Artificial truth

The more you see, the less you believe.

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Arcane Dimension
Thu 18 October 2018 — download

Albeit I'm not a big fan of video games, I do like some of them. For example the Quake serie, especially first and third opuses: I spent a lot of time getting fragged on CPMA, even more jumping around in DeFRaG, and I'm doing a full playthrough of the first one (released in 1996!) every couple of years.

While some people are still working on making it visually impressive, I don't care that much about cutting edge graphics, and do prefer an interesting artistic direction, vertical level design and a fluid gameplay. And this is precisely what Arcane Dimension is offering: quake was the best at this 20 years ago, AD is bringing this to a whole other level today.


It's the result of a cooperation of several (talented) people (don't forget to check the README for the credits!), amongst them:

While being mostly a 210MB (yes, it's that massive) pack of several maps, it comes with some awesome additions:

  • Shotguns now have real projectiles bullets, they are no longer hitscan based, and so have shells that are falling on the ground
  • Three new weapons, upgrades of classic ones:
    • The shadow axe, that can kill zombies
    • The triple shotgun, that can also kill zombies
    • A plasma-gun was splash damages
  • Some materials are breakable: planks, windows, some walls, boxes, … yay for secrets and traps
  • The difficulty level if pretty rough, forgot about musing around without thinking: New enemies, that are so well integrated that you'll swear that they were in the original quake1, with some of high-tier ones having resistances to specific damages, so don't hesitate to switch weapons if you're wondering why you rocket-launcher seems to only tickle some specimens. Others will spawn minions, because the more monsters the merrier!

All the maps are interconnected via two breathtakingly good-looking hubs. There is no story and no connection between levels; you just have to find a couple of runes in them to get access to the last level. And it's completely fine this way, each map having its very own deep atmosphere and theme, you'll make the story on your own.


The level design in incredible: maps are detailed an intricate, and albeit I felt (and lets be honest, was) lost in several maps, I was never running in circle wondering where to go next. The "flow" is incredibly smooth: Maps are about one hour of gameplay each, and have highly intertwined areas, vertically and horizontally, the backtracking is interesting; ambushes, collapsing floor, secrets and assorted surprises are common and always unexpected. And the atmosphere, the ambiance, the textures, the lights (o the lights!) … long story short, I took way too many screenshots ;)

Some levels are incorporating emblematic parts of the vanilla ones, other are straight up remixes, like E1M1, E2M2 and E2M7 from the first DOOM, or DM5 from Quake, creating a nice feeling of deja vu, but the wast majority of them are originals, with inspirations from Thief, Painkiller, Unreal, a touch of Bioshock.

While the place (and the fight) at the end of the Necromancer's keep (ad_necrokeep), was breathtaking, the most impressive map in my opinion is the Sawp (ad_swapy): the level design is perfect, with 25 secrets and a bit less than 500 monsters, it has been one of the most pleasant gaming hour of my life: The atmosphere of the level, its appearance, its verticality, even the architecture … it was stunning.

The last (secret) level also deserve a special mention, I have never seen anything like this before, but since I don't want to spoil it, I didn't show any image of it, you'll have to play it by yourself.

To play it, get a copy of the original quake, quakespasm to play in comfortable conditions, and shove arcane dimension next to it: you're ready to go!