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Review: Nali Canyon 1 and 2

Decent for such an ancient duo of maps

Project information

Nali Canyon 1 and 2
Nicklas "DeluxScan" Teisner
Small Campaign

Main review

These were two levels I played years ago and I've decided it's finally time to review them. I was kind of surprised to realise the author is DeluxScan, who went on to release Na Pali Odyssey years later. They were supposed to be part of a much larger set that was apparently never continued.
The story casts you as another crash-landing survivor, however there's a much heavier focus on story than most early sets (and the readme specifically mentions this focus). There's a nice thread through the two levels (based around the fate sheltering a Human has brought upon a Nali town) and various messages, including some important to progression. It's let down by being a small part of a larger set that was never released, but the main story does manage to be relatively self-contained, if pretty simple.
The first map is somewhat of an intro map, with light opposition and a few puzzles. There's a variety of settings that segue quite well, which gives it some variety. The second map is set in a Nali town and manages to have some pretty decent vistas and an ambitious scale for such an old map, and a nice sense of progression where you work your way around the town.

A hidden library

Architecture of the main areas is quite decent; it's only a bit below original Unreal quality for the most part, which is pretty good for such early maps (and actually better than I remembered it to be). The main thing that drags it down is the side-areas that are much more cubic and basic than the main ones. The terrain is also somewhat lacking (especially in the first map). Texturing is pretty competent; there's some nice attempts at adding extra detail with texture use and some of the terrain texturing is surprisingly well aligned. There are some oddities like a house with a bed textured in brick though. The lighting doesn't have much flair but it does the job, and there's some nice use of elements like fog too. The use of heavily saturated colours sourced from unlit computer panels at one point doesn't really work though, and the second map has some strange looking darkness around the edges. Sounds are quite rare but do add a little when used, and the music tracks (Hub2 and Eversmoke respectively) fit well despite no songsection usage.

Looking over the town

Gameplay balance is unfortunately pretty off; the first level gives you a small provision of weapons that fits the lack of enemies well. The second map has a lot more combat, but then hands you massive amounts of Razorjack ammo that completely trivialises it and makes your other weapons have little use, although a late rifle acquisition does help with the last couple of fights. A couple of troopers with strong weapons in cramped spaces demand some strategy, but that's about the only challenge on offer. The small puzzle elements do add some variety, although one trap is oddly designed as it's very obvious you could easily crawl under the bars blocking your way out if the collision on crawling wasn't broken. Said trap requires some fast reflexes but you can easily spot it beforehand if you pay attention and the way to avoid it is quite logical so it's not much of a problem.

A Skaarj-owned cellar

The only problems I found technically is that there are parts of the terrain you can get stuck on in the second map with no way out, although those parts are a bit off the main path, and also that doors open in ways that don't fit their texturing. The final switch can be reused, which I'm not sure is intentional, but the thing triggered can be clearly seen from where you press that switch, so it's not hard to tell if you've activated it.


Decent for such an ancient duo of maps; there are flaws if you take a closer look, and the combat is completely trivial, but it has a couple of nice sights and the story does a good job building interest. Too bad it was never continued, even if DeluxScan did go on to make something greater years later.

Build (18%)
  • 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 (17%)
  • 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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