"Excellent enemy placement is what this game deserves to be
praised for. So many of them of a single type (BADDY1), yet
each next fight differs in tactics from a previous one.
Seriously I find it hard to recall better usage of those
enemies... and in the end, I fail to do so - while in the
meantime, there are other levels where bad guys (or in
Steampunk case girls with male voices) are: a) just placed
to make some artificial entertainment, b) senseless, c) and
finally we have productions where authors decide not to
implement any AI, because they don't have a clue what to do
with it. So I will recommend Thot's attempt also for
builders, as a powerful lesson of enemy usage. As a pinnacle
on the top of a cake, it's worth to mention none of those
enemies Lara is defenseless from, while they are all
challenging. Brilliant, simply brilliant, also surrounded by
excellent soundtrack fitting, and when You think it's all
over with (like in most of other games) the main artifact
not even used, the action surprisingly moves to a completely
different place... What a pity the observatory surroundings
have been done in haste, and an interruptible camera between
the cave and Greg's manor can make You stuck forever. Also,
for next time - very important: a)don't design secrets that
require repeating of half level in case of fail, and b)MORE
FLARES, PLEASE. SUMMARY: Strictly recommended, minor flaws
don't disturb the atmosphere.
I think after I release
my all on-hold reviews, I change my way of writing them.
I'll just focus on things unique for a level, unless there
are none, while just leaving other without a comment - as
they're surely already justified by a bunch of other people,
and even if not, many curious players will anyway download a
respective level and see the reason why it ended up with a
particular score. Yeah, no more wasting of space, as there's
so much diversity in c-levels there's no point to cover
everything anymore. Honestly I have no idea why I used to do
it for so long." - DJ Full (08-Oct-2012)
"A solid start here from Thot, especially consider this is the first level released by the builder. I found the concept of entering the mine quite interesting, though it would be have been nice to perhaps have a little bit more scale to the decent (as you only really drop down a few levels). That said as the level unfolds the design and puzzles get stronger and stronger (as does the author's skills with the editor). Texturing and lighting start off perhaps a little flat (but never the less well applied), but get really strong towards the end. The final room where you place the book of elements is very nicely put together. All I all I netted just over 2 hours from the Book of 4 Elements. Great first level from Thot and I look forward to playing more of his levels in the future. Recommended! Stiggy :)" - TheStig (15-Sep-2012)
"Well, the competition is over; I just now have time to play some of these levels. The quality of this level is getting better in the 2nd half. After a long and sometimes annoying prelude in the garden and the mines the level becomes more and more an adventure. It's really worth to get through the first sequences: Having reached a crystal cube a torch-puzzle starts, gameplay becomes quite creative. It's a pitty that the author didn't start on the quality-level the adventure ends on. But so IÄm looking forward to playing coming works from this author." - Christian (15-Apr-2012)
"Another beautiful steampunk level in a new country for the first time with the editor, the Poland.
Lara visit a mine and an abondonned train before enter in a steampunk temple.
The part of the temple is exellent and very hard sometimes but REALLY enjoyable, specially the end whit the earthquake.
The textures are beautiful and the lighting too.
For a first level it's very good.
But for me, the best part of the level is the apartment.
It was a real surprise to discovered Lara in a town at the end.
Félicitation Thot et merci." - BigFoot (26-Nov-2011)
"Objects: It is kind of strange that there are useless puzzle items. I am also not fond of how certain things like the revolver just lay there on the ground when you walk into a room. Other items, though, you have to work for which is good. The constant dragons at the end also got a bit tiring.
Textures: The dark blue rooms are hard to see in. The area where you place the disks looks nice, but the caves look bad with lots of misshaped textures.
Gameplay: The mirror room is a great challenge, although it freaked me out at first. The camera centers on the mirror Lara instead of the normal one, so left and right are swapped. The element rooms were interesting, but a bit simple. And there was a nice pushblock puzzle.
Atmosphere/cameras: The intro is good and presents a clear goal. There are a nice amount of dramatic cutscenes and dramatic camera shots to add to the tension. Excellent.
Overall: While the elemental rooms left something to be desired, the level as a whole is still great fun. Finished in 1:24:07." - SSJ6Wolf (15-Nov-2011)
"A good entry, This level is very pleasant.
good solid level, it is a pleasure to play it.
the gameplay is relatively linear, it is never boring.
Cameras are well implemented and sounds are used well
The builder must be experienced.
The passage in the mine is dark (normal lol) but well connected with the rest of the level.
The room of the 4 dragons is very well done with a passage with the levers on the top of the ceiling.
strongly recommended."" - cho7 (29-Oct-2011)
"Congratulations to this new builder for this good debut. Please next time revise the textures, 'cause there are not one or two missed textures, but more. Also players would never get the end of the world where Lara hits with an invisible wall. The level was good and entertaining for me with a gameplay not very difficult and variety of tasks, although I missed some puzzles to solve and not always looking for keys or pulling switches. It notices an effort by creating a good atmosphere with a good use of cameras and flybies, and well placed CD tracks, good architecture and many flipmaps. A good promise for the future. Well done." - Jose (16-Oct-2011)
"I had to laugh when the end of the story for this level was, "a new and thrilling adventure in Poland begins", because it makes it sound like people usually have exciting adventures in Poland. Which they don't. Because it's a boring country. Polandsucks. Aaanyway, this level turns out to be the exception to the rule, as it's actually pretty good. Incorporating the four elements isn't a new idea, but it's used well in this level. At one point I came across four doors (one of which was open), and didn't think much of them until I had to open them by lighting spheres attached to different-colored pipes. Eventually I realized that the pipes corresponded to the elements and of course there were element-based challenges behind each door. Later on, the theme is used again when you have to fight four dragons and climb to some jump switches, but that's more repetitive than it is interesting and fighting dragons is never fun. For the most part, though, the gameplay is fun, if a bit unsurprising. The author apparently fell in love with the ninjas and use them constantly, which gets old pretty quickly, but they are used to great effect a couple of times. The level looks good, though some rooms are a bit bland and most of the caves look less impressive. The author clicked the wrong button somewhere for the flybys, as they can be skipped with the look button. Near the end, when you're escaping a collapsing cave and the flyby is supposed to show how Lara makes it to a mansion, it's possible to end up in an unwinnable situation if you skip the flyby before it opens a door. It's an annoying oversight because the screen turns black for about ten seconds mid-flyby, at which point you'd be excused for thinking that it's over and pressing the look button to see if the game has crashed or something. On the plus side, it does give you a chance to get a look behind the scenes of how the author transported Lara from one location to another. Which is kind of cool, I guess, but it still sucks to get stuck forever. The level ends not long after that and the final flyby brings the whole thing together very nicely. In this one case, spending fifty minutes in Poland is bearable." - Magnus (15-Oct-2011)
"I guess it is credit to an excellent overall BtB 2011 competition that this final level that I played only ranks as number 8 in my personal BtB ranking this year. Credit, because I did enjoy playing this level immensely. It nicely conveys a storyline, it has several really beautiful areas and some rather original ideas throughout. It is also not a difficult level to get through as I never went to the walkthrough or the stuck forum. What the level lacks at times is balance in the environments and a bit more substance in some of the puzzles. For example, the really well crafted opening area is followed by a rather bland maze like area textured with a single texture throughout. Or the heart of the level, the area with the four elements holds very little in each of the puzzle rooms for you to do. Still, it does have its moments with an unusual mirror room and I thought the transition from finding the book to bringing it home was brilliantly executed. The four dragon room was maybe a bit too tedious to go through the same obvious motions four times and there were definitely too many of those annoying ninjas around, but all those minor gripes are forgotten when you reach the ending and set those spirits free. An enchanting level! Not to be missed. [1:27, 1/3 secrets]" - MichaelP (14-Oct-2011)
"Another good solid level - it's well put together, and fun to play. Texturing was at times a bit on the plain side. Not overly hard, and so mostly not too frustrating. Lighting is a little lacking in creating a really convincing atmosphere. Overall fun but missing that WOW factor." - EssGee (14-Oct-2011)
"This level gets off to a slow start – the maze so close to the beginning is a real pace killer. The coal mine is not bad, but visually rather dull. But once you reach the elements area, the looks and gameplay improve tremendously. The underground tower section with the torch puzzle for opening the doors is really cool, and the four colour-coded element areas are themselves very enjoyable (except the green area, which has no gameplay; and the water wall in the blue area is a bit weird). The mirror room is a little too confusing because of the fixed camera in the mirrored room (a good idea in itself, but could have been implemented better). The dragon fights and monkey-swinging in the book room get a bit repetitive, but the basic idea behind this room is good. And finally, the builder saves the best for last, with a trip to Gregory’s lovely house, which boasts a conservatory, observatory, armoury, a snake cage and a great view from the windows. It’s nice to see the story integrated into the locations of the level.
There are no timed runs or any difficult jumps, but I didn’t really miss them. Enemies abound, but since you soon get heavy weapons and plenty of ammo, they’re quite easy to take care of. Even the four dragons are easy to tackle, as you can get behind them and shoot them at leisure without any danger from the fireballs.
Areas like the ventilation ducts maze and the tunnels leading to the house, both of which sport only a single texture each, look very dull. The lighting is also mostly bland and dark, especially in the mine. But it improves from the element area onwards, and the house at the end looks quite pretty.
Overall: This level is very pleasant and enjoyable, though it does feel a bit unpolished. Recommended for all players." - Mytly (13-Oct-2011)
"This was a very enjoyable and well-made level. I thought the gameplay was really good. It’s nothing profound and also a bit too easy sometimes, but all in all it is a very nice romp and you won’t get stuck at any given time. This is not because it’s easy at certain times, but because the author is simply clear in laying out for us what must be done, and the level design is coherent and shows that thought was put into it. I also think the author could have actually gotten away with making things a little bit tougher for players in some areas, such as the elemental challenge rooms. Rooms such as Air and Water were a bit too easy. The best part of the game however was the beginning when we are making our way through the Base. Things start to look a little strange and “off” when we get down below to the more ‘mystical’ and ‘magical’ areas. The Base is crafted quite well and also feels believable, and it reminded me of the good old days with Bases from games such as TR2 and TR3. I hope that one day we see at least one really good Base level from this builder, if not more. Enemies are used well (the more supernatural kind are kept to the supernatural areas) and the builder’s mix of triggering enemies with camera sequences really helps to tell the story in nice and subtle ways. Secrets are also good, in that we get special guns for each which is always nice; however one downside is that we only get one special gun at the very end when it is of little use. Objects have specific names which really help build the story and realism of the area as you progress (none of this vague “Green Key” or “Door Key” nonsense), and there’s also a funny little joke at the end when Lara finds Gregory’s pet-snake dinner ;) One major flaw when it came to object placement was the lack of flares. This game can get very dark (especially at one specific part at the end) and you’ll want to use flares quite a lot, however the builder has given us barely enough. At one point I was even left completely without flares and had to figure out my way through the darkness with pistols. The atmosphere is good, best of all in the Base area – it really feels briny and cold. Audio is also used well, and no over-the-top tracks are used that might take one out of the story and game itself. This builder definitely seems to be the master in using cameras. Not only do cameras show us clearly what we just triggered, but they are also used in a great way for flyby sequences to help tell the story. My favorite is the sequence with Lara sliding out of the cave and ending up in Gregory’s apartment – this was a really clever way to “change” locations within the same level. The only major problem with this flyby and the end flyby is that the author did not put a lock on the keyboard, so it’s possible to ‘click’ out of those flybys and so ruin the effect. This is a real shame and probably due to the beta testers not noticing and it is the only reason why I haven’t given the level a 10 in this category. The texturing and lighting isn’t the strongest part to this level, but it passes and looks decent enough in creating the desired environment. Lighting however could definitely be improved upon when it comes to realism, and such extreme colors shouldn’t be used. All in all though a really enjoyable level. Well done!- this is the definite winner! (for me at least…)" - Sethian (11-Oct-2011)
"A regularly trap-filled level with a nice pace throughout
and fine textures although not really surprising or always
to my personal taste. Well built nonetheless. I found a bug
in the dragon's room, where they may become inactive for
some reason, hence preventing the necessary game sequence,
that after a mirror room with spikes which is one my pet
peeves. I also found the number of ninjas in the end a bit
too excessive, especially since they are almost always well
programmed to last in the sense that it's hard to get them
off guard. Another thing I disliked was the earthquake in a
small part of the game - it's always a bit annoying. But it
may seem I hated the game from most of what I've said so far
and that isn't anywhere near the truth. Apart from the
aforementioned personal dislikes, I found the level quite
playable, well conceived and not at all boring - otherwise I
might have dumped it. Some entries are top-notch, some stand
a tad lower, I'd say this one stands somewhere in the middle
and that's a good thing when you look at so many of the
released Tomb Raider levels. Just a bit of fine tuning, I'd
say..." - Jorge22 (05-Oct-2011)
"A straightforward level, with some elaborate task at every step. A four elements puzzle with the respective areas, these areas could have been more extensive. I liked the colored pipes. The big cave where we obtain the book, those monkey swings and a dragon after each was a bit tedious, and the dragons were more anticlimactic as I learned to expect them. The reversed camera angle in the mirror room was unnecessary. The start and finish areas that I liked the most; the start is a garden where we have to stop the wheel to be able to swim down, then a ninja girl turned it on again, that was a nice trick. We finish in the prof's house, good camerawork for the ambush. Lighting is mostly quite bland, texturing is fine in some parts, usually where some action took place, but there were others that are either too brown, mostly corridors, or too gray, mine and the tunnel leads up to the house, and no tricks with the lighting to ease that effect. Also the latter two were too dark and I ran out of flares in the mine, a few more packs were badly needed there. Not a top contender, but an okay level." - Akcy (04-Oct-2011)
"Here's another winner in the Steampunk BtB competition. The scores to date place it squarely in the middle, but I enjoyed it as much as any of the other entries I've played thus far. It's a variation on the old elements puzzle, but this one had a few new twists. The mirror room was a nice touch as well, although it had me biting my nails and pulling out my hair at the same time. I don't know if grabbing that medipack in the corner was essential, but I went ahead and got it anyway. The builder expressed a wry sense of humor in the pickups, and I appreciated the gesture of combining two pieces of junk and coming up with a piece of useless modern art. My sentiments exactly. The four dragons near the end were fairly easy to kill, and I was able to do so before any of the locust swarms could be released. The change of scenery as Lara warps from a cave environment to a stately mansion put the finishing touches on a varied assortment of game settings. My game clock showed an hour and forty-five minutes at the end, not too much outside the contest guidelines. Selene has provided a detailed and insightful walkthrough that I enjoyed almost as much as the level itself. A fun romp suitable for players of all skill levels." - Phil (30-Sep-2011)
"I liked the story of this level and it was very fun for me to play. The areas you visit are pretty different from eachother which makes the level more fun. My favourite part of the level was the four portals leading to an elemantal challenge to get four discs. It was brilliant! It wasn't very original but I loved it! Finding the objects weren't that hard and I rarely needed the walkthrough but when I did need it it helped me a lot. The enemies were a LOT of ninjas and some dungeon keepers. There is also a snake but you don't have to kill it. The mansion in the end was pretty nice but the caves and train stations I didn't really like. Too dark for me! In conclusion it is a very nice level and recommended for a pretty easy raid." - afzalmiah (27-Sep-2011)
"It'll be quite the day when someone finally makes a level based on the periodic table's 118 actual elements instead of the obsolete 4 classical ones, but one has to admit they do lend well for fun gameplay ideas, so I imagine I'm not going to be upset too much in the future even if I do encounter them. The level does touch upon them only briefly as you would expect from the title, but they end up being only a small fraction of the overall experience. And as such, it is a very straightforward yet pleasurable experience. Progress is not always glaringly obvious, but certainly right around the next corner if you take the time to explore. The creativity of some of the solutions at times is a reward in itself (loved the initial current puzzle with the ninjas, the conveyor belt moving the coal aside, opening up the doors to the elemental puzzles and the clever ambush in the manor), and the way the level unfolds whether through uncovering layer upon layer of different settings, or through excellent, cinematic use of cameras - usually showing enemies attempting to thwart Lara's plans - was wonderfully inspired and probably only surpassed by A Rift in Sedona within the confines of the competition. I loved the layered structure of the settings - how you first infiltrate the ventilation shafts, then reach the underground railway area, the ruins of the elements and then finally the professor's manor. Maybe unintentionally, but this all had a very Jules Verne-esque feel to it (Journey to the Interior of the World, anyone?) which for me before this competition was the most obvious association when thinking of 'steampunk,' and thus finally with the 13th level I played I probably stumbled upon the level that embodied the spirit of the competition the best for me. Unfortunately, not every aspect of the game is as accomplished as the tasks and spirit of it all. You wouldn't necessarily come to the conclusion after having seen the starting area, the cage where you get the elemental key and the manor area, but looks aren't the level's strongest side. Technically - the lighting mostly felt barely touched upon (no sun-bulbs, minimal use of light objects, etc.) - besides the mentioned areas, texturing largely comes across as very Spartan and could've used more tweaking. The room geometry admittedly is not very elaborate too, but I feel even that could've been overlooked if those two basics which give the category its name had seen more work put into them. Yet while I love my eye-candy as much as the next person, I felt the better parts of the game were inspiration and motivation enough for me to continue, and I finished it after about an hour of net gaming with overall positive impressions. Found 1 secret." - eTux (26-Sep-2011)
"This is a nice level and I would consider it one of the less challenging ones of the series, as it was fairly straightforward and for the most part it did not take a lot of exploration to figure out where to go net and what to do. I did like the fact that the theme with the four elements was nicely used several times. Some areas like the whole starting area were rather bland looking, but in the puzzle and elements area this looked a lot better. There were some great game play sequences in those puzzle-rooms and we have everything from diving to monkey swing. Nothing is overly hard and there are no tight timed runs – good for a change. Enemies were the usual raptors, a horde of ninjas and of course the four dragons, which were actually a lot easier to kill than expected. After grabbing the artifact Lara escapes through a tunnel area with an earthquake which I expected to be the end of the level but we area suddenly teleported into a house level and unfortunately I ran into a game stopping bug here by being impatient and not waiting all the way to the end of the lengthy flyby. Luckily there was a stuck threat and it was an easy problem to avoid once I knew it but I had been stuck there for a long time. Overall I think it was a very nice level to play, maybe not a sophisticated in design and layout as some of the higher rated BTB competitors, but it was fun and entertaining and definitely gets my recommendation! (1h 50min, 1 secret found)" - Blue43 (18-Sep-2011)
"A very unique level that has quite a lot of fine ideas to
not be an ordinary level, right at the start with the ninja
that changes the direction of the water flow to make Lara be
drifted back and welcomed by the attack of the ninja for
example. The looks of this first area is quite good, they
get a little worse while entering the cave area and a bit
darker, but this level keeps being playable still. After a
maze-like entrance to the mine, Lara explores the area
around a train and has to move a block away using a crane to
reach the crowbar, eventually starting a conveyor belt to
create an earth mound to be able climb up to a ledge
(somehow a Richard Lawther touch) to reach the element area.
Four thematic rooms have to be opened by lighting four
boilers in the cellar, very clever idea, and then the four
discs are to tbe found in the rooms - great use of flipmaps
in the different rooms, I think, but the actual tasks in the
rooms were a little bit simplistic and more could be up to
get the discs maybe. The next area is a cave area with a
fight against four dragons, luckily successively, and a bit
boring search for four jumplevers. The following part was
the worst of the level, running through a crudely textured
cave with an annoying earthquake, and afterwards a strange
flyby that is very buggy; the last part of this level is set
in Gregory's mansion, with more ninjas to shoot, the boss
fight was set in scene nicely with the flipmap that turns
out the lights and the ninja attacking from behind. A
surprising end concludes this level that for sure was
something entirely different." - manarch2 (17-Sep-2011)
"Not my piece of cake, this one; the environment couldn't be less attractive up to the end, when Lara finally arrives at a lovely observatory surrounded by a beautiful city; and the puzzles/gameplay were somewhat repetitive in conception. But there was at least one good thing: those horrible dragons (4 of them!) were easy to kill. And the combined "Snake Food" and "Battery Box" making a piece of (useless) "Modern Art" was a very good joke. I liked this..." - Josey (16-Sep-2011)
"This level was a nice, relatively easy entry in the Steampunk contest. I found this level to very good at representing the Steampunk theme. I really liked the pipe apparatus room where fire is actually utilized properly for power in order to open the doors. I thought the author really had a good grasp of what Steampunk actually means. I would have rated the gameplay higher if the difficulty had been higher, but unfortunately, it was kind of boring at times. There is a really dark area, but blessedly, it is small and Lara gets out of there pretty quickly. The mansion is also nice, especially the view outside the garden. The mansion also features an awesome thrill moment in a closet, which would make an excellent addition in a horror level. I don't think I found but one secret and I found an armory key, but no armory, so I am not sure what happened there. The level certainly has good elements, and it could have been even better with more fleshing out, but definitely worth playing and very enjoyable." - Shandroid (14-Sep-2011)
"We visit a large variety of places in this level and some of them remind me the London of TR3 (underground station, apartment in the city). The puzzle is fluid and some tasks available in the temple are accessible for all players. There is also a lot of enemy, but with the weapons they are not a problem and your inventory is full if you find the 3 secrets. For the graphics, the level is unequal, all main places have a nice look, but some others places... Anyway, it's a pleasant "little big adventure" to play despite some little imperfections. /// Note: for avoid a bug that I've encountered (door closed in the house), as said by dmdibl, don't hitting any keys during the flyby after the escape of the cave/dragoons, there is a second flyby after." - Jerrod (09-Sep-2011)
"t has ups and downs. The mine area seemed a bit slow and the
chambers of the elements could have been more complex.
Graphically it is very carefully and fine done." - requiemsoul (05-Sep-2011)
"Already at the level beginning it is clear to recognise,
that this level was either not enough tested and/or that
this level a debut is. One can walk around on the roof of
the building (and on the rock walls). And then one sees
several texture mistakes and the edge of the Map. However,
it becomes better if one leaves the outdoor area. The inside
areas are nicely formed and the easy Gameplay was a
wholesome change to the rather difficult Moonlight Legacies.
Even the 4 dragons were easy to defeat. They appeared one
after the other and not all four at once.. The level builder
could have formed the level end a little better, because if
one looks from both balconies to the roofs, one has the
feeling, that the level builder ran out of ideas to build a
well-arranged end. Apart from the level beginning and from
the level end was this a good level with pleasantly easy
Gameplay and a good camera work. You are exactly right here
if you're looking for some relaxation from the difficult
BtB2011-head nuts," - Scottie (03-Sep-2011)
"This level starts in mine and then moves onto a temple
underneath; there's a great sense of progression including a
surprise "epilogue" at the end. The visuals suffer from
being very variable though; some areas look great with
atmospheric design and lighting, and then you get monotone
areas with literally one or two textures used. Some visual
consistency would have made this level truly great. Some
objects also seemed too bright compared to the ambience of
the rooms they are in.
This level flows well and provides an enjoyable variety of
tasks, with the main set-piece being a twist on element
puzzles (with a good torch puzzle to set it up). The first
part of the level after entering the mine is maybe a bit
simplistic, but it picks up quite fast. The only other issue
I had is that the boss area is very repetitive, with you
repeating the same action four times. A good entry, but it's
shame the lack of consistency lets it down." - Mman (01-Sep-2011)
"This level starts off badly, too dark, too dismal, too boring, and too bland. But, stick with it as it really gets better in the later part. Ninjas, a snake and some dragons are all fodder for Lara’s guns and I thank the builder for giving us only one set of locusts with the dragons (some builders would have given us a set with each dragon, the sadistic %&**$£”&). A visually pleasing torch puzzle (not difficult, but different) caught me out (yes, I got spiked. Be honest, who else did?). Some agility but little in the way of puzzling. As far as it goes this level isn’t bad but it doesn’t go far enough, it needed more of everything and a better beginning. The game time was, at least, fairly good, about one hour forty." - Diz (30-Aug-2011)
"I really liked the way this level flowed along quite organically from the gloom of the mines to the latter areas, which made great use of the steampunk theme in the form of brightly coloured pipework. Good use of the torch also. The four elements aspect is nicely handled and, whilst nothing is too difficult to achieve (although the room with the four dragons may raise your blood pressure a bit) and the gameplay is relatively linear, at no point does it become at all boring. I just found it a pleasure to play and had to smile at the ‘modern art’ artefact Lara ends up with, considering I’d spent some time trying to feed the first part of it to the snake. Good one." - Jay (30-Aug-2011)
"Perhaps I've been getting a bit rusty with Custom Level
playing of late,but this adventure was one of the longest
'single' levels I've ever played,clocking in at an
impressive 2 hours and 20 minutes.Clearly the work of an
experienced builder (please don't prove me wrong),the
adventure flows smoothly from one visually contrasting area
to the next;and is constructed and textured with great skill
and imaginative display.On the other hand,it all seem's
somewhat prosaic to begin with;the first half-hour or so
consisting only of basic puzzles and linear progression,with
little in the way of challenge. It is not until Lara's
arrival in the 'four elements' area that the level ramps up
the challenge quotient significantly,and the player becomes
fully absorbed. As far as the lighting is concerned,it's
widely variable.We get colourful and atmospheric
environments alternating with absolutely pitch-black
areas;mostly devoid of enemies,but occasionally over-filled
(the four dragons;the mass attack of female ninja's.)Cameras
are well implemented and sounds are used
well;so,overall,it's a thoroughly good piece of visually
imaginative adventuring;spoiled somewhat by the occasional
darkness. Good absorbing fun,though;and strongly
recommended." - Orbit Dream (30-Aug-2011)
"On first starting to play this, I was put off by the dark underground railroad (too much like other dark mine entries in the contest), but in fact the author has created a variety of locales, and the change of scenery adds to the fun. This is mapped as a deliberate journey, so that Lara enters an underground train station, descends even lower into a dark maintenance area and ventilation shafts, breaks into a colorful four-element environment, battles dragons, escapes from an earthquake into a short cave, at which point there is a quick transition to show Lara standing in the professor's townhouse, with its rooftop observatory. Lara has the Book of Four Elements, and now she must find a way to use it. It may come as a relief to many that the tasks seem a bit easier than some other levels, but that statement assumes that the player is familiar with steampunk objects and is an old hand at battling dragons. There are four dragons, but this time Lara deals with each of them individually, which makes them easier to destroy. In the four-element area, I liked the use of trapdoors that open like an iris, with pop-up spikes underneath. I had no technical problems at all with this level, but apparently at the scene change where Lara enters the professor's home it is important to let the long flyby play out without interrupting it by hitting keyboard keys. The well-lit home made a good ending, I enjoyed it and the bit about "Modern Art (useless)" in inventory. In placing the book it was necessary to select it from inventory, rather then relying on pressing Ctrl. Playing time might have been about an hour and a half (I forgot to check at the very end), but everything goes by quickly, moving along through the journey, so that it feels like a short level, making this a welcome break. A very good level." - dmdibl (29-Aug-2011)
"There are two distinctive areas in this level: a cave system with elemental puzzles, and the mansion full of enemies. Although the level has some downsides, it also has some "wow" moments as well. Gameplay is extremely fluent, with almost no possibility to get stuck or lost, even with the most complicated puzzles. It can be finished in about 30 to 45 minutes of effective gameplay, and the level is well ballanced. There are jump sequences, swimming, climbing, torch puzzles, action moments, a lot of traps and a lot of excitement. Good sides of the level are: the best camouflaged crowbar door in all the BtB contest, elemental puzzle which is absolutely marvellous, very cleverly hidden secrets, fluent gameplay with nice flybys and camera hints, and above all, the best mirror room I've ever seen. Here we must combine what we see in the mirror with what we see inside the room, in order to get through. Four dragons room was also very interesting (at first I didn't even know they could and should be killed). The downsides are: badly applied textures with cracks, and highly predictable puzzles at moments, as well as buggy doors in the mansion. This level, overall, is decent and worthy of playing, and most importantly, well ballanced, which is not always a case with BtB levels this year. Probably not the candidate for the top three levels, but definitely a nice way to spend one hour on a rainy day." - Nina Croft (28-Aug-2011)
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