Darkness weaves in Oriab by Steamteck


Review machine: Athlon 950, 256Mb, Matrox G400 MAX @ 1280,1024 Reviewed 20/10/00 Download (UK) (Russia)
Brief description:

Darkness weaves in Oriab is a single level based on an island set in the south eastern sea of Drakan. Rynn and Arokh learn of a religious cult who plans to bring back an ancient god and they set off to put a stop to it all.

Main review

Oriab is the latest level from Steamteck, which like his previous levels show good attention to detail and lots of places to explore. The level also has a new concept, which works brilliantly, instead of the plot being revealed to you at the beginning of the level; it develops throughout the game by a series of text messages. These usually appear when you find a scroll or book on a table effectively telling you what it says on the said item. In Oriabís case, the things you find are newsletters and notes written by your enemies to outline their plans for the quest to awaken their god. For example you will find a scroll in the guardís quarters written by a high ranking official of the Dark Union stating that the guard is entrusted with a key holding a valuable artefact. These messages serve well to develop the plot and to make it more realistic. Also they help to point you in the right direction.

One thing I would like to point out is that the above concept originally came from Zeocís upcoming level, Meridian. Itís just that this is the first level to be released with this feature although by a different author.

On to other things, level architecture is OK; the outdoor areas are good with realistic hills and valleys to fly about in. Indoor areas are not bad too with proper lighting rather than having it all the same brightness like in previous levels. I liked these indoor areas because they were laid out like massive underground catacombs where sleeping quarters, armoury, tombs and the like can be found. The atmosphere is great especially whilst wandering round, wondering what you will find next and the text messages seemed to put a sense of urgency on you to stop the enemy before its too late.

Texturing in the level is varied with a good choice of textures used to make the landscapes more authentic and there werenít many stitching problems. One problem I did notice however; there are a lot of flickering textures mainly where the shore meets the water. I donít know if this is a problem with my video card or not, but it would suggest that it is a problem with the levelís geometry as Drakanís retail levels are OK. This isnít a major issue though, as it doesnít really affect the game play.

As for other game play issues, the choice of weapons was good, and there were a lot of interesting ones that had some neat features. Most of these weapons were worn out but it didnít matter, as there was loads more to be found so you were never stuck. As for power ups and armour, they were plentiful too and there was enough to get the average player through to the end.

Now, enemy placement. Oriab has lots and I mean lots of triggered enemies which, worked well in some cases e.g. whilst firing at a knight through a doorway, upon his death a wartock appears behind you as if he crept in without you noticing. However in most cases there was simply too many triggered enemies such as you completely cleared a village and after going into a house briefly there would be a small army outside. This seemed very unrealistic as where would they have come from? I can understand death mages and knights appearing out of nowhere when you picked something up but in some places when I walked into a room that was empty, suddenly a few wartocks appeared before me. This also happened with a dragon as I walked into its lair. As for the other non-triggered enemies, they were generally placed well.

Talking of enemies, they were new or modified ones typical of Steamteck's levels which made game play more interesting and fun. I particularly liked the two end bosses except the final boss because he was invisible and it took a lot of retries to finally defeat him.

Overall, Oriab is an enjoyable level with lots of interesting weapons and places to explore plus a good atmosphere and plot to go with it.

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

Atmosphere: 8 gameplay / new ideas / enhancements: 9 bugs: crashes when saving games in certain places.

Total: 78%





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