Hey, I'm Josh.
To start, this mod has character. Character that is a result of clear dedication and respect to the source material. The areas, music, gameplay mechanics, and concepts are all incredibly polished and beautifully done.
The issue I always have with custom stories is that most of them usually don't make the effort to be different. It's generally always a remix of the original game. But this, this is something of its own.
Where Dark Descent dealt with torture chambers, lumbering shadows, and a story told through notes and memories within a Prussian castle...
This deals with the occult, witchcraft, and an interpretive story told subtlety through visuals and notes under an Arabic ruin battered by time.
What I mean to say is that it has an identity and feel of its own. Every inch is soaked in atmosphere, down to the very last damn detail. You guys managed to capture old school Amnesia magic with this one. The puzzles, the setting, and the horror approach were all original. There was a mystic vibe all the way through.
The "Spout", I think it was called, really does feel like an old sanctuary that has been abandoned and left to rot under the sand. It felt like I was the first to step foot there in hundreds of years. The very subtle audio ques and use of ambient noise added to this, as well as the lighting, and choice of textures. Even the character we play as has a personality of intrigue, bravery, and prior knowledge of the occult. The lack of music for some of the monster encounters was brilliantly done, as that was the thing that made the monsters dry for me.
The ending was interesting, as both decisions led to the same outcome. However those outcomes are interpretive depending on which rune you used. The whole experience made me scared, and I am proud to say this is one of the best mods for Amnesia TDD.
I also found Ephemeral Rift's name in the credits to be very interesting. How much of an involvement did he, as an ASMR creator, have?
The level design is awful. There's no hints that direct you on the right path, and when you do find the correct passage, it's almost always extremely obscure, like a 1.5 cm ledge that you need to preform an extremely specific jump to even get to. It's sporadic, and very puzzling to navigate; it sucks the fun out of it more than once. It's all got to be polished.
You're constantly getting stuck on objects, like rocks, pieces of wood, debris, corners, invisible walls, etc. This infuriates the player very fast. Within the first minute. This also goes for the "boat" physics. When you need to cross poison water, it's nearly impossible not to take damage as you fly from the plank if you move a certain way.
The art direction and tone are really neat. Very gritty and unique. I love all the augmented npcs, and the extremely effective post apocalyptic setting. The music and sound design is top notch, too. The intercoms, enemy sounds, loudspeakers, ambience, etc are all great. Whoever is doing sound for this project, give them a pat on the back.
There's an ample supply of health, since you get hurt a lot in this game, so no real issues there. However there are some parts that require godmode if your health is too low, as taking damage is a necessary part of getting past some obstacles.
Animations are a bit stiff, and could use some polish.
Optimization has been limited to where you can't adjust FOV or motion blur. Mouse sensitivity is also unaffected by changing the slider.
Last thing, the pacing feels weird, as there's large chunks of level where you're just moving through samey, empty areas. There's a need for more enemy placement in these places to keep things feeling normal.
It's a very well mapped/scripted piece of work. The voice acting is either really good, or really bad. No real in between.
There's not a lot of enemies in the mod, with combat not being the main focus of it to begin with. It's more of an exploration/logic puzzle game. Lots of backtracking, key hunting, going up and down long elevators. It's all mapped beautifully, but is pretty dry in my opinion.
It's good, but feels kind of like if you took that one level you don't really look forward to because it's kind of tedious (mine is Water Hazard from HL2), and made an entire game centered around that type of level.
Everything was fresh and unique. From the music accompanying the voice actor reading notes, the beautiful mapping, the great sound design, awesome subtlety and narrative of the spirits, clever puzzles, and still maintained that classic amnesia feel. This is one of the best ones I've ever played by far. Before my favorite was The Great Work, but this parallels it perfectly.
Really, thank you for this. You made my Monday evening.
The only thing that detracted from the experience for me is the lack of autosaves. I do not know if it was just me, but I lost my save data 2/3 of the way through and had to replay up to that point.
Other than that, the game (I'm classifying it as a game) is great and you should feel great. I'd be surprised if Frictional didn't consider hiring you.
Wow, just wow.
First off, I'm a fan of movies. Primarily those types of movies where there is a group of people in a dire situation,and must take steps to get out of danger's way. The entire plot of Chapter One was like a dream come true, in video game format. I loved it.
Secondly, the gameplay is awesome too. I really like the implementation of an inventory system (every survival horror game should have one) in the source engine. The way you need to make choices and how to manage what space you have is also a really great game mechanic.
Thirdly, The house. Oh, the house. I ADORE the handling of the house. All the mystery, the symbolism, the dreams, and the ghost sightings... Dear god, they are so well executed it made me nervous to walk around in MY house. Also that touch with the crows circling overhead had a VERY eerie effect on me. I'm not sure why, but it did.
Finally, the writing. The characters are very well written and it is easy to distinguish the personalities of all of them. Bryan, the hot headed, but fun-to-be-around black guy; Takeo, the mysterious and silent asian; Terry, the de facto leader; Matt, the glasses wearing second in command; and Ben, the harmless computer whiz (not to mention many many more).
Plus the complexity of the story itself really kept me thinking throughout the entire experience. Who the hell is Jake? I think I know him so well but at the same time, I know NOTHING about him.
This isn't just a mod, it is a game.
And it proves that you don't need a whole company of laughing, joking, numbnuts to develop a genuinely amazing game.
*Cough* Infinity Ward *Cough*
I seriously cannot wait for Chapter Two! Take your time, think things out, and connect the dots you have created. Good things take time, this is one of them.
Stellar Job you guys.
Amazing and original. One of my old favorites back in 2008.
Final Thoughts – It’s a very professional Custom Story and rests (in my book) as a worthy expansion to the original game and acts as a prelude to the events of its predecessor. Just the fact alone that it was crafted using stock, or default, props, entities, and static objects, is mind-blowing. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever played something as gripping as this in an Amnesia mod before. It really kept me at the edge of my seat and wondering what happened next. I even found out the code to get into the “secret.rar” in the game’s files. That’s where I’m writing this. If you actually took the time to read this review, you’ll know that the code is in the credits at the very end. I won’t be releasing the code out of general respect for the creators. But I will say this… You CAN pull a cheap one and dig around in the “extra_english.lang” file to find this code, but I would recommend not to, as it kind of ruins the satisfaction of finding it in the first place.
Oh my god, I just beat the story with all relics and... Just wow. You should be commended for making something that unique and gripping with DEFAULT AMNESIA OBJECTS. The only two problems I had with it was there was not enough Laudanum. And that for okay-ish computers, the large "hub" room that you start chapter 2 in lags at about 10 FPS anywhere in the map. I don't know if you can, but if you can tone down the mapping for that particular map, like, split the big hallway towards the mechanical door with a loading screen, that would be great.
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