Please note that some spoilers for the ASE settting, inevitably, follow.
|Also, this video by The Sword.|
Some goofiness in the art and descriptions is excessive, but easily toned down with a simple twist of the dial - for example, I'd change the cornstalk men to Wolfean chlorophyll-sustained Green Men.
The titular ASE is a self-sustaining, seemingly magical realm discovered in the ancient days beneath a mountain near Denethix, and investigated in secret by scientists. It conforms to the model of a mythical underworld dungeon, with dressed stone walls, ironbound doors, monsters, traps, and treasure. Elusive "dungeon elementals" creep around, closing doors and restocking rooms. After the research facility was sealed four thousand years ago, accelerated mutations in the inhabitants and investigators have left the chambers teeming with rival factions: surviving robot soldiers, standard D&D goblins, H. G. Wells' morlocks, and "Screechmen" patterned after the Weekly World News' Bat Boy.
Part of the charm and dark comedy comes from the multi-layered civilization/barbarism faceoff. You have the schematic and stagey primitive ruin that is the ASE itself, being studied by the high-tech scientists whose works have decayed and degenerated, while your explorers are breaking in from a society on the rise that wants answers, laser guns, and money. The strong implication: your discovery of the ASE complex and its mysteries will seriously upset the political and technological balance of the world. Yes, there's a meaningful megadungeon among all the macabre inventiveness.
The module does a good job of leading potential adventurers into the drama of opening the sealed Environment, and also stands out for interesting map and monster designs, including the memorable corpse jellies and blade zombies. Descriptions are sparse, in old-school style, except when outlining the complications of a mechanism or the history of a particularly meaningful room. However, only one complete level of the megadungeon, plus an entry level and a side adventure, is detailed in the volume.
In sum, I'm glad I picked this up. It would be my first choice right now if I wanted to start running a non-standard campaign setting while still keeping old-school D&D compatible rules. The only question for me is whether and how soon the next installment is coming.