Conference of the Shamblers by skacky
The Conference of the Shamblers is an excellent new Q1SP map in the Quoth/Knave style. It is an excellent use of those textures, even after all the maps in that style over the years. While evoking some of the landmark Quoth maps of the past - Contracted Revoked itself, Red777, Sealed City from Warp Spasm, Clandestinus Odium from Arcanum, and most of all Breakfast At Twilight - Conference of the Shamblers nevertheless creates its own take on this well-established theme, and executes it flawlessly from start to finish. Every room is thoughtfully designed and detailed, from interiors and hallways to open courtyards surrounded by rooftops and towers. The map really piles on the detail, particularly in the floors and ceilings, and many of the outdoor areas have a great deal of architecture seemingly created only for the sake of scenery, to give the player the impression of being inside one part of a larger city (although there certainly may be secrets lurking in such places). The architecture is impeccable, the texture usage creative, and the lighting consistently impressive. This is a very pretty Quoth map.
Gameplay is relatively conventional, though there are plenty of (reasonable) secrets to find, and some interesting touches like giving the player access to Ogre balconies, and allowing for a significant amount of infighting. There are a few confrontation-in-a-locked-room scenarios, none of which is too excessive, and the difficulty slowly increases until the end. The only really threatening monsters for me were the fiends - if you take your eyes off them or a second or forget where one is, you can go from 100 health and plenty of armour down to 1 or 2 hits away from death quite quickly. The scale of the confrontation areas was suitable for this, big enough for fiends to be used but small enough for them to be effective. Other than that, it's the usual medieval and Quoth monsters. I also got quite close to dying, but survived, at the end with the Vermis. The Vermis was well used here: it was probably the hardest part of the map, it had an epic intro, and was in an area that suited it. Also, there had been a few "organic" designs throughout the map earlier, potentially hinting at this all along - my favourite was a Quake3-style "Fanged Mouth" near the Silver Key. This seems like a map with significant replayability, and perhaps good potential for cooperative play as well. Overall, it's clear how much work the author put into this, and the result is a visually interesting, aesthetically pleasing, atmospheric Q1SP map.