Thursday, April 8, 2021

Escape From Monster Manor: Key Hunt

As an aside, I made a few mistakes during screenshot selection for this entry, confusing some from a later level for these levels. I'm not even sure I got the right levels here to begin with. I think that says something about this game's level design, and its not good.

Another day, another level. These levels seem to be two in the same style, then a style change. This is another long large crypt. I'm pretty sure this game had the most testers of all the games I've played. Why does it have worse quality control than even one-man operations? Its not complex or anything like that. This level features the return of the spiders, and yet, its so much easier than the first spider level. Oh, no, the soundtrack has the Doom demon awakening sound effect in it. That is some unlucky game design right there. Its not even music at this point, just a heartbeat sound effect, storm and screams.
That's not even getting into this level. Its an absolute nightmare. Its an endless maze. Corridors that loop back on themselves, corridors that look the same, and the corridor that you didn't go down had all the ammo. It feels like there's just not enough ammo here. Look at this map, its exactly the same in the areas I didn't put down. What makes this level troublesome is not the difficulty of it, its not that difficult, just long. Long levels like this are the kind I miss being able to save anywhere in. I have to be really precise with the spiders, or I'll waste too much ammo on them. If I waste too much ammo on them, I won't have enough for the ghosts, but if I don't do it quickly enough, I won't have enough health for the ghosts. None of my deaths are actually related to this, they're all out of ammo deaths or the one time I ran past a ghost, and ended up getting backstabbed while not understanding what was going on.

What when through the minds of this level's authors, I wonder? Did they realize this level was trash, but were forced to put it in due to time/difficulty? Or were they naive, thinking they were creating some great difficult level or something? I can offer no answer to this, but none of the employees on this game worked on many shooters. I'm not happy when I finally finish it. What's next, I wonder, something about jewels adoring my corpse. Greed is a sin, so roughly the narrator is saying now. As if I would care if I didn't get points for it. As if I care at that.
Grotty Grotto. Yeah, they have names, I just don't really give a crap. Oh, I'm sorry, there's a monster at the start. Just mark off another bad level design choice. The level is split at the start, one half leading to the exit, another leading to a spiral mine containing the medallion piece. The mine has doors, but you don't have enough keys to handle that properly entering, and exiting who cares at this point? I wonder if this section inspired Junji Ito to make Uzamaki? You know, like "Hang on, this is a spiral and I feel like I'm in Hell. I know! I'll make a story out of this."
The boss is put in a questionable place here, a shifting corridor. Many enemies have been placed in such places before, but a boss? I didn't even know that was possible, but there you go. The level end narration just waxes on about health and ammo.
The second cave level, "Cave Grave", hyuk hyuk hyuk, is another long twisting level. So many twists. Its a repeat of the track with the narrator on it. At least there's music, I guess. Its just heads and spiders here, which technically means all enemies are ranged, but the spiders have such short range it doesn't matter. I'd like to go a level without having to take a look at the near left or right whenever I enter a room, because that trick is getting old and tedious. Much like the rest of this game. There is scarcely enough ammo to get by. By this time, I know whether or not some side rooms have ammo or just treasure, but I go through the treasure rooms anyway, so enemies don't come back to bite me.
These skulls seem absolutely impossible to hit at times. At first I thought it was just because I was clipping the walls, but then I started noticing it happening elsewhere. Enemies I had the tip of my gun pointed at, with nothing in the way. I think there's possibly something funny going on, especially when they attack. Its nearly impossible to hit them when they're throwing out a huge burst of projectiles. I think this is because the projectiles have a hitbox, but they don't get destroyed when that happens. This is just cruel game design. The objective of this level is to find two keys at the end of this huge maze, because the level exit and the medallion piece are near the starting point, just behind a door. Even managing to actually complete this bad boy took a hour, and there's just little strategy to this game beyond looking out for gotcha traps. Turning around? Oh, there's a guy I missed. Returning to get more ammo? Whoops, spiders. Look at this map. This is what hell is. This is what hell is.
The final boss are two of the heads, only now they're stronger. I didn't have enough ammo for them, but I did manage to bypass them. Seems like they're not necessary to beating the level. Good. That was much longer than necessary. This is the kind of crap you need to relax from. Brutal death metal is more melodic than this stuff.

This Session: 3 hours 30 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours 50 minutes

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