I just finished the mod on normal difficulty. It took me several hours to beat all the levels, including the secret level.
I didn't really take as many screenshots as I should have, but here's a few:
There's a tile bug here. Keen can fall through the floor into the secret passage.
This part was exceptionally difficult, and I had to use God mode to get past it. I kind of got the impression that these drones weren't supposed to kill Keen on contact, given that there were one or two spots where there was candy that was seemingly impossible to get because these enemies have a kill hitbox. Speaking of these enemies, wooooow that part in the secret level with a bunch of them was hard as heck.
This was a cool moment and a great way to introduce this behavior. At first, I thought "Huh, this is a lot like the magmine from Atroxian Realm. I wonder if they explode when they touch each other, and.... agh! They turn into arachnuts!"
By far, I think this mod's greatest strength is its visuals. Just... wow. The world map and level graphics are really jaw dropping at times. The three dimesionality and shading of these tiles make these environments so organic and complex. It's just stunning. I'm truly amazed you were able to get these into tilesets and make it all work.
I would sometimes agree about it being hard to distinguish platforms, but it was only a few isolated incidents for me. The green tree branches could sometimes be really hard to see (to the point that I didn't even notice them until I stared for several seconds). I also jumped onto a wooden board in water that I thought was a platform, but wasn't. However, on the whole, it wasn't typically an issue.
The music is pretty enjoyable. There's some pitchbending (I think that's what it's called?) in some tracks that sounds really neat. And overall, I found the music very pleasant to listen to, though not much of it has stuck with me since finishing the game.
Overall, I enjoyed most of the levels. I think you have a very distinct style of level design with lots of open areas and exploration. Things weren't always clearly labeled, and some doors could be confusing, but I almost always found the level designs intuitive enough that it didn't take me long to figure out where I was supposed to go.
If I have a very minor critique, I did feel that most of the levels kind of blended together, both in terms of setting and overall design style. They were all really good levels, but I think I'd struggle to remember a lot of their distinct features. There were a few that stuck out, such as the big wall you have to get over, or the part where you climb the high-tech looking tower. And then there was the underwater level, which was probably the most enjoyable (and beautiful) underwater level I've ever seen in Keen. The patched dopefish were way less of a nuisance, too. I was actually hoping there might be more underwater levels.
Difficulty-wise, I found this mod on the harder end, even on normal difficulty. I had to resort to near constant save states, and I died a lot
. I think partly it's because the enemies in this mod are especially fast and lethal, and they have a tendency to ambush you from offscreen. I also got hit by a lot of dart shooters, sometimes because I didn't even see the graphic indicating there was a shooter there. The difficulty doesn't really bother me that much given that I tend to abuse savestates, but I think it's something to note. Of course, I'm very guilty of making my mods way too hard unintentionally...
I appreciate all the lore and thought you put into the story. I'm not really sure I followed a lot of the nuances or how it connected to the actual levels, but it is nonetheless neat to see that kind of depth and creativity.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with this. For whatever reason, I've found it harder in recent years to motivate myself to play all the way through mods, but I blasted through this one in a single day. I think this project sets a new standard for what's possible visually in Galaxy mods.