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By Wim Vanrie The Mole's Lair


This 9-level pack with a solid thorough story (if not a little too filled with "smiley" signs) is actually a cool experience. Several times I was shocked, scared and terrified. Although it has a couple of flaws and errors, its a very exciting piece of work with a ton of potential behind it.

The levels are meant to be scary, creepy and give you an un-welcome feeling. Although not as perfect as Richard Wiles' "Spooky" wads some of the levels in the wad actually remind me of exactly those. Especially the House level(s) which are very dark keeping your senses alert and awake. And watch out, because you never know when an Imp is going to pop out of the floor. But there's a long way to go and that's mostly due to the fact that a low light level, a marble demon face and a torch alone doesn't make a scary environment. It takes more in this day and age, and the design is too mediocre and simple to do give that feeling. Those of the levels meant to deliver and dark and moody atmosphere are dark and moody, but it never impresses or fascinates at a larger scale. But since the story is that you travel to different worlds, there's also a more tech-like level and varieties of the gothic style. The tech level is pleasing with its 3D bridges and better light levels and computer consoles giving you a nice break from the trying and dark House level. Again a little simple, but definitely not the most bad you could find. The best of the levels are the latter which seems to have the best design and detail to it, but also the House level is worth mentioning here with its diversity in design despite the same overall texture choice. All in all they are all very different, but filled with atmosphere and the wide variety of textures which span through them keeps you playing just to see what comes next.

The gameplay is also a trying and challenging experience. This is very dominant in the Phantomuzo world. Its extremely dark and you can't see through the dark what comes next and suddenly a Spectre or two attacks you and with zDoom they're practically invisible making you shoot frantically in dark using all your, at times, precious ammunition. Apart from that then the ammo balance fluctuates a little bit, being perfect at most times but at the latter levels too random and towards the end almost over abundant.

I like this level set very much and the author has more potential than anyone I've seen in a long time. His "Terrere1" level made after this one shows that Wim Vanrie is to be taken serious. Enjoy "Phouse: House of Portals" and give it credit for the amount of work put into it and its good will.


Score:  75%