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A mod that you'll likely to have never played, chiefly as it's technically not even a mod- yet it definitely has the quality of one.

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The Sprucecape Map Pack is a set of three related maps created by or Erik Råmark, otherwise known as comedown. The map pack lasts perhaps twenty to thirty minutes, focusing on a wide range of puzzles, combat, and storytelling while holding one of the most eerie atmospheres I've seen in source as of yet. Yet can the atmosphere and multiple themes pull together in such a short time span to create a fun experience? Let's take a look into the Sprucecape Map Pack!


STORYLINE:

The story revolves around an unemployed alcoholic named John Sprucecape. His wife has finally decided to flee from him, fearing for her life and the life of her child, and leaves the house to escape. After this, the sole goal of the game is to pursue them and find John's family. It often feels similar to stories such as Dear Esther or Radiator, dark and at times, ominous.

For such short time limits, this story is really well done. Yet at times, I feel like it could've been improved; I never know if John is seeking to reunite his family or wishes to get revenge. In the first map, the player can find some short notes left by John's wife, which I sort of wish could've been scattered throughout the whole game, like a trail of breadcrumbs to John. It gets emotional in the third map, which I also feel could've been placed throughout the game more, instead of leaving the second map feeling somewhat like a gap between the two forms of storytelling.

Yet on the other hand, once again, it's exceptionally well told for such a short map pack/mod. What's interesting is that as the maps progress, they slowly become more and more depressing, starting at a bright and sun-filled house, proceeding to a dark and ominous gas station in the woods, and then ending surrounded by cliffs and the dim forms of mountains of trash. As the mod went on, the story seemed to pull the player in more and more, gradually becoming more nightmarish with each map. In short, it's better than that of most full-length mods, and that's saying something.

STORYLINE: 9/10

MAPPING:

While there are only three maps, what's mapped is mapped VERY well. Every map is superbly detailed, with great lighting schemes and well-made paths. The quality in the maps reminds me a lot of Mission Improbable, where every inch of the modification seems to have had the creator's full attention and focus. The skybox and the world the player can walk around in blend seamlessly, giving the illusion of vast maps. Fog is used heavily in the last map, giving the feeling in a junkyard and along a cliff that the player has descended into a dream-like state, or that they've ended up at the end of the world. Much of the heart and soul of the modification lies with its mapping, and its absolutely amazing. The one complaint I have is that there were a lot of invisible walls, especially in the second level, but I can see why they were used. But the sheer amount of atmosphere and feeling put into the maps easily counteracts that.


MAPPING: 10/10

GAMEPLAY:

Like the story and mapping, the gameplay is very well made. There's a wonderful balance between puzzles and combat, giving some pretty hard problems to the player that will take them some time to solve. Zombies are somewhat like the icing on the cake, occassionally appearing, but adding to the feeling that John is in a dreamlike state. There wasnt a single location I came to that bored me, nor a situation that left me without something to solve or fix. The one problem I had though was that at times that problem was a little too vague or difficult, and while I solved them, they lasted just a wee bit too long for me several times. But overall, the gameplay was lots of fun.

GAMEPLAY: 8/10


SUMMARY:


Overall, if you enjoyed mods like Dear Esther, you will enjoy this map pack. It's depressing, has a story, and extremely eerie at times. A short play-through but one that you are guarnteed to enjoy every minute of. The lack of knowing what's going on, whether the undead are figments of John's imagination, or why the world is deserted just gives the impression that the player is utterly alone and leaves an impact. A must play!


OVERALL SCORE FOR THE SPRUCECAPE MAP PACK:


9/10- EXCELLENT
Here's a link to the addon's download: Moddb.com and a link to comedown's modification, Domus, which is presently in development: Moddb.com

I sincerely hope that Domus is as good as the Sprucecape Map Pack. Excellent work, comedown!

Hope you enjoyed the review,

Mr. Walrus

Comments
jjawinte
jjawinte - - 5,064 comments

Outstanding review Mr.Walrus ! I'm truly surprised that you ( of all people ) have just played this. I recall running it this past...mid winter - I believe - from PlanetPhilip.com.

While it met an overall less than enthusiastic reception among the sites members; I remember enjoying it immensely. Some key points for me were all the essentials,

- the creative and skillful mapping.
- wonderfully engaging story which followed through nicely.
- absorbing atmospheres and environmental effects.
- clever puzzle elements.
- the ending !!
- and lastly, I just loved the samples/styles of those great songs on the little radio in the kitchen.

So glad you brought this up. I'm so playing it again !

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Mr.Walrus Author
Mr.Walrus - - 5,806 comments

Haha I'm surprised that I can find another person who's played it! And I'm also surprised that Planetphillip members would be more negative about it, Planetphillip seems to be more positive than moddb most of the time. Anyway, enjoy replaying it! I might have to do it again sometime soon as well lol...

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comedown
comedown - - 98 comments

What an incredible review for such a small map pack. I appreciate this. Thank you!

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Mr.Walrus Author
Mr.Walrus - - 5,806 comments

Glad to hear it, you definitely deserve it!

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Otter.
Otter. - - 1,355 comments

I played through it... wasn't really that spectacular for me and it had some of the source mod clichés, but other then that it was pretty good.

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