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Level: LB Advent Calendar 2008 - Laras Magical Xmas Adventures 1 - The Village / The Finale back home search
Author(s): masha
total rating:9.42 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
afzalmiah 9 10 10 10
Bene 9 10 10 10
Czar 10 10 10 10
DJ Full 9 10 10 9
dmdibl 9 9 10 10
eRIC 9 9 9 9
Gerty 8 9 10 10
High Priestess 10 10 10 10
jawi 10 10 10 10
Jay 9 10 10 10
Jerry 8 8 8 8
Jose 7 9 8 10
Leeth 8 9 10 10
manarch2 9 9 10 10
MichaelP 8 9 10 10
Mman 9 10 10 10
Moonpooka 10 10 10 10
Mytly 8 9 10 10
OverRaider 9 9 9 10
Phil 9 9 9 9
reborn1995 8 9 10 10
Ruben 10 10 10 10
Ryan 10 9 9 10
Shandroid 9 9 9 9
TrueRaider 9 10 10 10
Vaughnage 9 8 10 9
Zhyttya 8 10 10 10
category averages
(27 reviews)
8.89 9.37 9.67 9.74

Reviewer's comments

"Full marks just have to be awarded for this fantastic, aesthetically delightful Christmas level. For some unknown reason I had failed to complete this when I first played some years ago but with the help of both a YouTube visual walkthrough and the written alternative I finally made it to the altar cross and triggered the end. Even my beloved was looking up from his iPad to observe some of the breathtaking buildings and environments! I've never not enjoyed one of Masha's levels - they are on a par with (if not sometimes better than), the original, official games. I am so glad to have returned to this from scratch to find I hadn't been that far off finishing the last time. Very well done!" - High Priestess (25-Sep-2016)

"This is the hub level for the Magical Xmas Adventures series. You go to the church each time to place each piece you have found. A few fun puzzles to solve involving pushables and a very good cutscene at the end. Many thanks for this wonderful adventure!" - Ryan (29-Mar-2016)

"This was an incredibly magical experience, i loved every single detail on this collaboration. Of course each level has it's own review so i'll state my experience separately for each one. The Village/the finale definitely had the most pleasing scenery. The chapel completely blew my mind. The decoration + music makes you fall in love with it, in fact, all of the level has the decoration of a true genius. But not all is perfect, the game play had a little flaws, a few that consists only on my opinion and one in particular that shouldn't exist. This last one i'm referring to it's a shortcut that you can perform pretty easily, allowing you to skip the Golden Castle entirely. I'm not going to mention it has it can be game breaking and you'll not have the full experience of this amazing adventure and collaboration. But in conclusion DEFINITELY play this one, specially on Christmas time." - Zhyttya (10-Dec-2015)

"As a Christmas Level this will be hard to beat! Was such a nice level to be! So lovely! It's really rare for me to give a 10 on anything but this one really deserves it on two topics! I can't imagine anything to improve that wouldn't spoil the experience. The atmosphere, well, It was really Christmas! And the work on textures and lighting and sound were one of the most involving experiences yet on Tomb Raider. I just have a few complains about the game play! First of all you can finish the game without even going to the Gold Castel and you can just ignore two parts of The Village. And my second complain is in fact the first puzzle, you can just get really bored by pushing 4 blocks 3 times in a long journey in the first puzzle! You just pressed play and already pushing blocks for like 10 minutes.. That was really bad. Above that, everything was perfect! I will highly recommend everyone just to play it and enjoy it.. It's worth the 10 minutes you waist on the first puzzle" - Leeth (10-Dec-2015)

"Here we have a very nice christmas level set adventure in which you visit four various locations including this level The Village by masha which serves as a hub level and it works very nicely as everytime you come back here you have some new tasks to do before you go to the next level. Well I don`t like the idea that we must review every level in this game seperately. A nice flyby starts at the beginning showing the village around and church in which an angel leave you message. So what is the main task? The main task is to get three stolen altar pieces and a stolen cross back to the church so villagers can celebrate christmas evening. As soon as you get the first altar piece the path to the "first" level opens...of course there are some puzzles, tasks, and a must exploration before you get the first one. The atmosphere is set in a windy snowy village, background sounds and soundtracks are fitting well. The two secrets in this level are quite nicely hidden. I found all 16/16 secrets in this game, and it is very nice christmas game as a whole adventure. The Village: 9/9/9/10 (the whole level set Laras Magical Xmas Adventures: 9/8/8/9)" - OverRaider (11-Dec-2013)

"This is the hub level for this wonderful levelpack, but it is not just getting to the single levels, no, it is a full level on its own, only split into four parts. In the first part, after a stunning cutscene with an angle lighting four candles in the church (at last, he ran at the end, otherwise it’d have been quite tedious), you had to get to the Church and get the tasks you have to do in the next levels. Two nice pushable puzzles also can be found, solving the first required quite a bit of logic and it was a bit longer too; the second one however was a bit too easy – just placing the coloured statues on the equally coloured tiles. I really liked the idea of getting to the other levels via the three books much, and throughout this level I had lots of fun. The second part was clearly the best, with a very innovative way of “creating” a key in a forge, using the bellows, the oven and the press – simply fantastic. In the third part, clearly shorter than the previous ones, Lara has to get a coin in the local Sparkasse – had to laugh so hard, not only with the funny wall texture. The Finale was just a run through the church and placing the cross, but it all ended with a wonderful carol singing with all other characters in a again stunning final cutscene. This level was really really atmospheric and the village was very realistically built. Texturing and lighting was perfect, custom and original objects (partly from TR 3 Gold) did not only create fun in this level, but all levels got a little bit of shine from this hub level." - manarch2 (20-Apr-2011)

"This was an amazing city level which is a hub level in the Xmas adventure. The texturing was amazing and the city has very good ideas like the ironing and the bank thing. The finale was really good and the outfit was good. Very good ending for a very good adventure." - afzalmiah (04-Mar-2011)

"NOTE: Splitting this project up into four parts is misleading - many players won't notice it's a whole serious levelset. THIS REVIEW EXISTS IN 4 COPIES, AS IT DESCRIBES THE WHOLE PROJECT. ALSO, ALL 4 LEVELS SHARE THE SAME RATING, BECAUSE RATING THEM SEPARATELY HAS ALREADY MADE THE WHOLE ADVENTURE SERIOUSLY UNDERRATED.
The Village
A hub level. From here, we take on main adventures, one by one. Also, here we watch a great ending cutscene. Some puzzles are like never before - seems they were designed especially for this Advent. Solving them, You have to be as creative as their author constructing them. When I entered the forge and I realized how I am supposed to get the key, I was shocked by masha's creativity. Of course, the initial pushable is very misleading. Honestly, I found it the most efficient gameplay killer. How one is supposed to know where to place those cubes? I was so desperated I found it... but anyone not desperated enough may bin the game in the very beginning, losing the opportunity to watch all the following marvels. And lighting... Another level where it looks pretty, but often makes no sense.
The Golden Castle
The dragon is called Herman. HERMAN, but for some reason I still call him Raymond. Great work with that voice - that dialogue brought this part to life, and the impression remains till we finally feed Ray... I mean Herman and watch him fly away. In that moment, I don't know if I wanted to smile or cry. But I know it was beautiful. Palace roof is stunning, with a written date of erection and making use of it. Also, the golden cat, modified Winston, the cake, the ghost... everything matches everything, creating perfect unity and I'm sure there is no other palace similar to this one in the whole custom level world.
Magic Forest
Feels like a grandpa of Mystica. I can see no better comparison. Same atmosphere. Less polygons, so it isn't lagging. Also, the most challenging secret is placed in this part. Not a very challenging one, but You need to be observant. The only flaw is unmarked ladders... Why, oh, why?
Chapel in the Mountains
I like the landscape, giving an illusion of open space - it remains even if one gets to the end of graphics. I always like that feeling I can go everywhere, and that's why I was annoyed I couldn't get to the top of the frozen waterfall... Anyway, nearly every peak is accessible. Unfortunately, they all look flat and empty. Also, the house looks like it was made of plastic, not wood, killing atmosphere. Also, sounds are too "sharp" (it's good to rip old SFX from TR2, but in this version some samples hurt ears). All these issues made me take several breaks from the game, what didn't happen in any other level of this project. The new jumpswitches and their animation is great, also the camera sequence showing spikes emerging faster and faster. But the most thrilling, simply perfect trap is the boulder. With music warning a player just a split second before the ball falls, Spongebob couldn't synchronize them better (clap, clap).
SUMMARY: Here, authors of really relaxing Silent Snowy Place - Clara and masha - join their building power with another two creators - Eva and Spongebob - and together bring us something really challenging. And remarkable. What can help feel true ADVENT atmosphere more than making villagers WAIT for their relics to be returned to their church? This is not a raid (which is a robbery), but rather an anti-raid (which is a retrieval) - an inverted kind of such mission. Still, usual raiding feelings are present (just in case of "+" and "-", the opposite signs sharing the same absolute value). Explore various mystical places - a forest, a village, a mystic palace and some ruins, each of them of different atmosphere - but watch out! The artifacts are well hidden there, so completing this quest will require lots of thinking, with opening mind in every possible direction (unless You wanna get stuck) - thus, if You're a beginner, don't bother today, but remember this game and return to it when You are an experienced raider. Or anti-raider. That day, LMXA will burn lots of Your neurons, but will also leave lots of satisfaction when You make it to the very end. The best Xmas project I've played so far. It prompted me to play all remaining Advent levels soon, to make sure if I am right or not." - DJ Full (13-Feb-2011)

"The Village: This level forms the hub level of the Magical Xmas Adventure levelset. In terms of looks and atmosphere, it is of the highest quality: the beautiful snowy village oozes atmosphere from every nook and corner; and the texturing and lighting are lovely throughout. The objects are used very innovatively – like putting a pail over a snowman’s head to make a hat for it (simply adorable!) or breaking a piggy bank to find a coin.
My only grouse against this level is the gameplay. First and foremost, it is nearly impossible to know what to do without referring to the walkthrough, since certain tasks are very unintuitive (like prying a tiny and barely visible bit of iron out of a wall using a ‘tool’, i.e. disguised crowbar). The non-linear style of the village works in its favour in terms of atmosphere and realism – but against it in terms of gameplay, as you never know where to go next, because several doors are openable right from the beginning. Since you have to visit The Village several times in the course of this game, it’s not clear until the last visit whether the task you are currently doing is to be done now or the next time around. And of course, let me not forget the most frustrating thing that I encountered: a bug that kept crashing my game every time I tried to forge the key. I finally just gave up and skipped the whole sequence, and got to the next part of the level using a bug. Fight bugs with bugs! ;)
The Finale: This tiny level is an absolutely wonderful way to finish this levelset. Lara sings beautifully and looks lovely in her evening gown – though it’s quite funny seeing her run about in it, or better yet jump in it!
Overall: If it weren’t for the game-stopping bug and non-linearity, I would have loved this level with no reservations. It is otherwise almost perfectly charming, and forms a great way to tie together all the levels of this lovely Magical Xmas Adventure." - Mytly (05-May-2010)

"The hub level for the rest of the pack. The snowy village atmosphere is pulled off very well, and there's a wide range of the tasks on each visit, although, as the hub level it remains quite simple. On the negative side it exhibits a general flaw throughout the pack; a lot of the standard objects are changed so much they sometimes become quite unintuitive to use/find. The few times I got stuck a look in the walkthrough revealed it was because something I already tried actually had to be done in a very specific way, and one item on the second trip was very randomly hidden and would be extremely hard to find without the walkthrough. It all works well beyond that though, and stays very atmospheric throughout, including a very good ending." - Mman (23-Apr-2010)

"This is hard to review as the first part of this four level set is sort of a hub level that you will visit a couple of times. After playing the last level, everything will fall into place. Starting this it had me scratching my head a couple of times as there are some puzzles that were new, well not new, but with new objects. Also a pushable crate had me wondering for a bit, but that will be revealed in one of the other levels. But overall the whole set up is wonderful, with lots of details. Great way to start the Advent season." - Gerty (21-Apr-2009)

"Really a very good design in this base level for the Lara's Magical Xmas Adventures. I loved the architecture, textures, musics and some puzzles. But it's not easy to advance through the level 'cause there are some new objects you don't know what to do with them and sometimes there's not cameras to help you so, sometimes it's difficult to figure out where to go. Even so, the level is very well builded and has some innovative and very good features." - Jose (23-Jan-2009)

"This level is the central unit of the level set. You start the game here and you come back here after visiting the other 3 levels after collecting the 3 needed altar pieces and a cross. You find a beautiful church, many houses, a puppet shop, a bank and even a forge. I wonder though where the citizens satisfy their demands in bread, meat, vegetables and such, for you don’t find any other shops than those ones mentioned above. The village is well designed although a bit neat and bare, some trees e.g. would have been more appropriate than the summerly garden furniture with sun umbrellas which seemed a bit out of place in that wintery snowy atmosphere. I found the lighting a bit flat, it could have been a little more atmospheric. Getting access to some of the houses, do some pushing with cube blocks and forging a key are the main tasks you have to do here." - Jerry (09-Jan-2009)

"The hub level of this Christmas adventure is made with lots of care and is the most important one. There are good puzzles to solve and great objects to use which show great imagination. Only one little glitch with the first pushable puzzle. Very good work." - eRIC (04-Jan-2009)

This review will focus on The Village (the first level in the series). At the beginning I'll note that it's difficult to submit separate reviews for the different levels, for a couple of reasons. First, the levels are intended to be played as a unit, and my memories of the gaming experience apply to the game as a whole. Second, and all the more so in the case of The Village, you return here twice during the course of the game, so it's not feasible to think of it in terms of one continuously playing level. Having made these technical observations, I must say that these Magical Christmas Adventures make up one of the most satisfying raids I've had in quite a while. The environs, the objects, the cutscenes and the flybys (not to mention the seasonal music) placed me in the Christmas spirit every time I loaded this one up. I managed to milk nearly five net gaming hours out of the four levels, and I enjoyed every minute of it. There are a number of complicated tasks to perform in The Village, and had it not been for the guidance provided by Jenni in her portion of the walkthrough, I never would have made it. You owe it to yourself to play this fantastic foursome before the ornaments come off the Christmas trees and life returns to normal." - Phil (29-Dec-2008)

"The village is wonderfully decorated and spacious. The interior of homes and shops and fantastically decorated. The opening sequence with the angel is great too. My only gripe is that there are a few too many push puzzles for my liking. But the potent seasonal ambiance more than makes up for it. Worth a look around!" - reborn1995 (25-Dec-2008)

"I thought that this was a pretty good level. There really isn't anything to complain about when you play it. The puzzles are pretty tricky, and there are a lot of places to explore. The atmosphere was really nice, I really felt that I was in a real christmas town, or something like that. The cameras are something to be desired, but the track listing saves the day really. The graphics (textures and lighting) are pretty much par, not too many repeated textures or anything of that matter. A great level editor game, something you won't mind playing for a little while." - Vaughnage (23-Dec-2008)

"It's beautiful christmas level with excellent gameplay, puzzles, objects and wonderful textures. I had lots of fun playing it. There aren't any bugs or stretched textures. It's just brilliant. On the end there is lovely final cutscene. Congratulations to the author!" - jawi (22-Dec-2008)

"First part of the wonderful XMas Series compiled by Masha , Clara , Eva and Spongebob. I will not go into details as every part is a marvellous adventure of its own. Thank You Masha for this Christmas Present , Joyeux Noel !" - Ruben (18-Dec-2008)

"Set in a beautiful village, Lara has to venture out into the snow to find the 1st missing altar piece which was taken from the local church. This is sort of a hub level and you will visit here three times in all. While you are here you will perform some tasks like making a key, and to do this there are various items to collect, such as a pail, a tool and some iron There's also a couple of nice raising object puzzles to do. The village itself is stunning and I loved wandering around exploring the little houses. Of course the theme is very Christmassy so game play was quite relaxing and fun. I loved every minute of The Village levels and this was an outstanding start to the Levelbase advent calendar. A huge thank you to all concerned." - Moonpooka (13-Dec-2008)

"The Village is the hub of this lovely Christmas adventure, and it is a very nice place to be. I enjoyed the puzzles, although I was confused more than a few times, however, they were all fun and unique. I was concerned about one pushblock puzzle where you push all the blocks and they rise up. If Lara doesn't hitch a ride, I wondered if she would be stuck. There were a few other places that were a little wonky, like too many pieces of coal and a place where she could leap up to a balcony and totally skip a big part of the level, but nothing too confusing. My only criticism was that I thought the place could have been a bit more decorative. The Finale, though, with Lara looking so beautiful, the tree and a final look at all her new friends (but where was the golden cat?) was just so perfect, I wished I played it on Christmas Day." - Shandroid (13-Dec-2008)

"Ah, the moment I’d been waiting for. The first Advent level I played this year and what a delightful start, with a beautiful, peaceful, snow covered village to explore and a nice little storyline to follow. This is the hub area for the complete game so you will be coming and going, performing a variety of fascinating tasks and using some highly unusual and wonderfully inventive objects. In fact, I would like to nominate this level for an award for best use of a bucket in a level ever. No really." - Jay (11-Dec-2008)

"This little village oozes with Christmas atmosphere. The new objects are so very charming and bring this place to life. It serves as the base for all four levels which you will return to time and time again. I thought the music was fantastic, gave it a really great feel. I wasn't too keen on the many pushable puzzles but it doesn't frustrate. I loved all the little neat touches like the icy floor, the piggy bank, the sledge and the walking snowmen you see in the title flyby. The ending also takes place here and (without wanting to give anything away) is very fitting. A must play, especially near Christmas." - TrueRaider (11-Dec-2008)

"A beautiful realistic village in winter, a pleasure to look at and explore. Of particular note is the church with its stained-glass windows, and an ethereal calm beauty. The village itself could not have been designed better, but initially (as one will later realize), there is very little to do, as the tasks provide segues for the other levels of this adventure series. So a player is forced to hunt through the entire village, to double check that nothing is being missed, only to finally conclude that a few areas and actions are applicable. Given the task of this level, to tie the others together, this sort of game play is inevitable, and probably the best is made of it. The church is the scene of the touching finale, with Lara before the restored altar screen, placing the cross, joining with her friends Winston and Herman, the dragon. A wonderful scenic tour for Christmas time, nicely done in the holiday spirit." - dmdibl (11-Dec-2008)

"Serving as the introduction to this years advent calendar level set, we can immediately see that this level will hold the same delights as last years offering. The level begins with a nice flyby of a delightful little village bedecked with a few seasonal decorations and a generous layer of snow. The viewer, for that is what we are at the moment, is shown a nice cutscene taking place in the village church, and after watching that little delight, we begin the level. The music is just right, being both cinematic, non-intrusive and enchanting and goes a long way toward setting the player at ease and instilling the right sense of seasonal sparkle. This is somewhat of a hub level to which and from which the player will traverse in playing the other levels in this set. But do not think the level falls short because of this. We are treated to a couple of push block puzzles, the first of which I did find just a little tiring for its three part nature. Despite this, it in no way detracts from the level. There is a little humour in the level in the guise of a santa roadsign, which some players may not notice. It is little details like this which I find so often makes a level. Having said that, despite the attention to detail, the puzzle elements from the church triptych seemed a mess and honestly, when I picked up the first piece, I thought it was an ear! Being a hub level, I think the game play is a little stilted, however, this does not spoil what is a good level. Everything was pretty much easy to figure out and things flowed well enough. It could be easy to miss one puzzle element needed to make a key in the forge, and I think this could have done with a little more emphasis as in fact being a puzzle element, rather than appearing as part of the fabric of a building. There are but two secrets in this level, and well enough hidden. Overall, I would have liked to have been able to investigate more of the buildings here, for (perhaps because of being 'split apart as a hub') I don't think there was that much to do. The closing cutscene, as with the whole level, was a final delight to round off a good level set. *The set is spoiled slightly by the lack of uniformity in the menu items as was having pistols taken away between levels." - Czar (10-Dec-2008)

"A very special four level set given to us in installments is begun in a Christmasy village in a search for missing altar pieces and the altar cross. This delightful village is the hub where we will soon return. Good puzzles and some great little touches such as the Santa Crossing sign and the ice slide bring us eventually to the magic book that shows Lara where to find the remaining missing pieces. The only(very minor) drawback is trying to understand how the movable block plays into the story at this point - it doesn't - but not knowing that, we tend to push it wherever we can to no avail but we do end up knowing where we will probably use it in the future. Game play flows until we find ourselves in need of a key. Takes a bit of thinking and there is great fun and satisfaction in finally figuring it out. It is a wonderful start to the Advent Season and does it's part to reawaken the unique joy that is Christmas. Thank you, masha and all who helped in bringing us this very special gift." - Bene (10-Dec-2008)

"It is actually not easy to describe the beauty of this four level Christmas set, which consists of four individually just wonderful levels that in their entirty work together even better. These levels have it all - generally interesting gameplay that is not too hard and not too easy, beautiful and original custom objects and animations, a simple but effective storyline and they just ooze the Christmas mood from beginning to end.
Part 1, The Village, is sort of a hub level that you come back to between the other levels and for the ending scene. It has been designed in a very authentic fashion. The church is awesome and the many little details are fun to look out for. As expected in a level by masha, you get some push object puzzles to resolve, but there is also an easy timed run and a clever sequence where you create yourself a key. Altogether I spent about an hour in this part and found 2 secrets." - MichaelP (09-Dec-2008)
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