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Contract Revoked

Overview 

The first anyone saw of Kell's four-map package was the first map, [i]Libris Vertigiinus[/i], released as a stand-alone during Qexpo in 2001. It immediately caught attention for its old-school "four-square" architecture and unique texture set. The next anyone knew, it was joined by some custom skins, ambient sounds, three other maps and a start map, and released on a joyous world.

The plot of this mod is that you want out of a contract you made with Cthon. However, in order to do so, you have to journey through a "library world" and find the damn thing. And Cthon isn't the sort to revoke his contracts...

Architecture Grey, square, functional

Kell's library planet is a realm of red-clouded skies, grey stone walls, fleshy protruberances, bookcases, and bronze trim. Arches abound in profusion, as do great pools of brackish water and lava. (The lava is generally a func_illusionary with a trigger_hurt attached.) The predominant colour, grey, acts as a neutral background for decorations such as the bronze metal trims, floor grates, blood red windows, chequerboard floors and other splashes of colour. It's certainly a change from the usual brown, beige or grey-blue hues that tend to dominate Quake maps.

Additionally, the architecture is rectilinear. This makes sense: libraries don't really need wierdly angled walls, the books would fall off the shelves. Floors are generally flat, ceilings ditto, walls perpendicular. Textures provide all the detail. (Kell himself cites Piranesi's drawings of "fanciful prisons", with their massive stone bridges, arches and whatnot, as one influence.)

In terms of this, Kell makes good use of silent triggers to trip ambushes before you fly around the corner. This is great stuff and well worth considering in your next map. Also, staggered teleport traps drop monsters on your head while you're still seeing off the first wave, heightening any tension one might feel.

All three maps, along with the start map, have runes hidden behind bookcases, which you need to open the bonus level after finishing the episode. This is something: Each map is crammed with secrets! The start map alone has three, and Libris Vertigiinus has eight, generally ranging from holes in walls to spot-the-button. One could return to this pak again and again just to try and find every single one.

Gameplay 

All the maps have points both good and bad. If you end up in water, make sure you know where the surface is; no biosuits here.

The first map, Libris Vertigiinus, you may have seen already. This is primarily an "arming-up" sort of affair, featuring a bottomless pit lined with books, a water maze and an irritating gold key trap. The problem with that latter is you have to hop over a series of water-filled holes, and the holes are too deep to jump out of. (One could always type SV_GRAVITY 600 at the console to get around this.)

The second map, Thousand Words, is a series of chambers wrapped around a central atrium reminiscent of The Bad Place, only with water in the bottom. This map starts out with you having to swim for the surface against the rotfish with ogres and vores cacking on your head every step of the way. There are a couple of spikeshooter traps you can't avoid getting hit by, but that's a minor nuisance. There's also a shrine to a certain American horror fiction writer in there somewhere...

The third and final map, Ave Daemonica, has you up against Cthon and seeking a means to zap him. At one point you have to fire-walk across lava, with no way of avoiding damage, which I didn't like. The cool feature here is the teleports that "switch" destinations, which is all done with triggers.

The "bonus" epilogue map, The Gates of Memory, consists at first of a fleshy textured E2M10, the "lost entrance" to The Dismal Oubliette. It actually has a huge lift battle toward the arena-style end, which is reminiscent of the end of that map, and offsets the organic "rockwork" with the now familiar foursquare architecture. There are no less than twelve secrets here, several requiring extremely good timing and jumping skills. Great fun.

Conclusion Well worth the download

Kell has made a worthy package, with a completely novel ambience, that does amazing things with that straight Quake gameplay. The sheer number of secrets crammed into every nook and cranny keeps you coming back to try and find them all, and the backing story is an inventive take on Quake's gothic inheritance.

All in all, I heartily recommend Contract Revoked as a damn good experience. It's a little short, but even so it's a real fun play.

 

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