Map Review of barnacle-course

by dunkelschwamm | September 17, 2022 | 2844 characters

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Barnacle Course is an unfinished obstacle course map based around the Barnacle. It was supposedly unfinished because the author did not believe the concept was proving to be fun.

The map is themed like the Half-Life Black Mesa Hazard Course, but with a bit more flare with their use of burning lava in their barnacle test course. Along there way there's some fleshy growths with sideways xen grass which is a lot of fun. None of it really adds up to a good feeling whole, but everything is fine as individual separates. Nothing in this map feels particularly hacky, though some of the obstacle areas can fall into vacuous cement land territory. Visually, I think this map is fine.

The gameplay is really where things take a tumble. The vertical ascent areas are annoying as there's not enough vertical space for me to dismount, often causing me to get locked on the lip of the vertical shaft while attempting to lock the barnacle onto the next green surface to pull me forward. There's a collapsing floor which gives nowhere near enough of a timeframe for players to grapple onto a surface with their barnacle. The bit at the end is a tremendous hassle to attempt to navigate with barnacles and a single death results in starting all the way at the beginning. I feel like the author bailed on this concept before giving it a fair stab- these are all really poorly designed barnacle challenges, and simple playtesting would quickly establish where this map could use improvements. The challenges in this are frustrating, punishing, give very little sense of learning a skill, and overall waste time. There's ways to fix this, it just requires a fresh perspective on what the barnacle offers as a problem-solving tool in platforming.

The map ends shortly after a segment I found so impossible as no approach was showing any improvement over the last. I would have stopped playing if not for resorting to noclipping. This is where the map is unfinished.

Since the map has no end, I cannot recommend it for a server. Since I think this map is a failure as a proof of concept, I can't recommend it to play with other players. It looks neat though, and I think the idea would work if approached with a different mindset.

Pros:

  • Flying over the fire with the barnacle is fun
  • The map looks pretty good most of the time
  • I think the base idea is good

Cons:

  • Poor execution of barnacle navigation almost all of the map after the lava
  • Lack of checkpoints is hard oof
  • The last challenge feels maybe impossible
  • Map is unfinished and has no ending
Score: 3.5 / 10
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