The license applies to MSDN text/images and to my levels

21st of April 2024

Fear of the Dark | Single | Author: DannyFromNewOrleans | Download

The Review: A snowy wasteland, an abandoned facility and the E2L8 track thrown in to set the mood; DannyFromNewOrleans seems fixated on this theme, as this map heavily resembles Memory of the Waters (which in turn resembled Danny's previous output and so on). But hey, if he's having fun with this theme, who am I to judge? Well, that actually does seem to be my "job" here, so...
As expected, design is solid; a bit flat maybe but tidy and polished with plenty of interesting details and overall good use of the space research facility theme. After a linear start you come across a hub area with many locked doors, but the facility's layout is pretty clear and you've got viewscreens and signs to guide you. The map also makes good use of night-vision goggles and the scuba gear. The map builds atmosphere pretty well, setting the stage for a twist near the end. However, the map's constant darkness can get a bit annoying at times. On a few occasions you have to look for some scattered buttons; I wish these were better highlighted, as I was playing this in the middle of the day on a cloudy day and had trouble seeing ahead and spotting buttons, especially underwater. I'm not the biggest fan of these scattered-button hunts anyway; they feel like an artificial way typical of usermaps to compel the player to visit multiple locations, a "solution" caused by poor planning.
Combat starts off slow; you spawn in with no weapons at all, then having to fight some transparent drones with nothing but your trusted pistol. Around the hub area things get more typical with Duke fighting the usual monsters and respawns. The scale of hallways and rooms is kinda small, but with the exception of the hub area, finding cover never felt like an issue (thus making pipebombs particularly effective). It felt like Danny has found the right balance for ammo and items, as there never seemed to be too much of anything, and the sight of, say, RPG ammo and portable medkits was always most welcome. Near the end of the map there are two arena battles reminiscent of Doom slaughtermaps. I had to bail out of the first one (against Commanders) due to a lack of ammo, but at least the second one was manageable (against Octabrains; rockets are far more effective against these). It probably would have helped if I had had the Devastator & Shrinker/Expander, but neither was in my inventory at this point. Quite frankly, if I were to force the player into battles of this scale, I'd make sure he cannot miss tools essential to fighting them. (The weapons must've been somewhere judging by the presence of corresponding ammo around the map.)

Conclusion: Fear of the Dark is a slight improvement over Memory of the Waters albeit very similar. DannyFromNewOrleans is good at setting the stage for a gloomy atmosphere and well-paced combat; just too bad the map's darkness is allowed to get in the way of enjoyable gameplay.

Rating: 92

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