Note::Review is for older version
Author: PicturesInTheDark (213.164.7.---)
Date: 10-28-03 14:06
Values ranking from Neophyte (1) to Archmaster (10).
Gameplay: Expert ~ Although I found the way through the dungeon too
chaotic despite your claim of “pretty straight forward” in the text
file, this is the only criticism I can make here. Otherwise beautifully
laid out and a lot of twists and turns to follow until the end.
Originality: Archmaster ~ Starting with “Double your money” there were
many riddles both beautiful and -as far as I can guess- hard to design
or make up. There’s still parts I did not like, but for the effort of
creating some of the most original puzzles apart from the original
series, I can but give you the highest rank in this category.
Difficulty: Expert ~ In some areas you overdid it a little (see the
fireball trap in the first level that will kill you instantaneously if
you’re not careful or other examples to be found in “comments”),
although most is solvable by being careful or alert. I still claim my
ideal dungeon must enable the player to theoretically survive the first
time – I don’t think that “tower of chaos” can completely fulfill that.
Basically pretty linear difficulty design, although I found the
starting levels too tough with reincarnated characters.
Puzzles: Master ~ Probably the dungeon with the most original, newly
crafted or uniquely varied puzzles throughout all the levels,
experimenting with mechanisms and twisting them into little known
Size: Archmaster ~ I’m not a friend of too large dungeons in general,
but you not only created a dungeon using nearly every single cell but
also found ways to build paths and mechanisms that make the dungeon an
overall sound design. This took me at about as long as my first try of
the original CSB, so compliments on keeping up suspense and atmosphere
throughout this huge layout!
Replayability: Adept ~ I had real (letal) problems with food and water
as well, so as long as that is not changed I don’t think I’ll try it
again soon. Generally speaking, there’s enough creativity in this
dungeon for repeated tries, though. Let’s give it some time, shall we ?
Craft: Master ~ I was very positively surprised at this dungeon after
swallowing my initial frustration on the food and too tough
creatures-sides. If you polish up the nourishment and time-to-time
dungeon design a little, this will improve your otherwise outstanding
and original design even more. No doubt that you know how to design a
dungeon very well indeed!
Ending: Adept ~ Chaos again… oh, well. Excuse me, but I just finished
the review to Amber’s “Imprisoned again” before so I’m afraid this is a
common theme. It’s a little frustrating always having to corner the
poor dark creature time and time again avoiding missiles, zytaxes and
demons… anyway, you made it pretty tough actually getting the firestaff
and then surviving to find Chaos and fusing him – so many things going
on in this level at once… *phew* Still, especially with your ability to
design I’d hope for a really new end next time…
Atmosphere: Master ~ Just a small point here: the design ruined some of
the otherwise excellent atmosphere, because the path was not as clear
or straight as I’d have wished for sometimes. Try and error is all well
but sometimes you strained that a bit too much in my eyes. Otherwise I
certainly strained something, too (that being my nerves) and had a very
good time (translate: near heart attacks) in your dungeon. That’s
exactly how it should be.
Overall: Master ~ Close call, but deserved. Dungeons like Amber’s
“Imprisoned…” and your “Tower…” are the reasons why I was rating pretty
carefully with my first dungeons so as not too use up all my aces too
(part 2/4) ***CONTAINS SPOILERS***
Best part: “Double your money”, the numerous impossible-to-spot
teleporters where even the design around the areas concerned is exactly
the same most of the times, the “pit riddle” 3(29,17), dragon and black
flame in the “orange tower”, fighter way in level 11, Chaos/Good/Order
all on your heels in level 12… only to mention some.
Worst part: Big lack of food (especially in the first half of the
dungeon), later on fountains were too rare. Playing legally you can
hardly survive with a full party. I was missing an overall concept for
the path through the dungeon, although the different towers were neat.
Sometimes you’d have to go searching for an item you needed (Choker!)
in a completely different part and I could not get a picture of the
design since you used a lot of invisible teleporters to confuse me.
Comments: This will be a lot. Some are quirks or flaws I think I found,
others merely suggestions or uncertainties on my part. Excuse my
length, but the better I like a dungeon, the more details tend to
* Character Hissssa/Leta can be seen on the wall from 0(15,15)
* Any chance to get Gothmog except if playing him only ?
*Vision of Chaos - nice one. First time I just had a quick character
selection, then jumped down the pit instead of looking for the rope -
short game ;o)
* Pressure pad on 1 (11,23) should "set", not "clear" - door does not
open otherwise. (At least with conversion to CSBwin it does not work)
* Door at 1(21,18) only opens when you are either (I don't know which)
craftsman wizard or are able to speak an On fireball (strength 3).
Since there is way too little food in this dungeon (or I have
overlooked something) you cannot reach that level without starving -
except if you play Gothmog but then you'll hardly survive. But you need
that door to get the second Skeleton key to advance further... correct
me if I'm wrong.
* Scorpion at 10(39,25) is a good heart-stopper - although I dislike
pits as ways of advancing.
*After finishing I looked at CSBwin - the invisible teleporters
transporting you to other dungeon parts are craftily made - the
surroundings do not allow you to see any changes.
* The meaning of the one scroll in the "Reading room" (can only guess
that you are trying to show directions like north, south, west and so
on) escapes me.
* Door at 08(17/35) has an iron plate at the lower part that should not
be there - graphical glitch ?
* The blocking false wall on 07(51,32) has no trigger to ever open as
far as I could see.
(part 3/4) ***CONTAINS SPOILERS***
* If you start (as I did) with the green tower first, you have no
vorpal blade - and only at the end of the blue tower way just before
the bridge (nice one by the way!) do you get one by killing an Oitu.
Maybe this was planned as a sense of irony, but if you intended to
provide a weapon for the green tower except magic you should force the
players to climb the blue tower first.
* In the teleporter room as far as I can see, I cannot reach 4(13,15)
or 4(14,15), therefore my way is blocked and I cannot legally continue
and finish the dungeon. Also, the green magic box (I don't know if
intentionally or not) cannot be reached.
* The teleporter on 3(27,14) is a very tricky bit I thought was not
solvable for a long time, but has a beautiful solution.
* At 4(33,14) and 4 (32,10) there are fountains that do not show on the
maps in CSBuild. Either these are random wall decorations or I con't
understand why they appear there.
* The pressure pad at 3(19,12) should probably open the door at
3(18,14). If not, this is a death trap.
* If I'm standing at 4(07,06) - "Zero Displacement" and use a ZoKathRa
spell instead of a corbum and then going all the way back to the
teleporter room up by the stairs on 4 (11,25), I will be teleported to
3 (14,10). To get on further there I will need a gold key for the ruby
lock at 3(12,19). However, I can only get the gold key if I went up the
stairs mentioned before - blocked way. The only other path to leave
this level is through the pit at 3(17,04), which brings me directly to
a dead end where I cannot move on any more. So this is another death
* The teleporter at 3(13,25) bringing you to 3(18,25) is a hard riddle
- but I have to grant you that you left the scroll downstairs giving
the right hint. I just remembered it too late ;o)
* The riddle with the pit at 3(19,09) is pure guesswork - if you don't
get it right - and there's no clue, since you don't see the blocked
stairs - you are trapped if you enter any of the pits in the hope to be
able to move on. I'd suggest a clear hint (a wall text or something
like that). Otherwise it's impossible to know you have to open the pit,
throw something in and then close it again before taking a pit down to
commence your way.
* The scroll at 3(07,23) is either a clever riddle or a tip on the hat
to the "holy scroll" - I could not decipher it, but I liked it anyway.
* After beating the dragons at 3(03,30) and finally concluding the
blue, green and orange towers I would have wished for a shortcut back
to 9(21,25) to use the two mirrors of dawn and commence my way to the
final dungeon part. Not necessary, but would be a goodie, since the
dungeon is very long anyway.
(part 4/4) ***CONTAINS SPOILERS***
* The start of the final part having to step on the pressure plate at
10(10,25) and thus releasing all kinds of horrors on the party was...
very hard. Luckily I could reach the stairs and fight from there... if
I had been cornered there would have been no chance of survival for my
* I found the berzerker/dragon fang room around 10(34,18) also a little
too tough. If you died in there once you can adjust your tactics and
eliminate the demons before from the outside, but first in you can
hardly survive except if you can still back out by any chance.
* Silver coin "treasure slot" at 10(16,37) was very neat - especially
after getting two goodies I did not expect the ful bomb coming, which
hit me by surprise and very painfully.
* Putting water elementals als "blockers" in the corridor of fire at
level 10 was an appreciated irony. The way back though (I'm a stubborn
enough player to have walked all the way back after the "sacrifice"
part (novelty!) to level 5) was unnecessarily boring. Healing my party
after each few steps was possible but made me yawn. A simple button at
the end to deactivate it would have done the trick - when you come back
you release the trigger again anyway...
* The "Zo Ful Ra" text escapes me. (Zo for opening the first door, Ful
[Ir] for the second one, but Ra ?
* The master key at 11(37,46) is probably to enable you to get up and
find some fountain for your party - but again through the whole
corridor of fire and very likely there's no more food up there if you
don't go back all the way to level 1 ("Fast food"). This is a general
problem of the dungeon - simply too little nourishment all the way and
sometimes badly positioned - I admit I simply cheated here - it was
getting really annoying.
Your dungeon implementation has wonderful variations between riddles,
mechanisms, monsters and searching for the way on, to improve I
therefore can only suggest to simplify the dungeon design while keeping
up the puzzles and tricks. You’re very good already so I’d say you can
try maximizing your efficiency by creating best efforts using minimum
design – and add some food, I’ll pay for it ;o) It was a real pleasure
playing this dungeon – maybe it ought to have been Towers of Chaos”?
P.S.: Just look at the time between part 2 and 3 and guess the number
of times I tried...