Pain in the Arch by MFX

Pain in the Arch is a moody, atmospheric piece that excels at giving the player a sense of exploration, due to its overlapping layout (taking place in large caverns and underground ruins) and secrets. It is clad in Kell's Knave textures, but instead of being a conventional Knave map, it takes its cue from Than's Q1SP, Subterranean Library, which introduced a unique new take on that texture set. From the chasms, caverns, fog, broken towers and arches, to the specific style of broken arches clinging to the ceilings rather than the floor, the inspiration is clear, although there are some differences (this uses a different rock texture and probably has more caverns relative to brickwork, and there may have been less symmetry here, though the map as a whole isn't as long). So anyone that liked that map, should definitely like this. Its style represents a new development of a recent and original take on a well-established theme. The lack of bloody waterfalls and etc made this place feel more just "abandoned" rather than actively evil, so that's another way of distinguishing it from Than's style-defining map.Even the one area in this map which had a more conventional Knave theme (shot 4) still had a somewhat original look.

The route is more linaer than Subterranean Library, but you still revisit plenty of old areas from new angles; jumping through areas and the sense of exploration was great. Monster placement was nearly perfect throughout the map: every monster was placed according to its strengths, so that it was always a challenge but never overwhelming. Scrags, ogres, shamblers and others were all very well used. Quoth monsters, as always, were welcome (some people complain about the Quoth "Green cloaking tarbaby," but I find it suitably weird/evil and it's not often used), although I could swear the Vermis at the end had more health than usual. Overall, this was perhaps not as epic as the map that inspired it, I enjoyed it a little more because of the clear layout which balanced a sense of exploration with a constant sense of progression. It's great to see mappers riffing on one another's ideas and given how well-received Subterranean Library was, it's hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this offering from MFX.

Score: 17/20