Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oblivion Mod Review - Gates to Aesgaard Episode 1

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Mod Review - Gates To Aesgaard Episode 1 (ver 1)
Score: +1/-3

Summary: Linear dungeon crawl with "horror" atmosphere.

Why Get This: Dungeon crawl. Some interesting visuals.

This starts out as a promising story-driven mod with "horror" atmosphere, but quickly becomes boring and aimless. Initially you are treated to some backstory, but once you find Ashen Rose's corpse and her final journal update, the gameplay switches to just finding keys in small locations. The "horror" theme drops off sharply and you end up in mundane locations fighting undead.
+ Good attempt at "horror" theme locations very early in the mod.
- Too much immersion/atmosphere breaking. For example, there's an illogical-nightmare feel to the early locations which might have stood on its own just fine, except it was sadly made implausible by Ashen Rose's journal entries which suggest that the location has occupants and purpose -- some method to the madness, as it were. This itself is hinted at by some of the locations you can access (such as a large dining room / throne room). However, there is no cohesion to the place, no sense of purpose. Even the characters you encounter there are simply standing around doing nothing except waiting to be encountered so they can be hostile.
Another example: There's a portal that is labelled as a location 800 years in the past. I'm supposed to know this information? How? Once I'm through the portal, there's nothing obvious to tell me the location is 800 years in the past.
- Boring and aimless once the story elements disappear. Just another dungeon crawl. Going around killing things does not necessarily make a good mod. There's no shortage of things to kill everywhere in Tamriel in vanilla locations and there are far more interesting dungeon crawls around. The enemies here are either vanilla (skeletons, zombies, ghosts, wraiths) or just cosmetically different regular creatures (mages and fighters with a custom head model).
- Implausible clumps of supplies like several healing potions planted right before the exit door. Couldn't they have distributed these more? Or done something else less in-your-face, such as provide alchemy ingredients and apparatus strewn about over several early levels?

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