[690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S

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Offline pacifishi

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[690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« on: February 15, 2024, 18:12:23 »
Hej hej! After 4 months, I have finally conquered the most daunting part of my quest to play and rate every KS level. 703 697 levels later, here are my personal letter grade reviews for levels submitted by authors N-S, corresponding to pages 18-25 on knyttlevels.com.

Disclaimer: I don't consider myself an authority on what makes a "good" level. It's a lot easier for me to fill in a single letter on a spreadsheet than spend hours making these levels so if a particular grade seems unfair I am more than happy to give more in-depth thoughts on any particular level.

As always, these ratings aren't meant to discourage anyone or be harsh. Making a level always beats not making a level.


What each grade corresponds to:   

OUTDATED   Obsolete versions of levels (see newer version for review)     
N/A  Tileset showcases, demos, etc. that can't be judged for gameplay     
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F   Broken / flawed to the point of unplayable     
D   Severe issues (see criteria below) that makes completing the level unenjoyable / will not replay     
C   Average levels / no strong feelings one way or the other / good aspects counteracted by flaws     
B   Great levels that are replayable, or great level concepts       
A   Must-play levels     


Things that may negatively impact grade (-):               
Broken levels           
Random tile or enemy spam           
Excessive "hallway screens" that pad-out level with no challenge or noteworthy visuals           
Unnessesarily long walking period before recieving run powerup (unrelated to challenge)           
Arbitrary hidden spikes / invisible death tiles           
Wall clipping on screen transitions / void pits           
Poor distinction between foreground / background tiles           
Poor save point placement (e.g. save point > multple hallway screens > challenge)           
Surprise death by environment/enemy immediately on screen transition           


While playing each level, I've considered its gameplay (challenge, platforming, puzzle) , art (quality of assets/tileset), worldbuilding (unique lore, worlds that feel "alive"), atmosphere (mood), music, and storytelling. My ratings are gameplay-forward, meaning, for example, that a "fun to play" level with average graphics typically will be rated higher than a tedious level with great graphics.


I'm biased in favor of (+):
difficulty:   hard / very hard
genre:   puzzles
art style:   simple and stylized (e.g. Hostile Landscape) can score just as well as 'realistic / heavily detailed' art
mechanic:   use of minimap
   
I'm biased against (-):
genre: mazes   
genre: massive exploration levels   


Without further to do...

SPREADSHEET: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1BZHKZnLvsjdrpTRF7z6tdhQaN8bL2FRoP96rAa7nMhU/edit?usp=sharing


If you are unable to sort/edit due to the permission settings, feel free to make a copy of the sheet.

Stats (Imgur): https://imgur.com/a/Vkyxc1F

Sorted by grade (Imgur): https://imgur.com/a/ZuhXcyP

Sorted by author (Imgur): https://imgur.com/a/NocG0ko

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Offline pacifishi

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2024, 18:16:21 »
There were a whopping 19(!) levels rated 'A', which is more than parts I-III combined. Check them out!

My favorite levels of part IV: LPChip Hooray Fun Time - Nifforum and Dark Sea 2v1.1 - SecretGlitch

Rating Nifflas' levels were tough. Some parts seemed cliché now, but that's only because his levels were so influential. I factored in that all of the tilesets used in the levels were completely custom. Surprisingly, the only level that I didn't love when revisiting was 'The Machine' but I'm looking forward to playing Nifforum's take on the level!

Looking ahead:

Part V [Authors T-Z] will be smooth sailing with "only" 450 levels.

Part VI will be for all the levels that aren't on the archive. I'll be checking egomassive's, mitorun's, across the juniverse, under the umbrella, as well as the Nifforum. Thank you to everyone who gave suggestions in the last thread. Feel free to DM me levels or point me in the right direction!

Finally, Part VII will wrap things up with a spreadsheet of all (likely) 3000+ levels, a stat pack, in-depth reviews of my favorite levels, and more. I'll also go back and review all the levels that had been released after I made each part*.

*(For authors N-S, this includes "The Machine reversed - Nifflas", "Gustav's Abstraction - Polana", and "The Machine - Nifforum" at the time of writing this)
« Last Edit: February 17, 2024, 15:42:22 by pacifishi »

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Online Lit Knob

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2024, 20:50:55 »
I think you played Hypnagogia1.61Update on its own?
It's just the update itself, not the full level.
It's meant to be installed over 1.51.
Even then though, the latest version is actually 1.62, and it's not on the archive.
It's in the forum post, and it's the full level this time
"The flaw expert" -egomassive

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Offline Talps

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2024, 00:59:53 »
Glad you enjoyed LPChip Hooray Fun Time. :)

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Offline Lucinda

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2024, 07:06:27 »
Incredible work as usual.

The "guesswork" screen in Hinterland is not guesswork, take another look.

You're inspiring me to make my new level recommendations page, better do that quick.
Rome wasn't built in a day.

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Offline pacifishi

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2024, 16:51:21 »
I think you played Hypnagogia1.61Update on its own?

You're right, thanks for the heads up. This'll be fixed in the spreadsheet



The "guesswork" screen in Hinterland is not guesswork, take another look.

You're inspiring me to make my new level recommendations page, better do that quick.

I'll give it another play with this in mind. And looking forward to it!  C)

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Offline kilicool64

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2024, 13:56:02 »
It looks like you skipped the original Azure Serenity from 2014. Did you deem it redundant in light of the ongoing remake?

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Offline pacifishi

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2024, 15:36:50 »
It looks like you skipped the original Azure Serenity from 2014. Did you deem it redundant in light of the ongoing remake?

The reviews only cover levels on knyttlevels.com so far - non-archive reviews will come later.

I'm planning on asking Shreeps when the time comes if they consider the original a "previous version" of Tranquil Dreams, or if it should be reviewed as a separate level. Speaking of Tranquil Dreams, WIP levels are typically rated as N/A, so I will either just rate Salty Seas, or rate TD for what it is so far with SS being included in that.

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Offline kilicool64

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2024, 14:47:45 »
It looks like you skipped the original Azure Serenity from 2014. Did you deem it redundant in light of the ongoing remake?

The reviews only cover levels on knyttlevels.com so far - non-archive reviews will come later.

I'm planning on asking Shreeps when the time comes if they consider the original a "previous version" of Tranquil Dreams, or if it should be reviewed as a separate level. Speaking of Tranquil Dreams, WIP levels are typically rated as N/A, so I will either just rate Salty Seas, or rate TD for what it is so far with SS being included in that.
Personally, I think the 2014 version is different enough that it could be treated as a separate level. It's a complete level (even if a few parts here and there are obviously rushed) with a stronger focus on pure exploration than the remake and a lower difficulty level. And the remake repurposed many of its locations for other parts, some of which have yet to be finished.

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Offline Lucinda

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2024, 07:14:47 »
I am curious to see what you thought about all of Purple Pineapple's levels as a whole.

It's funny that you could not complete Gustav's Planets. It's supposed to be semi-impossible on purpose, as a joke, so I would suggest that cheating is allowed.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 20:13:41 by Lucinda »
Rome wasn't built in a day.

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Offline pacifishi

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Re: [690+ level reviews] - Grading levels by Authors N-S
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2024, 19:52:58 »
I am curious to see what you thought about all of Purple Pineapple's levels as a whole.


Super creative overall - I consider One Screen Puzzle 5 a masterpiece of the genre. Two of the four(?) things I'm working on are directly inspired by them (a one screen level of my own, and a "pure puzzler" à la Code Conundrum.)

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Also, IIRC hunting for the bonus screens back when I first played their prison break level was what finally convinced me to practice the more advanced KS tech.