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A little more than a year has passed since the release of A Fever Dream, and here's Heath Games with Parasomnia, which has us playing as Half-Rats once again. This time he isn't hellbent on survival, but rather fueled by monetary greed as he explores a seemingly abandoned town, in hopes of making mounds of riches. Mr. Rats has the journey planned out from the start - a complete contrast to the predecessor, which is also reflected in the development of the mod, and more prominently, in the gameplay itself.
I really enjoyed the inventory & shop systems. Being able to carry health restoring meat with you at all times is very efficent. I found it smart to heal yourself at the shops to full health and then buying more to use along the way forward, assuming your lamp is already full.
The darkness may appear to be a problem at first, but adjusting to looking high up and down helps you navigate through the night. Related to the darkness though, is what I think is the mod's only fault; the lamp's oil. When you're moving through the levels smoothly and swiftly you find new flasks quickly. Whenever you're temporarily stuck, exploring or thinking about a puzzle however, you notice that it drains rather quickly. I spent a lot of time walking back and forth, reloading a save whenever the oil ran out, and once I knew what to do I did it all over again faster. I spent quite a lot of my treasury investing in whale oil, and would probarly have bought more if it had been possible to use the flasks on the go, like with the rest of the shop items.
Combat is a lot of fun and doesn't get repetitive. The reason being that Parasomnia never ceases to challenge you: Once you've gotten adjusted to a certain enemy and its attack patterns, you often find yourself facing off against a new hostility in the forthcoming maps, often in a mixed group of multiple foes. A cycle of discomfort, if I may call it so. I have metaphorically and literally been on the fence (there's some in this mod) as I have panicked, wondering what to shoot at first while being blasted from multiple directions by cavalry men... Then bitten to death by a unseen bottom-sniffer. If you were poor at target prioritization and had slow reflexes before playing the mod, you'll be better at both when you've finished it.
Parasomnia's sounds and looks differ from most other mods just as much as the predecessor does, but with the added plus of not recycling anything from it. Everything feels new and different. You find yourself wanting to take a long good look at the monsters before kicking them; which can be done when wielding the saber. When there aren't any gun toters around you can bring it out and wreak some fun havoc on the poor saps, that don't know that you may or may not be high on cocaine.
When there aren't any blaring enemies around I find the levels very ambient and atmospheric. Exploring and taking in the enviroments around you not only immerses you in the experience, but also rewards you with some hidden items and areas. Most of the maps are perfectly connected, making the town feel quite big despite some buildings being closed, and the indoor areas are very detailed. I think I played the mod for about five hours and loved it almost the entire time.
Half-Rats: Parasomnia is bigger and better than its predecessor in almost every way. I recommend playing A Fever Dream before this one however, not only so that the story can be enjoyed to its fullest, but also so that one may appreciate all the incredible effort that was put into it in a little more than a year's worth of time.
Review of version 1.2
The initial release was quite the romp with issues as stated in earlier reviews, but this version makes it a wholesomly improved experience over all.
For somebody who loves the original They Hunger trilogy, it's a delight to see the new setpieces and the twists to the atmospheric game world. The scenery looks great, in particular the volcano. This mod suprises and impresses when its flaws aren't bulging.
The maps do look nicer than the original, albeit I feel a lot of the outdoor areas are too cramped. Feels like the geography of Rockwell is completly different.
It is also unfortunate that, as a consequence of the claustrophobic design, the mod is a whole lot more linear than the original. The maps are shorter and doesn't feel diversive enough, meaning that you can't stray from the one path forward for a bit to explore the surroundings.
The combat is tons of fun (as of 1.2, remember.) The new weapons are fun to use, though You're still brandishing a crowbar. It is also a bit jarring to hear the enemies using combine voice-overs and citizens of City17 representing the few non-infected allies. I can imagine these things being fixed once the full version has been released.
As it stands on its own, it's a short, linear mod that is as of this writing unfinished. I am looking forward to the entire finished episode, and the rest of the trilogy - the second episode takes place in a town, so that gives the mapper some great oppurtunity to make wide levels that reward exploring.
You'd be forgiven for not thinking too highly of this mod at a first impression. The mod stars the developer himself, as voiced by himself, with a mod page full of promises, alcohol references, and "Half-Pun: The Game" being the title card. These are traits that I have seen in earlier okey-to-awful half-life mods, but as a amalgamation of all of it, Half-Rats manages to be something different. Rather amazing, in fact.
The mod drenches you in atmosphere as soon as you get to the start menu. From there you're engulfed in a moody and strange experience, futher enforced by the fantastic voice work. The opening dialogue had me succumbing to The Develeoper's repeated recommendation of drinking something while playing, so after getting myself a "Rusty Nail" I was right back into the fever.
Okay, some sort of a joke... The only thing not from the early 1900s is the developer's modding skills. Haha!? The map design is smart. Mostly straight forward, always clever. It manages to make the dreaded Sewer levels entertaining, and the wonderfully detailed indoor areas are what makes this a immersive mod. As said earlier, the voice acting is great, and so are the scripted sequences, the dialogue itself... And I'm still talking about a HL mod!
I suggest that everyone play this on easy or normal first time through. Combat is just challenging enough but can get hard at times, in particular since there is a need to conserve ammo, demanding some melee from your hand. Be also vary that pausing during any dialogue might mute it, a fault of Half-life itself.
Despite there being talks of references to earlier works, such as They Hunger, I didn't notice any of them in the mod. I might be shoutout-blind, or maybe, any and all of these references are so carefully hewn that they have become a part of the beast.
After what Half-Rats: A Fever Dream has given me, I have given in. I'm eagerly anticipating the sequel, and the rest of the "multimedia experience" That Half-Rats has told us about. Sir Half-Rats is not a mere developer, but a genuine renaissance man.
To anyone who's going to try this mod out: this is a story driven mod. There are lots of cutscenes, briefings and conversations, so relax until your mission has started.
I really like the setpieces in this mod. I found them clever and, despite that some of the scripted events are a tad predictable, they're all executed so well I didn't mind them.
The greatest problem I have with this mod is the level design. The layouts are good, but most areas beyond the HQ lack detail and props. The grey, empty corridors in particular, which there are many of.
Every now and then you need to backtrack to find some item or door that you've missed. It irritates me when I can't make progress due to a keycard puzzle, and the mod is full of them. The combat on the other hand is really nice, and it escalates in difficulty smoothly with each passing mission.
All in all, it is a decent mod. The creator's ambition is felt as you play. All that he needs to learn, is to put more detail into all the explorable areas, and to dare to try out new assets. If this had looked and sounded slightly different, it might have hit one of the top mark.
This mod isn't well-designed. To put it lightly.
Right at the start it puts you in dark corridors with headcrabs, zombies, a alien slave and hounddogs a little while later on. These enemies all have to be fought in the blackness while the player is given extremly limited ammo, and the crowbar.
The most cruel change in all of this is the damn crowbar, which to me is number one worst weapon conceived through all of half-life's modding community of all time, beating the Pingas Glock from Crack-life. Between each swing there is a delay which seriously screws with any player who wants to use it efficiently, or even just for opening some boxes. It only serves to blatantly pad out the time it takes fighting enemies and to beat the mod, and you're stuck with in in pitch-black darkness.
If you manage to survive that you get to properly see some of the mapping in bright ares, all of which are very basic. It could've been made in 2002 hadn't there been a few keycard puzzles up there.
All in all, it encompasses repeated dying and frustration. It sure is challenging, but it isn't any entertaining whatsoever. Let's hope the creator makes something better next time. Something with a little bit of quicker swinging.
Scientist Slaughterhouse: The Single Player Campaign.
A very unusual mod, in the sense that your enemies encompass Barneys, scientists and a itchysaur only. The mapping is very flawed, with remarkable things such as a spiral staircase you have to crouch-jump in.
I really liked the idea of going in and killing the scientists, like the HECU in original Half-life. I was all giddy as I clawed onto a window in which I saw a whole room of them evil scientists panicking. The best part of the mod is definitly that it isn't all just run & gun; the scientists barricaded themselfe and took to hiding, making the whole experience a puzzle game in which you have to find out how to reach every single one of them.
It is unfortunetly very flawed. Worth a go though for the unique experience.
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