QSP: "Io. Loki Patera." By Asl.

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Release date
Feb 2, 2023
First uploaded
Last update
3.00 star(s) 7 ratings

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Really impressive piece of work! A grandiose megamap of by turns awesome and comforting steady architectural confidence with minimalist modularity, a sequence of formal platform-puzzle-arenas looping into a whole, with furtive secrets and novel minimal structural/combat mechanics… at epic scale. Echoes of Mazu and modern Doom megamapping à la insane_gazebo.

Every interlocking room is great of itself, and eventually design patterns and the interlocking itself shine through in delightful ways (modulo some really painfully slow interlinks which could stand to be shortcutted after the first traversal IMO).

There's a really distinct earthy, flat-lit, chunky-brushes late 90s aesthetic that charms instantly but loses its way a bit. The thin brush strips of fullbright fluid are delightful, the pale yellow & blue, the rust and concrete. The suspended objects in forcefield cages, the fantastic cryptic bitmap puzzle hints, the UAC pannels all reinforce this. I think the art direction looses its way a bit as it leans into Makkons stone textures: the relative representational detail and palette contrast in these clashes with the general compostion. This gets a bit headachey in rooms like the final arena, where the infra-texture detail obscures the sense of the general geometry of the environment: I've always felt Makkon textures required a very particular approach to brushwork and lighting to work well, and here they're at loggerheads.

Some of the arena combat mechanics are really novel and exillerating: the balistic-pass-through grates, the ambiguous verticality, the movement flow with platforming elements. The recurring motif of explosive-crate-unlocked underwater ammo stashes is really cute - but also highlights an awkward holistic attitude to ammo: you'll be drowning in rockets in arenas which don't need them, and backtracking through empty areas to restock isn't as smooth or joyous as it would be in the huge Doom slaughtermaps which the mechanic calls to mind. Similarly, while some arenas are entertainingly cheesed by an overabundance of ammo and safe spaces, there are instances like the vores in the lava platforms arenas where the imbalance tends the other way.

The brushwork / lighting / texture detail contrast disjunction is also mildly irritating in surfacing secrets (ie hidden trigger details) and 'not-so-secrets' (ie subtle climbable ledges): the ambient decorative detail makes these very subtle elements incredibly hard to perceive. In the same vein — difficulty of visually parsing subtle brushwork — there are quite a few instances of snagging on geometry. In many places, simple movement is obstructed for no discernable reason: you'll need to jump to move from one surface to another without the visible angles giving any indication, and several arenas end up mysteriously buggy as melee monsters remain stuck in small sectors where they present no threat. The critical path of awkward geometry and movement flow is at its worst in the lava lifts segment: the switch puzzling, enemies, lava threat and platforming are enough of a threat combined — removing the awkward sloping edges and making the lifts pause 1 second between movements would make the experience so much better.

Nevertheless this is a spectacular achievement with a fresher and more distinctive vision than the community has seen in months. I am really excited to see more maps from Omsk!