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The Dark One

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The Dark One last won the day on January 31 2019

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  1. Hey thanks! Good to know that someone likes these things, typo-filled though they are. I never did get around to putting in screenshots though, couldn't find a good site/didn't understand the sites I was pointed at (and I kept forgetting to take screenshots/got dragged out of the mission by them). Sadly, that's not my final time, that's my review time. I timed how long it took me (roughly) to write this review in honor of the mission's speedbuild origins. I guess I could keep track of that in the future, since I play these missions twice for reviewing purposes and it might be interesting to compare them. That'll be a few more reviews down the line, since I'll be going through my backlog/doing replays for a bit. Once again, thank you. --- I don’t have anything to settle, really. A Score to Settle is probably Springheel’s best mission. This time, Corbin isn’t after something as prosaic as money (although there’s plenty of that), but vengeance. In the time he’s been gone (see The Builder’s Influence), the Bowley Boys have gained a new leader, Sykes, who’s running a vicious ship that has left his gang in charge and one of Corbin’s fences dead. Just killing him would make the gang situation worse, so instead a fair bit of humiliation is called for… A Score to Settle is a very urban mission. Instead of fancy mansions, you’re slipping through the mean streets and slums, breaking into a gang hideout. Everything feels grimy and dim, with uneven, stained roads and small tunnels giving the impression that you're creeping down back alleys. It all fits the sordid (and somewhat funny, honestly) nature of what you’re trying to do here. It’s a more story-bases than most missions, and while actually breaking the scenario is hard, it is a little too easy to, just via natural curiosity, to complete most of the mission before ever meeting your contact. Difficulty-wise, it’s quite fair. Streets are wide open and made for sneaking, and even the closer confines of Sykes’ hideout give you room to maneuver. The loot goal is high, but optional, and most of it is found in one place. I do wish that there were a few more places around the city to slip into for loot, but that’s a mild gripe. The difficulty only really shoots up with the final sequence, which is bound to send ghosters into fits of rage. But it’s done well, and creates some good chaos and confusion. There are also a few other little elements of this mission that I like, such as that trap in Sykes’ hideout, and how the mission uses the environment to allow you to progress. Although I admit one needed jump is a little too high, resulting in some (like me) seeing it, trying it, and then assuming that you need to do something else, or get a little bit higher. It also makes it a little hard to recommend to someone new to the mod, since it requires a little familiarity with it. But all in all, an excellent mission. Recommended.
  2. In honor of the speedbuild origins, I present a speed build review. Go. A Matter of Hours is Springheel’s latest mission, meant to show that you to, can make a mission quickly. The Bowley Boys have got their hands on a valuable crown, making them a prime target for Corbin, our hero. Unfortunately, a raid is planned, meaning he only has a matter of hours to sneak in swipe it. Sadly, this does not mean a time limit. But the mission is hard enough. Springheel’s other missions tend to be more story-based affairs focusing more on unconventional objectives, like tax records or dumping gang leaders down toilets. This time it’s much simpler: No readables, no plot, just swoop in and grab it. The mission is well done, with good lighting and enough junk lying around to make it seem like the player is in an industrial warehouse clumsily converted into a hideout. It’s not a major part of the mission, but for something made it six hours it looks good. The mission is also quite hard. Part of this is due to a blind spot or two, such as the one separating the warehouse proper from the hideout, forcing you to duck into the light and pray that no one is there. Some of the loot is also beneath bright lights, and getting at it will all but force you to either have excellent timing, or use your two knockout (on the highest difficulty), on two particular guards. And you still need to have excellent timing. A challenge is fine, but the mission came off to me as very tight, and giving little room for misused equipment and knockouts. This is probably due to the speed, but nonetheless. Exploration is rewarded well, with tools scattered about for the careful thief willing to look in the piles of junk. There were also some reports of performance issues, but I’m pleased to say that my four-year-old piece of junk that sounds like it has a chainsaw embedded in it and probably is clogged with so much dust that there are new forms of life growing in it, could run it fine with almost no noticeable slowdown, nothing more than I’ve gotten in far larger missions. All in all, a fun little challenge, especially for those who want a bit more careful stealth. And for those who want to know how simple it is to make a solid mission. Recommended. Final time: About thirteen minutes (and last minute edits that I didn't notice until I posted this here).
  3. Finished this a couple of days ago. Very good, if different from the previous William Steele missions. It hit on the creepy exploration I like in TDM, I could have just run around in this place with no NPCs for a while. The inn and the theater in particular had good atmosphere. Everything felt like it was just lived in, and is now rotting and decaying. Very well done. Plot-wise I do have a minor question:
  4. I have nothing witty to say here. The Gatehouse (by Bikerdude and GoldChocobo), is an atypical mission. For one, it’s technical a conversion of a Doom 3 map. For another, this time you aren’t playing as a thief, but as Mattias, a Builder acolyte who’s reaching the climax of a year-long pilgrimage to track down a sword touched by the Master Builder himself. Obviously it’s not just sitting in some guy’s attic, but deep in an abandoned castle dubbed “The Gatehouse,” forcing our actual hero to track it down. This mission stands out from the norm in a third way: It’s mainly a puzzle mission. The higher difficulties do toss a few revenants at you to slip by, but for the most part you’re solving puzzles and dodging death traps. It’s all done quite well, and while you don't have many brain-teasers (barring a mirror puzzle which can be somewhat brute forced with a little observation), you’ll have to search and think a bit, as well as quickly react to the latest challenge. Some are fairly creative too, such as one of the final hallways. And the final challenge is one of the most entertaining (if at times tricky) challenges in The Dark Mod. The mission also has excellent atmosphere, conveying a crumbling, haunted ruin, with dark crawl spaces that you’ll be watching in case something nasty climbs out. It’s genuinely creepy, with hints of what happened to transform it into the mess it is today waiting for you if you’re willing to look. It’s a minor element, but well-done. There are a couple of issues that can kill the immersion a bit, such as spiked balls not always hurting you but instead landing on your head so perfectly you’d think it was a flat metal plate, but these are few and far between. All in all, an excellent tomb crawler. Perhaps I’m biased, since I’ve been wanting one of these ever since I played Samhain Night, but Recommended.
  5. Blackmail is such an ugly word. Sir Talbot’s Collateral (by the combo of Baal and Bikerdude) is an excellent little manion mission that sets our cautious hero against the titular Talbot. On the surface, he’s clean, but he’s trolling about for a professional thief, and a demonstration of our hero’s skills is called for. And hey, if a little bit of “collateral” is found, all the better… This mission is quite well-made, and very non-linear for a mansion mission. Once you get access to the wine cellar (which can happen very early), you essentially have access to most of the mansion, via vents and secret passages. On my replay I was worried that you could break the mission this way, but there's enough separation to ensure that even experienced players will have to duck through the halls. Difficulty-wise, it can be tricky, as knockouts are limited (although only Expert will fail you if you exceed it) and guards are plentiful. You have plenty of places to duck into, but expect some close calls. One oddly placed light in the kitchen gives you a little too much darkness right in the center, even though guards should be able to see you crouching right there! But that was the only odd light I found. The loot goal is fair, if tight, but higher difficulties will require digging in nooks and crannies to find what’s needed. I also sometimes had an issue with guards being alerted seemingly at random. I would put out a light or swipe something, and they would walk past it four times before noticing that something was amiss on the fifth. It didn’t seem to increase my stealth score, so I assume it was either a bug or a misunderstanding on my part about the alert system. This mission is honestly quite fun. The blue ambient light makes it look different, and there is much to be found for the curious thief, including optional objectives. The readables are done well and provide useful hints on how to proceed. What I mainly liked was that the mission rewards, but does not demand exploration. It’s certainly needed on higher difficulties, but if you’re playing it casually, you don’t need to dig everywhere...but you’ll miss out on secrets and equipment. I think this is actually a good intro mission for new players, since it hits a lot of high points but doesn’t crush if you miss things. Obviously, Recommended.
  6. You have a point, it helps that there's less missions in The Dark mod so it's harder for missions to slip under the radar. I mainly brought up Lords and Legacy since I don't see it talked about much at all, as opposed to something like Requiem, which I still see brought up. Unusual missions might slip under as well.
  7. As the title says, what are your personal underrated Dark Mod (and Thief fan missions in general if you want) missions? Missions that are good/great/fun that never got a lot of attention or have otherwise faded away, in essence. Personally, I'll give a nod to Briarwood Cathedral by buck28. Not the best mission, and some of your goals can be obtuse, but it somehow hit this vein of pure *fun* that I can't articulate well. The same with his first mission, Lockton Manor. I'll also give a nod to Lords and Legacy by Kvorning. A fun, complex city/mansion mission that the author dropped on us all and then vanished without a trace. It's very fun and I'm tempted to give it another go one of these days, and it's a shame that I don't see it mentioned more often.
  8. Get it? It’s a money joke. In the Black (by VanishedOne) is a mission that places you in the role of the best of the best, the spymaster’s spymaster. This time, our hero isn’t after riches, but taxes, namely the finances of Lord Jaskin for reasons never explained, other than that Very Nice People want them. Not that that is of any concern, since you’ll be too busy gawking at this guy’s house. This mission is similar to that rich relative you invites you over once a year in theory for a vacation but also so he can show off his the new Picasso he got this year. This house is one of the largest and finest in The Dark Mod, with modern lights and the sheer sense of richness filling the place. The author admitted that the mansion was in part a set of test rooms that he linked together, which almost makes one think of Lord Dufford’s which also began life as a test. While this mission somewhat suffers from the sheer size issue of its predecessor, it’s far better connected and populated, with quite a few guards lurking the hallways. The new technology,m sadly, also comes with spherical lights that make this deafening buzzing noise, which even lasts into menus. Difficulty-wise, it’s fairly tricky, less so due to hard guard patrols or lights, and more to the fact that much of the loot is hidden or concealed. Hints are sparse, and while the loot goal is optional, if you want to break it you’re going to have to find them. The problem is that some of the hints are vague or nonexistent. Getting access to a large chunk of your loot goal requires you to take note of one random readable among a group of readables with no use. There’s another brief horror sequence that’s very well done, but can actually be skipped entirely...not that you get any hints that this is possible. A shame, since I’ve never seen this idea used in a mission before. There is a story to be told here, but interestingly it’s more indirect. If you find the hints and piece them together, congrats, but it’s not required for the mission, which I liked. Nothing major compared to some dark secrets in The Dark Mod, but it’s nice not to have everything spelled out. It also has one of the best interpretations of a Builder chapel I’ve seen. All in all, a nice, fancy mission. Could have been tightened up a bit, but good. Recommended, just be aware of the quirks. And I apologize for the long review gaps, I'm busy and my backlog isn't as full as I'd like it to be.
  9. No halls, I promise King of the Mountain (by Spoonman) is a sorta-prequel of sorts to The Ravine. This time, you assume the role of a prisoner in the Bluerock Prison on the brink of everything falling apart. Winter is coming, food is low, and word on the street is that even the Church has given up on supplying the place. Our hero has been tossed in isolation, but managed to swipe the key. Now, he has to escape. This is essentially The Ravine: Mini Edition, but less overtly confusing. You’re still maneuvering through a mazelike area that’s more focused on an overlapping vertically, with plenty of shadows to hide yourself in but very few places to safely dispose of any bodies. The main differences is that this place relies less on confusing sound to constantly make you feel unsafe, and it’s smaller. Those of you who are worried that The Ravine and its oddess will be forever ruined can be rest assured that you get no explanation for that mess, but there is something going on at the prison. It’s not hard to figure out, but what’s interesting is that it’s mainly told through the environment. Details like a makeshift boxing ring help add to the desolate atmosphere of the place, and the few readable makes sense and help to clear things for for those who didn’t grasp the environmental side of things. There’s even a fair bit of black comedy, especially with the ending. My main issue with this mission is that the objective is both obscure and easy to short-circuit. Getting out is based on finding a single key, held by a single guard who has a wide patrol route and little to distinguish him from the rest. As a result, it’s easy for a player to explore the whole prison, deal with every guard, and have no idea what to do, and also easy for another to stumble on the key in the first fifteen minutes. It’s a petty thing, but it can easily throw the mission off. For all The Ravine’s confusion, at least you knew what you were looking for. In the end, a solid mission. Recommended, especially if you enjoyed The Ravine.
  10. While this is a fun mission and I'm greatly enjoying it, I have a bug report.
  11. Full confession: As an easily scared person I prefer reading about horror to actually being horrified. That said: Horror has elements of contrast and build-up. While Victorian horror is certainly, er, horrifying, I suspect that part of it is because we cynical moderns probably don't think that a Victorian anything is scary, resulting in more of an impact when they drop something vicious on us. But that's a personal idea. But the idea of "contrast" is valid, and is the basis behind most "break into this mansion, whoops there are zombies in the basement" missions, the contrast between the respectable, bright nobility and the darkness of whatever secret is lurking. Build-up is just the idea of setting the ground for the horror before the player encounters it. Patently Dangerous is one of the best examples I can think of for this, since so much of the latter half of the mission is setting up the final clash. You know what's coming, but the mission takes its sweet time getting there. It puts the player at a disadvantage, even from the first room where they do something that makes sure that everyone in a fifty mile radius knows they're there. Sound design is good, having footsteps and voices from another room can help unsettle the player, although it can get cheesy/ineffective after the horror has set in. Isolation (like in Dragofer's missions) is also good, though difficult to pull off in a traditional mansion mission. Stumpy's Lord Dufford's pulls it off unintentionally, but it shows the effect that creeping through a mansion that should be occupied but isn't can have. One thing I think needs to be addressed is that fact that a mission should be a good mission and not just a horror mission. Even the best horror will get stale if done enough times and so much of it is based off the fact that the player doesn't know what's coming. But a mission should still be satisfying even outside of that (which is another reason jumpscare reliance is bad, since once the player knows it's coming, there's no tension.) But that's just my rambling, others above have probably made my points better.
  12. The guest that wouldn’t leave, I suppose. Not an Ordinary Guest is Fieldmedics’ most recent mission, and another ambitious but more traditional entry. This time, you don’t have three difficulties, but three playstyles. All three place you in an upper-class inn, but one has you playing as an assassin to take out a cheating husband, one has you just robbing the place like normal, and the third has you assuming the role of a saboteur out to wreck the inn’s reputation (and interestingly the notebook the main character has more or less says that this is a sequel to the now taken-down mission A Night to Remember). While they don’t exactly correspond to normal difficulty levels, each has their own challenges. Assassin has the simplest objectives: find husband, kill husband, but is also strict about you not being seen. Thief is more forgiving of mistakes but has slightly more complex objectives. Saboteur has the most objectives, but the stealth is the easiest, bringing back the tension meter from Reap As You Sow. It’s done much better here, as it only makes you suspicious if you’re in areas you shouldn’t be in, or if you’re spotted carrying around lockpicks. The layout is well-done. There's a small cityscape outside the inn, and while there’s not much to steal out there, it does give a wide variety of entrances to the inn, from mounting onto the balcony to swimming through claustrophobic and maze-like sewer pipes. It strikes a good balance, and doesn’t fall under empty space. The atmosphere and layout are both good as well, even though they lack the pure horror of some of his earlier works, barring the basement due to the very creepy music. It does a good job of conveying that you really shouldn’t be here. There’s a bit of empty space in the inn, namely the attic and sewers, but it’s mild. Like most of Fieldmedic’s missions, its hard, but unlike them it's hard for the intended reasons, usually. Assassin is short but requires you to quickly grab a wellguarder object without being detected, which is easier said than done. Thief is the easiest, but also the most tedious, as you'll have to break into and search almost every room in the inn for the needed loot. And it’s random each game (which is good that he put the effort in, but man.) I feely admit I might have made it harder on myself by missing something, but I’m not sure if it would have helped. Saboteur has the best objectives, but the needed ones are buried behind some mild obtuseness, though not to the same extent as Reap. One requires you to note a random object in another part of the inn and use it (with little indication that this is what you need beyond the fact that you can pick it up), and another requires you to find a journal in a shelf of unreadable books. Nothing major, but it can jar a playthrough to a halt. I also have to question why make thieving a part of this setting, but it’s a mild gripe. All in all, a fun set of missions. Recommended, if you can deal with the hiccups.
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