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[rtnp] Custom Map Review: "Valley of Xellos" by Nikola -(DOG)- Genyo

Posted: 29 Dec 2015, 17:09
by Delacroix
Map Information:

Map Title: Valley of Xellos
Map Author: Nikola -(DOG)- Genyo
Reviewer: Delacroix
Review Score: 64%
Tagline: Grandiose, even if not without faults.

Main Review:

Nikola, the renowned coop community member and since 2014 also mapper, returns with another release. This time, it's a two-pack called Valley of Xellos. As we've seen in the recent review of Wasserburg Eusebius, she's proven herself as an artist who thinks big, even if technically, things don't necessarily work out. Even still, she has shown her incredible potential. However... did she manage to improve her artistic workshop in Xellos? Let us find out.

Once more, we are given a spin on the Skytown theme, as the Nali buildings show, however this is a bit different. It's a Nali settlement through-and-through, but instead of being located on a floating island, it's set up on firm ground, in a mountain range somewhere on Na Pali. The player, a member of a military squad, arrives there in search of their companions who went missing and... finds them dead. Logs indicate that there is a magic crystal involved, with some people - and the Skaarj - dead set on destroying it and the Nali imploring you to protect it at all costs. And so, the story begins.

Let the adventure commence.

And it... doesn't seem to be finished. I, for one, didn't notice said crystal anywhere and the pack ended kind of abruptly, so maybe there'll be more of Xellos series coming eventually. Nothing was mentioned in that regard. Another gripe I have is that apparently a couple of the Nali have human names for some reason. It's kinda jarring, even if it's minor.

The environment for the player to traverse is very large and quite detailed. Influences of the Japanese mapper extraordinaire ViViDy can be seen, for example in the large tiles put on the ground in a spot or two, serving as the walkway and two bridges one over another, allowing the player to see a large part of the level from a bird's eye view. It's... grand, no doubt about that, as one would expect from the aforementioned ViViDy and with his absence as of late, Nikola is apparently intending to become a worthy successor to his legacy... and she has a fighting chance to achieve this goal. Little to nothing breaks the visual experience, aside from a quite visible BSP bug in the beginning.

Your destination in the distance. ViViDy's influence seen.

As far as aural experience is concerned, there is a lot more than in Wasserburg for the players to enjoy. The ambience is fairly rich and unlike in her debut map, this time Nikola opted out for a grand total of three music tracks, two from Return to Na Pali expansion (Journey and Neve) and one from the main game, All Hallows Sunset. While no section switches are present and thus the music is on its default track all the time, everything fits for the most part (action sections in map two could use some spice in that regard) and therefore, there's little to complain about.

Gameplaywise, as with Wasserburg Eusebius, it's a dungeon romp through and through. The player's task is nothing more than dispensing death and destruction (with the sole exception of the Nali which one should not harm) and progressing further to have a chance to dispense some more death and destruction. There's some exploration but mostly to find That Damn Fourth Cha-- err, Door Or Elevator Switch or ammo / health provisions but no puzzles to speak of, nor anything else major. The only "puzzle" at the beginning of the pack is hinted by a translator message and is very simple. There are a couple technical issues - the teleporter on the first map didn't trigger for me at first and if that happens for you, you'll have to open the second map manually (a larger collision hull would do the trick easily) and on the second map itself, there is an option to fall down below to a cutdown verssion of the first map (which should be blocked off completely) but aside from that, the gameplay flow was just fine.

The Nali sanctuary.


Nikola's second project, not only twice the size of the first but also more polished and with a better general idea, purpose and sense of place is one of the better releases of 2014, hands down. While there are a couple issues that should have been ironed out, I can still wholeheartedly recommend Valley of Xellos to any player. Nikola's spin on the Skytown texture set and overall theme is something seen not that often and it's obvious she learned from the best. While the water theme is much less present here, the water-based puzzle at start hints that she hasn't forgotten her debut's theme and that she'll be back with more. And it's something to be looking forward to.

Another library, complete with Behemoth twins.

BUILD (50%)
Architecture 7
Texturing 7
Lighting 7
Sound 6
Technical Execution 6

CAST (50%)
Conceptual Grandness 7
Story Construction 5
Story Implementation 5
Gameplay Awe 7
Gameplay Balance 7

Total Score: 64%

Download links: - GD

* Technical notice: All maps by Nikola require the latest 227 patch installed.

Re: [rtnp] Custom Map Review: "Valley of Xellos" by Nikola -(DOG)- Genyo

Posted: 12 Jan 2016, 07:47
by NaPaliShore
I think the download link is for the wrong file -

Re: [rtnp] Custom Map Review: "Valley of Xellos" by Nikola -(DOG)- Genyo

Posted: 12 Jan 2016, 11:17
by Delacroix
Fixed the link.