Grand Library is a level made for people who love to hunt down secrets. With five keys, several pressure plates, a bunch of hidden levers, and some breakable walls for good measure, there is quite a large number of secrets to find within a fairly compact area. Many of these secrets are hidden against walls or behind objects where they can’t be easily seen, so you’ll have to get used to swinging the camera around constantly to complete this particular scavenger hunt. The order in which items are collected is also largely nonlinear, which on the one hand adds to the sense of exploration and on the other hand can lead to some tedious scouring of the map for one or two missing objectives. Thankfully, you only need to find every lever and key if you want to fight the final boss and access the big treasure chest, but simply reaching the goal is much more straightforward so it’s still possible to see most of what this level has to offer without finding everything. Speaking of bosses, the Grand Library doesn’t rely entirely upon puzzles and key collecting as it has quite a few tougher enemies, particularly necromancers with a few fire elementals thrown in for good measure. This is definitely a map which requires some tolerance for backtracking, but other than that I think it makes for a rather fun adventure.
Fight The Dragon
The Lighthouse is the first campaign we’ll be looking at and it’s a bit on the short side with only two levels, but it makes up for quantity with quality. This is a campaign which is primarily about creating a sense of place and it’s clear that a lot of effort was put into the details. The first level takes place outside of the lighthouse where even if you didn’t read the description it would soon become clear that something was wrong as the weather fluctuates. Most of the enemies in this first level are rats and basic humanoids which don’t pose much of a threat, though there are a few well-placed archers scattered about. Other than the weather effects, I think it’s a nice, subtle touch to have a wrecked ship near the docks to further indicate the malfunctioning nature of the lighthouse.
The second level makes up the majority of the campaign and this is where The Lighthouse truly shines. Players are tasked with climbing to the top of the lighthouse while seeking out keys and help from the questionably benevolent lighthouse keeper. The most impressive part of this level is the sheer sense of verticality to it all. You are constantly moving up and down staircases and even the more open floors are kept fairly small. My favorite parts are the spiraling screens where you must fight off enemies in very confined spaces as you ascend up the lighthouse. Towers of all sorts are everywhere in video games, but usually the feeling of climbing up a tower is somewhat dampened by the tower being too big or suspiciously square. Here, the narrow, spiraling confines combine with small balconies and clouds to really give an authentic sense of climbing up a small tower. This campaign is not without a few shortcomings, namely the final confrontation is underwhelming and the red key is hidden a bit too well for its own good, but these are fairly small marks against an otherwise solid and memorable set of levels.
Corrupted Lands is a fun, though not particularly outstanding, level, but I think it makes for a great first level to take a look at. My favorite part of this level actually occurs at the very start as it begins with the standard hub area under attack. Seeing this hub recreated as faithfully as possibly, but with a burning house and enemies swarming around the surrounding land is great and making the rest of the level expand upon an entire world of similar floating islands is brilliant. This level also has a little bit of everything even if it doesn’t excel at anything in particular. There are plenty of minibosses scattered around, some minor platforming is needed in order to traverse the broken roads connecting the islands, and basic pressure plate puzzles are scattered around where the player must carry barrels to the plates while avoiding enemy attacks or environmental hazards. Though it may not stand out particularly well in any way beyond its setting, Corrupted Lands also doesn’t stumble in any area either, making it a well-rounded level in every regard.