Level: TR Forge Advent Calendar 2008 - Changzhug Monastery back home search
Author(s): Piper
total rating:7.51 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
Czar 8 7 8 7
DJ Full 6 6 6 7
dmdibl 8 9 9 7
eRIC 7 6 8 6
Gerty 6 7 8 7
jawi 8 9 9 9
Jay 7 8 8 8
Jerry 7 7 8 8
Jose 6 8 8 7
MichaelP 7 8 8 7
Minox 8 8 8 8
Moonpooka 9 8 8 7
Obig 7 8 8 7
Phil 8 8 8 8
Scottie 8 8 7 7
Shady Croft 7 8 8 8
Shandroid 7 7 7 5
category averages
(17 reviews)
7.29 7.65 7.88 7.24

Reviewer's comments

"The snowy prologue with leopards, caves and yetis is promising but it soon turns out the whole level is made of series of long corridors requiring a run to their far end only to unlock the end of another one (still I gave one extra point for their local texture variety). Often the puzzles are arranged so multiple runs through the same set of corridors are required, so before I entered the monastery I was already bored. It might be funny to put an easter egg of frozen Winston but it doesn't help in long term. The monastery itself is done the same way. Its symmetry and presence of prayer wheel slots might suggest non-linear hunt for their artifacts but all in all we still end up spending a lot of time on pointless running to execute the intended order and I was seriously missing meeting some helpful monks on my way. Usually the filling is made of keys and switches, but at least these differ from each other and a gemstone puzzle was also included so there is some variety. The final item is the only customized thing apart from secrets so it was as satisfying to pick up as they were, but if the whole point was to remove it from the monastery, why won't Lara just quit the game by leaving the building but places the wheels to access the inner section instead? However it might also be interpreted as if Lara was the true evil of the adventure, so I will do just that. SUMMARY: A quite atmospheric level with unfortunate amount of running." - DJ Full (06-Jan-2016)

"This level was released as a Christmas adventure, but it definitely isn’t one of those. It’s very dark. I don’t really appreciate that. I had to brighten the monitor, especially for the tasks in the Monastery. I recommend the level to those, who like dark locations. It’s a really great adventure and there are some places that don’t affect the gameplay of the level, separate tasks with many items to collect, as reinforcement. This way there are well enough medipacks and flares, and ammo of course. We get the Uzis too, even twice, and the Automatic Pistols that come in handy. Not Christmassy, but basically not bad. There are gunmen and snow panthers to fight with. There are 3 secrets in the level, with a dragon statue in each. I used a medipack, though perhaps the tasks could be done without using a single one, but I didn’t have the patience to play it through once more. :) You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version), savegames and pictures here:" - Obig (05-May-2012)

"Oh, yes, good old Tomb Raider times. Tomb Raider 2 was one of my first computer games and exactly as Piper belong the levels all around the monastery in Tibet also to my favorites. From there first a big thank you. A very good idea of Piper is the decision to use the old sounds. There the level gives immediately even more pleasure. However, it is a pity that there are so many sound problems. It is really irritating if one suddenly ascertains that one is fired, but does not know from which direction the shots come. Moreover, there were not quite unambiguously enough Flares. Although my monitor has relatively bright settings, however, it was too dark, nevertheless, at many places. There were enough Medipacks, particularly as one could find two other weapons beside the two pistols. It's clear, that this is not a Christmas level. However, this is no negative point in my eyes, because the level in itself is built very nicely and is well playable apart from the sound problems." - Scottie (03-Jan-2010)

"Why no binoculars, as some parts are way to dark and those bloody red flares arenít helping one iota. First time around I didnít have the Unknown Key and I was stuck. So had to replay it from the start. There is far too much back and fro over long distances for my liking, just to prolonged gameplay, which is a shame. A pity as after playing this level I felt cheated and which is even a bigger shame as this could have been quite a nice adventure but it wasnít for me." - Gerty (21-Apr-2009)

"Good. Barkhang Monastery was one of my favourite levels from all TR games too. I liked the environment with all those textures and objects from TR2, the automatic pistol, the enemies and the atmosphere. I didn't like got the two cottage keys and have to go back a very long way 'cause I had not the unknown key in my inventory, the very dark rooms with few flares to use and the gameplay based only about pulling too many switches and return several times to the same places, with few puzzles to solve. Even so I liked the level 'cause brought me good memories from the past when I played TR2 (it was one of my very happy periods in all my life). Good intent." - Jose (14-Feb-2009)

"Although I have yet to play a few levels in both categories, I'm convinced that the crop from the combined Advent releases (Levelbase and TR Forge) is more fruitful than this year's BtB levels. There are truly some gems among these 2008 Advent levels. Although I can't say that Changzhug Monastery ranks among them, it doesn't lag far behind. It has the same look of the comparable TR2 level, down to the savegame load screen and accompanying sound, and the final stat screen. It can get pretty complicated, too, especially near the end, and for this reason I'm glad I had Val's excellent walkthrough close by as I was playing. Even so, I racked up more than an hour and a half of net gaming time, so prepare yourself for an extended adventure. Also, unlike most Advent levels, this one has enemies galore and some deadly traps, so stay alert at all times. Recommended." - Phil (23-Jan-2009)

"I liked the original TR2 tibetan levels and I was really looking forward to playing this one. But what started in a promising bright snowy outside area unfortunately ended up in a pretty dark monastery with too much backtracking, running to and fro collecting an item or pulling a switch at one end and running back to the according puzzle hole or door at the other end of the area. This stretched the gameplay unnecessarily. The block pushing was a bit annoying not least because of the stuttering pushing sound, and the maze was not very enjoyable either. At one point I feared I could not go any further when I was attacked by 6 enemies at the same time and not enough high-grade ammo to kill them quickly, what cost me all my medipacks but one. On the upside the texturing of the level was well done and LaraĎs TR2 sounds were cool." - Jerry (05-Jan-2009)

"If you love TR2 levels in the Tibet and the Barkhang Monastery, then you may like this one. The game revolves around moving back and forth to find levers and keys and their correct receptacles to later access the monastery, then solve a few pushblock tasks, find levers and prayer wheels to finish the level. Back-tracking, which the level has in considerable amount, can get a bit frustrating for some players, and the presence of tigers and Uzi equipped enemies can be a bit of a shock for those expecting a quiet Christmas raid. Texturing and lighting could have been tweaked abit, however, the level is worth a try." - Shady Croft (01-Jan-2009)

"I loved this level, not very difficult and very pleasant, not part maze.Very well the sounds tr2, although it lacks some sounds, the switch under water and blocks to push,it miss of flares, and kits! many enemies but with the pistol no problem! Bravo to the author!" - Minox (26-Dec-2008)

"This level has TR2 atmosphere. Music, textures, sounds, fonts, objects are from TR2. Even outfit is based on Tibet outfit. I like levels based on old Tomb Raiders, especially on TR2. Gameplay in the mountains is nice but I hate place with six baddies. It isn't good. In Monastery puzzles are enjoyable but I don't like moving things from one place to another and then back again. I managed to find all secrets but they weren't well hidden. It's a good level but it has moments which aren't nice. I think everyone who loves Tibet level in TR2 should play it. Congratulations to the author for good atmosphere!" - jawi (25-Dec-2008)

"From the start of this level everything is familiar. With the load screen we can immediately recognise The Dagger of Xian font, only looking a good deal smoother than the original, and as soon as the game itself loads the textures too are instantly recognisable as coming from the same game. Of course, by the name alone the player can tell what the general style is going to be, so none of this should be a surprise. Whilst it is nice to see the classic style of the TR 2 menu and text looking so smooth with this set, so much really does boil down to actual gameplay. The question is, therefore, how well executed is this level going to prove to be? Before getting to the monastery itself, the player has quite a bit to do here, and it will involve some degree of going back and forth through the environments. This is generally not irritating, however. On the contrary, I found it quite a pleasant experience getting the most out the areas travelled. Each and every section is very well set out with plenty of levers, switches, doors or pickups situated in such a way as to not be completely obvious, whilst at the same time not being so obscure that one is going bald with the frustration of finding anything as you pull out clumps of hair and sob into your palms. There is quite a good double level maze here that is easy enough to navigate without being pathetically simple, and happily bright enough to be able to see where you're going. For the most part this level is quite sedate, but there is an adrenaline moment when you release a number of Yetis at the same time - and what good fun that is! There aren't that many camera clues with this game, which might be unfortunate if you do have difficulty remembering where you've been, but on the whole I didn't find this a problem at all. Pre-monastery, the lighting was ok as I seemed to have plenty of flares when I needed them. That said, the flares themselves weren't that effective and I suppose I can only say therefore that they made the dark areas bearable. But I'll come back to this in a moment. Other enemies in this level are a few snow leopards. At least, I think that's what they were. In any event, they are very easy to deal with, as are the various gunmen who pop up to challenge Lara. In fact, it's easy to trick them into firing in the wrong direction, so, with the exception of being assailed by four of them at once inside the monastery, they don't constitute much of a challenge. In the monastery proper then, the lighting now becomes an issue. By this time I was completely out of flares, and though I wouldn't say that the darkness was grossly bad, it was bad enough that I had to turn my monitor's gamma up 100% to be able to see so much detail (including some switches and alcoves). It's strange that a builder would go to the trouble of making a high up ceiling look good, only to obscure it with setting the light levels so low. Irritations include a triple under water lever set that's a bit buggy, in that Lara wouldn't immediately pull the third one, and a set of push blocks which I thought were just a bit much to hide one lever. Aside from those, I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the monastery. Running around was funny to me when passing a set of rolling blades because it sounded as if Lara was inside a factory full of industrial knitting machines, rather than a supposedly peaceful monastery. As with the previous areas there is a bit of back and forth running around, but I never felt this was a problem. All in all, then, this level is a perfectly enjoyable one hour's play." - Czar (24-Dec-2008)

"This level was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed how the author brought TR 2 aspects to the level, which was neat, but there were many things that upset me greatly as well. I absolutely cannot stand levels that start out with three different ways to go and you have to decide if you go one way, is it a secret, is it a dead end where you need a key you don't have, or is it the way you need to go first? Well, it didn't matter, sadly an ongoing theme in this level was backtracking, and Shan does not enjoy backtracking! Backtracking wastes my precious time. That said, I persevered and found my way, finally, to the monastery. Here I discovered that the author was not only going to continue the dreaded backtracking, but she also wanted to torture me by making me squint to see what the heck I am doing! The torture just kept on coming when I discovered that there were no binoculars, the flares were the almost useless 30 second numbers that are red, and there were about 10 of them. I just don't see the point making a level so dark that even in my dark room, I still couldn't see. Had Piper just included the binoculars, I would have given the lighting and textures higher scores, but I just hate that I was tortured so much that I just couldn't. There were some nifty little puzzles to solve, but they weren't enough to overcome the negatives." - Shandroid (23-Dec-2008)

"A level mainly based on exploration and finding key items with much backtracking. One serious downside is the lack of pickups , flares and ammos, and there is no binoculars either which seems to be an horrible trend these days in custom levels. My advice is to boost the brightness of your screen , in doing so you will get stuck not often , as the gameplay suffers much of the darkness. Watch for your health too, as at one point there is a big gunfight with 5 or 6 mafiosi that will drain it. There are some good ideas and interesting flipmaps , the texturing is good except underwater where there is disjointed textures. What I prefer in this level is the good TR2 atmosphere." - eRIC (21-Dec-2008)

"Inspired by a TR2 Himalayan level, the basic concept here is pretty good, and it does give us a taste of the Tibetan atmosphere. Lara explores icy tunnels and encounters yetis, Winston frozen in a solid block of ice, snow leopards, and bad guys waiting in ambush. The animation for the yetis and their attack on Lara is well done (I let them get too close). I missed a fallen trapdoor because it only flashed into existence if Lara was right next to it. Well, at least Lara gets the needed key. But soon in the "cottage" and in the monastery the rooms are so dark that it is impossible to see across the room, and the binoculars have been taken away. Maybe the author played the original TR2 with a bad monitor, and remembers everything as extremely dark. I found a push block, and assumed it must be there to allow Lara to reach a crawlspace, probably in a nearby alcove, but even with a flare it was impossible to see. The flares in the original TR2 were the best flares of any in the series, but here we get sickly red flares that are the worst that TREP has to offer. So the fundamental design and game play are sound, with some back-and-forth hunting for switches or gems. If you enjoyed the original Tibetan level, and can put up with dark interiors, this is for you." - dmdibl (21-Dec-2008)

"The longest level of the TR Forge Advent Calendar to date, as you probably get to spend about an hour or more in the snowy hills and monastery buildings, depending on how quickly you find things and how often you end up going back and forth between areas, as Piper does send you around quite a bit from key to key and from newly opened door to newly opened door. There are some nice flipmap effects along the way, quite a few enemy battles with yetis, tigers and guards and three nice dragon secrets, until you eventually get your hands on to the four prayer wheels and the famed thangka thingy. Solid level in TR2 style and worth a play on a cold winter afternoon." - MichaelP (20-Dec-2008)

"The sight of Winston entombed in the ice really made me giggle Ė I daresay Iím not a very nice person. On the other hand, I didnít like having to shoot the snow leopards so at least I am an animal lover. Yes, there is shooting, which makes it more of a winter than Advent level, but it has an excellent atmosphere and if you enjoyed the TR2 monastery levels you should enjoy this very much. There are some nice inventive touches and well-hidden switches etc., that had me running around quite a lot, but I found everything eventually Ė well, except for one of the secrets, which are those dragons that look more like hippos and always make me smile. All I want to know now is, where were the friendly monks to lend a hand with bumping off the baddies?" - Jay (20-Dec-2008)

"A beautiful Tibetan level which I thoroughly enjoyed. This isn't so much an Xmas level though, there are traps and enemies but it's very snowy and cold. In the first part of this level Lara will be searching in underground caves for a couple of keys, and then travelling to another area for some more items. Along the way she will meet a few leopards, baddies and yetis, and even gets to see Winston walled up in ice LOL.. There are some very well hidden levers and I found the whole layout to be very well thought out. Loved the exploration in these underground passages, and eventually found my way to the monastery. In the monastery there is a bit more searching to do. Baddies await Lara and health can be quite low at this point. There are some boxes to move about which will lead you to a secret and to much needed levers. Four prayer wheels must be found and also a key, a jewel and the much sought after Wen Cheng's Thangka. Back tracking can be tiresome if you take the wrong routes to each necessary item, but it's not like you have a long way to go back for anything. Three secrets also added some fun, and the atmosphere was superb. Enjoyable from start to finish, this really is one of my fav environments and a must to play." - Moonpooka (20-Dec-2008)
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