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#151 The Dark One

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 12:41 AM

This is long overdue. Very, very overdue. Apologies to Airship Ballet, the author of this campaign.
 

Quinn Co. is split into two missions, La Banque Bienveillante and Chase Mercantile, but since they’re similar in concept I’ll review them both at once. The summer solstice has arrived, and our hero is intent on robbing some of the local banks, which are storing goods from merchant ships.

 

These are some of the more unique missions I’ve played on The Dark Mod. When you start up, you see the normal screen for buying weapons, but it’s different. Now you’re not buying equipment, but instead you’re buying equipment drops, keys, different loot drop-off points….Heck, you can even choose your own objectives here! The author stated that the missions were modeled after the Payday series, and this choice of “loadout” gives the missions replayability.

 

La Banque is the opening act and does a good job. It’s linear, admittedly, but an absolute blast to play through, with neat touches in the technology on display, such as a very neat bit of food storage in the basement. Chase Mercantile is much more balanced, and once the player gets out of the opening basement they can more or less hit the rest of the bank in any order they choose. Both missions can be considered rather easy for Dark Mod missions, due to the fact that you have no loot goal and thus can technically just do the needed objectives and finish the missions, but they do have a way of discouraging knock-outs: A penalty system.

 

Not-Garratt has hired cleaners to fix his “mistakes” and that involves bribing guards and hiding bodies: 500 loot for knock-outs, 1000 for deaths. While this doesn't sound like much, it adds up quick, though in fairness each mission is loaded with enough loot for ten thieves, so even the blackjack lovers will be able to get through. In La Banque, however, there are guards you more or less have to blackjack to get past, which is thankfully fixed (from what I could tell) in Mercantile. This penalty system doesn’t just affect completionists, since the loot from La Banque is used to purchase equipment in the sequel.

 

The missions are both very fun to play, mainly due to the constant gratification you get from all the loot. I ended my second La Banque playthrough with somewhere in the 20,000 range, and Mercantile has even more loot that it’s predecessor. Both missions have creative uses of technology, especially in the vaults, which are loaded down with security systems that you have to maneuver your way around. There’s a fair bit of characterization in the missions as well, shown by the readables. I actually ended up feeling bad enough for my “victim” in Mercantile that I left his own personal vault (mostly, man’s gotta make a living) untouched.

 

Still, the missions aren’t perfect. La Banque all but forces you to knock out certain guard to progress, and the linear nature of the mission might annoy. Mercantile also has a very irritatingly placed guard right before the vault, who can’t be knocked out (unless you’ve bought gas arrows, but the drop still forces you to run for it and then snipe quickly) and you haven’t arranged for him to be bribed from his post you’ll run into a sudden roadblock.

 

This leads into my other main gripe: While the loadout makes for good replay value, it also leads into going into the mission without the proper equipment, which could make the mission tedious, see: the alternate loot drop in La Banque, which is vital if you don’t want to make like ten trips back and forth. Mercantile is also a pain if you don’t think to/can’t afford to bribe the guards, and not having certain keys makes the mission trickier than normal. I fully understand that this is the point (and I’m sure most here will like that), but I find it a tad irritating that you can sabotage yourself without knowing about it.

 

All in all, my complaints are relatively minor. My only big complaints are that there isn’t a third mission, and that I wish it was possible to replay Mercantile without having to beat its predecessor. Obviously, recommended.


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Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#152 The Dark One

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 11:31 PM

That pun is bad and the author should feel bad for making it.

 

Inn Business (by RJFerret) is another atypical ission. This time, our plucky protagonist is hired to do a bit inn-based sabotage. The owner of an inn has hired him to sabotage a competitor by breaking in one night, robbing it, then coming back the next after security has been beefed up to rob it again, making people feel unsafe, so they’ll come to second guy’s inn. It’s genius, really.
 

The mission feels very “lived-in” if that makes sense. The weather shifts over the course of the three days, going from dry pavement to snow everywhere. The guests and other NPCs do not remain static over the course of the three days (special mention goes to a mage who’s constantly coming up with new ways to mess with you), and little touches, such as dogs barking when you approach the church door, help to improve the atmosphere.

 

Where the mission falls flat is in the loot goals. The numbers are apparently off, resulting in frustration for looters who want everything in a level. Also resulting in frustration for us underachieving plebs is the fact that loot is well-hidden, with some of it assuming the form of objects that aren’t normally loot in ordinary missions, which is most obvious. on the second night which suffers from a low amount of total loot. Said second night also has a unique security system in the form of sound detecting robot which, on my second playthrough at least, was incredibly sensitive, somehow able to tell that a footstep on the first floor was worthy of sounding the alarm.

 

The third night changes the rules a bit, as Not-Garrett is summoned by his victim to point out security flaws remaining in the inn. It’s an interesting idea, but it does feel a little tacked-on, as well as flawed. You can “complete” the objectives, but if the warning note isn’t left in the perfect position, it will be unchecked without warning. The end result is an interesting idea that needed a little more coherence.

 

And yet, the mission is fun. There are multiple hidden objectives to be found, although they require a fair bit of exploration to find. The mission has plenty of amusing (and it must be said, adult) moments, and the signs of an author who had fun piecing the whole thing together show through. It’s a flawed effort in places, but a very interesting and unique one. Recommended.


  • Moonbo and Anderson like this

Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#153 The Dark One

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 02:15 PM

Back on target now…

 

So, I’m not 100% sure who made this mission. The mission select screen says Silencium18, but the mission page on the Dark Mod website adds in Fidcal and Railgun, so eh.

 

The Thieves is a simple and to the point mission. A member of a thieves guild has gone rogue and is harassing merchants and being a general nuisance, thus forcing our enterprising hero to kill him for the reward money.

 

Another review I read implied that this was another early/test mission, and it shows in the general bareness of the level, as well as certain quirks, such as a key that doesn’t go with anything and a gang leader who oddly doesn’t seem to notice you banging about in his room unless you hit him. There are still out-of-way pieces of loot to uncover, and two different ways into The Thieves’(™) hideout, but other than that, the mission is quite basic.

 

All in all I find this hard to rec on it’s own merits. It’s fun, but a little too simple to veteran players, and without much to set it apart from something like Awaiting the Storm.


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Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#154 nbohr1more

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 02:19 PM

Yes, this was an early TDM mission which was created as a collaborative effort. I think it was done to be close to the TDM 1.0 release.


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#155 The Dark One

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 05:27 PM

Trapped! By Railgun is a short prison break mission. Our fair-play loving hero is hired to infiltrate a hideout of a gang of thieves, but he bungles the job and gets himself knocked out. Now, he must escape, which is pretty easy considering how shoddy the construction is.

 

The mission is more stealth focused, as your equipment is hidden deeper in the hideout. You can find some arrows early on (and in my case resulted in a first playthrough with lots of bodies), but your blackjack is only found near the end. The mission looks good, giving the impression of being some long abandoned building turned into a makeshift hideout. The loot goal is fair, with most being in plain sight.

 

All in all, a solid, if short mission. Recommended.


  • Moonbo and Anderson like this

Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#156 The Dark One

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 05:28 PM

This mission was made by Railgun, but Springheel did the story. He did a dang fine job of it too.

 

The Builder’s Influence moves the action to the city of Breaden, where our hero is hiding from the law and assisting a group of smugglers. Sadly, the Inquisition, which no one expected, has come to town and is bringing down the hammer on the local criminal scum, including certain members of City Hall….much to the detriment of the smugglers, as they have a bribed man on the inside who’s been fudging tax records for them, forcing Not-Garrett to slip in and steal them.

 

Layout wise, it’s quite good, not fancy, but giving off the vibe of a government building. There are a few alternate routes around the place, which is appreciated. The guard presence is heavy, but doable to get around, which good, as the highest difficulty forbids knockouts. The only real trouble spot is a set of offices facing each other in a hallway which require pretty good timing to duck between or out of.

 

Where the mission shines is in the story: There are quite a few readables lying about to tell you about the progress of the Inquisition and the resulting witch hunt. Personally, all of this was my favorite part of the mission, not only interesting  but giving you tips to proceed on in the mission. Though I do question the wisdom of leaving such incriminating notes on one’s desk.

 

All in all, a solid mission with good storytelling. Recommended.


  • Moonbo and Anderson like this

Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#157 The Dark One

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 08:25 PM

Now we’re hitting some classics.
 

Thief's Den might not have been the first mission ever made for The Dark Mod, but as far as I'm aware, it’s up there. The mission was made by Fidcal, but Bikerdude apparently tweaked it, to what extent I’m not sure.

 

The plot is simple: Our fair-play loving hero has stolen a scepter for a certain Mr. Creep, but got backstabbed, as should have been obvious by the name. Now Not-Garrett intends to slip into Creep's hideout and steal the scepter and anything not nailed down.

 

I know that Bikerdude worked his magic on this mission after release, but if what we have is anything like the mission was before then it’s quite impressive. It’s a short mission, but there’s a fair bit of parkour and knowledge of the mission as a 3D space, if that makes sense. The loot is well-hidden/difficult to get to in some places (curse that vase), and there’s a bit of searching that needs to be done to complete the objectives.

 

All in all, it’s a pretty good intro to The Dark Mod, even if it seems painfully short nowadays. Recommended.


  • Moonbo and Anderson like this

Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#158 The Dark One

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 05:26 PM

There’s an Indiana Jones joke, just on the tip of my tongue….

 

Thief’s Den 2: The Chalice of Kings, is Fidcal’s next round in the Thief's Den series. This time, Not-Garrett is after a tomb robber who shamelessly stole some valuable artifacts before our hero could get at them, the selfish pest. Now, the artifacts; a crown, a death mask, and a chalice, must be stolen.

 

The mission is obviously larger than it’s predecessor, and more of a straightforward mansion mission. It looks quite good, with nice dark textures. The mansion layout is plausible, which I liked. I admit, the mission is a bit on the liner side, especially when it comes to the path to getting the chalice. I don’t have much of a problem with that, but I’m aware that some frown on that.
 

Still, I enjoyed it. It reminds me of Briarwood Cathedral (which I reviews back in the days of old), in that there’s nothing to really set it apart aside from being very solidly done. I supposes I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoy room escape games: the idea of starting out confined and slowly but surely solving puzzles and clearing your way though.
 

Or it’s just good. Recommended.


  • Moonbo and Anderson like this

Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#159 The Dark One

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 07:20 PM

I’m finally about done with my replays! Though I still have a few to go, such as SirTaffsalot’s  Let Sleeping Thieves Lie.
 

Jack Blackthorn used to be the feared leader of the Unseen Thieves guild. Used to be, because our hero put an arrow in his heart. However, it seems that Jack has come back from the dead, forcing our hero to investigate. And steal a dagger, just for good measure.

 

This is a rather small city mission, mostly taking place on one street, with a divergence into the sewers to slip into the Unseen Thieves’ hideout and the tombs beneath the chapel. It’s not visually stunning, barring the outside of the chapel, which is appropriately massive. I heard complaints that the sewer area didn’t look that good, but I felt it was fine, if a little basic.
 

I enjoyed the more atypical story for the mission, as well as a creative objective you get after your sewer travels. The main gripe I have is with the loot goal, as you have to get the vast majority of the level’s loot for expert, and a few pieces are quite small and hard to notice. That’s a bit of a petty complaint, I admit, but it brought my playthrough to a screeching halt.   

 

All in all, a decent, but slightly underdone mission. Recommended, but with caveats.


  • Moonbo and Anderson like this

Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#160 The Dark One

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 05:53 PM

Time for a min-campaign, of sorts.
 

The odd thing about SirTaffsalot’s Vengance for a Thief campaign is that part one was the last to be created, kinda like Star Wars only not.

 

The Angel’s Tear, our intro, is a basic mansion mission. A merchant is in possession of a valuable jewel, go steal it. The jewel is protected by a security system, forcing your to track down three keys to get your hands on the jewel.

 

The main problem I have with this mission is that I feel like I’m suffering from hallway hypnosis. The mansion is very sameish with very little to differentiate one hallway from the next, resulting in one getting lost easy. There’s a lack of map, which makes navigation even more of a pain. Also of irritation is tracking down the lord’s wife, who has one of the keys you need. She walks at a snail's pace, and the large mansion size makes tracking her down a pain.

 

The loot goal is fair, and while it does require you to get the vast majority of the level’s loot, most of it is in plain sight. As a bonus, the guards will actually notice when pieces are missing.
 

All and all, I don’t feel as if I can recommend this. It reminds me of Lord Dufford’s or Deceptive Shadows, in that the good bits are buried under tedium. For what it’s worth, the other two missions in this series are much better.


Edited by The Dark One, 17 September 2017 - 01:02 PM.

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Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#161 The Dark One

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 07:46 PM

And now for part two of Vengeance for a Thief: A Pawn in the Game. Which was created first.

 

When we last left our hero, he had just stolen the Angel’s Tear and was making a clean getaway, but it turns out he was instantly set upon by the City Watch and arrested. Our humble hero, realizing that there’s no way a Master Thief(™) like him could mess up, decides that he’s been set-up and aims to break out, find out what happened, and dig up a little more info on the mysterious “Order of the Golden Lion.”
 

This is a much better mission than its predecessor, if just because the environments look different. You start in the City Watch building, and after getting your stuff and getting out, have to hit the city streets. Where Taffsalot shines is in the scale of the buildings you wander around, with good, appropriate music, especially in a local chapel. It’s all quite impressive, and makes up for the straightforwardness of the mission.

 

Difficulty-wise, it’s fair. There are quite a few guards walking the halls and streets, but they can be maneuvered around, with the difficulty mostly coming from the strong ambient light that makes it suprisingly easy to be spotted. The main problem comes from remembering that the guards can see the rope arrows that you will end up scattering all over the place. I do have to comment a bit on the coincidence that some of the random houses you end up breaking into have important plot information. The loot goal is also fair, with you having to get a vast majority of it but most being in plain sight.

 

All in all, this is much better effort that it’s predessor/created-later prequel. Recommended.


  • Moonbo and Anderson like this

Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#162 The Dark One

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Posted 24 September 2017 - 08:59 PM

Part three of Vengeance for a Thief is live.

 

The Art of Revenge takes place a year after part two, and our hero has returned to Bridgeport to take some sweet sweet vengeance against the one who set him up by re-stealing the Angel’s Tear and a valuable painting donated to a museum by the backstabber.

 

This is probably the most balanced mission in the VfaT series. It starts out as a small city mission before moving into the museum for the actual heist. The difficulty is balanced, with a fair few guards patrolling but giving you the room to maneuver around them, and making the ambient lighting far less strong outside (though the same can’t be said for the inside, lighting-wise). The loot goal is also more relaxed, to the point where you don’t even have to take any from the display cases lying around to get to it...which is good, because the guards will notice if any are missing. The mission also assigns you to track down five golden lions belonging to the Order of the Golden Lion. This is optional, but isn’t too hard if one is willing to explore a bit.
 

The mission continues the trend of gigantic buildings, though a little more controlled than in part two, with most of the massive size being saved for the museum itself. It makes the place look very impressive, though it can make guards hard to see from across the room.  The interior is nice and varied, with multiple exhibits to search through. One thing that I liked about this mission was being able to take certain arrows from one exhibit to use, which I only found out you can do in my second playthrough.

 

On the whole, this is a good conclusion to the VfaT series. Recommended.


  • Moonbo and Anderson like this

Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#163 The Dark One

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 04:10 PM

Man, took a bit to get to this.

 

A New Job (by Springheel) is the first mission of the official Dark Mod campaign which inverts normal trilogy creep by being planned for three and then becoming two (for now anyway). Our hero, Corbin, has been hired by a client for an unknown job, and while on the way to the meeting, decides to slip into a nearby inn and swipe some rubies belonging to a nobleman.

 

A New Job is designed for newer players to The Dark Mod, and is also an exercise in showing off those sweet sweet new models and textures. To the mission’s credit, they look quite well, looking sufficiently grimy and claustrophobic to give the impression that the player is crawling around the back alleys of the city. Little touches fill the mission, such as an NPC interacting with a facut to get water. It sounds petty, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it in this game. Little touches of worldbuilding and short puzzles are also well done.

 

The mission isn’t overly hard, with even the loot goal being optional. Considering how some of it is tucked out of the way, this is a good thing, giving players a chance to be challenged without being jammed. I played on the highest difficulty, so I didn’t get much in the way of help, but I’m informed that lower difficulties provide hints to help the newbies along, which is appreciated.

 

All in all, a short, satisfying introduction. Recommended.

 

------
 

And now, a bonus!
 

The Tears of St. Lucia, which I reviewed way back when, has gotten an update for the new release, but I found myself mildly disappointed. It’s mainly a graphic overhaul, which looks quite good and looks like it was done by the same guy who did Lords and Legacy. I admit, I wished that a little bit more had been added to the mission. There were some additions on higher levels, such as a few more guards and spiders, as well as an alternate route via an outside duct. It’s also worth noting that on the easiest difficulty, you can get through the front gate, which you couldn’t in the original. A hint about those blasted water arrows has also been clarified on all difficulties.

 

Most of my complaints come from the fact that I’ve played it before and wished for something new, but in all honestly it’s still a very solid and worthwhile mission, and new players will definitely enjoy it. Older ones who don’t have the expectation of something brand new will also enjoy.


Edited by The Dark One, 03 October 2017 - 05:38 PM.

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Because in mystery novels, the first suspect is almost certainly never the murderer. No matter how much unmovable evidence there is, it will all be smashed in pieces by the wrath of the remaining number of pages of the story.

 

-"The Evil Spirit of the Zushi Clan" from Virtual Carnal Pleasure by Yamada Fuutarou


#164 Springheel

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 04:33 PM

A New Job (by Springheel) is the first mission of the official Dark Mod campaign which inverts normal trilogy creep by being planned for three and then becoming two

 

 

There is a third mission, it's just stalled.


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#165 Bikerdude

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 01:19 PM

There is a third mission, it's just stalled.

Once I get the city mission Im working on out the door, and  if the extra help is wanted Im happy to carry on where I left off.


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