Map Review of another-day-at-the-office

by dunkelschwamm | April 2, 2022 | 9227 characters

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Another Day at the Office is two walkthrough maps with a focus on backtracking, action set pieces, and regathering ammo after gruelingly punishing firefights that feel designed by somebody who doesn't participate in many firefights in Sven.

The first map is a collection of loosely strung together action vignettes. After making a choice between an egon room and a room with a scientist who will give you access to a sniper, a spore gun, and a displacer- the latter is far more preferable, without it you'll lack any decent ranged during the map's first sniper fight- the map opens into a series of mazey hallways that lead to various action setpieces cordoned off to their own rooms which are labeled with lights which indicate if they've been completed. Completing each of these completes the first map. Along the way a ceiling caves in, which only really serves to make it harder to restock HEV. When I say harder to, I mean you have to wait longer at a station for it to recharge. The battles in this are hectic enough that you're going to need HEV to survive.

Now, I played this with one other player. The map description suggests we should be playing with a lot more players, but that's ludicrous to me. The map is chronically low on necessary supplies, and with the two of us we were spending tons of time waiting for ammo to respawn. You'd need a huge number of players to make just the ammo that comes with weapon pickups be enough, and then firefights can really only be unwieldy in a map that is so largely composed of hallways.

Let's talk about the hallways. The first map has a problem with most of it being made out of interlocking T-junction hallways which open into one another. It might as well be a maze. There is clever texture use to ensure which way you're going is always marked, but that method isn't very intuitive and still ended up leading me in circles. The second maze even has straight up mazes. There's a laser in the first map which we never actually figured out and ended up using cheats to pass after the timer on the map ran out on our first attempt. What I'm trying to say is, this map doesn't really signpost much, and its design is not intuitive. Judging by some of the comments on the map page and the experience I had with my teammate, a lack of leading information is a consistent issue with this map.

Before I keep steamrolling with negative issues, I want to list some positives. The map looks pretty good- bland, for the most part, due in large to being mostly standard Black Mesa accouterment. Each area has its own distinct vibe and look, and every new area in the first map captured my intrigue right away. There's some neat looking stuff in the second map too, but the experience there is too miserable for me to enjoy any of it.

Fighting feels like wading through molasses due to clusters of heavily armed blackops soldiers with cracked up HP crowding hallways. Encounter design feels like a room was made that looks pretty decent and then it was filled to the brim with enemies. Every fight in this felt thoughtlessly designed, blunt, and without any consideration for the weapons available to the players or how action may flow. Arenas look like functional arenas often do, but offer little balance for what players can possibly do to maintain damage output against risk. Again, this is largely due to poor equipment of players for the kinds of battles they're being put against. The first map gets by pretty decently by slowly giving the players tons of weapons, but regathering them on death is a pain in the ass- and if you say this is meant to be played on survival, I guess I simply don't believe you.

By the time the first map is done, you'll feel as though you've played seven mediocre Sven maps with decent visuals. The second map, however, is a bit different.

The second map in this set is a bit more creative, but also a million times more aggravating. It begins with a "lol funey" fetch quest involving Barney's divorce papers, being criminally underequipped through a beginning section full of armed gunmen which will softlock the map if all the players die before progressing, a cramped maze full of respawning headcrabs, an annoying swarm of enemies on the top level of the central hub who can shoot you immediately as you respawn while you have no ranged weapons that can adequately put pressure on them as you eat their gunfire on your way up to their level, and then a slow elevator ride (of course) to a rooftop battle that is one of the most grating things I've played in Sven.

The rooftop battle is bad. I've played a lot of city rooftop battles in Sven, and I feel like they've generally usually been pretty bad- I'm not sure why people keep doing it. Rooftops provide very little cover unless maps are creatively built for it (this one is not), but cover would matter little if the map also put respawning alien grunts on opposite roofs so you're constantly being swarmed by bees (this map *did* do that). Keep in mind, as well, that every death means restocking from slowly regenerating ammo and HEV and taking a long elevator ride to the top.

The rooftops have enemy spawners which can be destroyed with explosives- of which the player has depressingly few options at this moment. Also, the spawners must be hit at specific weakpoints which don't look different in any way from the rest of the spawner. Your best bet through most of this map to deal that damage is to use the crossbow, but these things have thousands of health and the crossbow deals like 40 damage be explosive bolt. Meanwhile, you have respawning alien grunts, alien controllers, and alien slaves putting pressure on you. It's like trying to reduce a cinderblock to nothing using only a cheese grater while people punch you in the head. In fact, after playing, that should be my review quote.

"It's like trying to reduce a cinderblock to nothing using only a cheese grater while people punch you in the head." -Dunkelschwamm on Another Day At The Office

The map becomes a fever dream for me at some point here. My teammate and I became so fed up with the map we resorted to cheats, and even with lots of impulse 101'd weapons and Godmode it took us frustratingly long to reduce the health on several of these objectives. I don't know how even a full server is supposed to accomplish that with crossbows and bullshit. What I do know is that I'm glad the map is over.

There was a lot more to say about this map, but frankly I think I can boil it down here: Another Day At The Office is a two-part map series which features very good looking maps which feature gameplay that feels the opposite of designed. The first map features many small amateur errors in game design and balancing which make a game feel slow, sluggish, and unsatisfying, whereas the second map was outright annoying. I could see a lot of potential in the first map, but the second map made me reconsider.

I don't recommend Another Day At The Office. It's not suited well to Co-op- most of the time my teammate and I were lost, out of reach of one another, attempting to solve puzzles we weren't sure we could direct the other to find. If you run an action server, unless you have lots of traffic who steamroll maps don't throw it on the rotation. Apparently the way this map is meant to be enjoyed is with an avalanche of bodies unthinkingly devouring it. It's simply unpalatable if you take the time to taste it.


  • The first map is full of interesting (if unfulfilled) ideas
  • Looked pretty good (the first map in particular)
  • Gives lots of guns (even if that ultimately didn't amount to enough)
  • A big, hard-to-use mounted weapon helped with the spongey things in the rooftop battle (I had to noclip inside of it to use it with any effectiveness)


  • Firefights range from sloggy to frustrating
  • Not enough equipment to adequately approach any problem these maps present
  • This is one of those maps that says it's balanced for lots of people but I frankly doubt that makes it any more playable. I think that's shorthand for "I put a bunch of enemies in each room instead of bothering with balance and thoughtful encounter design"
  • Everything in the rooftop battle with spongey to a point I can only consider disrespectful to players' time. Much of this was spent mindlessly searching for cheap areas to snipe with the crossbow from in the hopes the explosions do enough damage to progress things.
  • Navigation and conveyance are terrible. There's an entire puzzle my teammate and I left entirely unsolved, which I don't know if we've done that more than once or twice in over 100 reviewed maps.
  • Map isn't well adhered to cooperative play- coordinating with my teammate only helped when we were both super well equipped by waiting for long bouts of time, and we spent most of our time too lost to find one another, wandering around different nonlinear objectives.
Score: 3 / 10
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