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Level: Valek Ruins - Search for the Golden Elephant (Demo) back home search
Author(s): Lara_Fox_Croft
total rating:7.14 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bene 7 8 8 8
Blue43 7 6 8 8
Christian 7 7 8 8
Diz 7 7 9 9
dmdibl 7 8 8 6
eRIC 5 6 8 5
eTux 5 6 6 5
Gerty 5 6 7 5
Jay 8 8 9 8
Jose 7 7 8 7
manarch2 7 7 8 7
MichaelP 6 8 9 7
Minox 7 7 7 7
Orbit Dream 6 7 8 8
Phil 7 8 8 7
rtrger 7 6 8 7
Scottie 7 7 6 7
SSJ6Wolf 6 8 7 7
Steven Svorticher 6 7 8 8
TheStig 7 8 8 8
category averages
(20 reviews)
6.55 7.10 7.80 7.10

Reviewer's comments

"Quite a promising start here from Kurtis Lara. I'll confess though there's two things here which need to be addressed. Firstly the white-fog needs to be dialed down a little as it is quite over-powering. It looks fantastic on screenshots but becomes very wearing on the eyes after 20 or so minutes play. The next element is the sound. I like other reviewers felt compelled to remove the main soundtrack which was such a jumble of over-lapping sounds it drove me mad! These criticism's aside what you have here is a very nice winter level with about 40 or so minutes gameplay. I quite like the structure of the level itself, set around an ancient ruined castle, and the other clearly has a great deal of complexity planned judging by all the star receptacles dotted around. There's clearly the beginnings of a great idea here, and definitely a nice way to round off my reviews of 2010's levels! :) Recommended. Stiggy" - TheStig (17-Oct-2011)

"A quite nice level that has some good ideas and some other things to be revised; as a demo, however many things could be improved. The gameplay is not difficult at all, there are no points where you need to do more specific jumps; there aren't any complex puzzles: the most elaborate one consists to place some blocks in the right tiles and, by observing a little around, it is quite evident where to place them immediately. According to that, I find the puzzles a little obvious, but it can definitely be improved or added new more structured stuff. Let's speak about the setting: we find ourselves at the feet of a castle shrouded in fog, a fantastic background, which gives a sense of the mystical, mysterious, ghostly. The lights are used quite well, even if that white can be a hindrance in some contexts (for example, when Lara has to shoot the boss). We have as background music church choirs for all the duration of the level (and personally after a while they get annoying), we also have other nice soundtracks, but the result is a bit confusing because they overlap and do not bind very well (at least for me). As for the rooms, in addition to the main is located at the center of the castle with a little limited space, we can find other 2 ones located underground beneath trap doors that will be opened to the outer sides of the castle. The idea of ​​these rooms is nice, but I think it was poorly developed; labyrinth rooms are with very few branches and with only one goal (and then the other branches are useless). While I find more exciting climbing the castle until you get near the top. We find a few enemies (and a few lucky because we have limited ammo for the usual guns) of 3 categories: first at the beginning 2 dogs, which seem to run away and do not even attack, the second one 4 armed men, and finally the boss: a mechanical head like the one of Trajan's Markets in TR Chronicles and it's definitely the hardest thing, until we study the strategic position from which to shoot. There are no secrets. In conclusion an easy demo level affordable to anyone. There are good ideas, but I think some aspects should be improved." - Steven Svorticher (04-Jul-2011)

"I admit as much that I might have set myself up for disappointment by judging the level from the screenshots. It looks wonderfully moody with a touch of surreal there, and so it does in the actual game too - with the surroundings being covered in an inviting, yet at the same time sort of spooky white fog, the ruins seeming positively enchanted. But a number of things made the whole experience rather off-putting. I am not sure if the lagging can be avoided, but it didn't enhance my experience and my laptop is not even that old. The score chosen - or more likely the fact, that a number of tracks were seemingly playing at the same time, was a most headache inducing experience, so I eventually turned off the sound for good. The surroundings look compelling at a distance, but on closer inspection there are a lot of texture errors (squashed, wrongly rotated, stretched, cracked textures) the lighting is flat and uninspired, and the architecture turns out to be relatively simplistic and functional. I probably enjoyed the jumps around the outer walls of the ruins the most as far as tasks go. The number of movable block puzzles are not bad too, but don't really stand out for any novel interpretations of the theme. The limited ammunition made me a bit wary, but you don't really encounter much more than a few dogs, 4 mercenaries and the floating laser head, all of which are disposed of relatively easily, especially after you get the revolver. It all ends after 30 minutes, and when all was said and done I was not entirely sure what I had accomplished here. It has potential, especially the settings and atmosphere can be turned into something unique, and I'm sure the author can explore the level's possibilities with more work invested and maybe some feedback before releasing to the public. As it is - it's worth a look - but if there's actually a full version coming somewhere down the line - completing this one might be something for the completists only." - eTux (27-Feb-2011)

"Another demo by this builder (big sigh). Funny though now with the new engine I don’t understand the need for those very high resolutions textures as well as (as you sometimes see) the chockablock use of objects. In my book it doesn’t add anything extra to a level apart that most machines get very sluggish and some players can’t even play it. Texture wise it can use quite some TLC, for the rest the fog did add a bit of desolate feeling to the level. But what the heck, I couldn’t even shoot the poor warthog in the start of the level, A it was stuck B I had no more bullets left. Don’t do that, give us limited ammo on every weapon but not with our pistols. This is our Lara, you have unlimited pistol ammo and NO save crystals. Hope the invisible barrier will be gone as there are better ways to solve the problem of keeping Miss Croft where she should be." - Gerty (24-Feb-2011)

"A nice little half-hour demo in some rather spooky ruins in the snow. The things I enjoyed were the action sequences and the interesting looking boss. However I did not like having to do that one route twice (because of the golden key) or the fact that I had limited ammo. Thankfully in this demo there is not very much combat anyway (I ended with 8 bullets left in the pistols). The environment is well ornamented, however the textures have gotten misshaped in some places where the geometry gets funky. The audio tracks that are triggered only play on top of the ambiance track rather than replacing it, and it just turns the music into a bunch of noise. Either have the ambiance track stop at these moments, or change the ambiance to something non-musical. It is a good start and I hope the builder will keep at it." - SSJ6Wolf (17-Jan-2011)

"This is a huge download for a 45-minute level, but the gaming experience is pleasant enough while you're here. The game map is surprisingly compact, and for the most part your quest is confined to the exploration of some old ruins. The chanting monks (engaged in choir practice somewhere offscreen where I couldn't see them) got on my nerves after a while. They just wouldn't shut up, even when other music was competing with them. There was some backtracking to be done here, too, including the second use of a tightrope. Maybe someone will come up with a pill for this epidemic, which seems to have started with the Advent levels. Near the end of the game I encountered a game-stopping bug where Lara would refuse to grab a flat surface, making it impossible to continue. I discovered that I could fix the problem by completely exiting the game and then restarting from scratch. I had to do this several times before I could finish, so the builder definitely needs to address this issue before releasing the full game. The enemies are few, but I got a kick out of shooting the two little orbs surrounding the skull to kill the boss critter before it could kill me. A fun level while it lasts." - Phil (13-Jan-2011)

"I wanted a tiny raid, but...what a big download! Anyway, at the first flyby, I thought, that's stunning! A brilliant ruin - with a charming fog. Running through the main room, and I was amazed still. I asked, "Why this level is so underrated?" The main floor is so detailed, so much work and effort in it, it's clearly visible. The ruin feeling is absolutely caught, the geometry is great, rocks are everywhere, icicles and boulders are falling down to end Lara's life. Outside the ruins there are hills, more ruins, animals - spectacular! Then I had to meet with the worse side of the game. First, the texturing is quite repetitive, and sometimes, they're wrongly rotated or squished. The ambient music gets quite annoying after a while. There are too many pushables in the level - which is NOT a great puzzle, instead it's a big timewaster, in my opinion. There are some fun climbing in the level, that made the level a bit better, and the final boss - I liked it a lot. A few changes at the object would've made the game a bit more atmospheric. A decent raid, which is worth a playthrough." - rtrger (07-Jan-2011)

"Some nice ideas concerning gameplay, especially the way to the upper floor of the hall. Tasks were a bit too easy and puzzles too predictable in my opinion. There is no single hard jump to perform, no timed sequence.The environment is dominated fog, the colors grey and white make it a bit monotone. The monk-chorus fits to the atmosphere, but becomes annoying by permanent repetition. I inally turned off the sound. I hope there will be some alternation in the final version. All in all a promising demo! I'm looking forward to playing the full game." - Christian (06-Jan-2011)

"I am not really a great fan of being kind of forced to play a level twice, even if a second version is largely enhanced over the original demo release. I would recommend the author changes habits here and leverages beta testing forums that exist out there. That general comment aside, the demo here is most promising and does indeed make me look forward to the full adventure. The atmosphere created is stunning thanks to great choice of objects, unusual lighting and intriguing audio selection. You get a little over 30 minutes of exploration of the castle ruins, where the two small undeground mazes (one with spikes and one with cool looking burners) seemed a bit uninspired, but the ledge hopping course and the occasional pushable was fun to get through (even though maybe a shortcut to go up the second time may be a good idea, so that people do not have to repeat the entire trip). The skull monster is most impressive too, although I needed a forum hint to figure out how to kill it. I also hope the invisble surrounding barrier disappears in the final version as it kills the illusion of reality that otherwise works really well here and the textures need a bit of work as many are squashed or do not line up properly. A fun demo to play and hoping for an intriguing larger adventure to come from it soon..." - MichaelP (02-Jan-2011)

"Basically, it could really be fun to play this level because it is all in there that needs a good level. The puzzles are well thought out, the level is well built, some enemies are also included, the tasks are relatively simple and the jumps are no problem. So everything is alright. Is it really? No, unfortunately not. Because there are a few things that do not fit together quite right. No matter where you are at that level, you have always this dense fog before his eyes. Because it has the level builders somewhat exaggerated. Far worse, however, is the permanent monk chant. The problem is, that you hear these monks' chants, even if there is a different music. And so do I hear sometimes a confusing mess. The only help in this case is to remove the audio file 105 from the audio folder. The fact that the download file is clearly too big all together, because the level builder has inserted the whole audio folder of the LE, would be mentioned here only at the edge. It would quite better if the level builder inserted one or two more camera hints.
Conclusion: If I had two wishes free, I would like to see the following: The singing monks must away! Either he has completely gone, or you listen to it once and it will then be disabled for the rest of the game. And the fog should not be so dense as in this demo!" - Scottie (02-Jan-2011)

"Not bad this new creation from this prolific author. I liked the architecture and the ambience, and gameplay is not bad. It seems that the author wants to release demos so players around the world can test the levels (I remember the remake of The Great Wall). Well; I think could be a camera to show you the trapdoor opening when you pull the switch over the stairs. Also when you get the gold key, it was bored to take again the long path to go up to the keyhole repeating again the same movements for a long time. When you use the second key, there's not a camera to show the block which have lowered and you can waste a long time running around for nothing. Also could be a good idea to place an antitrigger to stop the rolling ball only for you have not to hear that nasty sound for a long time. Some textures are deformed, and another ones don't fit well with its neighbours. Even so I've enjoyed the level and I think I'll play the final version (if released). Good work." - Jose (01-Jan-2011)

"On first impression, this appears much better than the author's The Great Wall, which had overdone vegetation. Lara enters a world of dense white fog, a snowy landscape of barren trees that are sparse and appropriate. It is almost as if Lara is in a black-and-white world, and one's first reaction is that this is very promising. I don't know how else to put it, but the nonchalant construction bugs me. The landscape is inviting, Lara tries to enter it, and hits an invisible wall on every side of the ruins. This isn't realistic. Lara returns to the start, and to the right of two hanging orange banners the wall textures don't match up. The textures are castle stonework, but one column of textures is flipped upside down so the seams don't match. An adjacent attached pillar has vertical stonework textures in a couple places, completely mismatched. Once alerted to the textures, I spot problems in plenty of other places. Overall, the demo is short, and play is good when Lara gets past the tiny mazes and starts climbing the ruined walls, and doing pole jumps. Two short push-block puzzles were good. The animals ran away, and the Russians were quickly dispatched using pistols alone--Lara wanted to conserve revolver ammo. The undoubted highlight is the skull with phantom hands that flings bluish and deadly fire at Lara. It was pleasing to find that this thing could be shot (a tip from the forum had Lara using laser sight to aim for his hands). This part is quite effective. Let us hope more of the good stuff will be in the final release." - dmdibl (01-Jan-2011)

"This atmospheric demo starts with a view of a diary entry which copies the ‘Read Me’. Unfortunately, this view stays on for a long time and cannot be overridden (Esc, Enter, Space etc). As I’d already read the ‘Read Me’ it was definitely ‘drumming fingers on the table’ time. Right, that’s my only real gripe out of the way, on to the good stuff! The area is a ruined castle/church or similar. Really nicely done with the central area full of the detritus you’d expect from the roof collapsing. The area is surrounded by mist which gives an eerie feel to the place. Together with the scattering of snow on the ground, the half-light and the starkness of the stone, the whole effect is slightly spooky. The object is to explore the ruins to find a key to get you through the closed door. Seems straight forward but add in homicidal Russians, a ‘red herring’ pole swing through spikes, a tightrope that goes nowhere, a block puzzle and a floating skull that has to have its eyes shot out before it fries you (the timing is taxing but not too difficult), and you have the makings of an interesting level. Limited ammo may make you nervous, but there’s plenty, at least for the demo. On a personal note, I would have liked the jumping about the battlements to have been more difficult but I realise not everyone would agree. Really looking forward to the full level!" - Diz (01-Jan-2011)

"Its a demo, so it is difficult to noter.L 'environnemnt a building where Lara must find some artifacts in order to find the exit, being careful to lasers at the end. Some textures are badly asked and distorted, it also lacks some cameras showing the action of a lever or key. But all is okay and I await the final version." - Minox (01-Jan-2011)

"This 25 minute level was a nice work by this author. The gameplay was OK and challenging, the two mazes and the jumping parts were fun. There were two or three little block puzzles in it, not really hard. The atmosphere and sound was good, two cutscenes were helpful here. I cannot say really bad things about this level, maybe that the outdoor areas just were blocked by an invisible wall and that the warthog was running constantly in it. Can't wait for the full version (and, regarding the builder, I really can hope there will be one) where all those tasks you couldn't do yet (star receptacles, effigy block) are worked in." - manarch2 (30-Dec-2010)

"Judging by the amount of improvement between this builder’s first demo and the finished level, he obviously does appreciate a spot of feedback. I’m not a builder so my ‘constructive criticism’ is obviously of lesser value, but my impressions of this demo are mainly very favourable. It all looks impressive, particularly in the outdoor areas, where the somewhat monochrome colour palette creates a lovely, misty, snow laden winter world and gives the interiors a feel of austerity. The two initial ventures underground managed to be completely opposite (spike traps versus fire pits) and yet almost identical (mazes) and were probably my least favourite bit, but the rest of the action was really interesting, comprising some fun climbing. jumping and pole swinging (there was a tightrope but I never needed to use it) and some good boulder and icicle traps. Enemies were a couple of dogs who ran away when their tails caught fire and were latterly to be observed in what appeared to be a dubious threesome with a wild boar, four Russian soldiers, who definitely didn’t seem inclined to run away (having by that time found the revolver however, they were pretty easy to despatch) and a seldom seen baddie (you can either try and open a door whilst avoiding being fried or shoot to disable his frying ability). I also liked the plainsong used as looped background music, which managed not to grate on my nerves at all – an unusual occurrence, given that even the most beautiful choice of music can become a major irritation after about fifteen minutes. I’m certainly looking forward to the full version of this one." - Jay (30-Dec-2010)

"This is one of those "it almost works,but not quite" levels. The texturing is fine (in a rather cold and spare type of way),but the lighting is so foggy that it's often difficult to see all of the details that the author worked long and hard over.The gameplay was frequently creative and ingenious;but did we really need to repeat the entire 'navigating around the upper part of the Monastery' simply to pad out the duration? Enemies were either buggy (the harmless dogs) or few in number and easy to dispatch;while the Demo aspect meant that many tantalizing objects and tasks were left untouched at levels end. On the plus side,the gameplay featured many entertaining ideas (the athletical maneuvers needed to reach certain areas;the red-herring exit door;the pushable object puzzles);while the atmosphere was everywhere intriguing and skillfully created. As a glimpse of things to come,it did its job; but is it really necessary to have quite so many of these 'look at this incomplete glimpse of my next up-coming project' releases? Especially as you gain the Finish trigger without the feeling of satisfaction at having done everything." - Orbit Dream (30-Dec-2010)

"Better not having a powerless PC so to not have unwelcome “slow motions” in game in this demo with an intriguing storyline and an interesting location , somewhere in Siberia. The author has worked on the atmosphere , mixing well natural sounds , music and monks chanting which is related to the story and the place. The setting is mostly grey and foggy , what could be improved (a lot) is an appropriate shaping of the blocks and segmentation of the walls to have a better texturing , as it is really a mess in the central area. Not many enemies encountered in the 55 minutes spent here , a couple of animals which fled and disappeared into a wall ( they may be the coward type ) , 4 Russian soldiers for a good ambush shooting at Lara when she was climbing down a long ladder ( surely the sneaky type ) , and a kind of boss at the end, of which the triggering is well put in scene. About the gameplay , the first 2 challenges are easy , and they are the same type of challenge , hopping over spikes , and hopping over deadly liquid ( maybe a bit of variety in the challenges would have been welcome for the 2nd one ), then the most interesting part was the journey at the top of the setting , with jumps , monkey swing , user-friendly horizontal ropes swinging , and a walk on a frozen rope. You have to make this journey twice (which was rather okay although it's not a plus for the level ). There is a couple of moving objects puzzles with appropriate hints , and a smart use of a pushable object that you can climb onto, although it is a bit strange to meet other similar objects that were not climbable. One thing that was highly irritating for the playability is the fact that Lara could not grab the edges where doors were opened. For the full game release (which has some good potential) : the author should really take some time to take care of the texturing , perhaps improve what is annoying and what is possibly unnecessary ( what is the use of the shootable objects on the big wooden double doors , what is the use of that door near by the perpetual rolling ball ? ), the wooden receptacles for the golden stars ( that you don’t find in the demo ) should also be retextured as they are not in harmony with the rest of the setting. Cheers !" - eRIC (29-Dec-2010)

"Here with have an interesting Demo with quite good game play and pretty nice visuals. It starts with a very long screen shot (about 40 seconds) of a letter and map for Lara, which cannot be skipped by hitting any key and might lead some players to the conclusion that the screen has frozen. After that we are greeted with a well-made flyby showing Lara has just arrived with her snowmobile in a cold, frozen environment with lots of fog effects, which I thought was really well done. Lara’s goal is to explore and find several keys and levers in order to progress. There are some nice climbing sequences combined with swing pole jumps and tight rope walks. I did enjoy that part the most. The ammo for the pistols is limited (didn’t like that) but Lara soon finds the revolver and a couple of ammo boxes. The animal AI might need a bit more work as the 2 dogs after waking up caught fire and ran outside where they teamed up with a wild boar and got stuck in a pile of rocks for the rest of the level. There are also several human opponents, which were relatively easy to fight and didn’t oppose any problems. The atmosphere is nice and the sounds are well chosen for this type of environment, but the way the sound play definitely needs lot of work. The chanting monk background loop as the main sound was ok, but later several other sounds also starting to play and there was so much overlay at one point that it almost sounded like chaos and I felt compelled to turn off the sound completely. It seems at the later part of the level there are three sounds playing at the same time – all the time. Less would be a lot more here – in my opinion. The builder did definitely a very nice job with the texturing and lighting. There is not much color here and that seems realistic for a frozen and foggy Tundra environment. The texturing was well executed. – The frozen ground looked beautiful, the textures of the building were nicely applied and there were enough decorations in form of rocks and trees to give this environment a solid and finished look. As usual since there us lots of high-rez stuff used, players with slower computers will have their share of problems. My computer is new and has an upgraded graphics card, but I could tell some slowdown of the FPS in a couple of areas. It definitely is a cool looking demo, worth downloading and playing. After having seen the tremendous improvement the builder made from the great wall demo to the full version I am full of hope that the full version of this level might be an awesome experience." - Blue43 (29-Dec-2010)

"As with most demos, this is over rather quickly after placing two keys and going through a newly opened door. Good atmosphere with a moody, gray ambiance opening with a well-done fly-by preceded by an interesting map of the area. And, once again, I am impressed with the realistic looking trees that are now in most new levels. There is a different looking MS and an ice-encrusted tightrope to navigate. Enemies attacking Lara while climbing down a long ladder need a bit of thought for the player as ammo is limited. There's a tight timeline to open the door before the 'Boss' incinerates Lara. Tight but doable. I liked the textures even though some felt out of place and I'm looking forward to playing the completed game." - Bene (29-Dec-2010)
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