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Review: The Tomb of King Hissssa (DM PC)

Reviewer: 
PicturesInTheDark
Custom dungeon reviewed: 
The Tomb of King Hissssa
Gameplay: 
4
Gameplay comments: 

Basically this dungeon is intended for butchers - puzzles are rare and mostly reduced to finding out where keys/coins/gems were left so the next door will open. No good balance in my opinion.

Originality: 
6
Originality comments: 

Although I did not like the monster inflation very much, I have to say that the craft in making the dungeon was apparent. Experiments with colours, size, texts and the last level (saying no more here!) raised that rating; there sure is a lot of work in there!

Difficulty: 
5
Difficulty comments: 

I looked up rain's explanation and decided I felt to give a higher one here. Although it is perfectly true what he said about the firestaff, there were still some tight calls before (the vexirks for example) and even afterwards (mainly the last level). Without the firestaff I'd have cursed you a lot actually ;)

Puzzles: 
1
Puzzles comments: 

I'm sorry but I like puzzles. Maybe a dungeon with a monster every few inches is your main interest, but if my heroes would have had time to yawn while killing another 15 scorpions they would have. At least some basic food for brain would have been appreciated.

Size: 
7
Size comments: 

I don't like oversized dungeons too much, so this rating goes for my taste of the size and not the actual thing itself. I have to admit that you really used all the space you could and that you tried to vary as much as possible (some of the level designs were really nice!), but frankly I was getting a bit bored from level 10 on where it's just a matter of killing the next dragon/zytax/scorpion/worm and making your way to the exit as fast as possible to finally get done with that dungeon. A bit smaller but more inertwined from the logic (puzzles!) would have been more I feel.

Replayability: 
5
Replayability comments: 

I think after I finished it only this morning I'll not have another go in the next future, it was just long, long, long and not too rewarding in terms of game play. Might be interesting to try reincarnated characters though, cause I did not get near rain's HP - and the highest level achieved were two pal wizards - how did you do that, rain? 4 Characters?? Did two use no magic at all?

Craft: 
8
Craft comments: 

After some criticism I think it's time now to honour the craft and technique in making this dungeon. The layout of the levels (checked it with DMBuild after finishing) are designed well, and some techniques show there's more behind it than "simple" placing of tiles and monsters. I hope future creations by you might balance things a bit more, it would be really intereseting to see you devote that craft you showed now to making some tricky puzzles... ;)

Game Ending: 
6
Game Ending comments: 

The idea for the ending was nice, although a part of it bugged me a little, see details at the end.

Atmosphere: 
6
Atmosphere comments: 

Some parts were really nice - the "By the dragon" in one of the early levels, the "king of vexirks" area and a little shock in the training area - would have wished to have that feeling throughout the dungeon, but there was not much suspense in the lower levels.

Overall: 
5
Overall comments: 

A solid dungeon without too much intellectual challenge that was fun for the levels of the characters but lost atmosphere after the characters survived the first few levels. The end was high point, although I felt a bit ambiguous about it (see below).

Best part: 

WARNING: The following parts may contain spoilers for those who have not played the dungeon yet - read further at the risk of missing some discoveries by yourself!

I liked the "shops" area and agree with rain it would have been fun to find them in lower levels, but since all the "good items" were in my parties possession at that time anyway it would have required a change of the basic setup. I also liked the "by the dragon" area in the first level because I did not know if you really might make such a crazy setup ;) The "king of vexirks" was fun - nearly extinguished my party twice there with one single fireball was certainly good for the atmosphere. The scorpion area in level 10 was a tough bugger - nice prickling sensation there ;) The big level 12 would have been nice - but there were so many dragons before already I was just bored at the time - pity!

Worst part: 

WARNING: The following parts may contain spoilers for those who have not played the dungeon yet - read further at the risk of missing some discoveries by yourself!

After finishing I checked the maps with DMBuild because I was missing the "diamond edge" and found out that I had never seen a whole area in level three, where that weapon actually was hidden. I think you made a logical error with the setup there since (if I read the maps correctly) the two possible ways to get into that area are triggered each by one worm respectively - and that means the worms there very likely leave the area, making it impossible to get there any more! Pity... the skeleton trap looked nice ;) Level 7 with all the opponents and the treasures was nice - but simply too much, especially the Firestaff+. Rain said it before, no need to stress it again. Not too happy that a part of level 8 was only accessible by falling through certain pit in level 7 - I don't like setups that require to fall into pits personally, since it's too much by chance to find out logically. One more: I was pretty angry about having to go back multiple times for coins or gems since there was no hint they might be needed in such amounts. I always take some in case, but you spread them so widely throughout the dungeon I had to go back to my personal storeroom somewhere in level 7...

Review: 

Story: 4 -> A bit longer would have been appreciated, but since the game was mostly set on fights anyway there probably was not that much to write.

WARNING: The following parts may contain spoilers for those who have not played the dungeon yet - read further at the risk of missing some discoveries by yourself!

Ending: Deserves an own part. When I first entered the training area suddenly the Grey Lord appeared. I was suspicious from the beginning, since that could mean no good - which was right, of course. Nice shock though, but hard if you keep fighting screamers and always have to keep your back free in case you get trapped by him - there's no chance to escape than the hope he teleports. When I reached the main area of level 15 and killed all the black flames with my trusted firestaff (first time I actually used it beside the zytaxes) - glad I had it at that point- suddenly two of the Grey Lords appeared - and they were really bugging me since then. This level is a horror in itself -too tough if you ask me-, because even with trained characters (All their levels were between Lo master (1) and Ee master (4), two even gained Pal master wizards towards the end. HP were around 650 each - so this was no children's birthday!) it was not funny anymore. The grey lords (although I have to admit Chaos would have been much worse!) kept standing in the way and following all the time which was bad in the vexirk/dragon rooms but pure hell in the demons passage - resting was nearly impossible even in the two rooms from the vexirk area since the Lords always teleported in. As I said: not funny. I managed, but since my tactics are not that bad after 14 years of playing that game and the characters were probably the strongest I ever had I thought you overdid it mightily. By the way - why are there two of those grey buggers around anyway? Would not one have sufficed?

In general I enjoyed the gameplay, since it was a different setup than the one I know, although the food problem was too easily solved even for my taste. But water was a problem at times, so that's fair enough. I think the design and set-up was done very well, just missing mind exercise instead of endless streams of monsters sometimes ;) I might add, that I rated "Expert" for craft since you have my deep respect for mastering DMBuild - neither description nor handling is even remotely clear to me although I spent some time looking into it, but since you managed to make a perfectly solid dungeon with it, I feel that needed extra consideration.

Good luck for future attempts and thanks for your time and efforts!


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