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Screenshot of cda
Title:Castle of The Dark Ages (55d4c0c0215d2202c4bcc2ea2ae032b6)
Filesize:3341 Kilobytes
Release date:22.10.2005
Additional Links: erc's QualityTronyn's Top 10: MedievalUnderworldfan's
Type:Partial conversion
BSP: ✔ • PAK: ✘ • PROGS.DAT: ✔ • Custom Models/Sounds: ✘

Files in the ZIP archive
Files in the ZIP archive:
File Size Date
PAK0.pak9894 KB22.10.2005
CDA.txt5 KB22.10.2005

Castle of The Dark Ages

Large, dark castle level with DKT3 textures.
Be sure to play it on a reasonably fast computer and in an engine supporting fog.

Tags: huge, gothic, dkt, castle

Editor's Rating: Excellent
User Rating:
4.3/5 with 50 ratings
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Ron 27 March 2009, 11:44
Fantastic map !
Really good looking and great freedom to roam around. Excellent indeed !
Qmaster 21 December 2010, 16:40
This is perhaps the best Quake castle I have ever seen! I love the atmosphere and ambience. The fog really enhances the mood. This is definitely one of my favorites! 5/5
hkBattousai 16 June 2012, 22:19
Very nice map and very nice graphics.

But I found a flaw in it.

At the very beginning of the game, jump into the lava. Be fast and swim the the rocks on the other side before you are fried. Their slope are slightly low enough for you to climb to the next side over them. Proceed and you get the golden key at left area. Then do a ramp jump over the passage wall near (where there is a red armor and some supplies inside it). Pass through the golden gate. Win the boss fight. The end...

It was my first time playing this map and I have just finished from this shortcut. Now I'm going to play from the beginning.

The map looks great. This flaw is not an hindrance for me to give it five stars.
Icantthinkofanickname Registered 4 December 2013, 13:06

That was a lot of fun. This came out around the same time as The Marcher Fortress, so it's an obvious comparison … and this is actually a very worthy contender. Perhaps not quite as dramatic as Marcher, but then again, it probably does not try to be, as – despite also taking place in a large fortified building in a rocky landscape – it does things rather differently.

The architecture feels massive and far more realistic than most Quake castles, and although I suspect some of the architectural elements are historically incongruous (it does not seem ornate enough to have flying buttresses, for instance), they contribute to the overall impression of solidity.

The current screenshot above does not really do this map justice – it makes it seem like some weird, simplistic underwater house. The actual experience is a lot more impressive.

Also: well-spotted by hkBattousai. I tried that and it does indeed work, but it does not bother me, as it does not take you to an area that should be out of bounds. It's kind of like an (unintentional?) easter egg.

MikeTaylor Registered 6 August 2014, 18:40

It's no insult to this map to say that comparisons with the Marcher Fortress are misplaced. That is in the all-time top handful of maps, completely unique in lots of respects; whereas this is a just very good. I feel mean saying that, like criticising a band by saying "not as good as the Beatles".

But it's a fun play, even if I did waste ages at the end desperately trying to remember where the heck the gold-key door was. The final combat (on Hard) was rather too easy, as it could be won by the old running-round-in-big-circles strategy, taking minimal damage as infighting thins the ranks. But that's not necessarily a criticism, as I dislike over-hard boss-fights anyway.

A final note: I played this on a a version of QuakeSpasm that didn't do fog, and which has the brightness wired down really low so that I had to use r_fullbright 1. So it would have looked much better had I seen it as it's intended to be seen.

MikeTaylor Registered 26 November 2014, 11:22

I replayed this on my chronological trawl through all JPL's maps. I enjoyed it, but even though this time I played it in 2560x1440 with proper lighting and fog, it still didn't move me. Perhaps Icantthinkofanickname did this map no favours by bringing the incomparable Marcher Fortress into the conversation :-)

Still, even if the gameplay feels a bit stodgy, there's no denying that this map has some very nice architecture.

Lane Powell Registered 19 April 2016, 21:29

I'm with Mike. I'm not a huge rock fan personally so I'd rather say it's "not as good as Jeff Mills." :)

Icantthinkofanickname Registered 10 June 2016, 16:59

Ok, I capitulate. :)

Since I first played this, I've learnt a bit about what mapping entails, so I now tend to notice things I didn't notice before (not sure if that is on balance a good thing!) -- and I have to admit that I no longer agree with my past self.

As nice as this map is, The Marcher Fortress is just undoubtedly superior in every respect. It has been one of my favourites ever since I first played it, but I currently consider it as close to a technically perfect Quake map as it is possible to get (the only release that has made my jaw drop lower upon first playthrough is The Alter of Storms, but that is in part due to the awesome modifications it incorporates -- so apples and oranges, really).

First and foremost, I can see now how blocky the brushwork (i.e. the level geometry for those not familiar with the technical terms) in cda is compared to the mind-boggling curves and odd angles in marcher. The rockwork in marcher looks far more organic and convincing. The lighting is better. The same can arguably be said for the gameplay design and progression: despite its massive size, one does not easily get lost in marcher, and the entire experience feels like an epic journey. And I get far better performance on marcher; on cda, I get framerate drops fairly regularly (nothing serious, but noticeable nonetheless).

I do still like cda, though, and it is good for what it is. Even though the brushwork is not as technically impressive as in marcher, it ends up feeling fairly realistic -- real-world architecture often does tend to be blocky, after all. The chosen textures work well in making everything feel suitably massive.

The fact that level progression is not as clear as in marcher and that one might end up running across the level looking for where one is supposed to go next arguably also adds to the realism (provided one is a patient player, it can add a sense of exploration. The flip-side is of course that it can become frustrating not to know where to go after having pressed a particular button).

In light of the above I'm (somewhat guiltily) changing my rating.

Doc_Holliday Registered 20 July 2016, 9:07

One of the best I've played

Bloughsburgh Registered 12 September 2016, 13:28

Nice brooding atmosphere and pleasant castle architecture to go with it. I feel the fodder monster placement is a bit too heavy around the castle walls.

JPL Guest 2 December 2017, 12:09


I am just re-reading the comments (I didn't read at all on map release) and I am happily surprised to be compared with Marcher Fortress map.. an honor as my primary idea was not to compete with... The shortcut was completely unintentional (generally I tend to run away from lava... what were you thinking jumping in ?) Anyway, I am glad it has been appreciated


onetruepurple Registered 23 June 2018, 12:39

As far as I can tell this one still holds the Guiness World Record for the longest vis time. It's fun, though pretty ordinary Quake.

Solomoriah Registered 19 January 2019, 16:46

Very nice map, definitely in the same class as Marcher Fortress.

Solomoriah Registered 19 January 2019, 16:50

... second thoughts.

Marcher Fortress is a better map, no doubt. "In the same class" to me means a map I'll willingly go back and play again. I've been surprised to find that I prefer maps that are architecturally interesting, and not just good gameplay. Marcher Fortress and Something Wicked are maps that I love for both reasons, and I like this one in the same way. It isn't as atmospheric as either of those other two, but it's well worth an occasional replay.

Mugwump Registered 5 September 2020, 5:46

This third map is where JPL truly came into his own. Dark, atmospheric, large, non-linear with many nooks and crannies to explore, solid gameplay that has its share of hairy moments without being unfair, this is classic Quake in all its glory.

Guest Guest 24 January 2022, 15:06

If a map is spectacularly bad with unambiguous problems that ruin gameplay and you compare it to an all time great which most people love, you are on safe grounds to say one is better than the other. What I don't like about the comparisons of this map to Marcher Fortress is that both are excellent maps and at this level of quality, so called objective measures of quality become meaningless as the difference is subjective. What makes a map that is competently put together "good" is simply a matter of personal subjective preference. Simply stating one is "unambiguously" better than the other is as arrogant as it is absurd as the matter is entirely subjective. Without going into details, this map and its sequel gth are in my personal top 20. Marcher, though good, is not.

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