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Thread: General Fan Mission Review And Discussion Megathread

  1. #2876
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Whenever I did my last review here I think I said I'd have another within a month or so... It's been a bit longer than that, but as I also said back then, as long as this thread lived I would post reviews when I got around to playing more maps, so here's another:

    Search For Crom's Blade:

    This is set in a castle buried under ice and the caves around it. In execution it's quite a unique theme, and there's quite a bit of variety too. The organic nature of it really makes it though; it's actually designed as if a castle was snowed over and buried for an untold number of years, with only a small segment of it truly intact, and most of it is only accessible through non-straightforward means or the multitude of caves that have formed around it. Despite it's age it's one of the most convincing portrayals of a ruined, lost place I've seen in Thief, and it also has a lot of non-standard geometry and organic looking caves (though most of the interiors are quite simple, with a few more detailed parts here and there). The downside of said geometry is that it does lead to some awkward movement at times (some of the icy tunnels are a very tight squeezes and frequently at angles on top of that). The level is pretty huge and it's so interlinked it can be easy to lose track of where things are, or discover that an area is linked to another half and hour later. The map being near-useless doesn't help; it mostly only shows areas of the castle that are intact and easy to navigate, with the complex tunnel systems and ruins that make up the majority being non-present or only vaguely hinted at.

    The main task is finding the titular blade, and there's technically not much you have to do just to accomplish the base goal, though it's unlikely you'll find that out without replaying. As far as the actual stealth goes it's not too tough, and despite not playing thief for ages and going for Expert there's little that gave me trouble; there's plenty of shadow and the abundance of snow means walking is quite silent in most areas, with marble being quite rare. In the few brighter areas most enemies tend to wander into the dark areas at some point like foolish horror movie victims so it's not too tough to whittle their numbers down, with a few helmeted enemies being the only obstacle to that. One part has a lot of marble, but the map is very generous with Moss Arrows if you explore elsewhere so that issue can be got around. Traps aren't really present either, and you can explore quite freely once enemies are taken out. There's a nice use of enemy variety with mechanists in the more intact sections and "natural" enemies and undead in the more hidden parts (including some nice reskins), there's even a chance to cause some in-fighting (although an enemy in a cell just ignoring a nearby mechanist when freed seemed odd, but maybe it's an engine limitation). The exploration is the real meat of this level; as mentioned above there's a complex setting full of things to find, and exploration is almost always rewarded with something. While the search for the blade is the main mission, the "real" task on the higher settings is the search for up to nine gems, which are extremely well hidden, and require you to scour every inch to find them without help, it doesn't help that they blend in with the snow so there's a risk of overlooking them even if you are in the right place. At least Cheap Thief Missions gives a guide to the gems on the level page if you get too stuck. There's some good use of ambience to add to the cold, abandoned atmosphere as well, and music tracks are used as ambient themes. The music helps convey the overall feeling of going on an adventure, which supports exploration being the central theme. The main story is relatively minimal but conveyed well with messages, and there are various clues required (at least for first-time players) to solve the main task. I did have a problem where a couple of scrolls were blank, I thought this was part of the mission and you had to do something to get their contents, but I couldn't find any mention of this while looking for help (as a result of that), maybe a Newdark issue or something?

    If you want something more straightforward this probably isn't for you, but if you like more complex designs then this is an explorer's paradise. as someone generally a fan of the latter I like it a lot. I played it the first time years ago and this map is one of the more memorable ones I've played in setting despite the general visuals being relatively basic. Looking through the older threads on it the designer hinted at some sort of "gold" edition years ago, but it seems that never happened, which is a shame.

    Screenshots (not sure on the brightness since it's been so long):


    All the icicles can be smashed, which is quite satisfying.


    A less icy cave segment.


    This main hall is most of what the level map is comprised of, despite it being relatively simple to navigate.

  2. #2877

    Thief's Den (TDM)

    Now weíre hitting some classics.

    Thief's Den might not have been the first mission ever made for The Dark Mod, but as far as I'm aware, itís up there. The mission was made by Fidcal, but Bikerdude apparently tweaked it, to what extent Iím not sure.

    The plot is simple: Our fair-play loving hero has stolen a scepter for a certain Mr. Creep, but got backstabbed, as should have been obvious by the name. Now Not-Garrett intends to slip into Creep's hideout and steal the scepter and anything not nailed down.

    I know that Bikerdude worked his magic on this mission after release, but if what we have is anything like the mission was before then itís quite impressive. Itís a short mission, but thereís a fair bit of parkour and knowledge of the mission as a 3D space, if that makes sense. The loot is well-hidden/difficult to get to in some places (curse that vase), and thereís a bit of searching that needs to be done to complete the objectives.

    All in all, itís a pretty good intro to The Dark Mod, even if it seems painfully short nowadays. Recommended.

  3. #2878
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Journey Into The Underdark:

    As the name might suggest to those who know of it this is a Dungeons&Dragons based level; while pretty small it's a semi-conversion, with several new items and tweaks to give things a different flavour. As a result of the changes it also breaks away from general conventions of Thief, and things like non-lethality aren't really present (although the Warrior class can technically knock some enemies out). Stealth is also reinterpreted a little, and, while it's still important to not get slaughtered, it feels like it's based around a more aggressive (based on newer games, you could even say "modern") kind of stealth where you set up combat advantages rather than try to avoid it altogether, even if you probably can if you want.

    This was apparently intended to be a contest map originally, as a result it's relatively small and focused, with the creature interactions being the main new aspect, and there only really being one real puzzle outside of finding/using items lying around. Said contest was a verticality-based one, and that certainly shows in the layout here, with quite a bit of ascending and descending. While most of the geometry is relatively small caves, there's a fort later on that's quite impressive, and a few other nice sights too.

    Like the famous Inverted Manse, the big twist of this map is that the difficulty settings are reinterpreted as play-styles instead. Normal is "Warrior," and probably the most traditional, as you have a sword and blackjack equivalent, but you have no bow and instead get expendable daggers as a ranged attack. Hard is "Archer," and you only have a bow with various special new arrows to defeat enemies with. Expert is "mage," where you have no weapons at all and rely entirely on consumable scrolls, it's actually more of a summoner though, as your main spells are helpful monsters who fight for you. Having played through all three, while they aren't intended to be difficulty settings, I do feel the difficulty order is the most natural way to play them; Warrior feels closest to standard Thief, with a melee weapon always available and a more direct stealth approach (plus the daggers emulate ranged attacks and there's even a kind of summon). Archer has no defenses if arrows run out, but the modified arrows have powerful effects and it's not too hard to clear things out once you know what's coming. While Mage can mostly avoid direct combat, you also have be careful not to waste your good monsters on weak enemies, and you have to have an idea of what summon is the best counter to different enemies to be as efficient as possible. Even when they're not trying to kill you you also have to deal with the inherent jank of trying to get the monsters to actually go after each other, which can be like herding cats at times. Despite knowing what was there I still ran of resources clearing the map on Mage (technically I didn't finish that mode as an enemy got stuck in a way that trapped me, and I had nothing to kill them with, all that was left was backtracking though so it didn't matter much).

    Beyond that bug (which is more of an unlucky dark engine flaw than a specific level issue) the main issue I had is that it's really dark; if I hadn't played Crom's Blade before this I'd almost think something was wrong with my brightness settings, as every shadow is almost pitch black. You are given an infinite light source, but that means you have to put yourself in danger to actually see things. It probably doesn't help with the AI on Mage mode either, especially as the light becomes an essential tool for pointing out foes to your summons on that mode, whereas if it was a little brighter I imagine the AI would get on a bit better too. I'll also warn that the level comes with some NSFW nudity if that matters for you.

    Beyond the somewhat irritating darkness this is a good exploration of a different approach to thief, and it stayed enjoyable over the three playthroughs, and required me to rethink my approaches for each.

    Screenshots (if you can barely see anything that's basically how the level is anyway):



    This is an area that shows some of the main vertical design in the level (if you can see it)



    This is one of the main impressive views of the level.

  4. #2879
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    A Night In Rocksbourg 1: A New Beginning:

    This first map in the set is a city streets type map; in terms of overall area it's actually relatively small, but it's very tightly designed with narrow streets and lots of interlinking paths that make it feel complex. There's also a lot of focus on small details, and even parts you never access have lots of detail in them, making a great looking map. The briefing sets you up as robbing a cathedral, but that's a bit of a red-herring for this map, where you don't reach that destination, and are mainly wrapped up in another quest that comes up. There's also new voice acting, and while some of it has questionable sound quality (although others sound fine) it's translated from a mod that was initially non-English, so I can give some issues a pass. I didn't have too many difficulties with the stealth here as there's quite a lot of darkness and little metal/marble, but the small scale does mean it can be easy to alert multiple nearby enemies if you aren't careful with the noise you make, plus there's one or two surprises that mix things up. You can actually miss most of your supplies if you aren't thorough at the start, but I did like how it was in-character (because Garret wouldn't hide his stuff in the open).

    The Rocksbourgh set is known for it's horror elements, and, while I haven't reached the meat of that yet, this level does a great job of conveying the feeling of something being wrong under the surface, despite only having a few overt nods to that. The small details help add to the creepiness of the spookier parts, and the new ambient noises create a feeling of paranoia with stuff like footstep sounds mixed in. As well as the mystery/horror story this level is based around, the backstory of being in another part of the Thief world post-2 is also well executed, with details like the leftover Mechanists "rebranding" to try and hold on to their last bits of support, along with the explanation for why the area is closed off. The only real issue I had is that a couple of keys are extremely obscure, in fact, it seems like you can only get the clues to one after you've already found it? And I'm not sure how you'd stumble across it without help. Some of the lockpicking also seemed almost obnoxiously long, though that's a pretty minor problem. I did find the lack of map a little odd, but the small size means it's not too much of a problem. This set is known as a Thief classic and this level certainly lives up to that.


    The gates out of this segment of Rocksbourgh are heavily guarded, and dealing with them basically counts as a bonus for those who want a tougher challenge.


    This level has enough attention to detail that even the cobwebs have a certain relevance to the backstory.
    Last edited by Mman; 6th Sep 2017 at 17:59.

  5. #2880
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    A Night In Rocksbourg 2: Discovery:

    This is mostly streets based like the first map, but improved in almost every way; the settings keep the same flavour while being more varied and open, and there's other themes mixed in. One nice touch is that there's actually a friendly (or, at least, not directly hostile) section of the city that's one of the most well executed attempts at a populated area I've seen in Thief. Now the story has developed, the focus is on finding the cause of an undead plague that's taking over the city, which happens to involve a new faction added to the Thief world. As before there's a lot of attention to detail in where things are placed, and one thing I forgot to mention with the previous is that every NPC in the set has a name when knocked out/killed, which supports the backstory elements and even gives clues to certain things. Like the first map the general stealth isn't too challenging, but the addition of more Mechanist and... Other elements makes it tougher overall, along with a slight increase in noisy surfaces. The area being bigger means exploration is more challenging too, but there is a map provided this time. As before the atmospheric and sound design is excellent, and the horror elements do a lot with relatively little. The flaws are pretty much the same as the first map, with some slightly overlong lockpicking (although the bigger size means it's less of a factor here), and a few incredibly obtuse things need to be found to make progress that basically require you to look things up unless you run around frobbing the whole map. A bigger, better level than the first, though it's unfortunate that the occasional obscurity issue wasn't improved.

    I haven't mentioned the briefing videos either, which are well done and make good use of a combination of new and original art assets to create briefings in the style of the original ones. I have to watch them out of the game though, as in-game the top and bottom are cut off so some scenes and subtitles don't show properly, but I guess that's a Newdark or general settings issue.



    The populated Inn area.



    Something tells me this area wasn't the nicest even before unknown killers were on the loose...

  6. #2881
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    A Night In Rocksbourg 3: Ink And Dust:

    There's a completely new theme here as you explore the hideout of the new faction, and the surreal void type place it is seemingly built into. The visual design is even higher quality here, and the new setting is very evocative, with a lot of original assets, and even by Thief standards there is some excellent use of shadows and lighting. Said new faction are also fleshed out here (including more "neutral" areas), and manage to be both intriguing and also somewhat subversive of what was implied in earlier maps, given the previous map implied they were something evil, but they're actually a lot more complex than that. The gameplay difficulty steps up a bit more here, with lots of cramped corridors with multiple enemies, along with the things from the void, on the other hand there are also a lot of shadows and hidey-holes, along with some new consumable items, so you have plenty of ways to turn the odds in your favour. The environment is also a bigger threat with the inherently surreal nature of the setting, and there are some nicely-done puzzles too. This level also fixed my issues with obscurity in the earlier levels; the few obscure tasks that are mandatory have clues that localise them much better this time, and all the really tough stuff is near fully confined to optional content/secrets. Like the first level there's no map, but it does at least fit the mysterious nature of the setting here (there's even somewhat of a reason it's not mapped).

    This is also where the set takes a big push towards full horror, and, while the main part of the map is mostly just strange and unnerving, the "dark zone" part is infamous for this, and, well, it lives up to the hype. There's certainly some other stuff outside the main horror part that keeps you on edge though. By extension, the atmosphere and ambient design is even better here, and instantly ranks among my favourites from a Thief level. This is where the set ends for now; it was intended to be a six part series, but this is the last one that was released and that was years ago. On the other hand, while looking for help for the earlier parts, some forum posts suggested some more recent activity on the set from the author, so maybe it can continue one day?... Honestly with how well the details are hinted at, a little creative interpretation of a few plot points does provide a general conclusion to some of the main plot. The first two maps were great but this takes a step further and is easily among the best Thief levels I've played.



    The later areas don't quite match the grand design of this entrance hall, but they're impressive (and/or oppressive) in their own ways.



    A new pair of pants is recommended for what's ahead.

  7. #2882
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Hidden Agenda (Thief II, 2002), by AsyluM

    I love Thief II’s atmosphere and the Mechanists as much as I love Thief: TDP’s atmosphere and the Hammerites, and when it comes to picking a favorite between the first two Thief games, count me out. If I’m playing The Sword, I like the first better; if I’m playing Eavesdropping, I prefer the second. Ditto for every mission combination, just about. I’m the same way in other areas of life. If I’m petting a dog, I’m a dog person; if I’m playing with a cat, I’m a total cat-lover. If I’m drinking a chocolate milk shake, I love chocolate; if it’s a vanilla one, I’ll swear by that flavor (I also like strawberry). You may call me a flip-flop, but I’m just open-minded. Suffice it to say, when it comes to Thief II-hate, I’m not on board.

    With that out of the way, AsyluM’s Hidden Agenda is Blackbrook for the Mechanists. It’s a simple Mechanist fix and a well-rounded selection of Thief II ambient noises and textures.



    The mission starts with one of the longest drops I’ve seen. Garrett, knees surely hurting, must explore a Mechanist seminary in the New Market District. The seminary was built on top of an old Hammerite Temple, sunk into the ground. Garrett is driven by personal curiosity – he wants to know what these post-Karras Mechanists are up to, especially since they are trying to kill him. Garrett’s also been promised a reward from the Hammerites, who want to know what the Mechanists are up to in New Market as well.

    I played on Expert and was challenged. Well-lit areas forced me to move quickly, darting from one rare shadow to another. Patrols are not tight like in Gathering at the Inn, but are more difficult to sneak around than in Blackbrook. Later areas have cameras and turrets.

    The seminary mixes styles of Eavesdropping and Life of the Party. The outer grounds and sanctuary areas are Eavesdropping inspired, but other interior areas, like the guest rooms, the sitting rooms, the library, and the kitchen, have Life of the Party vibes. Thief II inspiration goes beyond these two missions. One area has ambiance from Framed – one of my Thief II favorites.



    I love Mechanist artwork. The two worship areas – one a large sanctuary and the other a small chapel – are ripe with statues and icons. Outside, visible from the start area, is a Mechanist statue with a gear stained-glass window behind it. As a lover of Eavesdropping and Mechanist seminaries, I think this FM delicious.

    Your goal is a Hammerite Temple buried beneath the Seminary that the Mechanists have built onto like they did the Lost City. It’s an extensive area. Haunts are teased until you explore a tomb where you’ll encounter a few of them. There’s also a frightening sequence when a humanoid clockwork soldier pops up from a table. This happens in a room with an inactive Child of Karras crouching right next to the door – as if that wasn’t enough (I jumped at both these things). AsyluM understood Mechanist horror and the kind of scares Thief II went for. (I think of the moment the bronze robot child creature appeared in Angelwatch.)

    Several users here dismiss Thief II for its lack of horror, but they’re only thinking of the kind of horror in Thief: TDP. Thief II had its own horror throughout. I was chilled when I spied the first watcher in Shipping…and Receiving and jumped when I peered in a box to see the face of a robot. Let Thief II be its own game – its clockwork, mechanical horror gave the game as much suspense and sense of the unknown as Thief: TDP’s dark medieval mood. I love TDP’s atmosphere, as noted, but it’s an apple to Thief II’s orange. I’m glad at least one FM author has realized what to draw from Thief II atmospherically.



    I digress. In the Hammer Temple, you’ll find more quarters and living areas, store rooms, a sewer section, and some work rooms. It’s more difficult to sneak around down here and there is some hard-to-get loot. One hard-earned goblet requires you return to the sewerman’s bedroom with a key difficult to find. I expected a grand reward or secret after backtracking all the way there, but only found this one loot item.

    The mission is large and on Expert will take some time. Objectives include finding incriminating evidence and some blueprints and breaking into the Mechanists’ vault. You’ll come across a few gear keys and, as mentioned, several watchers and turrets. If you enjoy some vanilla Thief II, you’ll eat it up.

    Hidden Agenda is a rare Mechanist FM and a palette of Thief II ambiance. If you don’t want to spend an eve with the Hammers, blessed old brethren that they are, load up a mission such as this one to spend some time with the Children of Karras - blessed be his name!
    Last edited by twhalen2600; 9th Sep 2017 at 01:34. Reason: Changed last screenshot.

  8. #2883

    Thief's Den 2: The Chalice of Kings

    Thereís an Indiana Jones joke, just on the tip of my tongueÖ.

    Thiefís Den 2: The Chalice of Kings, is Fidcalís next round in the Thief's Den series. This time, Not-Garrett is after a tomb robber who shamelessly stole some valuable artifacts before our hero could get at them, the selfish pest. Now, the artifacts; a crown, a death mask, and a chalice, must be stolen.

    The mission is obviously larger than itís predecessor, and more of a straightforward mansion mission. It looks quite good, with nice dark textures. The mansion layout is plausible, which I liked. I admit, the mission is a bit on the liner side, especially when it comes to the path to getting the chalice. I donít have much of a problem with that, but Iím aware that some frown on that.

    Still, I enjoyed it. It reminds me of Briarwood Cathedral (which I reviews back in the days of old), in that thereís nothing to really set it apart aside from being very solidly done. I supposes I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoy room escape games: the idea of starting out confined and slowly but surely solving puzzles and clearing your way though.

    Or itís just good. Recommended.

  9. #2884
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Quote Originally Posted by Thor View Post
    Me and a certain shitty-ass potato would do a review for Intruder's latest masterpiece, but the capricious spud needs a little more encouragement. Nickie or someone else, I think it may be up to you to encourage his idle ass to do something good for a change.
    I'd be more than happy to give him a kick up the ass but I'm a real waste of space myself at the moment so would seem just a tad hypocritical of me.

    Having said that, I would dearly like to read another joint review.

    Hopefully, all the latest reviews have now been added but please let me know if I've missed one or got it in the wrong place or similar, and grateful thanks as ever.

  10. #2885

    Let Sleeping Thieves Lie (TDM)

    I’m finally about done with my replays! Though I still have a few to go, such as SirTaffsalot’s Let Sleeping Thieves Lie.

    Jack Blackthorn used to be the feared leader of the Unseen Thieves guild. Used to be, because our hero put an arrow in his heart. However, it seems that Jack has come back from the dead, forcing our hero to investigate. And steal a dagger, just for good measure.

    This is a rather small city mission, mostly taking place on one street, with a divergence into the sewers to slip into the Unseen Thieves’ hideout and the tombs beneath the chapel. It’s not visually stunning, barring the outside of the chapel, which is appropriately massive. I heard complaints that the sewer area didn’t look that good, but I felt it was fine, if a little basic.

    I enjoyed the more atypical story for the mission, as well as a creative objective you get after your sewer travels. The main gripe I have is with the loot goal, as you have to get the vast majority of the level’s loot for expert, and a few pieces are quite small and hard to notice. That’s a bit of a petty complaint, I admit, but it brought my playthrough to a screeching halt.

    All in all, a decent, but slightly underdone mission. Recommended, but with caveats.

    Added - nickie

  11. #2886
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    T1: A Noble Death - Ishy

    Playing through the early FMs can be fun dive back in time to the early days of Thief Fandom. These were generally smaller and simpler FMs that were almost entirely Stock Resource. It was not long before the use of custom resources actually became so common place that it inspired a contest with the restriction to use only use Stock Resources in 2006.

    The smaller though not always so tight FMs of yore can be quite enjoyable, though sometimes the small size can prove its own challenge as in this FM.

    This fan mission sets you with the task of killing a noblewoman - a rather ignoble and incongruous task given you are a thief. This type of objective was unusually common during the first year or so of Thief FMs, but thankfully we started getting a mixture of larger, more complicated FMs and simpler steal-the-object(s) FMs. As you are here to kill someone, sneaking seems less necessary. This is not true, however, given the manor house is packed with guards - at least 14 of them. Further difficulty comes from the tighter spaces, limited hiding spots/ambush points, paired patrols, and most of all - the use of only one sound brush. This is a double hit as it makes it really hard to detect guard location (like which floor they are patrolling on) and easier for the guards to hear you.

    And hear you they will if you make any noise. Your best bet is to find a decent hiding spot, wait for the guards to pass and ambush one of them. The place is packed with marble floors, so no running to hit the second one on the head. Good sneaking is needed here. You have some water arrows but there are only two moss arrows in the crystal "armory" on the first floor, so no real softening is possible. Strangely, there are plenty of fire arrows, which implies a more Rambo slaughter-your-way to the top style mission than one of stealth.

    There is a second option to getting to the top, though it is not obvious. There are two rope arrows available, however, the wooden part is on the top surface only of the balcony ledges. Once you are on the second floor balcony, you can more easily rope up to the third floor with an obvious wooden overhang. Once you are in this space, you can sneak in and snipe the target. Of course this will alert the guards, making the rest of your objectives more difficult. So in general, a tough mission for sneaking, but years of thiefly training have honed my skills enough to make this a slow but fun mission without any of the frustrations I had the first time I played it years ago.

    For the architecture, it is not great, but it is pretty decent for its time. The area is rather flat with ridiculously high walls bordering the area. The entry/exit area is nicely designed, though, and the mission zone has multiple texture entrances that give the illusion of this map existing in a larger world, which is not something that is always implemented in missions, especially during the first few years of FMs.

    The textures are nicely placed, the layout also looks good and is logical though simple. There a few nicely decorated areas like the roof garden. The decor is limited for most of the mission, though, leaving some areas a little plain. The overuse of marble is a bit excessive, but not completely out of place. The Ramirez-inspired peep-holes are a nice touch, but unusual.

    The story is simple fair, but there are a few readables to give the place a bit of life. There is a dead hammerite novice, though whether he was set to dead or killed by the thief, I do not know. It is the latter, than that might explain the rather jumpy guards here. The loot is good for the mission size while also being well-placed and sparse enough to be believable.

    In conclusion, this is a simple FM that will test your thief skills while still being able to get home in time for dinner. Just it comes with an annoying kill objective. Fortunately, you can just knock her out and kill her on the ground before you leave.

    Added - nickie

  12. #2887
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2017
    Location: Coveting hither and yon

    For behold, it is I, the Covetous Carcass, taking a break from coveting golden skulls to present my review of a golden oldie mission and one of my favourites, previously briefly reviewed by Unkillable Cat in this very thread.

    Durant

    (Thief II, 2001) by Donald F. Mazur

    I love "what if" fan missions which connect to the main storyline. I also love "fanon" missions - those which flesh out people and places which the canon only mentions in passing. Durant does both, altering the original story from when Viktoria gets Brother Cavador to "spill his guts" (not literally, of course). As before, Garrett suggests that Lord Gervaisius might be able to provide a precursor mask for their investigations. Now, though, while Viktoria's agents know that Gervaisius will be holding an exhibition of precursor artefacts, they know neither where nor when. Garrett therefore has to embark on an intermediate mission to get this info, bumping into a few old acquaintances along the way.

    The mission is named after a certain celebrated artist of the same name, who gets a couple of passing mentions in the original missions, and one of whose paintings several people seem keen to acquire.

    As the prologue suggests, a good place to start investigating is Gervaisius' art dealer - our old friends Grimworth and de Perrin, who operate in East New Market district. And so begins a mission which is twistier and turnier than a twisty turny thing, involving pagans, Mechanists, thieves (besides our protagonist, that is), the dearly departed, and a lord with an eye for peasant girls (and perhaps an ear for industrial metal), but not necessarily in that order. Oh, and a "street person" named Rosie. And Lord Bafford facing disappointment again.

    I've played through this mission many times, and continue to do so on occasion. It's a mid-sized city mission, divided roughly equally between the streets of East New Market and the mansion of Lord Mani Rammstein. There's plenty of other destinations crammed in as well, though, giving a "Life of the Party" feel, as Garrett quietly intrudes on all kinds of people's lives (and afterlives). The mission is non-linear and has a nice vertical aspect to it, requiring Garrett to traverse both the Thieves' Highway and the extensive, and very tall, sewers beneath the district, with varied locations in between. Garrett's first task is to meet a pagan contact at a nearby safe-house, and after that it's up to him, but he might have to travel light for a bit . Intrigue is waiting to be uncovered as Garrett untangles the recent, and colourful, history of the Durant painting.

    As explained in the readme, the objectives are broadly the same on all difficulties - all that changes is whether Garrett is permitted to knock out or kill anyone (but, I mean, he really shouldn't need to do the latter, should he?), along with some routes being easier to access on the easier difficulties. I've played this on "Don's Style" (Expert) which disallows direct knockouts completely, and which also turns the mission into more of a keyhunt - some locks which can be picked on easier difficulties now can't be, which means it's better to go to some places before others (not gonna spoil anything though!) I really enjoy the story and the characters involved, each one behaving as you'd expect them to, which in the City means that they're generally a dislikable bunch . Although the level's appearance is a tad blocky and basic by today's standards, the gameplay more than makes up for it. For example, the mansion has several approaches and points of entry, and nooks and crannies aplenty meaning a great night's thieving. The Mechanist facility has some clever technical gadgets worthy of their Order, such as a Soulforge-esque machine and a custom arrow type, which, given this mission's year of release, are impressive.

    There are a few minor problems with the mission, which have always been present as far as I can recall - guards ending up standing on tables, that kind of thing. A notable one is that the conversation which starts off the mission seems to restart on every game load, regardless of the locations of the concerned parties. This mission also doesn't like Gecko's HDmod, at least on my machine, as enabling HDmod causes the mission to crash on load, but other enhancement packs work fine.

    Should you play it? Of course you should, it's a classic, and it's got Loanstar doing a voice . I can't believe it's been nearly sixteen years since this mission was released.

    Oh, and does Garrett get the info he's after? Total spoiler: Indeed he does! Thief 2 has to carry on afterwards, y'know...


    The streets of East New Market - and yet another upstanding (just) representative of the City's finest who's taken to the bottle .


    Heed Garrett's warning in this room, and for goodness' sake tread carefully. Two persons did not. They are now very dead.


    Chez Mechanists. That pesky watcher is fixed in place. "Can't go this way!"


    Ho ho h...oh dear, here comes Garrett Claus to relieve you of your trinkets .


    The quarters of one Capt. E. F. Regalio - I say, that name swipes an amulet...


    Grimworth and de Perrin's showroom awaits. What're you gonna do, ask for Roy the guard's permission?
    Have a care if you do - de Perrin is what one might call the jealous type...


    Added - nickie

  13. #2888
    Moderator
    Registered: May 2000
    Location: Thunder Bay, On., Canada
    Very nice review! I love to see these older missions getting attention as they are so often overlooked. Thank you!

  14. #2889

    Vengance for a Thief Part 1: The Angel's Tear (TDM)

    Time for a min-campaign, of sorts.

    The odd thing about SirTaffsalot’s Vengance for a Thief campaign is that part one was the last to be created, kinda like Star Wars only not.

    The Angel’s Tear, our intro, is a basic mansion mission. A merchant is in possession of a valuable jewel, go steal it. The jewel is protected by a security system, forcing your to track down three keys to get your hands on the jewel.

    The main problem I have with this mission is that I feel like I’m suffering from hallway hypnosis. The mansion is very sameish with very little to differentiate one hallway from the next, resulting in one getting lost easy. There’s a lack of map, which makes navigation even more of a pain. Also of irritation is tracking down the lord’s wife, who has one of the keys you need. She walks at a snail's pace, and the large mansion size makes tracking her down a pain.

    The loot goal is fair, and while it does require you to get the vast majority of the level’s loot, most of it is in plain sight. As a bonus, the guards will actually notice when pieces are missing.

    All and all, I don’t feel as if I can recommend this. It reminds me of Lord Dufford’s or Deceptive Shadows, in that the good bits are buried under tedium. For what it’s worth, the other two missions in this series are much better.

    Added - nickie

  15. #2890
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    The Love Thief (Thief II, 2013 - latest version), by Sensut

    The Dracula campaign is one of my favorite FM series and The Love Thief is my favorite mission from it. A good one-sitting mission, it’s shorter than average and is also well-paced, visually chilling, and heavily atmospheric.

    Basing a fan mission in the setting of the Dracula story instills it with fresh flavor. You are in a fictional historical setting, not the City, but a Carpathian mountain range in eastern Europe. The atmosphere is thick and pitch perfect for the setting and period.

    You begin as Gellert, plopped down at the Borgo Pass in Transylvania. I first played this FM in early 2011, and fell in love as soon as I took the first steps forward and a werewolf, howling, attacked a group of soldiers camping in the pass. With the gray clouds above and a gloomy mountain range before me, the werewolf was overload – my rural eastern European adventurer was overwhelmed, and I knew I would not be flinching until I had devoured every bit of this mission.

    Sneaking by the werewolf, since the soldiers never kill him on my playthroughs, you pass through another canyon to where the beast’s lair is. The human self of the monster has left a diary detailing his unfortunate fate, and you’ll discover near it a key you’ll need to pass a gate to the rest of the mission. Some kind of bubble substance sits on the ground beneath this gate, and I’ve never read what it is. Perhaps a ward for the werewolf.



    Once past the gate, your first stop may be the Hero’s Shrine, just to the right. On my first several playthroughs I never knew the purpose of this shrine. When I discovered what secret it held, I could not believe I had missed one of the most-used secret switches in Thief history. Hit me with a blackjack – it’s a frobbable torch.

    Another story bit awaits past the tomb. A band of travelers sit in an elbow of the pass with a covered wagon, Viktrola, and expressionless horse. Read the band’s journal for a sad tale.

    Turn and go further down to see a cross, one of a few religious symbols in this mission, and one of many Turkish soldiers – the first who isn’t being killed by a werewolf. These religious symbols and soldiers lend the mission its historical character, vital to the overall atmosphere. You’re not seeing hammers, but crosses.

    After these scenes you’ll come to a hermit’s hut where you’ll find a crossbow, Jonathan Hawker’s journal, and a diversion to a small chapel. The chapel has the journal of a priest filled with regret over what he has allowed into the chapel. There’s also a secret that you may feel uncomfortable triggering if you’re a Christian – maybe I’m thinking about it in the wrong way. Regardless, on some playthroughs I can’t do it.

    Past the hermit’s area you’ll enter the Turkish camp. I hope you have a rope arrow. If you missed picking up a rope arrow in the hermit’s area – which I’ve done – you have to go back to an earlier save or risk alerting the Turkish soldiers standing outside the path to the camp, whom you bypassed taking the path by the hermit’s area, a path you can’t take back. You may have an invisibility potion at your disposal, but this is best saved for when you are leaving the camp for good on your return to the mission start. It’s possible to find a second invisibility potion, but this is not guaranteed, so always be certain you pick up the rope arrows.

    Once when I missed them I spent more time than I’d like to admit struggling to find entrance to the Turkish camp. Since then, I am always doubly certain to pick them up.

    When you’ve rope-arrowed your way into the camp, you’ll see some interesting scenes and hear some snazzy music. There’s a humorous journal entry about a missing watch; a couple locals skewered on stakes; revelry complete with superb animations (the Turkish soldier tossing back a drink is to die for); and a conspicuous apple tree. Sensut likely was aching to use a climbable tree and concocted the entire scenario here just for it: unhealthy water and a fence around it. Why? I see no reason for it other than to have an excuse to use a climbable tree. Nothing wrong with that, it just feels superfluous.



    Once over the fence and into the water you’ll come up into Dracula’s castle. The ambiance immediately changes and here, like at the first sight of the werewolf, I am deliriously sucked in. You feel that you are in the cellar of a huge castle out of a horror movie. Sensut nails this.

    You’ll eventually enter Dracula’s chambers and find his sleeping brides and Hawker’s lost fiancť, Mina. The beating hearts you hear when standing next to the brides’ undead bodies always perturbs me. The dťcor impresses me, and once you nab the unconscious body of Mina a new, haunting mood piece plays. You’ll sneak out of Dracula’s quarters to the moans and laughs of his brides, the dark lord present too.



    Next comes the weakest part of the mission: the crypts beneath the castle. The repetitive design makes it feel like a later Halo level. Carrying Mina’s body adds to the repetition, as you have to put it down and pick it up constantly to pick up loot. I set her down somewhere, sneaked down a section to nab all the loot, then went back to pick her up. Regardless of the repetition, the atmosphere remains compelling, and there’s a secret to find – if you’ve got the talismans for it.

    Once out of the catacombs you return to the start, Mina over shoulder, to end the mission. If you’ve got an invisibility potion, this is a simple objective. Going back through each area to the start is a satisfying full-circle journey.

    The Love Thief is a great atmospheric mission, it’s uniquely historical, and it’s my favorite of Sensut’s Carpathian missions. For a cool fall night, you couldn’t find a better entertainment experience.

    Added - nickie

  16. #2891
    New Member
    Registered: Sep 2017
    Location: Coveting hither and yon

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightwalker View Post
    Very nice review! I love to see these older missions getting attention as they are so often overlooked. Thank you!
    Thank you Nightwalker - I too would like to give older missions some publicity.

    My second review is of another classic mission, this time from 2007. I think that I originally happened upon this one when browsing over on Cheap Thief Missions.

    Dirty Business

    (Thief II, 2007) by Dr Sneak

    Poor Garrett, always having to clean up after the Keepers' ill-fated escapades. In this mission he is, once again, acting as their reluctant troubleshooter, having been called upon to tie up a loose end resulting from an abortive Keeper foray into the Cragscleft mines. Since his last visit, the Hammers have sold the mines to a mysterious corporation known as the Consordium (yes, with a "d"), and they in turn have engaged the services of the post-Karras Mechanists to help them tame the mines and bring them back into operation once more. There is, it seems, still gold in them there mines. However, the Mechanists have found something in the mine's depths which they want to keep a secret, and, true to form, don't want to let anyone else in on it, including their new business associates. There have been rumblings amongst the Consordium - some employees aren't too happy about being denied access, for reasons unknown, to their latest acquisition.

    This mission is partly based on "Break from Cragscleft Prison" from TDP, and, as you might expect, the Mechanists have given the mines a similar treatment to that which the "KD Site" received, clearing out the local wildlife (well, wild-death) and generally fixing the place up.

    Garrett starts in his pokey lodgings in the "company town" which the Consordium have established in front of the mine entrance, and soon discovers that he isn't the only one who's been snooping around. From there, he has to make his way into the mines to retrieve the wayward Keeper artefact, and, of course, line his pockets along the way.

    This mission has an interesting story with several custom conversations, and several readables which give a good idea of the somewhat strained relationship between the "gearheads" and the Consordium. The "secret" which the Mechanists are guarding will come as no great surprise, but the story does add its own slant, referencing a certain well-known film/TV franchise. It's a shame that what Garrett discovers down there is just for show, though (or at least I think it is...).

    As regards level design, I found the initial town/warehouse area to be a little too bland and empty. I'd have preferred a bit more to do here; a bit more "flavour" perhaps, but it's serviceable as a gateway to the meat of the mission - the renovated mines and what lies beneath them, the latter in particular looking great with some appropriately-themed custom textures. All the familiar locations from the Cragscleft mine are there, but where once undead patrolled, there are now Mechanists and Consordium guards. Speaking of which, the guards won't attack Garrett in the town streets, but once he goes further, he's officially a trespasser and it's (dirty) business as usual. At the top of the mines you can see the entrance which leads to the Hammers' area (and even hear them), but it's closed off in this mission - the Hammers want no part in the doings of heretics. It's worth exploring everywhere as there's loot hiding in corners all over the place, including some which might otherwise qualify as secrets but does not (the mission doesn't have any "official" secrets - well, besides the one the Mechanists are guarding). There are also a couple of conversations which might easily be missed if you don't explore diligently.

    The mission is polished and fun to play. I found it quite easy even on "Jack O'Blade" (Expert), and I managed to ghost it successfully, something that I usually reserve only for small missions as I tend to lose patience otherwise :). I have two nitpicks. Firstly, some of the sound propagation in the deepest part of the mission (where the Keeper artefact is) seems iffy, causing e.g. NPC sounds to cut out and back in again in unexpected places. Secondly, I'm guessing the author did several NPC voices because there's one conversation where it sounds like he's talking to himself :). These really are minor points though.

    This mission is definitely worth a playthrough in your near future. It's one of Garrett's more conventional assignments, lacking the spectacle of some other missions, but it rips a good yarn and isn't too difficult, which is a plus for me. And it's got a golden skull in it! One that you can collect! As a covetous fellow, that floats my boat :D

    So then, screenshots!



    The main entrance. Beyond lies the Consordium's land, and folks like you aren't welcome 'round these parts.


    The Mechanist warehouse. What are they up to this time? It can't be anything good, that's for sure...


    Picking up on some tasty tidbits. That's Special Inspector Logan on the right.
    He is... to be avoided, if rumour's true (which it is).



    Cragscleft entrance by moonlight. Even those two guards have a bit of a natter as you pass by...


    I wish there was a minecart here. And physics. And a rollercoaster ride beyond.


    Mines, Mechanists, equipment... you know the drill...


    We meet again, crappy Cragscleft elevator! I see your buttons are as (dys)functional as the last time we met.
    Hang on a sec, I feel some verse coming on:
    "O Cragscleft elevator, I really hate to hate yer,
    But I'm a-making tuttin's, 'Cause I can't push your buttons."
    ©2017 C. Carcass



    A familiar location in Cragscleft, recently.
    If this location is not familiar to you, stop what you're doing right now and go play Thief TDP/Gold!



    Cthulhu and his brother welcome you to this sacred place.
    Please wipe your feet and try not to release any ancient evils upon the land.



    There it is. IMO that's the real prize, but will you be able to find it?


    Those Mechs done put these things everywhere down here.
    Once you're past this one, you'll be... safe :D



    His Holiness A. Random Mechanist, always on the alert, never to be caught napping.
    Well, who could nap with this guy snoring like a trooper?



    Added - nickie

  17. #2892

    Vengance for a Thief Part 2: A Pawn in the Game (TDM)

    Such beautiful screenshots. I feel so lazy in comparison. :P

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

    And now for part two of Vengeance for a Thief: A Pawn in the Game. Which was created first.

    When we last left our hero, he had just stolen the Angel’s Tear and was making a clean getaway, but it turns out he was instantly set upon by the City Watch and arrested. Our humble hero, realizing that there’s no way a Master Thief(™) like him could mess up, decides that he’s been set-up and aims to break out, find out what happened, and dig up a little more info on the mysterious “Order of the Golden Lion.”

    This is a much better mission than its predecessor, if just because the environments look different. You start in the City Watch building, and after getting your stuff and getting out, have to hit the city streets. Where Taffsalot shines is in the scale of the buildings you wander around, with good, appropriate music, especially in a local chapel. It’s all quite impressive, and makes up for the straightforwardness of the mission.

    Difficulty-wise, it’s fair. There are quite a few guards walking the halls and streets, but they can be maneuvered around, with the difficulty mostly coming from the strong ambient light that makes it surprisingly easy to be spotted. The main problem comes from remembering that the guards can see the rope arrows that you will end up scattering all over the place. I do have to comment a bit on the coincidence that some of the random houses you end up breaking into have important plot information. The loot goal is also fair, with you having to get a vast majority of it but most being in plain sight.

    All in all, this is much better effort that it’s predecessor/created-later prequel. Recommended.

    Added - nickie

  18. #2893
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    I like Skacky's Quake maps a lot, so, realising he's made various Thief maps have made me decide to go through them all (the main ones at least; I'm not sure if I'll do the smaller contest stuff). I was going to do all of them in one post, but I've decided to split off Chalice of Souls as it feels like the first three releases are part of a design progression/iteration anyway, and I get the feeling that Chalice changes things up the theme somewhat (maybe I'm wrong though).

    Shadow Politics:

    This is mainly a streets map, with the embassy that's your main target and the sewers being the main interior areas. The design is strong, with diverse building exteriors and streets along with the main embassy area having good detail (as well as the most interesting lighting). Skacky said this level was inspired by releases like Disorientation, and, while it doesn't have the grand scale and structure of that map, I can see where that comes from. The gameplay is mostly quite straightforward but there's a difficulty spike in some of the interiors (the actual embassy in particular) with lots of tile and well-lit rooms. The guard count isn't too high and there's plenty of carpet around so it's still pretty managable. I actually found the hardest task of this map to be the Expert difficulty loot goal, and it took me a while of looking over the map to find the last pieces I needed, most of it was hiding in plain sight though. A very good map, but, given the designs I know Skacky is capable of, I feel this was a bit of a starter release to warm up for bigger projects.



    One of the bigger streets.



    The entrance hall of your target.

    Between These Dark Walls:

    The inspiration from Disorientation and similar missions comes through more here, with areas that have vast vertical scale and major height variations throughout. The texturing and atmosphere also take more style from it, and this level looks great throughout, especially within a certain surprise theme shift. In some ways this feels like a pseudo-remake of Shadow Politics, with many of the basic area concepts being similar, but more fleshed out, interestingly connected and with far more vertical space used over horizontal space. Like the previous map there's a difficulty contrast between the street sections and the main mission interiors, with the former being quite easy and the latter having a lot more tile and brightly lit areas. Like Shadow Politics, the main mission is a simple Thief one (infiltrate a place and steal something), but there's a twist that makes the overall development of this map more interesting. It probably helps that I reached the loot goal much easier here, but I was surprised how quickly this level went, and while it's probably bigger than Shadow Politics it didn't feel that way, it's more dense in content though, and full of little details that flesh out the setting. A step up from the first map and a great entry to the relatively rare hyper-vertical streets style.



    Both a long way up and a long way down...



    One of the simpler interiors, with the more elaborate ones essentially being spoilers.

    Endless Rain:

    This is all the best parts of Skacky's first two releases combined and improved into a masterpiece; A large city area full of both vertical and horizontal gameplay, tons of secrets, along with excellent detail and atmosphere. As the name suggests, rain is a big part of this map's atmosphere, and just adds to the already great looking city designs. Like the previous maps, the interiors get more challenging than the streets with lots of light and tile; the difficulty is distributed a little more evenly though, with various houses that require some care to explore safely rather than just the main mission. The subplots and overall narrative is also taken further, with various threads to explore as much as you want, along with a couple more surprises to mix things up. The exploration is also more organically handled, as areas don't always link neatly with each other, and a minor diversion can unravel into a whole new way around the map. As part of this, the rooftops are also more complex, and segment in complex ways that makes exploring the full extents of the higher parts take a lot of attention. One of the best town levels around and exceptional in just about every way, to the point of me considering it a must-play release (not that the first two levels aren't very good too, but this is on another level).



    An even longer way down!



    Hard to hide in here...

    Added - nickie

  19. #2894
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    The Chalice of Souls:

    This is a two-level set, with the base idea apparently being based on part of Thief 4 (where you look for a keeper artifact beneath a clandestine brothel); since I haven't played it I don't know how close/far from the inspiration it is. The first level here is a snowy city area; at first glance of the map and area it seems small, but this turns out to be quite deceptive as there's a very vertical structure with individual buildings quite fleshed out, and that's on top of a surprise second area just when you think it's over (it's not really a twist given the premise, but the segment has far more to it than might be expected). While most of the main city wasn't built by Skacky, the visuals and design feels along the lines of Endless Rain, with fog/weather effects and detailed vertical structures. The setting itself is also very varied, with several separate themes mixed in. By extension this takes the side-stories and exploration elements beyond Endless Rain; almost every building/area has some entirely unique twist that fits the owner's personality, and there are several elaborate sections and scenarios you can potentially completely miss. In terms of difficulty I also feel this level does a better job adding difficulty beyond bright interiors full of tiles; that's still present, but there are also darker areas that still pose a challenge due to tricky enemy placements and some Thief 2 style mechanical objects/traps. While mostly not built by Skacky this level holds up to his maps very well and I might even slightly prefer it to Endless Rain.

    The second level (and the main segment built by Skacky) is the brothel itself, that happens to be built into a Keeper complex. Like the first map there's also a large second section just when you think you're nearing the end. The visuals are great again here, with some of the best looking and grandest Keeper architecture I've seen, especially in the second segment. There's also good usage of elements to sell the exclusive brothel theme, such as the steaming baths, luxurious decor and various custom objects for different bedroom "themes". After the previous map went away from it the first main section here goes all in on the "tiles and light" difficulty aspects of the interior sections, especially as the setting is relatively confined as well, however there is a twist in the form of usable candles which means areas aren't quite as bright as they initially seem with a little work and timing. Outside of that you need some care to handle the main brothel areas, and the less inhabited parts later on are relatively simple to deal with in comparison. This is another level where the loot goal became the trickiest part in the end, with me having to do some trekking around after the main missions to find the last pieces for the goal, it had turned out I had missed some relatively obvious stuff though. Another good level although, it's not as standout as the first, this is a great set though, and both maps together comprise one of the best mini-campaigns around. Hopefully the upcoming multi-level set by Skacky and others won't be overly long in the making.



    The overall detail isn't as high as Endless Rain, but the winter atmosphere is still very well executed.



    The residents have some unique tastes...



    The keeper theme mixed with a lush brothel creates some original designs.



    There's areas with some obvious inspiration from Rocksbourg and Disorientation.

    Added - nickie
    Last edited by Mman; 26th Oct 2017 at 16:15.

  20. #2895
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: Sunnyport
    Since Yandros will soon release Death's Cold Embrace and Halloween is around the corner, it's an appropriate time for a spooky-Yandros-FM double-wammy: King Abedzen's Tomb and Deceptive Perception 2!

    King Abedzen's Tomb (Thief II, 2015), by Yandros

    In 2015 Yandros released this “Micro FM” that’s jam-packed with atmosphere and has a few just-right puzzles to solve. It took me around thirty minutes to complete, and would take you less if you do not get stumped on one section as I did. It’s quick, but the quality is such I’d hardly call it a fix – this is more like a tiny bit of steak wrapped in bacon you’d get at a fancy restaruant. Now, if you think that’s a fix, my comparison falls flat. My main point is, this is no fast food chicken nugget.

    The start of the mission immediately satisfies me – it’s all you need, really. A heavily atmospheric graveyard in the rain, with a Widow Moira-esque view of the ocean. I spent more time in the graveyard than in the tomb, and not just because I got stumped out there. A part of me wants to retire to a seaside cemetery.



    You’ll need to pass a couple puzzles to gain entry to the tomb, but a scripted sequence gives you a start. I figured out the first puzzle quickly, though what you use does not highlight. The second thing you frob does highlight – I just didn’t see it.

    I also didn’t see the pit inside of the tomb. Falling in, I lost all but two health (playing on Expert). Given SlyFoxx’s line, I bet unaware players falling in is exactly what the designer wanted.

    The pit is in the first hallway after a turn you take right after entering the tomb, just past a small room to the side. To get back out of it you’ll need a rope arrow, but you don’t just pick it up, you have to assemble it. Aim carefully with it. A miss of the wooden beam above means poor Garrett’s no better than the skeleton down there. At least Garrett figured out to put rope and arrow together, unlike this other poor sod.

    Back up in the tomb, you have another hallway that leads to the main room – the one with Abedzen’s sarcophagus. You’ll square off against the old King’s ghost. The treasure isn’t in here, though. Placing Abedzen’s Talisman into a receptacle in the wall opens another room – his treasure room. But it’s been plundered.

    But there is a room the plunderers have missed all these years, and if you’ve picked up some coins and gleaned some clues from a story book, you’ll have access to this room and all its glories. The crowning piece of the collection is a recognizable statue, and there’s an appropriate quip from Garrett.



    Before leaving, you’ll hear the growls of a creature that’s been teased at throughout the mission. You’ll also run into a couple spiders. I thought quick enough to duck into the nearest shadow, but was still too close for comfort.

    On the way out, be sure to jump back over the pit, lest you fall in again (which I haven’t done – but I bet someone has).

    King Abedzen’s Tomb is a must-play FM and a perfect quick treat for Halloween. Though, as I indicated at the start, it’s less a Halloween treat and more like a gourmet brownie dessert, with chocolate candy corn sprinkled on, served under the flickering light of fancy, glazed Jack-O-Lanterns.

    Deceptive Perception 2: Phantasmagoria (Thief II, 2008), by Yandros

    Yandros finished what William the Taffer started in this sequel to 2002’s classic contest FM Deceptive Perception. That little horror mission is one of the best, and the lengthier Deceptive Perception 2: Phantasmagoria is also great.

    Unlike other horror FMs such as The Inverted Manse or Rose Cottage, Deceptive Perception 2 proceeds chapter-by-chapter, linearly. It’s a tall tale told at a bar, Garrett narrating the story to his pal Willick. This bar room conversation is the framework of the mission. It develops the feel of a television show on a late Saturday afternoon, part of a series of Spooky Tales from Beyond or some such program, contrasting with Rose Cottage’s 1960s black-and-white haunted house movie vibe.



    Garrett’s yarn begins with him in an abandoned, haunted Mechanist warehouse. Falling for a rumor of a valuable artifact hidden there, told him by his guard friend Barney, Garrett climbed up into the warehouse on a stroll one night, on impulse, with nothing but a rope arrow. Rope arrow broken, and no way to get out save the high windows up above, Garrett is in a pickle.

    The first part is straight Deceptive Perception. You’re in a haunted Mechanist warehouse, and freaky things happen. It’s all done really well and is great on its own and as a homage to the original. I also like seeing horror done using Mechanist trappings. There’s potential for Mechanists to be as scary as any other group in the Thief universe, but not many authors explore it.



    After this first part, the mission becomes its own experience, though it’s definitely Deceptive Perception-y.

    You encounter the apparition of a woman dressed in white who leads you on with a couple keys and through a maze of stacked boxes. A nice technique was done here with a painting. The ghost lady stepped from the Thief II painting of a woman dressed in white, and after she finished speaking with you, and you walk towards the painting, the woman-in-white portion vanished. Another trick with paintings is done later in the mission: there’s a lively interchange between Keira Knightley and a stock Thief II Renaissance man.

    After dodging some Mechanist Haunts and escaping the woman-in-white, you encounter your friend Barney in an office area of the warehouse. There are more clever jump scares here, and a grim experience with Barney and the ghostly woman. Moving on from that, you get some keys and eventually unlock a sewer door taking you down into the next part of the mission. At this point the game cuts back to the bar room conversation – Garrett’s friend has started to question the progressively weirder story.



    Down in the sewers, you’ve got a rickety-bridge-over-big-pit gag (not a rare scare, but it works – I ran and squealed) and an underground temple. Here the scares are dropped for straight stealth. You help a group of forsaken Keepers combat demons who have them trapped. In doing so, you must find a couple gem stones, a mild break in the momentum. This part is close to padding, and you have to come uncomfortably close to a creepily textured spider, but soon enough you’re back on your way.

    The next and final section of the mission starts with a return to the sewers, where you encounter a baby crayman-esque beast, and a guard – sewer worker? – composing his latest masterpiece.*

    You then come up into a hospital with a few horrifying apparitions, and are introduced to the villain: Dr. Lang. Read his journal to learn of his sick practice; it will remind you of the original Amnesia, if you’ve played that. There’s also a Viktrola with a Sly Foxx-narrated bit of the doctor beginning with one of his unfortunate victims. This hospital area is a sudden dark swing, standing out from even the rest of this creepy mission.



    You’ll be trapped by this Dr. Lang in cold storage. Once you’ve found a way out, the game cuts again to the bar-room conversation. Willick is finding your story too fantastic to believe. After a little more story, the game cuts to the bar again with Garrett telling Willick that the rest will have to wait until the next night. Garrett and Willick depart, and Garrett heads out to a thrilling conclusion of the night’s tale.

    The chapter-by-chapter, linear progression of Deceptive Perception 2 makes it a unique FM experience, and you’ll enjoy this creepy ride and will likely revisit it each year at Halloween. Just be ready to jump and be freaked out – a lot. The stat screen kindly tracks this for you.

    *He meets a grim, unexplained fate, though not in New Dark. At least, that’s my assumption: only in my post-New Dark playthroughs has he been standing up, happy as a lark, even after he screams from the distance.

    Added - nickie

  21. #2896
    Classical Master 2008
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: Civitas Quinque Ecclesiae HU
    Quote Originally Posted by Mman View Post
    The Chalice of Souls:
    Excellent review, but just a note: the city proper was mostly built by Squadafroin, and the sewers by Firemage. Skacky did the underground brothel and the Keeper compound.

  22. #2897
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by Melan View Post
    Excellent review, but just a note: the city proper was mostly built by Squadafroin, and the sewers by Firemage. Skacky did the underground brothel and the Keeper compound.
    Oh, it did seem like Chalice was a collaborative build from the description, so I wondered what the extent of that was. I guess I'll tweak the review a bit to account for that.

  23. #2898
    New Member
    Registered: Jul 2013
    Update: rookie mistake-----I guess I should have "replied with quote" to respond to comment #2893

    I played both these missions back to back a while ago and really enjoyed them. Reading your review makes me want to play them again because I think I missed a lot of special details.

    Thanks for reminding me about these great missions!
    Last edited by kerFuFFler; 26th Oct 2017 at 21:20. Reason: newbie mistake

  24. #2899
    New Member
    Registered: Oct 2017
    Hi all, Im kinda new to the forum, but just wanted to drop in and say how much I LOVE this thread... It has been my goto source for finding FMs I want to play...
    Super sad to see all of SneakyJacks hard work destroyed by photobucket incompetence
    (googled a bit and it seems they changed their subscription terms august this year, now changing 400$/year for 3rd part hosting... breaking billions of websites, forum posts and blogs in the process and infuriating their customers... nice work.)

  25. #2900
    Member
    Registered: May 2013
    Location: New Zealand
    Poor Lord Bafford by Jordan CS

    As the first proper custom mission within the Thief series period that isn't a glorified tech demo(Guardhouse 1 by Banshee/Down we go! by shadow) or a brief combat-heavy level that was probably made to just blow off some virtual steam(The Deceptive Sceptre by Seb Pedley), Poor Lord Bafford is a fairly decent level that stands the test of time relatively well, despite coming out over 18 years ago!

    Story is pretty much your standard Thief scenario, involving Garrett sneaking into some rich nobleman's place(In this case, good ol' Bafford once again!) and stealing valuables to pay the rent for the week. Tried & true premise, but it works. There is also a side-plot involving Bafford stealing an invaluable Hammerite scroll in the hopes he may be capable of raising an undead army to serve him(being well-aware of Garrett potentially making a grab for it), but it ultimately doesn't really go anywhere, turning out to be a dud. So it might as well be another piece of reading material that our sarcastic rogue picks up along the way, to have a look over during downtime for all the good it does.

    Level design starts off relatively crude with a fairly boxy outdoor area, but does gradually get better once you're inside proper. Sure, corridors can feel a little cramped and the smooth tile flooring a bit much, but I can totally believe this as one of Bafford's storage houses for some of his more valuable belongings, during a grim financial period within The City for him.

    And considering my gameplay style is pretty much knocking every sentient being out and extinguishing torches(with flat-out killing reserved as a last resort), I pretty much adapted to the rules of the level quickly.

    Overall, a mission that I recommend to anyone anchoring for a quick little bit of thieving

    Added - nickie
    Last edited by nickie; 10th Nov 2017 at 15:52. Reason: thank you!

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