10,000 Feet Below by Fern

This map is a preview for a forthcoming episode, which is great news since this is a great map. Stylistically, it's a unique take on the "arabian temple" theme pioneered by IKSPQ2, Temple of the Thousand-Faced Moon and later modified by KJSP1, Avanipaala Praasaada. However, while the architecture might be described as somewhat similar to these maps, with many Arabian-style arches, decorative pools, and temple fronts intersecting with caves and canyons. However, despite the fact that each of these previous maps was impressive in its own time, the architecture here is displays significant superiority. The designs are more detailed and there are impressive features like smooth domes. Also, whereas both of the aforementioned maps have outdoor sections and are near the sky, as the title of this map implies, it is entirely underground with not a patch of sky to be seen anywhere. But probably the most striking difference is the palette. Whereas those maps were basically all blue or all white, this map mixes several distinct colours - the decayed off-red of Gloom Keep, a deep Cobalt blue, the dusty grey of Kell's Knave set, and faded yellow for highlighted details. I've spent so much time describing the look of this map in order to emphasize that it really is a unique, atmospheric and aesthetically pleasing setting.

In terms of gameplay, Quoth monsters are used throughout, and the monster placement is very effective and appropriate, so that the map is quite challenging because it gets a lot of mileage out of every monster. I was literally down to one health fighting Quoth's cloaking green spawn monsters in the broken area in shot three, and almost died when their acidic gibs bounced toward me (the last one topped just before it hit me, in cinematic fashion). The layout allows for exploration, which can be interesting - I went forward and just kept going, ending up in some dangerous situations I only got out of due to monster infighting. I later realized I should have gone another way, or at least picked up the supershotgun much earlier. Using hipnotic's centroids was a good choice, as they don't often appear in Quoth maps and are especially appropriate given the setting here. There is also a flashlight section, another fun Quoth feature that is not often used. There are five secrets, the three I found were all logical, though more secrets would have been good. Overall, this map really hit the spot: shades of previous temple maps, Libris Vertiginis, and even The Palace of Hate make this a very stylish and well-executed Q1SP experience.

Score: 18/20