This is a review of one of The Dark Mod’s (a mod for Doom 3) fan missions. It may contain traces of spoilers. You have been warned.
From what I’ve learned, Shadowhide is well known for putting others down when it comes to their FMs, and was criticised for having not churned out an FM himself. So he took to doing just that, and even he will admit – it failed miserably.
The layout isn’t all that good, and it took me a while, and with increased brightness and gamma settings, to find my way out of the first part of the initial map. In fact the lighting isn’t very good throughout the map – you have to rely on moonlight to get from place to place, or try and get a bead on the willow ‘o the wisp by the cemetery.
The atmosphere is sort of spooky, but the use of sound is dreadful. One sound is used over and over (which was supposed to be wind blowing through the trees) which made the spoken dialogue by characters barely audible. One good thing in this mission – and it was spoilt for the most part by some shoddy audio direction.
All the while I was expecting to come across a pagan or some animal of sorts in the forest, but that was a missed opportunity as well, as it is completely devoid of life apart from the two human characters – and you can’t even bump them off for fun seeing as you’ll fail a mission objective (“don’t hurt ever your friendlies”, or something to that effect). There could have been more care with spelling and grammar in some cases. I assume SH’s first language isn’t English. If it is, I pity him immensely.
The plot is a little thin, and it was hard to know what to do in some cases, as scripted sequences are badly programmed – such as when the haunt in the chapel (spoiler) is supposed to speak to you and tell you what to do next. If you don’t see it, then you’re on your own in figuring out the next part of the puzzle.
Basically you have to navigate your way around the map, open this, get this key, go here, put that object here before being inexplicably teleported somewhere else, and then another place. It’s too easy to get what you’re looking for in the first room of the stronghold, and too easy to escape. But I will say that this last place has some good ideas. The design is better, and there is more spoken dialogue without the annoying ambient noises getting in the way. There’s a glimpse of this FM’s potential – what could have been. There just aren't enough Builders or guards around the place, and the final boss battle is pathetic! Way too easy, or impossible to get past in some cases because the blighter took to hiding behind a wall.
Then getting back to the forest, once the curse of everlasting winter has been lifted, which was part of the storyline (this is a Seasons Content entry if you hadn’t noticed by now) it’s really an eyesore to see the forest in daylight. The Doom 3 engine wasn’t meant to handle this sort of thing, evidently. Another example is “Reap What You Sow” – this FM also looks pretty poor because it was set in the day. Textures look awful, the lighting is non-existent. Daytime missions don’t work in TDM, as far as I’m concerned.
This mission doesn’t play like you’d expect a TDM mission to. It’s more of an adventure, collecting inventory items and trading them for others. What could be done to save this FM in version 2.0 (which is actually out now at the time of writing this)? More AI characters, even creatures in the forest, some haunts in the cathedral, and just more of a challenge, overall. But I have come to the conclusion that although “Winter Harvest” might have had potential; promise at some points, it ended up being the worst TDM mission I’ve played so far to date. I’m not attacking the author personally, and I’m trying to remain unbiased, but I have to review this FM for what it is, and it’s not good. And that’s probably an understatement.
+ Spoken dialogue
+ Level design isn’t too bad in some places
- Terrible lighting and textures in the last daytime part of the mission
- Barely any challenge at all
FM score: 3/10