Map Review of normall

Map review of Normall

by dunkelschwamm | March 31, 2022 | 7400 characters

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Normall is a mapset by Robootto and RNG. I would say it is their most prolific collaboration- and Robootto's advertisements for Normall in his other maps would certainly seem to suggest that he thinks the same.

The Goldsrc engine is a mapping engine which specializes in drawing corridors. The entire visleaf setup is designed to ensure that condensed interior areas are best optimized.

Half-Life is a game which utilizes the Goldsrc engine in a way which masks these corridors- sometimes as science labs, sometimes as alien factories, and sometimes even as outdoor areas… but sometimes it just makes them corridors.

Normall is an exploration of the corridor which extends deep into the concept of corridors within the Goldsrc engine. If the Goldsrc engine and walkthrough maps are essentially corridors dolled up with challenging battles and decorations which make them feel less like corridors, then how diluted can the corridor be and still be engaging? Does Normall tackle this question?

Normall is a corridor, for beginning to end, and sometimes to beginning again. When playing Normall 1 or the original Normall, the players are confronted with a challenge which requires teamwork: boost a player to the next level to proceed. However, this is required enough times in a row that several players must occupy the server for even a single player to proceed. This is after an arduous journey through winding corridors; the walls, ceilings, and floors of which are all the same texture. At one point you pass a forlorn glass pane. It sticks with you on your journey, as it is the only thing that isn't corridor. Once you have stood on the heads of enough of your friends you proceed forward. Suddenly the corridors are filled with shapes, and colored lights. The corridors have been replaced with wacky corridors. You are rewarded after your journey through the long desert with only the brief touch of moisture to your lips. You revisit the glass pane, now from the other end, and you realize that your position here allows you to lord over the peons whose heads you had used to escalate yourself forward. However, once you have reached the fulfillment of all the map has to give as a reward, you are asked to drop down a familiar hole and begin again. After again making the arduous journey through the samey walls and uninteresting hallways, you come back to your friends whom you had once lorded over back at the glass wall. Now it is your turn to boost them ahead. The cycle continues. One by one, you all journey the journey of Hell twice just so the next can get the smallest drip of engagement, entertainment- whatever you want to call it. Just something that isn't corridors. Anything, anything that isn't-

Normall is a map which asks the question: corridor? The answer to this question, as it turns out, was always corridor. It was so simple: a straight path, from one end to the other: the answer to the question. The corridor, and the corridor. It was around halfway through the corridor that is the first Normall when I realized the implication of the stunning satire Robootto was offering. In the past Robootto had always used his dry, minimalist satire to troll audiences in impish ways, but this asked a truly fundamental question about the philosophy of the game design behind everything that is a walkthrough map- of everything that Half-Life is- of everything that most first person shooters had been for, gosh, how long now?

The walking simulator is a genre of games which involve walking through, often, semi-linear progressions without facing any kind of obstacle which requires fast thinking or skill. They are called walking simulators because you spend most of them walking. Their most popular example is the game Firewatch, whose developers are now heavily involved with Valve studios, the developers behind Half-Life and Half-Life 2. It's fitting, you may think, because Valve created Goldsrc which was the engine which so popularized dolling up walking from point A to point B in fancy corridors. It's more fitting, I would say, because the walking simulator as we know it was coined after the games Dear Esther and Stanley's Parable, two Source Engine games (Source being the sequel engine to Goldsrc) which comment heavily on the corridor progression inherent in the engine. It's fitting, then, that this engine would so evoke such a fascination with the corridor.

Normalls 4, 5, 6, and 8 were parodies of what the other Normalls stood for. Where Normall pushed how far you could take a corridor until the skin broke, RNG's take on Normall turns the corridor into a funhouse full of wacky transitions and moody, impressionistic lighting. Where Robootto takes a minimalist approach to the corridor, by making the corridor more corridor which leads to more corridor, RNG takes the corridor and makes it into something else. RNG shows how just a corridor, dolled up in the most minute of ways, suddenly become something so much more than a corridor. Robootto's conviction to stick to the purity of the corridor was threatened by the corruption of additive frivolity.

RNG's Normalls are entertaining Sven Co-op maps with minimalist corridors decorated with occasional gags and fun visuals. RNG's usual style isn't as accentuated as it is in their later works, but even such simple concepts are treated with RNG's usual care, devotion to engaging content, and intriguing gimmicks which always present in unexpected ways.

Robootto's Normalls are janky, mostly unplayable extended hallways filled with troll traps intended to make the experience maddeningly boring and oppressive.

Normall is a corridor walking simulator which allows time to contemplate the thoughts which gnaw at the sanity in the back of all would-be good men.

Sven Co-op is a shell which, once installed on your computer, yearns silently to be filled with the cooridors of Normall.

If you are looking to play a map with your friends, Normall may not be right for you. If you are looking for a map to put on a server rotation, unless you intend for your entire rotation to be Normall, Normall may not be right for you.

I can't say that I recommend Normall. I don't even know if I respect it. My mind interpretted it so many times by the end of the long fucking hallways and bullshit elevators and long ass ladders that I became numb. In the end of the day, if you were to ask me what Normall was, I would say that it was a numbing agent.


  • An utter vortex of an exploration into the philosophy of corridor gameplay design
  • The RNG maps are actually interesting
  • I get the idea of Normall 1. I don't know if that makes it good, but I get it.


  • It's misery. The whole thing is misery.
  • This mapset may actually cause insanity.
  • There are strobing lights, seizure warning.
  • Some parts of these maps seem broken, as they involve tanking insanely large falls
  • Most of it is boring, samey hallways, and as much as I want to impress some kind of artistic merit on it, it's still the same low-effort dreck you'd expect from Robootto, just with some consistency and direction
Score: 4 / 10
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