Map Review of afraid-of-monsters:director-s-cut

by dunkelschwamm | November 29, 2021 | 4044 characters

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Afraid of Monsters is one of the greatest Half-Life mods of all time in terms of consistency, design, trickery, impact, and meme-ability; an icon of modding. The Sven Coop port of Afraid of Monsters: Director's Cut is one of the greatest ports of a mod to Sven Coop.

Afraid of Monsters is a psychological horror game that borrows heavily from Silent Hill in creating a distorted world full of taunting puzzles and nightmarish monsters which represent an inner struggle within the character. Protagonist David Leatherhoff attempts to check himself into a hospital to break his addiction to a mysterious drug that seems to invade his life, only for it to appear in the bathroom when he stops in. After a drug-fueled hallucination, David finds himself in a shadow of the world he knew, populated only by horrific mockeries of the human form.

Afraid of Monsters is a game with a steady escalation from survival horror into action horror, and benefits greatly from how it handles its individual maps: each map is a contained puzzle to be solved with some light Metroidvaniaish backtracking. Many parts of the original Half-Life played like this, but Afraid of Monsters was particularly good at pacing these individual puzzles for horror combat and ensures no map overstays its welcome. Additionally, there's very few areas where progression takes long to figure out, so things don't grind to a halt too often.

The monsters are one of the most iconic aspects of Afraid of Monsters. Most are in dark or muted colors, their faces like sardonic flesh imitations of humanity. There are many creative ideas at play, from the "ghosts" made from a garbled 3d model, to the "faces" which are invisible until they fire their weapon and reveal a face sprite as the muzzle flash. The most well known, though, is the twitcher: a Half-Life zombie whose head is in a drastically different position in each frame. The result is a kind of insane head-bobbing who can also fast-walk to the player in a way which is instantly recognizable to anybody who has seen it- which is most people, because these zombies have been ripped off in just about every Halloween map since. It's unfortunately, really, because the zombies are used very well in Afraid of Monsters but not so much in other maps. Afraid of Monsters doesn't fall into the same problem of making the zombies respawn, or take way too many hits to kill- the the twitcher zombies are clearly designed to make the player budget between landing careful shots and firing wildly, possibly wasting ammo in the process. This whole thing is just kind of annoying in maps where the zombies respawn or have tons of health

Everything about the Afraid of Monsters experience is customized, from monster and weapon models to environment textures, to the brushwork itself which evokes a Swedish town and countryside, to the sound design. It all comes together to give the mod a very solid feel and style. It's the kind of mod that makes you want to bust open a map editor and start making something great.

If you're unsure about whether or not you should check out Afraid of Monsters, check it out. I can't recommend it more. If you're wondering about whether you should put it on a server rotation, I would say that it's probably too lengthy and complete of its own mod to be on any server that isn't dedicated to running Afraid of Monsters. Perfect for Halloween or late nights with friends, especially if you're fans of horror.

Pros:

  • Incredible craftmanship from the graphics to the map design to the sounds.
  • Incredible horror atmosphere.
  • Consistently interesting map progression.
  • Some abstract maps are just soaking with style.
  • Tons of content.
  • Very replayable.

Cons:

  • The puzzles in the game lobby are more tedious than interesting, especially given what they're blocking.
Score: 9.5 / 10

Review originally from *

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