny on Expert -- a task far more likely to be frustrating than fun.
Architecture: 1 -- A series of single-textured brushes placed awkwardly and arbitrarily together. The selection of textures is senseless (much unlike the aesthetic choice, and overall narrative justification, of chaotic design in the relevant OMs).
Reviewer's Score: 1.5 Bronze (1.5 on the ten-point scale)
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