A Night To Remember (Dark Mod mission) review…

A Night To Remember (Dark Mod mission) review after the break…

A Night To Remember (Dark Mod mission) review…

They say that in quantum physics, the act of observing a subatomic particle alters that particle’s properties. The same could be stated for reading a review: Once someone reads a review, their opinion changes about the item that is reviewed. Maybe the person reads the review and then experiences the product and agrees completely with the review. Perhaps someone enters the review completely biased against the product, reads a glowing review but ignores the review based upon the bias. Perhaps the review enlightens the reader. Regardless of the particulars, the gist is that, sometimes, even a glowingly positive or scathingly negative review can unfortunately alter a person’s perception of the product reviewed.

Therefore, let me write this right now: If you want to play this mission, stop reading right now. I mean it. I will spoil this mission utterly and entirely which may irreversibly alter your opinion of this mission. You should, at the very least, enter this mission without any preconceived notions of it.

I mean it, don’t read the rest of this.

Go away.

I’m warning you.

I really mean it – I will spoil this mission rotten.

Are you gone yet?

Seriously – Get lost.

Alright, well, if you’re still here, that should have one of two meanings – You’ve played the mission already and want to read my opinion of it OR you haven’t played the mission yet and want to have the experience ruined for whatever reason.

“A Night To Remember” is a Dark Mod mission for “The Dark Mod,” a total conversion of the computer game “Doom 3” that emulates the game play from the Thief 1 / 2 computer games developed by Looking Glass. The mod weighs in at 31.5 megs and was authored by “Fieldmedic” (although, to be fair, there are other credits to this mission as well). I reviewed this mission on version 1.07 of The Dark Mod and the mission version was 1.1. I played the mission on the “Expert” setting – Not that I’m an expert thief by any stretch of the imagination, just that I wanted to give myself a challenge.

Dark Mod missions follow a formulaic pattern – Enter area, steal something, avoid guards, leave. I’m not demeaning the game play for all forms of game play can be reduced down to a similar sentence. Side-scrolling adventures? Enter screen, pick up anything not nailed down, talk to everything, use everything on everything else, exit screen. First-person shooters? Enter room, kill enemies, pick up weapons / ammo / health, exit room. The art of the missions tend to be in the details – Is it a crypt or a mansion? How many “readables” (books, scrolls, notes) and how relevant are they to the mission? May I buy equipment before the mission? How many guards are there and what type? How many technical glitches are there? How many “puzzles” (hidden keys, secret rooms, etc.) are there? What does the introduction screen look like?

“A Night To Remember,” though, dares to break partially from that mold. At it’s core, “A Night to Remember” is still a Dark Mod mission – Enter area, steal something, avoid something, leave. Yet the mission refreshingly breaks a few of the conventions that are found in most Dark Mod missions. Most Dark Mod missions have our nondescript thief hiding in shadows to avoid human enemies.

  1. There are few dark areas here, as most of the level is brightly lit.
  2. Your opponents are most certainly not human… At least, not anymore.

In the mission, you are tasked with what should be a fairly simple endeavor – Rob a fellow friend that you are visiting of their blueprints for an airship. You perform this task under duress, being blackmailed to do so for reasons that extend only to the back story of the mission. As a result, your character starts out with no lockpicks or weapons of any kind. Your character has one fundamental advantage – No guards roam the hallways. You can literally walk upright (heck, you can RUN) in the halls – That’s akin to the real life equivalent of walking outside naked and performing all of your front yard chores au naturale while automobiles drive by. Make sure that you’re polite and wave back at the motorists.

Yet no mission is ever that simple because a thief has beaten you to the blueprints first… A thief that has also beheaded your friend and, in fact, has gone on a killing spree throughout the rest of the house, beheading just about everyone else as well. The result is that the brightly lit house is now infested with headless ghosts who roam the hallways and rooms. Different then the walking skeletal Mechanics (Thief fans know them as the Hammerite skeletons), these ghosts can harm you merely by walking close to you… Even if you’re behind a wall! The weakness of these ghosts is that they’re fairly easy to avoid – They’re not human and so you don’t need an excessive amount of darkness to hide.

Before I continue, let me merely congratulate whomever created these ghosts as an enemy. That was, quite simply, a phenomenal job. These ghosts, if they are not already, deserve to be featured in more missions. They offer a different game play experience then human guards, the undead, beasts or the Mechanic skeletons. Well done. My advice – Keep them headless.

The theme of the mission is horror (the mission was originally released on Halloween) and, therefore, spooky events abound in the mission. Paintings have glaring red eyes upon you. Paintings fall off of their walls. Pianos play mysteriously. Lights are suddenly snuffed out. Doors mysteriously creak open. And, of course, the ghosts are everywhere.

Eventually, the savvy thief stumbles upon two optional objectives – Two secret rooms, one containing paintings and the other containing gold. The gold secret was, admittedly, a bit peculiar – Only upon reading a journal does the rug become unfurled. Why couldn’t I roll the carpet up myself?

Also, the main objective starts off a bit roughly – You are meant to “chase” a murderer but it’s anyone’s guess as to where the murderer runs off to without a bit of trial and error before footsteps are finally placed down for you to follow. As a result, I received a number of failures until I stumbled upon the right path.

The “Gooods” typographical error is here as well (Sorry, “House of Theo” – I owe you an apology for that since it seems system wide and not specific to your mission alone) and, yet, for all that is slightly ajar in this mission (piano legs slightly askew, for instance), so much of this mission is refreshingly different. The ghosts add an amazing new angle for game play and alters your plans considerably. In a way, the ghosts force the play to almost “anti-ghost” the level – To run around enough to avoid the patrols and then stay far enough away from the ghosts to avoid being harmed by them. One frightful moment occurs when you are forced to pick a lock at the end of a hallway as a ghost draws nearer. Can you pick the lock in time before the ghost’s harmful aura damages you?

To be fair, I must point out that mirrors were poorly used in this mission. I kept expecting something ominous to happen with the mirrors (the mirrors, admittedly, sometimes “malfunctioned” but those were just technical glitches) and, yet, nothing happened at all. Wouldn’t it have been memorable to have had ghosts that could only be seen through looking at a mirror? And writing of ghosts, imagine if the ghosts changed colors when they were alerted? How neat would that be? Also, what was the “priest” waiting for in the conservatory? Why not escape? Was he also afraid of the ghosts? And how cool would it have been had the ghosts gotten to him first and you were there to see it?

The architecture was all fairly well placed with no outstanding oversights. I was impressed that there were considerable bathroom facilities (complete with water, in some cases) and everything made sense. The kitchen was near the serving room, servants’ quarters were sparse and the master bedroom luxurious. The “abstract painting” was a bit too anachronistic for my tastes and I wondered for a while if it had any function or if it was just decoration (I’m guessing decoration).

How often would I play a Dark Mod mission such as this? Admittedly, not all of the time. I still fancy a mission where I can knock guards unconscious and slip through the shadows. Yet to break up the thematic monotony of “enter area, avoid guards, steal something, leave area,” “A Night to Remember” accomplished being memorable in a very impressive fashion. Is this a mission for new Dark Mod players? Absolutely not. They should play 15-20 “normal” Dark Mod missions before being guided to this one. Yet that advice to abstain temporarily from this mission shouldn’t detract from the praise that this mission deserves.

“A Night to Remember” is a Dark Mod mission to remember. It’s as simple as that.

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