The Quiet Dawn - Chapter I
Posted on 06/03/09 @ 05:04 PM (updated 06/06/09
In a land which has seen peace for 300 years, a dark secret is lost and forgotton. For the Dark Lord Dranis was defeated, but not detroyed. And that which is not destroyed must always return...
This is the first scenario of The Quiet Dawn campaign, which I have decided to release in chapters. The rest of the story is currently being designed, but for now I hope you will enjoy this simple scenario. It is a modded scenario, and as such installs with a custom installer. All details for installation are included in the readme. Don't worry, it's an easy install/uninstall.
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For the most part, this is an entertaining game with a variety of objectives. The story, map design and creativity all helped to make the scenario enjoyable, especially important due to the style of the game, which does not contain that much action. It was also devoid of bugs and glitches so far as I could tell. However, there were a couple of issues which detracted from the experience. Firstly, the clue regarding the skeleton was opaque, I could not tell which way it was supposed to be pointing until I read the walkthrough. Secondly, there was an Iron Boar that I stumbled across while exploring; as my units had not been previously healed, it killed me immediately and I frustratingly had to restart. Thirdly, the section in the temple could also be frustrating; the unit walked painstakingly slowly, and it was also hard to drop the stones where I wanted to. However, overall The Quiet Dawn was a fresh and entertaining scenario. It is worth noting though that those expecting lots of action and fighting are likely to be disappointed.
The difficulty in the first section is very well balanced, with micromanagement required. The riddle was also good, with the exception of the skeleton clue which was irritatingly unhelpful. There were plenty of red herrings to ensure that the riddle cannot easily be completed with luck or process of elimination. On the other hand, the author was thoughtful enough to include ways of getting hints and a walkthrough, which was appreciated and prevented this part being too frustrating. The first section in the temple was less good, as I felt the balance relied on strict timing and the slowness of the units rather than proper challenge. However, it picked up at the end, and the final fight is also well balanced. On the whole, the balancing was very good, but one or two areas let it down.
Simply excellent. The concept of the treasure hunt is rarely used, and this is without doubt the most fully exploited version. The idea of giving the player hints and walkthroughs for finding objects hidden in remote parts of the map was also good. The author also used extensive modifications to good effect, and in my opinion the use of realistic steps was the outstanding feature.
Map Design: 5-
The map design is very aesthetically pleasing, with plenty of variety. This was particularly important as a large part of the scenario is based on exploring the map without any real action. Use of modifications was also very good, with the waterfalls and steps especially worthy of comment. In addition the map suited the gameplay well, and was easy to navigate. The only downside was that some of the new graphics used by the author did not in my opinion fit very well with the AoK environment. This can however be overlooked given the general high quality.
The story is not riveting or particularly new, but it is well told. The author goes into slightly more detail than usual with the background, and the characters. This was a positive aspect, and avoided the trap of boring the player. Although not concluded, the story is very promising and future chapters promise to expand on it.
'The Quiet Dawn' is one of the few campaigns in the blacksmith to feature a full modpack, but that isn't the only thing about it. It has great playability, a ton of original ideas and great atmosphere.
The scenario is essentially RPG type, you get four guys who have to kill some outlaws and then explore the land. There aren't really any big battles, a large part of the scenario is spent wandering around admiring the countryside and trying to solve a riddle. At the end you have to time your way through a maze and have another battle.
I enjoyed the scenario but a few things could be bettered. For example all my guys were injured after the battle and when they met the monk I was thinking 'Dude shut up and heal, I got a 4 hp archer..' Although there weren't any more random bandits or things I didn't know that and was nervous for my archer and that spoiled the enjoyment a bit ( and I was right, a random iron boar did him in :( ). Also the puzzle was rather hard and I had to look at the walkthrough a bit to solve it. A lot of time is spent wandering around the countryside and that gets boring after a while, maybe you should have included a sidequest. Finally in the puzzle maze, the soldier/monk was trying to garrison the relic in the walls and it was a bit troublesome. So the playability is good but could be improved.
There isn't really a lot of fighting to the scenario but where there is, it's very balanced. The outlaws are tough to kill especially the last group of 4 or 5. Then the maze thing.. you have to be exactly on time or else you're down.. but the first time I tried everything and got to know the whole process, then I restarted and did it with lots of time to spare. The final battle with the griffins is also hard and requires some micromanagement.
Also the riddle you have to solve- the first clue is misleading, there is no way you can understand that to mean 'head south'. I was trying to get the skeleton to talk or something. There was a patch of gold just beyond that and I got confused by that. Then I had no clue which direction birds fly in winter ( because where I live, they don't fly in any particular direction. I'm pretty sure bird migratory patterns are highly location dependant ), and I also had no clue what oak trees looked like. So I had a hard time solving the riddle, but maybe that was just me.
This is the best part of the scenario. The modpack was just awesome and fitted really well into the scenario. The introduction part was like a movie practically. Some other parts I liked- going up the Mayan 'stairs', the griffins and the chessboard thing, the clouds with lightning in the end ( I had thought about making the AoE's lighting into a modpack, but never bothered, seems someone beat me to it :) ). The riddle was well put together ( even though I wasn't able to solve it without the walkthrough ) and the puzzle maze was unique with it's 'teleport' abilities. Every situation was taken care of and there was no bug, whatever type of soldier+relic walked in, the same came out. In all, loads of creative ideas and a great music track. 5+ for creativity.
Map Design: 5+
The map was beautifully designed, this is the first time we could see how a modpack really enhanced the beauty of a scenario. I liked the new rocks, waterfalls, trees, archer statues, the new terrain ( volcanic terrain from SWGB ), the eyecandy like the keys and the wall-eyes , all of it. There was good terrain blending and the countryside looked really good, eyecandy was never overused. The puzzle maze and the chessboard arena also looked great. So a definite 5 here.
For a scenario that's really well made, I think the story and instructions were a bit of a let down. There weren't any instructions as such except 'explore the map' and as noted earlier, I got stumped in the riddle in many places and it was frustrating ( especially as I tried to solve it w/o any hints first ).
Story- it's ok but nothing exceptional. There are lots of gaps in the story that really weren't explained. Why do the 3 guys turn back after wandering about a huge map and give up just when they find something interesting? ( weren't they looking for some adventure? ) It's out of character and furthermore there isn't any character development at all, we just have a guy who's randomly doing stuff. What is the purpose of the puzzle maze? What is the history behind the archer statues. Why do the fire griffins attack my guy ( while they did nothing while coming across them in their nests ). All this might be explained in the next chapters, but for now it just looks incomplete and thus gets a 4.
Additional Comments: Without doubt 'The Quiet Dawn' is an exceptional scenario. It's modpack makes it unique and I suggest you should make it available for download separately, or atleast parts of it.
Highly recommended for downloading.
To start with, The Quiet Dawn was a very enjoyable campaign for me the play. Why? You'll see in underneath. But first a small introduction to The Quiet Dawn. It's a fictional map & time, but that doesn't make it worse. In my opinion, the modpack that Matty made, was very good and creative and gave this a good effect. Now, let's see what I found!
It was very enjoyable, like I said before. However, some downsides:
You had to walk a lot without really doing something. Okay, you had to look around to solve the riddle, but that doesn't take away the pretty long and 'boring' walk-around in the map.
The Iron boar that killed all of my units after the bandits was pretty annoying since I couldn't kill it. I had to restart.
In the maze, I had to walk a long way (again) and it's just walking, picking up relics, going back, then go pick up the next relic, go back again... And then I got stuck. I had no idea what to do. More about that in Story/Instructions. All by all, it still was very cool to play. Good job there!
Not much to say about it, except that it was good. Challenging, tough, but beatable. Maybe with a few reloads (or a lot :P) or none, but it's doable. There weren't much battles, but again, when there were battles, they were balanced enough to get you frustrated and feel relief when you finally got past that point.
What do *you* think. The modpack really included a lot of creative stuff and things I haven't seen before. Nice idea's! The final battle was very creative as well. Not randomly fighting a 30K health and 20K attack boss, but a balanced, tough fight where you have to use your brains instead of rushing in with a 30K health and attack hero. Map design, the riddle, the maze and the mod pack deserve a 5+! Well done there.
Map Design: 5
Bit the same as the Creativity I think. The map design gave me the right feeling that came along with the mod pack and gameplay. That's what we are supposed to obtain while making something, don't we? There weren't really 'special' or 'outstanding' parts, but the mod pack and the art of designing made it perfect enough.
Aah, where shall I start? The good points?
I like the story and I'm looking forward to the next chapters. The instructions were a bit vage though. The riddle had to be solved, that's true. I needed a few hints before I could solve it, but I did it after all. The downside of the instructions came at the maze for me.
You had to place the relic in front of one of these eyes. ??? That held me off for a few minutes. What Eye? What specific location? There wasn't really a lot of room between the different eyes, to I had no clue where I had to drop the relic exactly. I lost some time there, trying to drop the relic on every possible location. Maybe if you could enlarge that area and give it some clearer location clues? Just to know where you should drop it in front of one of these eyes.
Then, we had the three other relics. I thought I had to place all of them in front of the eyes, but hey, nothing happened when I did that! I got stuck and I couldn't figure out what to do next, so I opened campaign manager and took a look at your triggers. That was another downside for me. Okay, I get the point, you have to make the player think on what to do, but if the entrance is out of sight and there is no clue or 'riddle' to go there, I had no choice but to look at your triggers. I then saw where the entrance was and what I had to do with the relics. Let's get moving. After moving one relic, I almost ran out of time. The second one even took more time, but after all, I managed to post the three relics in the right spot before the time was totally out. After that, I was surprised in a good way about the final battle and I finished the campaign. But I really think you need to add more clues for the maze.
Well, it's clear that this is a must download for all fantasy lovers or people who like a good challenge and modpack! (And also to those who don't!)
Nice job here!
PLAYABILITY - 4
This was really one of the most enjoyable scenarios on the field of map design and creative elements I have ever played, it really rocked, but I just spent so long trying to solve the puzzle.. even with all hints AND the walkthrough it wasnt really clear enough (I found it in the end) so it was a bit boring, travelling up and down through the map, not doing anything except trying to find exactly matching descriptions, trying umpteen different possible interpretations etc. So it was really nice to play something new for a change, but it was a bit too much of the same so now and then.
BALANCE - 5
The few action scenes that were available were not simple but quite do-able. As most was puzzling and being puzzled (hah wordplay!), I cant really go in depth here. But again - the few action there was was challenging enough but not impossible.
CREATIVITY - 5 + +
How many scenarios are there that use modpacks fully customised for their scenario, that are easily installable and also have creativity in the actual map itself? The list of plusses for this section is long, and the minuses dont exist. The opening cutscene was almost cinemalike - the screen opening, a short introductory scene and then the actual title, etc.. A nice riddle and also very good end puzzles (I like the temple best to be honest). Very very very big 5 here.
MAP DESIGN - 5 +
Beautiful, pleasing to the eye. Excellent choice of modded graphics (although not new, they were mainly from Stronghold to be exact), terrain mixing and landscaping in general. In short - a pleasure to behold. Nuff said.
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS - 4
The story wasnt much of a novelty, standard-ish epic story without real innovation in the plots, but still worth a meagre 5, which I would gladly give to this section if the instrucions werent that unclear in the Temple puzzle - you get one display instructions and from there memory must serve. 'twas Ok for the rest though.
Additional Comments - Great scenario!
Wonderful scenario really, gotta be a favorite (TIP for players - its even better in Sepia from Jatayu's mod) of mine. DEFINATELY a must-download. One thing to the designer, maybe a little, little bit of polishing could be done to your terrain mixing. A very small, puny little bit ;p