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

5th of June 2024

SIKHL | Single/Multi | Author: Thobias "Loke" Fast | Download

The Review: A hidden alien facility has been discovered in a desert; Duke is naturally sent in as an ambassador of goodwill to seek a peaceful resolution.
Loke's reputation as a master of spotless, elegant design remains strong as ever: Every wall, every floor and every ceiling is detailed, often in a way that ties the separate bits of a room or corridor together in a seamless fashion. Loke also has an eye for sleek curves, as every room seems to have plenty of them, and he likes to use more textures in a room than I know exist in the entire game, but the results are never messy; quite the contrary in fact.
While all of this is par for the course, SIKHL puts more emphasis on various lighting effects than Loke's previous output; you've got "dramatic" use of red and blue lighting, there are plenty of spotlights and beams used every which way (easier now that the engine supports sloped sprites) and even some fog (an underused EDuke32 feature) to jack up the place's ambience. While almost all of SIKHL takes place within the base, the map starts outdoors with a nice hazy sky above the canyons and some remains and viscera of aliens scattered around to build suspense. Once inside the base, you'll come across messages left behind by aliens of various positions (these reminded me of the Shaky Grounds maps), revealing quarrels and musings about cloning experiments and such.
The map is fun to play; the monster count isn't high, but it's more about the fun of exploring such a well-designed base and figuring out what's going on there (there's a good custom track too to accommodate this). Not that the map is easy or anything; it felt pretty balanced owing to good monster placement, but occasionally it did feel like the map was overly stingy with health.

Conclusion: Loke's hi-tech design is still among the best there is and SIKHL has a somewhat strong story component as well. Still, these maps do tend to be quite generic, and I definitely wouldn't mind a switch to, say, urban environments for a change.

Rating: 94

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