Simply one of the best.
Sure it is far from perfect, but the overall impression is very strong - it's basically unforgettable!
Like Skaarj Tower
, Skaarj Castle
is basically perfect in terms of conceptual grandness. It blew me away the first time I played it. And oh boy, it's freakin' HUGE
- I still remember measuring the amount of time it took me on my first playthrough: 4 hours (!), 4h15 if you count the final backtracking out of the castle (and through
the maze!) up the surrounding mountains and into that cavern which allows you to exit the valley (for the sake of comparison, it took me 4h30 for Skaarj Tower
!). While it's true that the build is, generally speaking, inferior to Skaarj Tower
(mostly with respect to lighting), there's still plenty to like and the sense of place and progression is phenomenal. Even the problem with touching the "edge" of the map on top of the ridge didn't bother me too much, the skybox is actually really nice (the glimpse of the distant mountains from further down in the valley is sweet) and the whole map is so generous that I easily immersed myself in it and my imagination filled in the gaps where the mapper had been more figurative.
Ah yes, there's the maze. It's true that coop was always central to Drew's effort, but thanks to permanent decals with Oldskool I wasn't too bothered. I spent some time in there, yes, and I did get somewhat agitated but I figured it out in maybe half an hour (I also explored the entirety of it, and on the return trip the decals allowed me to navigate the place with ease but I do pride myself with having a good sense of orientation
The Skaarj General inside the castle made for a good fight: unlike in Skaarj Tower
, you will
face the General here and the new skin is great - in addition, I like how the General suddenly shows up (and that gave me one hell of a fright! and I died
). The overall experience is quite hard, like Shadow and Fire
's previous map.
It's almost sad to think that probably no one would attempt to make a map of this scale today (in Unreal
). Maybe 227 and its increased node limit can help...
► Show Spoiler
I'm pissed I missed the chance to comment on last week's MOTW (was moving and had scarce access to the Web), but I guess people mostly said what I wanted to say.