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Review: Lower Shrine of Nakesh

Let down by it's general lack of ambition

Project information

Lower Shrine of Nakesh
Stuart "Volvin" Presley
Single Map

Main review

An ancient Unreal map, and apparently the only map the author made.

The map feels far more styled off a game like Quake than Unreal. You are in a dangerous place; shoot anything that moves and find an exit. There is very little story to speak of to add flavour, although the map does at least do some work setting up the backstory by letting you view your crashed ship if you look around at the start. There are a few translator messages but they are extremely generic and add little to the experience.

A library in the church

In regards to what it is it does at least get kudos (and shows some conceptual design) by making the ending areas viewable from the starting point, although the level could have done with a little more work in that regard, as it's extremely linear (with only one side room), and with no foreshadowing beyond what's in the starting area. The overall design of the location also makes little sense; with one side room and no inaccessible areas there's no feeling of a bigger picture and the areas don't really flow into each other theme-wise (although the level as a whole maintains a certain theme). While not really an issue the title is a bit of a misnomer, as the place feels more like a church than a shrine.

The architecture does show a little flourish, with various curves and a few other details, but it still feels a bit cubic overall, along with having a couple of instances of stuff like primitives cutting into each other in somewhat ugly ways. It also feels quite cramped and unambitious in design outside of the starting room. The texturing does convey a theme and keep consistent, but the terrain and most curves (of which there are enough for it to be quite an eyesore in certain areas, especially the final room) are completely unaligned. The texturing also leads on to the lack of visual flow in the theme mentioned earlier; in a couple of areas completely different textures cut right into each other; the most egregious being a rock texture cutting into a brick texture towards the end.

The lighting has the general feeling of a beginner mapper on the way to becoming a more experienced one; The lighting is all sourced, yet it pretty much seems to be there as lip service to keep things illuminated and does little to enhance the atmosphere. Similar sources also do not maintain a consistent colour scheme; torches are white in one area, then orange in the next. The ending room and a library part way through feel notable for at least making some use of darkness; the final room in particular managing to be a little moody. There's little to speak of about the use of sound; there are a few sounds used in obvious ways (wind for outdoors, water noises, a noise for the exit), and little else beyond the sounds the movers make.

Your view from the start

The map's simplicity makes it obvious it is gameplay-focused, and it succeeds to some degree in that regard, mostly let down by a lack of ambition. Your opposition in the map consists almost entirely of Krall and lower-end Skaarj classes. The author has done the sensible thing (avoiding the general major mistake designers of levels like this usually make) and only provided the Automag and Stinger; a low-powered arsenal for a low-powered array of enemies. The one oddity is being forced to jump off the cliff at the start for mandatory damage, not helped by most of the health being provided by Nali Healing Fruit, which has to grow after loading the map and could leave you without health to survive the fall if you pick it up too soon.

Playing on Unreal difficulty I made it through with what was provided but had little to spare, health was also placed decently; it's balanced just right for what it is, but in this case "for what it is" happens to be an issue. The slow, weak enemies used don't really allow for much dynamism in the combat without special placement, and most of the enemy placement is pretty basic. The three fights that do stick out all involve some degree of ambush or surprise; it's a shame there wasn't a little more of it as the enemies used allow for such gameplay without the frustration that generally comes with it. I didn't run into any technical issues, although there really shouldn't be technical problems in a level like this anyway, the floating torch bug is present, but for such an old map the author can't be blamed too much for that.


The level does what its trying to do well, and provides ten-fifteen minutes of fun, but it's not trying to do much and is namely let down by it's general lack of ambition. Not to mention a few beginner hallmarks on the mapper's part in terms of build.

download links:*

*Note that only the Unreal Archive uploads are checked to be the newest and most compatible/stable download link.

Build (17%)
  • Architecture
    Imagination, realism and detail of structures used in the design of the level.
  • Texturing
    Use of textures in the level. Technically speaking, alignment and scaling. Choice of textures, and quality of any custom textures used.
  • Lighting
    Lighting of the level: does it look cool? Use of light colour and other effects, and sourcing of lighting (no light out of nowhere).
  • Sound
    Use of ambient sounds and event sounds to give the level atmosphere, and the quality of any custom sounds. Appropriate use of music and silence to complement the atmosphere.
  • Technical Execution
    Technical soundness of the level, i.e. no visual glitches, no random deaths or other gameplay bugs, and a good framerate.
Cast (16%)
  • Conceptual Grandness
    Scale, imagination, awe & originality of design and layout, physical foreshadowing of future areas.
  • Story Construction
    Backing story & progression via translator, subplots, and script of voice acting where applicable. Logical choice of opposition.
  • Story Implementation
    Progression of the written story via the events of the level, and performance of voice actors where applicable.
  • Gameplay Awe
    Quality of scripted sequences, originality and staging of combats. Maps that force the player to "learn by dying" will be penalised.
  • Gameplay Balance
    Balance of weapons and items to creatures, including difficulty settings. Most importantly, fun factor.
Below average

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