dwell ep1: when this came out, i was at the height of my love for quake. it's easily one of the best experiences i had with quake in every single aspect (design/music/etc). i think i played it three times (i prefer to play things once) and discovered a majority of the secrets. i also did a level critique stream too? it's been awhile but i skipped it because i wanna experience it fresh when all four episodes are released.

ep2: the biggest downfall of this is that it's not episode 1 and wasn't released the same year... i have a kind of nostalgia for that time. it's not as strong as ep1, but it's still quite incredible. i'm horrible at secrets, as i averaged about 60% for the first five maps, and very little for the others.
i see complaints in other reviews for M7 & M8, and i get it! but i loved them! M7 i was a little confused but that was mostly on me. M8 was so much fun! i admit i had to savescum to complete that jumping puzzle section with the nails at your back, and i rocketjumped to a couple places i didn't have the skill to get to. but it's honeslty pretty fun to just marvel at a map that's HUGE yet didn't suffer in detail or effort - are you human, mazu?

ep 3 and 4, i'm very excited for and do not mind them cooking in the oven for however long they need to take! thank you all! i love y'all!
Skill
Hard
This is one of the best Quake mods of all time... there's no need to say more.
Highlights for me were Duel with Duat, Under A Funeral Moon, Within the Flayed Kingdom, We Should Voyage So Far, The Waters Below.

I had a ton of fun playing these maps.
Skill
Normal
Some of the maps were tedious and long, but a few were really great. Episode 2 had a few especially well-made maps, but also some bugged-out ones.
I absolutely adore this mod. The architecture of the levels are beautiful, the new weapons and enemies breath new life to Quake already-rock-solid combat, and it even has custom music to boot. Sometimes the monsters feel a bit excessive, which is sometimes exhausting but usually leads to incredibly adrenaline-fueled highs of gibs and gunpowder. The layouts of certain levels and finding secret levels can be a bit too much for me. However, I honestly prefer the sequential nature of the levels to the you-pick-which-whenever style of other big mods like AD and Alkaline. At this point, ID could probably release this as its own game. I'd be willing to pay the price just to expose more people to the sheer effort that went into this mod.
This mod definitely is one of the most impressive I've played, up there easily with AD. The architecture and themes for episode 2 in particular were amazing and some of the most inspired I've seen (out of all the Quake maps I've played so far, the alien oceanic/sunken ruin aesthetic is my favorite). I would however agree with another reviewer that the last 2-3 maps of episode 2 are excessive, to the point that I stopped playing (D2M8 I believe) out of sheer exhaustion. The rotating nail encounter (lava area after some platforming iirc) where you have to shoot switches was just too much. If the mapmakers are open to it, I would definitely recommend toning down some of the encounters/puzzles in the last maps of episode 2. Anyways I look forward to the future two episodes, and would love to more Lovecraftian alien worlds, maps inspired by the Dreamcycle or Silver Key would be really neat.

I apologize if I necroposted or did something wrong, I make TES mods, and I've been playing Quake maps for inspiration and to learn game design and get new ideas.
Quake all-time hall-of-fame material ... until D2M7 "Blessed Dwellings in the Dark" and D2M8 "Abyss of the Troglodytes".

- D2M7 is not a *bad* level, but it's nowhere near the quality of the maps before it. Its long-distance fights aren't super interesting, and progression is confusing. I wish it had spent more time in the oven, and got shipped in a patch release. But okay, not a big deal, it's playable and finishable.

- Where Dwell EP2 turns sour for me is D2M8. This map is a marvel of a complexity monstrosity, and I'm sure it's a joy for Quake pros (e.g. playing vanilla in Nightmare, or 100% completionists, or speedrunners), but for Quake casuals like me (e.g. finishing Vanilla in hard), it's just too big, intricate, unguided, intimidating, difficult. I had a terrible time and I just couldn't finish it. Maybe I'll retry it at some point, or I'll level-skip to D2END.

I'm a bit surprised all the reviews here are unanimously positive about *all* of Dwell including these two levels, but googling "Abyss of the Troglodytes critique", I found out Skacky's critique at which brings similar points.

And I describe myself as "casual", but hey, I've been playing Quake for 25 years, played & finished all the big maps/mods you expect (Honey, UDOB, DotM, AD, Alkaline, etc), and it's the first time I get stopped by a mappack mid-way. I want to like episodes 3 & 4, so I hope Dwell authors better manage to balance A. what's playable to plebs, versus B. what's interesting/challenging to elite players. Ideas:

1. Maybe tone down combat in Normal difficulty and better plan/indicate the "non-100% path-to-finish", to help plebs?
2. Maybe this level should have been made even harder and been made a super-secret level "for elites"?

I hope that's useful feedback to devs, and a fair heads-up/warning to pleb players. At any rate and aside these points, Dwell is amazingly crafted: enthralling ambience, excellent level design, top notch combat. Must play.
Fairweather
Fairweather
Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, D2M7 and D2M8 are a little off-curve, but I don't think either of them are particularly ridiculous in what they ask of the player, at least in my opinion. D3 and D4 are going to be much more leveled-out in terms of level size and difficulty, but the amount of work to go back and rebalance such large maps isn't really on the table right now. Maybe once D4 is done and dusted we'll go back, but for now. Cheers.
DWELL is amazing so far! I've only done the first episode (my first time is this updated V2 version) but I already know I'm going to like Episode 2! Down the line, can't wait for episodes 3 and 4 as well!

This has been one of my favorite Quake things ever. The atmosphere and environmental progression is just utterly top-notch, all the maps synergize with each other really well, and Aleks's soundtrack ties everything together perfectly - I'm always amazed at how good music can set the tone for a map. Also, the powerups and new weapons are absurdly fun, and fit the world so well, especially with how they can be combined. Markie's sounds really elevate them a ton too, berserking makes you feel truly powerful, and the ticking with haste was so good. These were genuinely all amazing, but a few notes on individual ones:

Under a Funeral Moon by Voidforce is quite visually unique, especially through its expert use of lighting. The colored minlight adds a ton, along with the red highlights you see here and there. Figuring out the fights was also a welcome challenge - especially the last one. Seeing the leaping enforcers on the platform you had to stay on was wild + figuring out how to get away from the two shamblers on one side/bombers on the other side when the fight first starts. Also, I love the rapid-fire button shooting secret, and I wanted to wander out into the desert forever in the outdoor section

Ankhs for the Memories by Fairweather put a smile on my face for the entire time. Jesus christ that was good. The music synergizes especially well, and going through all the intermission areas, each themed around a new powerup, was an absolute blast. The map is visually flawless, idk, I can't say enough good things about this, and it's a well-deserving finale to episode 1. Some of the most fun I've had in Quake. Fairweather is always so good at keeping the adrenaline going in really creative ways

That We Should Voyage So Far by Bal is the first map I've played that gave me the same feeling Tears of the False God did, which I guess is appropriate given the author. The music/lighting/skybox/everything just feels so beautifully sad and mystical at the same time. The secrets were fun to find, and the gameplay was exciting/challenging, especially with a shotgun start, but what truly sells it is the atmosphere, which is uncontested. I've noticed that about a lot of Bal maps - they tend to have a very melancholic and alien feeling to them that is very difficult to find anywhere else - that sort of creeping/slow atmosphere is often overlooked, but it feels absolutely magical. One of my new favorite maps - it's absolutely beautiful, to the point that it was honestly making me a little weepy lol. It's maps like this where every element comes together perfectly, and really shows how special Quake can be. This also has my favorite music track on it, and I love the snails

Abyss of the Troglodytes was one of the most inventive maps I've played. The encounters are so well thought out, and I loved all the jumping puzzles! That's so rare in Quake, and I wish it was wasn't, because Quake has the best movement out there. The secrets also incorporate these, and were really creative as per usual with Mazu, particularly the mirrored room one. I just want to munch all the Mazu secrets like a jar of cookies, there are just so many! It's addictive. Also, the entire gold key sequence was insane, and learning all the ins and outs of it was a real treat, especially with how it constantly forced you forward and kept the adrenaline going. This has been the hardest map I've done deathless so far, which took some doing, but I loved every moment of optimizing the run and figuring out the best ways of going through everything, and I'm looking forward to trying it again on coop. On that note, I also really love how open-ended this is. There are so many ways of routing through the map, that basically no two playthrough are going to be the same, especially combined with the orb doors around the water temple. Mazu is truly amazing at gameplay, and his maps are very inspiring.

Apeirohedron by Bal and Fairweather was visually stunning, especially how the caves vanish off into the blue distance - I don't think I'll ever forget that image. The boss on top of it was super fun to fight - you don't get too many challenging bosses in Quake, but both of Dwell's bosses thus far have absolutely knocked it out of the park, and they both look so amazing. I still have to find the mailbox here, though. I forgot, and I'm assuming there is one, and I'm going to find it, and I'm going to smack it with my axe.

That being said, every map in here is fantastic and was an absolute pleasure to go through, but I don't want to write an essay, so all I'll say is I'm looking forward to going through them all again and again. Thank you to the entire Dwell team for this, it truly is special.
Probably my favorite Quake mod to date. A prime example of how modern design in a classic game can mesh so well together. It's 2023 and Quake modding is still going strong - can't wait for episodes 3 and 4 now!
You'll get a lot of fun. Excellent logic of the playing process, the structure of the maps, and enemy/ammo.
I played Dwell v1 back shortly after it came out, and I'd actually forgotten a lot of details from the original maps when replaying it here on the v2 release (I couldn't really tell which bits were new, other than the added features).
So, my feelings about the Dwell Episode 1 maps remain largely as they did back then: in general, I really quite like them. They're noticeably harder than stock Quake (I play on Easy, and I would say "Easy" here is a notch above Normal in the basic campaign), but not so hard that they're unplayable at my skill level. There's, to my mind, a deliberate bunch of referencing of Serious Sam [especially now in v2's tweaks with the Kamikazes added], and I'm kind of positively disposed to that game too, so, all to the well.
Except: I didn't get on with D1M7 at all in the original release, and I still don't get on with it now. I strongly dislike it as a map: it's overly obtuse, confusing and punitive. I still have no idea what you're *supposed* to do with the weird space you're teleported into when falling off the map, and I *still* (only half-remembering the map from the first time) found the *secret* before I ever worked out what the intended path was through the level, because it seemed like a more reasonable way to go. (I still don't really know what you're supposed to do otherwise.) I changelevel'd past it after giving it 30 minutes of time.

By contrast, Mazu's D1M8 is significantly improved by the removal of the original boss fight for the new one in its own level in D1M9. (Although I probably also think this because it's possible to cheese the adds in the new end of the level so they don't all swarm you at once: if I had gotten the horde I think it intended, I would be less happy.)
And, the new boss fight is great, and has a nice "substage" mechanic which I enjoyed, along with new design. D1M9 is a high point for the entire project.

Onto the second episode, I'm a little less excited. It felt to me like the difficulty on Easy - not so much of the monster encounters, which were generally not too bad (except for a horde combat in D2M4 which I eventually had to godmode past after dying within seconds the two dozen or so times I tried to beat it normally), but the difficulty of traversal and design was much higher. There's at least 3 jumps in the episode which apparently are intended to be "just normal jumps" which I found *very* tricky [two of which I had to noclip past to progress - in one case after having spent some time searching the level for alternative routes on the assumption that the jump was supposed to be impossible without movement tricks]; and whilst I appreciate the intent of the water sections, I had to godmode through at least two of them because I kept getting turned around, lost and then drowning to death (yes, even with the powerups).
So, I'd rate Dwell episode 2 as "Hard" when played on "Easy" mode.

Ironically, I think my favourite map of D2 is D2M7 - also by the designer of D1M7! It's overlong - the issue with the design is that I spent the *final* third of the map wandering around the entire thing trying to work out which button I hadn't pressed in various places - but the first two-thirds was genuinely really well paced and engaging.
D1M8... as well as having one of those "jumps that apparently are supposed to be possible that I noclipped past", also I just felt kinda exhausted by. It's super long, and whilst that's good in theory, I was pretty burned out in places (and a "certain sequence" of puzzles which counts your failures... well, lets say I think I ran out of things for it to say). I started out wanting to try to find secrets on it, but in the end left with just 1, and feeling like I wasn't going to ever be able to find any others.

I'm less sold on the final boss of episode 2 - it's not as interesting as episode 1's boss, and relies also on confined space and timing which I didn't really feel much. It's not a *bad* boss, but I'd rather have had episode 1's again!

Of the bonus levels that I played: I really really loved Mazu's 37 map (especially the timing of it, and the ending). I felt generally positively towards the other bonus map (not Mazu's?), but it did skew a bit hard and Constructy.

As far as new additions go:
I really liked the Haste powerup, it was never not fun.
I generally strongly disliked the Berserk powerup, to the point that I specifically avoided collecting it after the first time. (This delayed progression for me in several maps, where it's apparently part of a trigger for progression. Since I left collecting it until I absolutely couldn't avoid touching it...) The only place I actually *liked* this was in Mazu's bonus map.
I liked the new weapons just fine: I guess you can't complain about railguns being added to Quake. Since I don't switch weapons rapidly, I did find myself just wasting ammo with the rotary shotgun a lot though, and also needed a lot of time to set up with the crystal staff for sniping.
I am profoundly mixed on the new enemies: the Kamis are the same as in Serious Sam, but mostly I only tolerated them here because they tend to get stuck on terrain when routing so they're less annoying than intended by the designers. The Constructs are... annoying, and their death charge thing tends to kill me a lot more because, well, I'm the kind of person who plays on Easy for a reason. And the Brutes... well, I don't really see that we need an even spongier, more spammy Ogre - I mostly enjoyed these guys when they were in places I could snipe them before they even saw me, as otherwise I just died a lot.


Overall, though: I loved the music throught [and bought both albums from Bandcamp]. The levels were mostly beautiful, even when I found them too hard, and for the *most part* I did really enjoy them.
I do have a worry that with the escalating difficulty of the maps in general, that I'll be just noclipping through *all* of episodes 3 and 4 even on Easy, though.

So, 5 stars, minus 1/2 for D1M7 by itself, and another minus 1/2 for the collected minor imperfections. Still a good score!
Amateurish Quake is so far surpassed simple fan-made projects. Dwell II is lifted up the range of non-professional development for another level, equal and even higher some AAA commercial projects. There has not been such an exciting adventure for a long time. New enemies and decoration models among with successfully chosen texture theme creates an exciting and scary Lovecraftian atmosphere. Perfect!
Waiting for a next episodes. Thank You all, Dwell team!
Just finished a complete playthrough of both episodes last night.

I think it's safe to say that every rework in E1 was a definite upgrade, especially D1M1 and D1M4, the latter of which is probably my favorite map in the episode now. The new final fight in D1M8 feels really good too, less drawn-out and maybe even more intense than the old one (whoever had the idea of adding the Serious Sam kamikazes to Dwell, I salute you). D1end is a great finale for the episode: beautiful brushwork, an amazing boss model and a series of escalating encounters that don't give you a single moment's respite.

Moving on to Episode 2, D2M1 through D2M5 is an absolutely incredible sequence of maps. They have all the ingredients that make a great Quake level in my eyes: gorgeous environments, well thought out combat encounters and a true sense of progression in difficulty within the map itself. Bal's D2M4 and Fairweather's D2M5 are my personal highlights here, a pair of jaw-droppingly beautiful maps that flow seamlessly from combat into exploration and back again.

Unfortunately, the later maps of E2 are not really my cup of tea. I can appreciate the obvious skill and effort that went into making them, but they are very grindy and in parts quite confusing to navigate for my pea brain. As mentioned earlier in this review, I love the tightly choreographed combat of the first five maps and especially D2M7 and D2M8 are pretty much the exact opposite of that.

D2end ramps up the difficulty substantially compared to the first episode's boss and it feels very rewarding once you finally manage to survive that fight. Very cool to see some "proper" bosses to cap off the episodes compared to vanilla Quake and even most mods.

Regardless of my criticism of individual maps, the complete package that is Dwell, including the outstanding soundtrack, as well as the new enemies, power-ups and decorations/textures, deserves no less than 5 stars. Thank you to everyone who made this mod possible, it was an absolute blast to play.
Finisdhed playing it today. Nothing much to say, this is one the best, if not the best, custom episode for Quake. Absolute must play.
Not a proper review as I've only played 3 maps of Episode 2 yet, but, just wow, it's a work of art so far. Love everything: the level design, the beauty of it all, the new monsters and weapons, the secrets, the music.
Best of the best. Must play to anyone who loves FPS, not just Quake fans. Not to mention that environmental storytelling is all here, so it's not just shoot & run. It's immersive & atmospheric
I've been playing through this the past few days. The textures are beautiful. And the levels are well made. I highly recommend you play this! :)
I've enjoyed Dwell overall, though I wish the encounters were as good as the environments which house them. When you touch something important you know you're getting an ambush wall of meat to drain all of your resources. I don't know if the level of ammo rationing I faced towards the end of the mod is intentional, or just a result of the enemy count on harder difficulties.

All in all, I'd definitely say it's worth a play.
If I had to choose just one single favourite project for Quake, among all of them AD, Alk, Rubicon, UDOB, PUN... all of them! that would be Dwell. To me it feels like self-contained game. Total conversion at the very least. It is still Quake, it feels & plays normally, but evolved in every aspect.

The most notable & invaluable thing is environmental storytelling - it's best among anything you ever seen done for Quake. Every single map here is with its own story and all of them are readable by just observing the surroundings. And, damn, the story of Dwell is frightening! True mystic lovecraftian horror with bits of SiFi and Dark Fantasy (Very dark fantasy). All in all visually evrything is accenting story bits not details for details, and I admire & respect that alone

As for gameplay it's extremely varied here. Some encounters are extremely brutal due to being very enclosed, some are vice versa lazy sniper shootouts from afar. Sometimes it's fast paced encounter that ends in seconds, sometimes it's prolongated encounter with stages & unexpected waves. Most of times encounters aren't bland, not just enter and shoot, nope. Most of times encounters are well-thought out and carefully predefined (in a good way). If you up for secrets than you will be rewarded with puzzles head scratching - secrets aren't easy in here (while there're some kindergarten secrets of course), some feel like mini games

All in all it's not just mod, just game. It's an experience. Immersive & memorable. More of that experience you would want to go thru more & more - yep, replayability is all here

1001 stars out of 5