As long as I've been playing games I've wanted to make my own. Captivated by the possibilities of level editors, I started mapping in 1996 for Doom II. Not long after my gaming experience was changed by the release of Half-Life in 1998. This game got me hooked for the next couple of years and it should come as no surprise that as soon as I found Worldcraft, I was making my own Goldsource wolds. As we moved into the new millennium, online gaming started opening up to me and I found Sven Co-op in 2000 for which I made countless maps and content. I closed off 10 years of GoldSource development with the release of Land of Legends in 2009. Since 2008 I've picked up Source mapping and worked on maps for Resistance and Liberation, Overwatch and Fortress Forever. After that I worked on a discontinued MOD called "An Open Window\". After a long break of mapping, I got back into the game by creating the remake of HL:Uplink for Black Mesa: Source in late 2012.
Truly a lot of work has been put into this game, content-wise and story-wise. The prologue itself is longer than most other MODs and the first Chapter is nearly a full-length game.
Where Underhell excels is the gameplay, mainly the combat. Either zombies or soldiers, enemies are to be reckoned with in their own unique way. Less impressed was I with the minigun-scene and CoD-like jeep chase, which was really over the top. The gameplay features nice breaks from battle with searching for supplies and solving puzzles. The puzzles however mostly come down to flipping a switch and finding keycards. Some more innovation would be good in this area.
One of the gems in Chapter 1 is the amount of NPC dialogue. There's a lot of conversation you can listen to which brings the setting and characters to life. Other games don't really dare letting NPC's speak more than the minimum required amount of lines. Downside: NPC's are heavily based on stereotypes which makes them predictable, 2-dimensional and sometimes a bit annoying. I'd love to see characters with more depth and personal backstory in Chapter 2. Also, sometimes the animation is a bit choppy.
The selling point of Underhell is certainly the House. In here the developers can freely experiment with weird gameplay and effects, which turns it into a very interesting part of the game for the people who want to dive further into the depths of the protagonists brain. If you're done with all the psychological stuff, you just jump back into the main story. There is always something to do for whatever type of player you are or what mood you are in.
As for design, the Prologue had some rough edges. Chapter 1 is visually more appealing. I replayed the Prologue hoping it had been visually updated, but alas. For future updates I'd recommend polishing the older areas a bit more.
Conclusion: Underhell is a great MOD that grabs you with it's story and gameplay and makes you eagerly await the next installment.
I was really amazed by this MOD. It managed to shake off the signs of being a HL2 mod and created something truly unique. Great work on the atmosphere, puzzles and gameplay. I'm especially pleased about the level design. Somehow the mapper managed to connect every room to every room and still made it a logical walkthrough.
Some improvement could be done in the field of combat. I like the concept of it, but it feels a bit wacky. It would be better if it were harder to swing that weapon and create more feedback when you hit an enemy. Another point is the learning curve. I actually restarted the game because I only figured out how to get into the red rooms by level 3. While I'm aware there is a gameplay video, I didn't want to spoil my experience by watching that. If you made things more obvious and less hidden in the first map, I think a lot of people will be able to grasp the gameplay concept faster.
Overall: Really well done!
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