'Shadows in the jungles of Kled' by Steamteck


Review machine: Athlon 950, 256Mb, Matrox G400 MAX @ 1280,1024 Reviewed 09/12/00 Download (UK) (Russia)
Brief description:

Shadows in the jungles of Kled is a medium to large level which features villages and temples to explore plus some nice scenery to hack and slash your way through. The level is mainly ground, Arokh joins you near the end of the game for the finale.

Main review

On starting Kled you will find yourself in a small cave with Arokh. This seemed a bit odd, Arokh is supposed to find an alternate way to the jungle whilst you crawl through the tight tunnels that he can't fit through, but how did he get into the cave in the first place? There is no tunnel leading to it from behind him, it would have been better if there was. When you play the game you will see what I mean. Anyway, this is only a minor issue, on to the rest of the review.

Kled is a good level with a non linear approach that may seem daunting at first; you get the impression that you are going to get hopelessly lost, but however, clues as to where you should be heading are revealed by 'talking' to NPC's through text messages. In my opinion, this is a better approach  than a strict linear one, it makes the game more realistic. 

Overall level design is good, there has been a lot of use of dynamic lights which help to improve the atmosphere and mood of the game a lot. One strange thing I did notice in some places was the lights seemed to pulsate which made your shadow change direction, but however this isn't too much of a problem and most people probably wouldn't notice. The lighting in the caves near the end could have been better though, it was too bright. If it was almost dark instead with the red glow from the lava, it would have been a more tense atmosphere with the fear that something very nasty is lurking nearby. Ambient sound effects can be heard from time to time e.g. the wind blowing around the docks and the hills. I liked this as there is a lot of levels out there that are silent apart from the noises you and your enemies make.

The landscape was done well, with hills and valleys to explore populated by orcs and wartocks who had invaded this land. A few houses and forts can be found throughout the land as well as temples and a sea port. These were placed well so there was always a variety in the landscape which would keep the player interested. Paths lead to the main areas so if you find yourself getting lost, sticking to these help although you do need to wander off the tracks from time to time as there are lots of things to be found that will help you on your quest. The only thing that could have been improved was the vertical cliffs that were on the extreme edges of the level. It would have been much better if there were some nice mountains instead to finish off the edges. Vertical cliffs were used in some of Steamteck's previous levels but they weren't really noticeable as much. 

One thing that I really liked was enemy placement, for example there was a Wartock trying to break down a door to a human town and after you killed him, you got a sense of achievement that you had saved the villagers. The enemy characters are placed realistically rather than dotted about randomly; you will find them in groups round campfires fighting over something or in front of the temple praying to their god for example. The others are strategically placed so that you don't always notice them which leads to some unexpected confrontations, keeping you on the edge. Some characters are triggered appearing behind you as if they had just come out from somewhere which worked well.

The weapons were good with just the right amount of wear on them so you don't keep the same ones through the game that is providing you don't use the 'standard' weapons. There are a few powerful swords with some cool features to help you battle your way through. Health pickups are plentiful but I wasn't keen on the multiplayer type health crystals, I would have preferred it if the regular red vial type were used more instead. I found that having these in your inventory and hitting your 'H' key only restored a tiny amount of health, I had to use my inventory and double click on the red vial to restore significant health; not ideal in a combat situation. Having said that though, these crystals serve as top ups without wasting your red or blue potions.

Shadows in the jungles of Kledd is a fairly easy level, I completed it in a reasonable amount of time with a large number of health potions and unused weapons left over but obviously other players may find it different depending on their level of skill and playing style.

So overall, Kled is a great level which will provide you with a few hours worth of entertainment, the ending bits could have been a little better and its a bit slow in places even on my system but it's well worth the modem friendly download.

Go play it now!

Rating; Architecture / landscape: 7.5  Texturing:  6.5  Item / enemy placement: 8

Atmosphere: 8 Gameplay / new ideas / enhancements: 7.5 bugs: Slow in places.

Total: 77%



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