The Lake of Fire NG
"This is a compilation type release of multiple older Gmac levels and probably a couple of newer ones too (although I'm not sure on the specifics). There's a hub most of it is based around, but it doesn't really attempt to make the disparate levels a more coherent whole beyond you getting quest items from each one. The nature of them makes me feel they come in order of age, and it's interesting to see some progression throughout, with the first parts feeling like somewhat non-descript dungeons outside a few nice areas, and gradually getting more distinct and memorable. The unfortunate side of that is that it means it takes a bit to hit it's stride, and I can't help feeling the GMac trademark "NG" upgrade actually makes some of the older stuff less interesting because I imagine there was at least some wilder "worse" texture and lighting choices spicing things up, whereas now they're generically decent. The newer stuff that was already built around that holds up much better though, and "The Cave" is especially built around a pretty impressive castle structure. Something also seems a little off about the audio, with much of the ambience being almost inaudible and some strange music choices, although some of the distinctive long musical pieces are used interestingly.
The gameplay follows the same trajectory as the visuals, with a gradual improvement from quite by-the-numbers design to more interesting challenges in the later half. There's still nothing that truly surprises, and occasional issues like forced damage, but it's mostly enjoyable once it gets going. Combat is actually a stand- out as well, with some actually quite challenging enemy placement in a few levels, and the climax is nicely done as well. A compilation that's inconsistent due to the wide spanning ages of the levels involved (even with "NG" upgrades), but it's still decent for some GMac gameplay, although I'd probably place it on the lower end of his sets that I've played." -
"You would probably recognise George's style from a mile away with this extended game, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you know what to expect when you play one of his efforts: imposing but attractive scenery (in this case relatively austere as well), quite a lot of exploratory gameplay, a few clever timed runs and gymnastics and some nicely used and fitting music files. The gameplay does get a bit pedestrian at times in this case, meaning that you will be doing quite a lot of running around and retracing your steps after you accomplish particular tasks, but that is generally balanced out by some neat and enjoyable puzzles, not least the swingpole exercises, the timed sequences, a nifty door puzzle and some tense enemy battles, making it a worthwhile experience all round. Took me 5 hours and 30 minutes in total." -
"These levels are by far the most visually appealing that George has ever released. As many of us did, I played and reviewed them long ago when they were offered as standalone levels, but now that George has beefed them up with NG technology and combined them into an immersive 7-hour adventure, they're a sheer delight to replay. I remembered snatches here and there from the earlier versions, but the visual effects have been improved so dramatically that I never had this feeling of deja vu. Not only are the surroundings well lighted and pleasing to the eye, the gameplay is impressive throughout. There's a lot of platforming to do here, but there are also some invigorating timed runs and an ingenious swingpole-rising platform exercise near the very end (right after an eight-room puzzle that never did work for me, requiring the assistance of Dutchy's savegame so I could continue). Here's a classic that's been woefully neglected since finding its way back to this site. Top recommendations." -
"Puzzles are quite repetitive but since Marooned I was sure this game won't give me nonsense. It appeared true in about 80% - I was mostly immersed and never stuck, while a lot of fast return was provided (not always but still often enough) but I would seriously diminish these long, structureless, blocky passages in Genesis and Temple of Fire - I first thought they stand for pre-cosmogonic entropy until they reappeared near the end of the game. In Exodus we rather enter than quit Egypt, and later the book references lose importance interrupted with the Mutant level exactly like the original, and One World a whole quality higher, where I was never bored. The Cave is a definition of classic George so I didn't even mind huge spaces travelled through that part. But all these episodes aren't connected so rather than a complete biblical tale the game feels like a hidden one-man variant of Skribblerz Stonez - we eventually collect all the dragon heads from each random bit and use them all in the hub to reach the location of the release name origin. I hoped this final open space will be much larger, something like
from UUB, but even if little it's still a nice container for the conclusion which makes a lot of sense with the climax fight and the guide escape." -
(4-6-6-6) - 20 minutes: Not a very good start to this series. This level clearly lacks atmosphere with very boxy, bland looking rooms which also suffer from very oddly coloured lighting. It's rather classic for this builder but this time it does create a very unaesthetic visual experience; the only exception is the room with the fire pool at the end that serves as a hub room, this one is halfway decent. The background audio is very inapt as in most levels of this game, way too silent so that hurts the atmosphere again, while the other audios are too fancy for the respective situation and is mostly too loud. Gameplaywise this is also very boring with way too easy tasks, mostly requiring to pull x levers in a room to trigger an action.
(5-7-7-7) - 30 minutes: I'm no fan of the Egyptian textures but I think in this case the original level does look better than this. This is a classically grey level that doesn't spread much charm as a result, all rooms are basically looking the same, yet it's still better than in the first level because of slightly better room constructions. The gameplay is again restricted to finding dozens of levers, with the occasional boulder and some platforming parts, but also way too many ladders in here.
(6-7-7-8) - 30 minutes: Finally a somewhat different texture set that actually fits better than before. Still, it's a very silent level with this time way too loud single tracks and there are some rooms which suffer badly from strange builder choices, such as the missing skyline in the outside areas. The greenish textures in the T-Rex cave also didn't fit very nicely. The gameplay slowly picks up with a bit of nice (even if slightly dull) exploration, good use of the torch. The 'platforming' at the end is nothing but tedious and totally unexciting though.
(5-6-6-7) - 25 minutes: Back to a very greyish, yet at least different, texture set and this time the atmosphere clearly lacks from a missing variety of colours and - once more - the silence. The gameplay can be summed up as essentialy an orgy in backtracking through large and boring areas. The few jumps are very easy and only the pushblock hint was quite funny. Nice finale though with the mutant fight.
(7-8-8-8) - 25 minutes: This was so much better than the previous levels. It starts with a few cinematic cutscenes and the nice outtake of the sentry guns, the outside area is really atmospheric (what can't be said about many other levels) and inside the gameplay is quite decent with a nice mix of several timed runs, a bit of platforming and exploration that should have been more challenging at times, but overall it's quite entertaining.
(7-7-9-8) - 30 minutes: The most atmospheric level with a very gigantic castle inside the cave and overall quite appealing texturing - maybe some walls are a bit flat, but it doesn't matter much. The hugeness of the map also means there's much to and fro and long spaces to cover, yet I never was utterly lost in here and found it rather nice with a few good things, like climbing the tower with several timed tasks. It could be a little more clear in what to do next at times.
The Temple of Fire
(7-7-7-7) - 20 minutes: A rather short level but overall rather decently entertaining with quite a bit of explorative platforming in a multi-stage area - a bit too easy perhaps but at least not quite dull at the same time. The looks are solid, yet it's never quite as appealing as in the last two levels, too many boxy areas and quite uniform texturing.
The Lake of Fire
(7-7-9-8) - 20 minutes: Perhaps the most enjoyable level of the set, simply because the map is not so large and the gameplay still offers a nice bit of everything, including a rather tough fight against several dinosaurs at the end. The door puzzle is a bit confused and not quite logical, yet at least something different; the torch puzzle is rather nicely set up though. The outside area also holds up for some great views and overall this is a quite worthy final level. Nice triple use of the guide here of which the last one was really cute.
: A game of two halves - while the first four levels are neither very inspired in the gameplay nor the looks (with a few exceptions), the last four levels at least offer a solid experiece that turn the dull initial experiences to the better. Overall though, with all the questionable music design and many dull parts in the gameplay in mind, the builder could and should have done much better. Found all five fairly easy secrets in 3:20 hours." -