Chalice of Kings (Dark Mod mission)…

The Chalice of Kings (Dark Mod mission) after the break…

The Chalice of Kings (Dark Mod mission)…

Having played all three currently available Dark Mod missions (The Outpost, The Chalice of Kings & The Crown of Penitence), I’d suggest that people new to the first-person sneaker concept play “The Outpost” first. This isn’t a knock on the other two missions; They are perfectly fine missions & I enjoyed playing both of them with very minor caveats.

“The Chalice of Kings” is a Dark Mod mission, “The Dark Mod” being a free modification of the video game “Doom 3” that modifies that game to emulate the game play of the “Thief” video game franchise. “Doom 3” is by no means new or expensive – Paying more then US$10 dollars for a new or used copy would likely be paying too much.

“The Chalice of Kings” is a Dark Mod mission created by “Fidcal” & clocks in at around 3 MB. To Fidcal’s credit, the mission certainly felt larger then the 3 MB listed. I thought, at least for a little while, that I was playing the largest of the 3 missions, “The Crown of Penitence,” until I realized my error.

The plot for this mission is that you’ve been beaten to a rather juicy find called “King Aldreth’s Crypt” by a fellow thief named “Mudgeon.” Mudgeon, who lives in a rather elaborate mansion, has displayed his discovered wares in his mansion & it’s up to you to steal them.

If “The Outpost” should be played as an introduction to the first-person sneaker concept, then “The Chalice of Kings” ought to be it’s follow-up. This mission is larger & more complex; There are more objectives & more ways to achieve those objectives. Assorted readables such as notes & books gives you a snapshot of the recent activity in the mansion as well as helping you out by providing clues to achieving your objectives.

Larger & more complex, though, has it’s eventual limitations – I also found some technical glitches that illustrates the point perfectly that, when you fly towards the sun, prepare for the wax in your wings to melt a bit. No one should ever be discouraged in trying to achieve beyond their means but, at the same time, I would be appreciative of playing a version of this mission that corrects some of these glitches.

To properly review this mission, I’ll need to spoil a few of the surprises. So, if you don’t want the mission to be spoiled, stop reading & go enjoy “The Dark Mod.”

First off, I rather enjoyed this mission on the whole & I don’t want my criticisms to be taken as though I only dwelled on the negatives. Far from it; I think that correcting a lot of the glitches would elevate this already nice mission to a premiere mission in the small list of available missions.

One point of concern that I tend to have with first person games in general are doors. If I can see a door, I want to open it unless it is fairly obvious that I can’t. I really don’t like doors-for-doors sake or, for that matter, placing static inanimate objects as interior decorating when, in the real world, they have a function. For instance, if I see a water fountain in a game, I’d like to drink from it; If I see a vending machine, I ought to be able to buy a snack from it.

In this case, I could not find the key to open two of the kitchen’s doors. Did I just not search hard enough? I thought that I was fairly thorough. I couldn’t pick either of their locks which I thought was strange because what’s behind those doors that is so valuable? Unpickable doors ought to be fairly uncommon where you play a thief of exceptional ability.

There were some technical glitches that also took away from the overall experience. I could see torch lights from one room unnaturally bleed over into the second-floor hallway through the ceiling. If I remember correctly, there were two such incidents although I forget where the second one was.

Also, I was just not certain what the “fake brick” was supposed to be. Having read about this in the forums, I may have accidentally knocked whatever was behind the fake brick into an inaccessible place. I like the fake brick concept & enjoyed that kind of innovation but would like to see a more “fool-proof” fake brick scenario where the prize is a little more forgiving for being knocked around.

In fact, I’ll state right now that the secret compartment of the desk was another great innovation, one that worked better (at least for me) then the fake brick. I thought that particular innovation was really neat without being overly frustrating.

I’m not quite sure what the point of the dead body at the bottom of the elevator shaft was all about. I understand that, through the readables, he was a person selling equipment off for money but was there something more to this then that? It was a great little detail- One that caught me off guard because I had found the dead body before I found the readable describing why it was there (“Why the heck is there a dead body at the bottom of an elevator shaft?” I wondered). Unfortunately, I’m just not sure that the expense to go down there to get 2 gold coins (never found the supposed 3rd) was worth it unless I missed something else down there (the key to open up the two other kitchen doors?).

All of these concerns are minor towards the overall impression that this is a very nice mission. I enjoyed playing this mission & had a fairly nice time doing so. One of my few regrets is that I played on the easiest setting, which ends the mission the moment you pick up the crown in the well-guarded, well-lit proper entrance to the mansion (Our thief, of course, never walks directly through the front door). Then again, I was a little curious of how you had to play the mission in order to somehow distract the guards enough to replace the crown with a fake – After all, if you have the skill to get close enough to the crown, you have the skill to knock off the guards as well, either with a blackjack or a broadhead arrow or even a gas arrow. Maybe such a detail was included for the “ghosters,” those players who enjoy completing a mission without knocking out or killing anyone.

Also, I have to admit – I found the Death Mask by mistake & not through gleaning any clues from the readables. With two main objectives already, it felt like a bit of a tight squeeze to place in a third objective as well. Maybe if the mansion had been bigger or if the Death Mask had been a more prominent objective… However, it just felt empty & alone being way up above the fireplace like that.

All in all, nice mission. I’m glad that I played it & look forward to more missions from the same author.

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