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Level: Caverns of the Dead back home search
Author(s): Tony Tomb
total rating:8.38 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Blacksheep 8 7 7 10
dmdibl 8 8 9 9
Duncan 9 8 10 10
eTux 7 8 9 8
Gerty 8 8 8 9
Jay 8 8 8 9
Jose 7 7 8 10
Kristina 8 8 8 8
MichaelP 7 7 9 9
Mman 8 9 9 9
Navi 9 8 9 9
Orbit Dream 7 7 9 6
Phil 9 8 8 8
QRS 10 10 10 10
Samu 7 8 8 8
Sash 8 7 7 8
Scottie 10 10 10 10
category averages
(17 reviews)
8.12 8.00 8.59 8.82

Reviewer's comments

"Like most of Tony Tombs work this takes familiar themes and makes them something else; this is a very close to the Catacombs theme on the surface, but new textures and a unique greenish ambience give it a style of it's own. Like in Passage to Mu 1 and 2 there's a lot a large areas, but they're generally more detailed here, and the creepy desolate atmosphere remains. The third level has an especially impressive sight with the large temple building that makes up the main section. There's also some creative use of flipmaps for special doors and other effects. Maybe it was a bug but the sounds also seem to be slightly modified to be a little deeper, which fits cavernous atmosphere well (although they seems a little lower quality). The only let- down visually is a couple of cave parts with very monotone lighting. A couple of music cues also seem to be repeated too often. The gameplay is relatively straightforward, but the flow killing stuff in Passage to Mu 1 and 2 is excised, making this much smoother, and the three levels aren't especially long. It's a bit too simple if anything, and, while it contributes to the atmosphere, some areas feel kind of empty, with large rooms that only have one or two things to do in them. While there are a couple of potentially tricky things the design does make it quite smooth to go through, and this is another good set and a nice improvement on his debut levels." - Mman (12-Jul-2015)

"I've liked a lot the architecture of this three small levels, with very realistic caves an magnificent buildings. There are not great puzzles, but you can found some nice and sneaky touches which will add some difficulties to the gameplay. The shotgun was unuseful, only if you get fun shooting skeletons to the void, 'cause there were enough explosive ammo for the crossbow. Few variety of enemies; only mummies and skeletons. Also I missed some more cameras when pulling switches which triggered not so nearby doors so I had to backtrack and explore previous areas to find them. The best was the environment with an exquisite taste applying textures. Near the end I was able to run up the ramp with the spikes without deactivate them. Entertaining and recommended." - Jose (15-Nov-2013)

"I think that Tony Tomb had started going over to the Dark Side with this set of interlocking levels, which is the main reason I didn't have such a good time here or in the Mu series. Gameplay is quite complex, and the player has to be thinking all the time, but if he can't see where he's going after making a carefully considered decision, much of the fun is taken away from the gaming experience. With the darkness came a monotonously relentless green ambiance, another detriment that could not be overcome by the genuinely fresh gameplay. I must recommend this two-hour quest, but I'll probably never have it on my replay list." - Phil (25-Apr-2011)

"Took me back to the feeling of playing Tomb Raider 4 catacombs, enhanced with textures from AOD. The timed runs and puzzles challenge without being frustrating, and overall this is a satisfying adventure. There may be a couple moments of being stuck as Lara explores, but usually within a few minutes players discover the solution. The first levels seemed new, but I must have played this before, because at one point in the second level I knew that Lara had to enter climb-through textures--and, sure enough, collects an essential puzzle item. And in level three, I immediately remembered the large structure and the importance of the roof. This was first played with a good CRT monitor, and I remember that area as solidly black. Now, with a bright LCD monitor, I had no trouble seeing in the gloom, and probably appreciated the levels much more. Lara evades skeletons and mummies, and once she gets crossbow there is plenty of explosive ammo. The only real trouble spot might be the last bundle of bones that need to be shot, as these are hidden in a sneaky way. In my case, Lara destroyed a skeleton with explosive ammo, and inadvertently destroyed the bundle of bones, but Lara is always lucky. Well done, a solidly created world, a good play." - dmdibl (07-Oct-2010)

"Lara is on the search of the Lethe-Scroll and I can only say that I had here two hours quite a lot of fun. The caves and buildings look really good. The riddles were well solvable, if it was not always also easy in the third part, because the heaps of bones, which one had to shoot to release an action, were not always well visible. For the skeletons and mummies there was enough groats ammunition and explosive ammunition. One could also find many Flares, indeed, it was never so dark, that one must used them. The sound felt well and the music was used economically, but effective. There were no heavy jumps or time-runs, therefore this level is good to play for beginners. The lighting completely felt well. Result: A level of the finest one. Here one must simply access." - Scottie (23-Apr-2009)

"The higlight of this game is absolutely level designing and how the game is created to look good. The dark lighting makes this game very atmospheric and this game has also many custom textures which a big plus too. Audio tracks are used very effectively as always in levels of Michael. Gameplay is not particularly interesting despite this game has few interesting gameplay elements. Most of your time you spend on running, jumping and opening doors by using switches but there are also more intesting tasks to complete in this adventure. On of them is the place where you have to jump through the skull faces. I liked also a flip map puzzle in second level and the area where a diamond appears after shooting a skeleton on the ground was pretty nice too. Mainly this was a good game and I had fun when playing it." - Samu (18-Mar-2007)

"This is a masterpiece! I'm so amazed by how this author turns the (almost) ordinary catacomb ingrediens into something so different. What I love most in these three short levels are the ligthing and textures. Everything is just perfect. Also add the authors ability to make both temples, caves, you names it look very realistic and beautiful. This is art at a high level. My only complaint is that it was a tad too easy and the levels too short. A sequel after Mu is finished maybe? :) All tens from me." - QRS (22-Nov-2005)

"Well, I won't be the first to say this, but even though fantastically crafted, these levels are dark. Even if it's winter at the time I'm writing this (January 2005) and thus the 'brightness' as such didn't matter to me - as even with my new, darker monitor I could see things quite clearly due to the season's specifics, but the darkness made an authentic, yet overpowering and depressive atmosphere, and thus made me leave the level a bit depressed. Whether that's a good or a bad thing I don't know, but judging overall this is an improvement from the author's debut. It's easy to miss the shotgun and crossbow (I found the walkthrough skull tiles a bit unfair here) so keep your eyes open as having either of them is vital to finish the game, especially in level 3, when no backtrackings are possible! The better things here are the action packed gameplay (sometimes maybe enigmatic, but overall OK), the authentic, beautiful caverns, the awesome architecture (especially the building with a dome n the final level - what a sight, when you first see it!), so definitely something to check out. Well worth playing, so check out, just keep your eyes open and be prepared for the darkness!" - eTux (06-Feb-2005)

“This is one of those rare (I hasten to point out!) adventures which I was unable to complete as I had failed to collect either a Shotgun or a Crossbow with which to defend myself against otherwise unkillable foes; by the latter half of the third level I was so continually surrounded by swarms of hacking skeletons that attempting to pull a pillar became an impossible activity without using up a fairly meagre supply of medi-packs. I was ready to penalise the Builder heavily as a result but noticed that (according to the Walkthrough) I had missed several opportunities to arm myself. It would seem that I only had myself to blame on this part although I severely question the author's desire to plunge every square inch of the playing area into (often impenetrable) darkness. Granted these are Caverns (and they are also the dwellings of the Dead as the title of the adventure so accurately conveys) so I should have been expecting such an occurrence but even so it made the proceedings more of an ordeal than they should have been. (And in my own defense the resting places of Shotguns and Crossbows were more difficult to spot because of the darkness). The old cry of ‘it's supposed to be dark; it's in a cave!’ will no doubt ring through my ears and with justification but it seems to me that when the Builder has done such a fine job of crafting elegant architecture and plausible subterranean locations swamping the whole thing in blackness would seem to be rather self-defeating. For all of that the Gameplay is challenging and beautifully thought out and the atmosphere is potent and vivid. But those with a pre-disposition toward bright and sunny places should be effectively warned by the title!” – Orbit Dream (15-Jan-2005)

“Three levels that really do play as one and very consistently keep the pace. They are based largely on the Catacomb WAD objects/puzzles but the look and feel is totally different thanks to Michael’s trademark use of some special custom textures along the way. Caverns of the Dead (7/7/9/9 25 min.): Starting out in dark caves and later around temple like structures Lara has to avoid a few spikes and darts and find her path using a few levers pushing an object and managing her way around pesky skeletons wraiths and mummies. Two pillars to find and use here. A Way through (7/7/9/9 20 min.): After a long slide you get more caves and those here looked even better than those in part one. The lever usage began to get a little old but progression is smooth again using a pillar and shooting bones along the way to trigger some actions (funny how those arrows ‘rose from the ashes’). Only a few skeletons get in your way (and one mummy I think) and really that double usage of the one lever was quite sneaky. The Lethe Scroll (8/7/9/9 25 min.): Really beautiful building there with its domed ceiling. Gameplay here is a little more demanding as you backtrack a bit more to find the respective levers pushable objects pillar and two gems before you finally reach the scroll you came for. All in all a very entertaining and not to challenging little series maybe a bit on the too dark side but there are plenty of flares along the way so you should be able to manage.” – Michael (27-Nov-2004)

“First of all I was pleased to see the author give credit to Hans Holbein the Younger for the incredibly creepy artwork found on the walls. Too often authors get good reviews for textures that they simple lifted from somewhere else and did not give credit. The classic art is well-integrated into consistent and logical environment. The gameplay is good without driving you nuts and the game progresses well building to a third level with a wonderful domed building that contains some of intricate puzzles. Watch out for the skellies as they come from everywhere. The gloomy and creepy atmosphere lightens up for a good ending. I was impressed by how much the author has matured since his first effort. Well done!” – Duncan (08-Nov-2004)

”What a great set of three levels, authentic caves and temples, interesting progression, great effects with walls rending open to access new areas, even nice placement of skeletons (the mummies were and always are a non event), but oh sweet jesus did it all have to be so blindingly dark. I felt like I was cracking a flare through the whole of the 80 minute these levels lasted, especially in the cave areas where you definitely needed to see where your feet were treading, and that’s just no fun. On top of this annoyance there seemed to be no secrets but the fact is I could have overlooked them easily in the void of light and did not care to strain my eyes to find them if they were there. I do think that these are levels that deserve to be played because they do feel very fresh but just for your sake and the sake of your poor eyes play this with no lights on or if you do you’ve been warned.” – Sash (23-Oct-2004)

“The skeletons really sneak up behind you in this level. In fact there’s a distinctly bony theme going on here with some really excellent textures on the walls and the room where the images suddenly change to skulls is a very nice touch. You get the crossbow in good time to take revenge on all the skellies and there’s a fun timed run and rope swing at the end of the first section. There are various pillars to find and a lot of classic raiding to be done. The whole level is just a little too dark for my taste but it’s very solidly built and well worth playing.” – Jay (16-Oct-2004)

“This level has good atmosphere. It seems like a standard TR level. Lighting textures is good. Some puzzles made me loose my way because there're a few cameras and sounds. But I never got tired of exploration. I think it is worth you all playing.” – Blacksheep (16-Oct-2004)

“Being a beta tester and writing the walkthrough gave me more of an insight that I would have normally with a level and I was glad to do both. I completely forgot a ladder so I was running around with more skeletons at my tail than I cared for but with a hint from the builder himself I found the shotgun. I have to say that I liked the textured used and also the way whole walls opened up. Throughout the whole game you have to find Pillars. Be sure to find the crossbow and the explosive ammo as that is quite handy. The revolver bug is present but that is always handy if you want to save some ammo. The sight of that huge building inside a cave is a wow moment and Lara leaves with the scroll in her backpack. I always like that as the girl needs a reward IMHO. 05-10-2004” – Gerty (10-Oct-2004)

“The game is divided in three levels all short ones and not too difficult but quite dark. Of course the darkness is justified since there are caves to explore with skeletons and mummies inside and there are a lot of flares given. The first level has a few items to find like pillars and every time a new wall opens to reveal another area you need to explore. The textures are well placed in the entire game and quite interesting with the skull ones usually being a clue for players. The second level is a nice rocky one with pools in which you’ll have to be careful not to step onto spike traps when outside and search for a pillar again but make sure you save some explosive arrows; you’ll need them later on. The third level is somewhat longer I guess with gems and a pillar to find (I detect a pillar obsession lol) and moving pillars to help you proceed. There is a nice big structure with two levels with skeletons inside that won’t leave you alone so I hope you have enough ammo to blast them or you’ve found the shotgun. Be aware of the spikes spike ball and look around you carefully because the last gem won’t appear to you that easily. It’s a pleased game that has to be played at night.” – Kristina (03-Oct-2004)

“A nice three-parter. The puzzles were not difficult and you can play it through rather fluidly. Enemies were mainly skeletons and mummies. Graphics were ok as Lara explores temples and caves and at the end she finds the Lethe Scroll. Sound was standard but suitable and create the familiar TR atmosphere – I liked that. Nicely done and I would recommend it. Thanks for almost three hours of fun.” – Navi (03-Oct-2004)
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