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Review: The Incident At Nali Canyons

Atmosphere, progression and storytelling that tends to be rare for maps from that era

Project information

The Incident At Nali Canyons
Steve Arriola
Single Map

Main review

The story sets you up as one of the first colonists on Na Pali (although that part is only specified in the readme), as your homestead suffers from a cave-in that uncovers a group of Skaarj. The storyline is communicated through a few messages that don't really build on the premise much, but it at least manages to have some sort of resolution despite there unfortunately being no exit.

The first half is in a small terrain area and cave. The terrain has some dodgy texturing (along with needing more variety in the texturing) and some odd looking bumps and similar, but it just about works, and there's a couple of flourishes, such as a small water flow in the cave. The lighting (or, more specifically, the lack of it) does provide one standout moment in the level, as you walk through a dark cave lit only by your searchlight, unsure what might be waiting there. There's little of note about the lighting elsewhere, but it's sourced and at least fits the environment somewhat.

The starting area

The second half of the level, set in some sort of sewerage facility, suffers from being mostly set in undetailed corridors. There are a couple of okay looking rooms that sell the theme well enough, but it also has flaws like badly aligned pipes and light textures that cut off into a wall. A trip into a flooded part of the facility does at least show some attempt at subtly expanding on the story in showing the Skaarj have suffered from the cave-in too, but that's about the only section that sticks out here.

There's a few fitting ambient sounds, and Fifth.umx fits the dismal (in a good way) atmosphere of the level well, but there isn't much else to say about it. The only technical issue I found is a disappearing geometry issue in the cave from certain angles, which is a bigger problem than it could be due to the attempt at atmosphere in that section.

At the sewerage facility

There's not really much to add awe to the gameplay outside the trek through darkness and the flooded section (which also adds some threat to the environment). Outside of a shieldbelt, supplies are pretty scarce, and your weapons remain low-grade beyond a Rifle you start with. Combat is a mix of Troopers, Warriors and Pupae, and the cramped environments can make a couple of Trooper fights pretty dangerous, on the other hand, the Warriors tend to have trouble getting through doorways, and there are some badly placed Pupae that get stuck on crates, along with one oddly placed underwater. There's nothing horribly wrong with the combat gameplay, but nothing of note either.


This level isn't especially good in any area, but for such an old map it shows some attempts at simple atmosphere, progression and storytelling that tends to be rare for maps from that era. It's also a very short level that can be finished in ten minutes or less, so it won't take too long to give it a try.

download links:*

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

Build (11%)
  • 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 (12%)
  • 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.

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