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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #2826

    The Rift (TDM)

    I finally beat this mission gah.

    The Rift (by Baddcog) was a mission made for a vertical contest mission, which the creator decided to take in a different direction, which I approve of. Not-Garratt is laying low in a hillside mining town and decides to make a few extra gold bits by stealing the jeweled scepter of a local lord. He barely takes two steps before an earthquake opens a huge rift, which demands exploring.

    This is a more undead focused mission, with exploration of ruins and tomb raiding. I think this is the first time Iíve reviewed one of these, or at least the first to have it as the major focus. Iím not sure if I like this type of mission; I admit that I prefer to creep around in an elegant mansion or vast city, exploring, finding secrets, and indulging my inner voyeur. But maybe I just havenít played the right kind yet.

    Graphics-wise, it certainly pulls off making the rift seem vast and you feel very small, at least for to first half of the mission, after which it gets a tad more claustrophobic. Itís not pretty, but impressive enough, and itís nice enough to make it clear where youíre supposed to go.

    Difficulty-wise, itís actually pretty hard, or at least more difficult than expected. You donít have a lot of equipment, and if you arenít familiar with The Dark Modís combat system youíll find yourself ducking around quite a lot. There are also a few places where I felt it was nigh-impossible to drop down without taking damage. One would think you could just use rope arrows, but this mission is oddly skimpy on them. Itís even possible to find yourself stranded at the end of the mission with no real place to go, due to the lack of rope arrows. Also, you have to personally make your way back up, and again, poor use of rope arrows can leave you stuck. Even the opening is a pain, you have three guards right out your window, and only perfect timing will get you to street level without getting seen.

    I admit, Iím biased: I took waaaay too long to beat this mission, and Iím still a tad bitter. But being fair, this is a solid mission, just not part of a subset I like, and with a few kinks to be ironed out here and there. Recommended.

    P.S. If anyone knows how to get into the church, do say. :P

  2. #2827
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2016
    Location: My mum's basement

    Thief: Brainchild by Sperry

    This is my first review and it's a short one, so bear with me.

    I just played Brainchild, a FM by Sperry. It was very different from the average mansion heist mission and for that, I adore it. Compared to most FMs, this one really stands out with it's unique setting and non thiefy, exploration-focused gameplay. I also love how Sperry managed to perfectly combine the Thief: Gold ambients (like the droning echoes and hums from the original games) with this creepy, techno-nightmare labyrinth of a level. Plus, the lack of any story or explanation just leaves the player guessing and wanting more. If you haven't played Brainchild yet, then stop reading this review and do it right now. Trust me, it's an experience you won't forget and there hasn't been anything like this since.
    Last edited by H3H3; 23rd May 2017 at 18:54.

  3. #2828

    The King of Diamonds (TDM)

    Now, back on target.

    The King of Diamonds (by Spooks) is the first city mission Iíve reviewed in a while, and itís a good one. Not-Garratt is contacted by an acquaintance, King, who wants Not-Garratt to do something for him. After tracking down Kingís accomplice, Not-Garrett learns that King made of with a valuable diamond...but was ratted out and is currently laying low, and he wants Not-Garrett to break into his former residence and get Kingís stuff back.

    Graphics-wise, this mission is quite...purple. And blue. Very different from what one expects out of a city, and for that Iím glad. The city is more of a mix of back alleys and side streets, giving it a cramped, claustrophobic feel. However, it also has the result of making the mission a tad confusing to navigate, at least at first. You get two maps, and while they look nice, to be honest I didnít find them much help.

    Difficulty-wise, it feels like the inverse of Sons of Barltona: The city itself is simple to navigate; there are very few guards on the streets, but the estate itself jacks the difficulty up. In Expert, at least, you canít even knock anyone unconscious, the torches are dutifully relit, and thereís a fair bit of ducking around people who wander into every nook and cranny. And getting out is a pain as well.

    Where this mission really shines are the side quests and stories you can find in your scrounging. The mission is similar to Lords and Legacy, in that there are a lot of mini-stories going on, though here they do tend to dovetail a bit more. Itís not pure horror, but there are a few creepy moments in the mission, which Iím loath to spoil. Itís quite good, and the atmosphere is well done, with understated sound (or lack thereof) to hammer in the creepiness. Although I do question how you can have neighbors who are separated by like solid blocks of house.

    Like I said, there are side quests aplenty here, ranging from simply dealing with a wannabe backstabber to a long and involved quest to take out a captain viaÖ.interesting means. Itís a very involved thing, and itís easy to miss on a step or two if you donít know what youíre doing. Still, itís definitely one of the more creative objectives Iíve seen in The Dark Mod. Only gripe is that he died out of view of everyone when I played, so no mass panic.

    All in all, a good, creepy mission, with a fair amount to do. Recommended.

  4. #2829

    Volta and the Stone (TDM)

    Hm, Iím nowhere near done with my backlog.

    Volta and the Stone (by Kingsal) starts by changing your screen in The Dark Mod proper to some neat purple tower, so you know youíre getting effort here. A decently-voiced cutscene fills you in on the plot: Not-Garrett has been recruited to steal a valuable stone from the Volta estate, and surprise surprise, itís at the top of a stupidly huge tower. Most of the mission is spent trying to make your way into the tower, so itís not really a vertical mission, however.

    Difficulty-wise, itís not overly hard. The guard placement is light, and the patrols are wide enough so that even that odd thief that doesnít whack everyone and their mother over the head can slip through. The loot goal is also pretty reasonable, at the very least you shouldnít have any trouble hitting it if youíre paying attention. The only part that I feel might trip people up is one of the switches. Youíre told where it is, but thereís still a bit of pixel hunting to find it. To be honest though, itís a very mild complaint. Thereís also a rather annoyingly placed guard at the tower entrance who more or less have to run and pray around.

    Where this mission shines is in the layout. It looks different than most missions, with more of a red hue to everything. Even the guards have custom outfits, the whole thing almost makes me think of a house of cards. The mission is very non-linear, there are quite a few different ways through the mansion, if youíre willing to look up every now and then. Some people have compared this to canon missions, so Iíll take that as a good sign.

    The only real tripping point is the ending, which has a little puzzle elements and some good views, but still feels a tad bit anti-climactic, considering some of the foreshadowing throughout the mission. Oh well, this is supposed to be part 1 of a series, Iíve gathered, so weíll see what the future holds. All in all, solid, creative mission. Recommended.

  5. #2830
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Thanks everyone. The OP is now updated and apologies for my dilatoriness.

  6. #2831
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2011
    Location: Wild and Wooly West of Ireland
    Try using shorter words, nickie. It may speed up the process.

    Spot on, Chris.

  7. #2832
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Now why didn't I think of that.

  8. #2833

    In Rememberance of Him (TDM)

    Getting close to a milestone!

    In Remembrance of Him (by RPGista) is one of those experimental missions that tries to do something different within the confines of the ordinary mission. Some succeed, some fail, and this kindaÖ.flops.

    The plot is simple: Not-Garrett is having some sweet quiet time with his lover when she kills the mood by bringing up her previous fiance. Not-Garrett ends up deciding to break into the manís crypt and get the engagement ring back. This is all much more touching than Iím making it sound.

    The mission starts with you in an alley, an invisible wall behind you. If youíre like me, you'll want to explore, jump around, see what lurks. Before long, a guard comes around. He does not care about the invisible wall, he just runs in to kill you. This is the first taste you get of the odd design choices.

    In fairness, this is an atypical mission that tries to offer you more choice. Thereís no loot goal, and the only restriction you have is not killing innocents. If you want to stealth your way through, you can. If you want to slaughter the resident gang, you can. If you want to play the stoic thief, only focused on the ring and not caring about the loot scattered around, you can. You do have choices, but choice thatís constantly made for you is banging your shin.

    You cannot see a dang thing in this level. There about two, three segments in near pitch darkness, making what should be, for example, a good bit of parkour into an exercise in tedium. An endgame bit becomes nothing more than you fumbling in the dark if you put out all the candles. This could all be fixed with a lantern, but for some reason you donít have one, which is why Iím going off on this so much, the fix is so simple.

    It bugs me, because this is a good mission. It feels like youíre crawling around the backways of the city, the storytelling is good, and thereís even a nice shot of horror at the end, but the little things trip it up. Recommended, but with knowledge of the flaws.

    Also, what was with that book in the priestís office? IT was explained to me as a fragment from an actual book, but it felt like a bit of an author tract, since I can't see a priest having it in his office.

  9. #2834

    Sneak and Destory (TDM)

    Alright then.

    Sneak and Destroy (by SeriousToni) was made as part of a contest for first-timers (which you guys should totally do again *end soapbox moment*), and is a pretty accomplished effort.

    The story is told in cutscene: Not-Garratt is tipped off by a mysterious woman that an assassin is after him and is staying in a nearby inn. Not-Garratt sets off to take care of the problem and make some fast cash on the way...once he figures out which inn the assassin is staying in.

    Difficulty-wise, itís not bad. The highest difficulty restricts your knock-outs and fails you if youíre seen, but getting around the guards is mostly simple. Thereís one outside the second inn that can be a pain to get around (especially when leaving) and the second inn is a bit cramped, but nothing that canít be overcome. The loot goal is a tad high, but carefully searching will help, there wasnít anything hidden in like some bizarre location. You also have a plentiful supply of water arrows, which helps. That being said, the guards here are the types of guards to notice when loot is missing, which is sort of a rarity in the missions Iíve played. Thereís not much to say graphics-wise, other than that the creator does a good job in keeping the inns looking distinct.

    The main draw of this mission is the assassination. I admit, I like missions like these, and Iím not totally sure why. The set-up isnít exactly Hitman level complex, but there is a bit of strategy involved in tracking down your target. Itís simple, but satisfying. That being said I would have liked a slightly more satisfying ending.

    All in all, this is a solid mission, especially when you consider that it was the authorís first. Recommended.

    Like I said in my last review, were at a milestone: This is, for now, the last of the single-author missions, creators who have only done one mission. Now, we can move on to the creators who have done multiple missions. Next up: stumpy.

    ----------------------

    Also, a question for the masses: What do you think of my reviews so far? Anything I should improve, change, etc? Too much info, not enough? Anything you like/don't like, really. :P

  10. #2835
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2012
    Location: On parole
    Your reviews are very well written, concise, informative and enjoyable to read but maybe you should find another name for our protagonist....Non-Garrett doesn't seem right.

  11. #2836

    Lord Dufford's (TDM)

    fortuni: Heh, best I can come up with usually. :P I guess "Bob the Thief" isn't sufficient?

    -------------------------

    Let’s get this started, shall we?

    Lord Dufford’s (by stumpy) was meant as a test mission, and it shows. The plot is slightly different than your average Dark Mod fair: Not-Garrett is a dashing rogue who is hired to discover the fate of Lord Dufford. There’s an official story of course (which our protagonist must also find for no good reason), but the real story is much more interesting…

    The mission plops you off in a cityscape, and it’s here that you’ll look up and see the red line in the sky. That’s meant to be there. This is the first of many interesting, if strange, design choices. Another odd design choice is that you’ll encounter doors that you can’t pick, you have the pick the actual lock instead, which caused me a fair bit of frustration on a first playthrough.

    As mentioned, this was meant as a test mission, so there’s a fair bit of….empty space. Quite a lot, actually. It almost reaches the point of unintentional horror, because there are a few guards still wandering about the place, and they have a tendency to spring on you when you get comfortable (I wonder how this mission would play without any background music?). It creates a fair bit of atmosphere, but like I said, it feels unintentional.

    Difficulty-wise, it’s up there. The loot is often grouped together in chunks, and they tend to off the beaten path. The rather confusing layout of the manor itself doesn’t help with finding them, even on a second playthrough I still found myself getting lost. The main objective ends up being a clue hunt through the manor, which is a new idea and one stumpy does with skill, unless you don’t know what a “stoop” is, anyway. One objective requires you to track down the official story of what happened to Lord Dufford, and requires you to find a very well-hidden notebook that you’re given no reason to believe exists. It ends up falling on the tedious side of the scale at times.

    And yet, I found myself enjoying it. It’s certainly different, and there’s an undercurrent of dark humor underlying the whole thing, like the creator has his tongue in cheek. The backstory is honestly semi-interesting as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the creator has tried his hand at coming up with a fantasy setting for a novel or tabletop RPG. The tedious bits annoy, but unlike Deceptive Shadows, it’s less of a constant battle. Recommended, but have patience.

  12. #2837

    Illusionist's Tower (TDM)

    Still on stumpy, and will be for two more reviews after this one.

    Illusionist's Tower has been described by some as a ďgimmickĒ mission, and while I can see their point I found it pretty fun on the whole. The plot is simple: Not-Garrett is angling to break into an old tower designed by a wizard. There have been the usual round of disappearances of others who have went in, but itíll be fine. Right?

    The mission almost reminds me of the Submachine series of room escape games, with multiple shifting locations that donít seem to have much to do with each other. Thereís very little in the way of stealth in this mission, barring avoiding some spiders. The difficulty varies, on the whole itís pretty smooth sailing, barring one or two bits. One such bit is an annoying puzzle that I still donít fully understand, even after doing it twice. I more or less did it through trial and error. The loot also has an issue, in that itís possible to move on to the second part of the mission and not have enough loot to finish. You can go back through the level, but most wonít be willing to do that. Itís also fair to note that one area, an upside-down hallway, drags a tad too long.

    And yet, I enjoyed the thing. I like missions that at least try something different, even if they falter doing it and I find myself not enjoying the end product. In fairness, the mission is a bit random until about halfway through, and I can see how that would irritate people. But I enjoyed the experience, dark humor and mild horror and all. Recommended, but with a dose of your milage may vary.

  13. #2838
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Last few added so up to date again. Thank you, The Dark One.

  14. #2839
    Desperately dodgy geezer
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: The Wailing Keep
    Nickie's all caught up? It must be armageddon or something!

  15. #2840
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    You're probably right. But although the sun has now decided to shine, it's only going to do it for 2 days out of 10 instead of the 6 it was supposed to, so grumpiness is just round the corner and I'm longing to take my irritation out on someone.







  16. #2841

    Dead Drunk (TDM)

    I know that House in Blackbog Hollow was next in release order, but I have my reasons. For example: It's better than this one.

    Dead Drunk is a rather short, atypical mission. Not-Garrett gets drunk and wakes up in a crypt, dumped there by his friends who are much better at sneaking than he is, considering how they were able to get him into the depths of a skeleton filled crypt without alerting said skeletons. Now, you have to escape.

    The main problem with this mission is that itís deeply repetitive. Sure the crypt looks creepy, but after like ten minutes of the same environment it goes from ďWoooooo~Ē to ďOooooooooh (get me out of here)Ē Thereís a break in the pattern at one point, and itís certainly fits stumpyís sense of humor, and perhaps the complaint doesnít matter with such a short mission, but it does wear a bit. A more serious issue is the fact that if you miss a key near the beginning, you canít complete the level, which to me feels irritating. The is a visual clue to the key, but it still feels too missable. The loot goal is fair, with the loot being easy to find.

    All in all, this is a little bit disappointing. I expected a tad more from stumpy, who Iíd marked as uneven but creative. This is a decent time water, but not much more than that.

    Notice: It was brought to my attention after writing this review that this mission was made for a Halloween speed build contest of sorts. I don't think it changes my overall recommendation (or lack thereof), but it is worth noting.

  17. #2842

    House in Blackbog Hollow (TDM)

    These reviews are coming so fast! But Iím getting ahead on my played/reviewed ratio, so itís a necessity.

    House in Blackbog Hollow (or just Blackbog Hollow according to the title card), is stumpyís best mission, really. This time, Not-Garratt sets out to swipe some ancient treasure, only to find that someone else has beaten him to it and left an convenient note stating that theyíve fled into a nearby house. Entry is swift, and leads Not-Garrett into a dining room. Where he witnesses a man get killed by a jack-o-lantern. Itís that kind of mission.

    The main goal is to escape the house, which requires you to track all over it, searching for more murder pumpkins. Itís oddly difficult, as while the house is small and easy to navigate, there are spiders lurking around, and I swear stumpy made them tougher than your garden variety spider. Sword combat is suicide, and you donít have enough arrows to kill them all. It adds to the challenge though, Iíll admit. Loot-wise itís easy enough, since most of the loot is in the open, even if the goals are high. However, it commits the same sin as Illusionist's Tower, in that you can reach the end of the mission without enough loot, and unlike the previous you canít just start over again, so savescummers will have issues.

    The mission does a pretty good job with itís horror. Itís not ďget me my brown pantsĒ level, but considering how the mission presents itself as a cheesy B-horror at worst, there are some mild chilling moments, such as the note in the office on the second floor. Itís well-done, along with the somewhat surreal humor. The way you end up resolving the mess is worth a chuckle, though I have to admit the final sequence is a bit obtuse, as you donít really have to follow instructions, from what I could tell. The fact that AI got stuck on my second playthrough probably didnít help however.

    All in all, a fun Halloween mission. There are a few flaws, but on the whole I think itís definitely worth a look. Recommended.

  18. #2843

    One Step Too Far

    One Step Too Far (by Dragofer, as is the next mission reviewed) is certainly interesting.

    This time, Not-Garrett is a thief on the run, resulting in him taking a position on a ship bound more barren parts of the New World...or the or so the captain claims. The large blocks of ice indicate that the ship might have gone off-course, forcing our hero to investigate.

    This is an atypical mission here, with more of an overt horror element filling everything. The ship is crammed and isolation and claustrophobia fills the ship. The second part of the mission has a really good moment of tension, though the means of escape is slightly wonky. This atmosphere is the best part about the mission, and insures that you’ll be unsettled for the majority of your playtime.

    This same claustrophobia, however, also results in a fair amount of irritation in places. The small size seems to fluster the AI, and weird behaviors tend to crop up as a result. I crawled right in front of the chef without him noticing me, for example. The first-mate’s room is an absolute pain to to get into, requiring split-second timing and melding yourself into the wall, along with dealing with a captain who keeps wandering in and out. The whole room needed like another foot or so on it. It’s also worth noting that the ending, after all the buildup, the mission just suddenly ends at a moment of high suspense.

    Still, this is a very well-done mission. Atypical, but very good, with excellent ambient horror.. Unlike some of the previous missions I’ve looked at,, the loot goals are optional, ensuring that the player doesn’t get stuck at the end, and giving those who like crawling around and searching a little bonus. One of these days I’ll figure out why I can only do short reviews for missions I like a lot, but for now, I’ll have to say this is Recommended.
    Last edited by The Dark One; 2nd Jul 2017 at 02:20.

  19. #2844
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    I've started a "Thief Diaries" project continuing what I did with another project of mine, "Evangelizing Thief" (linked to in the stickied "Thief FM Info Links" thread).

    I'm putting each entry at thiefdiaries.com. The blog's in rough form - I'm new to blogging and am using WordPress.com, still messing around with themes and such. If you want to check it out, feel free, but I'm also going to post each writeup here. (My Thief Diaries blog includes my gameplay recordings of each mission as well.)

    My first is for Gathering at the Inn. I'm starting with well-known missions but will also dive into the obscure as I go.

    The Circle of Stone and Shadow: Gathering at the Inn (Thief II, 2003), by Team CoSaS



    Most of the highly active, highly talented contributors from the early days of Thief II FMs were involved in this one. Gathering at the Inn is a delectable treat. Not massive it is still ingenious. It contains a small building – the inn – with a small cityscape surrounding it. It has superb gameplay and level design, clever ideas and puzzles, original and excellent ambient noises and voice acting, solid story and subtle humor, and much replay value. Along with such FMs as The Inverted Manse and Calendra’s Legacy, this is an early-era classic.

    In Gathering at the Inn you play as Dante, one of the thief characters from the greater “Circle of Stone and Shadow” fiction. He is on a trial run for Lord Nightfall, the warden he’s recently signed with, and the objective is to steal a bunch of scepters from members of a scepter owner’s club who are each staying at the “Grieving Burrick” inn. The main goal is a fire mage’s scepter but to disguise the theft of this one item all the scepters, six in total, are to be stolen. Dante must also pick up some loot and, on the highest difficulty, avoid harming anyone but the guards. (Using a blackjack is harmful.)

    Gathering begins like the best Thief missions do: by establishing an atmosphere that sucks you in. After a moody, Thief-y intro cut scene you begin in a pleasant, snow-laden cityscape with complementary ambient sound and a monologue from player-character Dante. Depending on the turns you take you will soon overhear a guard conversation, voiced by the excellent Loanstar, which references the bear pits dialogue. All this lets you know you are in for a treat.



    The mission never lets down from the initial good impression. When you’ve entered the inn from above or below, a new catchy ambient track plays and you discover an intricate world of backstory, readables, and puzzles. While navigating all this, you also have to duck past guards in tight little hallways. It’s a challenging mission.

    The objectives task you not just to steal the six scepters but also to tamper with four of the guest’s businesses (Master Nightfall is pulling strings). One of the guests, Lady Verrilli, is a sculptor who sells ice sculptures as crystal ones. You have to find a way to ruin her reputation. Then there’s a politician, Lord Pearsall, who must be made so as to not give a speech the next day. And there are a couple of business bigwigs. Foiling them involves swapping a couple documents, replacing an ice pick with a fire wand, and using a handkerchief and a baby burrick in combination (don’t ask) to make someone sick. For all the details you may consult an online walkthrough – here I’ll leave it at: this is a very clever bit of puzzles and scripting. Gathering is in the class of missions that task the player with using atypical items to complete objectives.



    To navigate the hotel there is a chimney system that transports you between a few of the rooms. This gives you a backway alternative to the hallways. Getting through the hallways is difficult given the guard presence but if you’re not ghosting you may blackjack them. You may also turn off the power in the basement connected to the electrical lights. This is where one of the more ingenious elements of the mission comes into play. One of the guards and, apparently, a power expert, will turn the generators back on each time you turn them off.

    Okay. Easy – knock him out! But here’s the catch: his head is wounded and bandaged up. So if you use the blackjack on him, he dies. Not killing guards is optional, but it still may rest on your conscience. If you want to conveniently turn off the power you have to kill someone.

    Now, you can’t knockout the hotel staff. So why didn’t the authors make this guy a staff member? Then you would have to avoid knocking him out and no head injury rigmarole would have been needed. But the hotel staff are apathetic to thieves. So this guy had to care about you – else he’d let you keep the power off. So his head is injured.

    You wouldn't want to hurt him, anyway: each time you turn the power off he says “Holy crap!” so that you can hear him wherever you are, he mutters a reference to a line from Ultima Underworld, and he wonders aloud about his application to a power plant and a Mechanist physical he recently took. I love this guy!

    (Speaking of an Underworld reference, names of the hotel guests, listed four paragraphs up, reference Looking Glass staff members. I’m sure there are more references I didn’t pick up on.)



    Back stories told through narrative caches are an important element of any Thief mission and in Gathering one set of readables is very memorable: a journal in the attic and another in the dining area of the inn that go in tandem. The former is of a man and the latter of a woman describing a wedding that involves burricks and a snake. Read them for a hilarious backstory.

    Once you’ve completed all the tasks and enjoyed the humor of the inn’s staff and guests, you’ll be back out on the streets to meet Sheam, another member of the circle who is voiced by the excellent Wynne. The mission ends and is followed by another well-done Thief-y cutscene that makes you want more – and more would come in 2008 with Mission X. That’ll be another entry. For now I leave you with these words: if you want an ingenious and humorous Thief mission Gathering at the Inn is one of the best.
    Last edited by twhalen2600; 2nd Jul 2017 at 19:48. Reason: Bolded title and added screenshots.

  20. #2845

    Down By The Riverside (TDM)

    For the record, this isnít a pure sequel to One Step Too Far, but it is set in the same universe.

    Down by the Riverside feels like a much improved version of itís predecessor, keeping most of the strengths while excising the weaknesses. This time, Not-Garrett stows away on a pirate ship to make off with some of the loot from an upcoming raid on an isolated and deserted mansion. However, most of the loot is long gone, but some odd footsteps lead our hero into an isolated room whereÖ.spoilers happen.

    The mission is a solid one all around, greatly improving on itís predecessor. The atmosphere of isolation and horror is well-handled, even though a few places show pity on you and have people running around. These times are brief however, and the general isolation continues. The graphics are good, with the best being the elegant but run-down mansion that the mission begins in. The horror is, as said, quite well done, with the final sequence leaving me on edge. The story is also well done, with the player at least having an understanding of what happened, if not why or how in all cases.

    Difficulty-wise, itís a bit fairer than itís predecessor, but more difficult, if that makes sense. On the one hand, you donít have to worry about creeping through too small spaces, but there are plenty of guards everywhere. Special mention goes to the location before the finale, which requires you to creep through a shipís hold with metal floors and guards choking you every which way. Itís one of the few areas in The Dark Mod that Iíve actually felt like using a moss arrow. Admittedly, itís easier on lower difficulties, from what I understand. Thankfully, the loot goals are optional, considering how well--hidden some of it is.

    Itís worth noting that the mission has been updated since its first release, tweaking a few glitches and getting rid of those dang electrocuting lamps that used to be there. The creator also was kind enough to better highlight some loot in the church, but I wish he had done the same for a stash of loot in the previous part of the mission, which in my opinion was far harder to find.

    All in all, this is a worthy successor to One Step Too Far, and is Recommended.

  21. #2846

    Exhumed (TDM)

    Note: This mission was done by Airship Ballet and kyrrma.

    Exhumed places our noble hero in the role of an agent for the Church sent to the freezing edge of the world to reclaim an artifact from a long abandoned chapel, and cleanse the evil that infests it. Like the previous two missions Iíve looked at, this is more of a horror mission that a normal Dark Mod mission. The environment is appropriately desolate, and the chapel is confined and creepy, with the only gripe I have being the mismatched gate leading out.

    The mission does a good job with horror, slowly building it up from minor scares to a burst of bloody horror. This gradual ascension is well down, and other authors should take note of it. I do have a bone or two to pick with events (such as why putting a skull in a fountain opens a secret passage), but the whole experience is so well-done that Iíll give it a pass. The mission is well-paced, not trying to drag out the tension any longer than it has too.

    Also, booby traps, more of those please, I enjoy them more than I should.

    All in all, this is a very good and creepy mission. Recommended.

  22. #2847
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Ranstall Keep, Thief and Thief 2 FM (both 2000) by Alex "Jyre/Dashjianta" Thomson

    Black and white is an effective style for Thief missions. Part of the game’s inspiration is noir film, after all. Jyre’s Ranstall Keep is a creepy mission done in noir, and it works. The setup is suspenseful and you’re drawn in immediately. As I wrote in the last entry, this is how every Thief mission should start: set the mood and draw the player in through atmosphere – let things soak in.

    Ranstall was uploaded for both Thief and Thief II within a few months and is the first mission to feature a female protagonist.* It’s a great horror FM and an early-era classic. It’s also the first Thief FM I played (I had watched others being played before, but this is the first I played myself).



    Ranstall has an excellent setup: You are in a small town where citizens begin disappearing one by one until you are the only one left. How does that not entice you? Once the briefing video ended and I heard footsteps, I was even more drawn in. Who…what was making those footstep noises?

    You find out that it’s monsters – cloaked creatures carrying swords who make the same sounds as Thief’s spiders. These things hold you in check as you explore the town. Exploring the town is your first goal, but you’re not getting anywhere without lock-picks.

    That leads to my first knock against this mission: in order to progress, you have to break glass. I always feel uncomfortable busting the window on the roof of the weapons store, but it’s unavoidable. Beforehand I knock out the monster standing nearby. I don’t like any of this, and it sours Ranstall each time I play it. It’s not the only area like that either.**

    In the town you may explore a Hammerite chapel, an abandoned house referenced in one of the objectives, some other stores and homes, and the town’s council chamber.



    The Hammerite Chapel has another area where Jyre forces you to make noise. Entering the abandoned house requires breaking glass, too. In 2000, breaking things was acceptable, but Thief FMs have come a long way since then and in this enlightened era ghosting should be possible. As is, I don’t see how one can ghost Ranstall.

    Through readables in the town you discover that the spider-noise-making monsters have something to do with the Keep and the lord there. Some town members, who had put the pieces together, dug a tunnel to the Keep. You will eventually take this tunnel yourself to discover some rather disturbing horrors.

    When I first played this FM back in the day I didn’t pick up on everything I saw in the Keep, but on replays one scene gets to me. There is a caged child in the middle of a dinner table who is walking atop hot embers. These monsters are tormenting a child through imprisonment and forcing him to watch them eat. What they eat is people, as you figure out from the chopped up Hammerite in the kitchen. Poor kid – and how disturbing!



    The cloaked creatures – who you learn are called “hissies” – aren’t the worst. They have demon overlords who in-game appear as ghost NPCs. Finding out the kind of creature their lord is becomes an objective. How this objective is completed is weak. It’s checked off after you read the following journal entry:

    “…Today I heard a most amusing tale. A woman was entertaining the crowds with a tale of the demons. I find it ironic that she makes it a point to highlight the demons’ utter destruction. After all, the Lord of the demonic race now lives in this very keep!…”

    “Lord of the demonic race” is too generic. It’s also too much of a coincidence that a townswoman in this small, isolated town would be speaking of the destruction of this demonic race and that this same race has taken over – or has always lived in – the town’s Keep.

    To reach this demon lord’s quarters you have to use ladders. You use ladders lots in Thief missions, but in Ranstall Keep you pick up and carry a couple ladders and use them to traverse lava to the upper rooms. And you thought Up in the Bonehoard was revolutionary! Carrying ladders is a unique feature of this FM and I think Ranstall is the first to have it.

    There is a bizarre area that may have been going for a Sword vibe and also leads to some more clanging around. It’s an outdoor scene with a pit and some ledges. On the ledges are some frog-beasts that never attack me. To reach the ledges you ride glass platforms you activate with levers. It sounds like a tap-dance party whenever I jump on these platforms. Even worse is when I reach the end part of this little side area: a large room with concentric, ring-like platforms. I hit each of these ring-platforms hard. For someone who is usually a dedicated ghoster, this segment always feels uncomfortable.



    Getting deeper into the Keep is a lot of fun – it has the vibe you feel when delving deeper into a dungeon and uncovering the truth behind more mysteries. You go from a mysterious, empty town to confronting a ghostly demon lord. As a suspenseful FM Ranstall has been surpassed, but when I first played it the suspense sucked me in. In the context of its time it was a gem.

    There are some uncomfortable segments that make you feel like a bumbling oaf trying to wake the dead – and this speaks to the mission’s release period: the early, dark days of FM design – but that aside the suspenseful buildup of Ranstall Keep make it an essential horror FM and an early classic. Play it if you haven’t.

    *The Thief II version. In the Thief version you play as a male, ostensibly Garrett. Note that in the briefing the male guard voice – Benny – is your character talking, so there’s an inconsistency in the Thief II version. The briefing should have been updated with a female voice for that one.

    **In the Thief version, on expert, there is no monster standing at the gate near the weapons shop nor do you have to smash the glass window up top to get in – it opens. However, I cannot progress further in this mission because I cannot get into the open window! I suspect it to be a NewDark bug. If I could play the Thief original, it may become my preferred version for these reasons. Back in the day I never played this version.
    Last edited by twhalen2600; 8th Jul 2017 at 16:53.

  23. #2848
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Thank you for the reviews, guys. I'll try and get them added to the OP tomorrow and I'll also try and do something about the missing image in the OP. I've got it saved now so just need to find somewhere to put it.

  24. #2849

    Thief's Remorse (TDM)

    I expected something different from this mission based on the description, honestly.

    Thief's Remorse continues the recent trend of atypical missions. This time, our blameless hero is in need of some money for the winter, and slips into a tomb to steal a crown. Things go wrong, and he must now find some quick repentance for his old sins by returning similarly stolen objects while not getting killed in the process.

    Itís hard to give details about this mission, since itís both short and relies pretty heavily on the feeling of not knowing whatís coming next. I will say it does the horror well, making you feel like youíre being tossed around by something much more powerful than you, giving a good feeling of helplessness through the first part of the mission. Itís a short experience, similar to Exhumed, and quite fun. I do think it leans a little on the easy side once you get your bearings, but Iím willing to forgive it.

    It should be noted that there are multiple endings to be found, but apparently one didnít work right for me. My first playthrough made it impossible to get a needed key to move on in the mission, but as far as I can tell I was the only one to experience it.

    All in all, a fun little mission thatís better experienced. Recommended.

  25. #2850

    The Smiling Cutpurse (TDM)

    More Airship Ballet! I know I need to do Quinn Co., but it will be delayed.

    The Smiling Cutpurse places our hero in the titular inn, something that he would normally dismiss as a waste of time, but thereís more to this inn: Theyíve agreed to store a disguised bank vault, and our hero is targeting it, and whatever else he can find in the inn.

    This is the first mission Iíve done in a while thatís a straight-up heist mission, and it does it well. The inn has a simple enough layout, with a fair bit of variety to the rooms and guests and alternate route or two if youíre willing to look. The little bits of backstory you find out are probably my favorite part of the mission, but I think the notes ended up reversed, so go to the ďlastĒ and then go back. I should also note that there are two ways to complete this mission, which I found to be a nice touch.

    This mission falls on the ďeasyĒ side of things: Thereís no loot goal so in theory once you find the vault youíre done. Itís also pretty easy to blackjack most everyone in the inn, giving you free reign. Yet, I donít think thatís bad per se, nothing wrong with a well-done easy mission, and this is very well-done, barring an odd sound glitch at the vault and one wimp who died when I hit him with my blackjack on my first playthrough. As well as an item you could grab that was a holdover from when the mission was planned to be part of the Quinn Co. series.

    All in all, a fun, solid mission. Recommended.

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