"Playing this game was really a great
experience, Clara has a real talent of
making us feel we are "living" really the
story of the game... ...she can capture
exactly the kind of atmosphere and connect
it with the climate and the soul of the
story, she is able to create an atmosphere
and sounds that can express the "soul" of
the story... ...that is a great work of
art... I enjoyed to much this game...
...the only thing i didn't like is the
difficulty of the puzzles, they made me
frustrated... ... And other thing is that
it can be a little unconfortable for who
doesn't like dark, cold, spiritless, dead,
and colorless places... (Mainly in the
Sanatorium level)... ...I really missed
"life and soul" because it's very dead and
spiritless, but i know it is exactly what
to expect from a "Horror" game... I know
this is art... ...concluding...i took 6
hours and some minutes in the game,
and...congratulations Clara for the very
very great game, you have a great talent,
you really do!!! :)" - Velociraptor (01-Feb-2018)
"My, what an incredible adventure. What is needed has
already been said by other reviewers so I want to keep it
short. The texturing, architecture and the logic is
superb in this game. The snowy textures of Transylvania,
the design and architecture of Whitby (my favorite level)
and the Sanatorium i.e., are beautifuly crafted and
oozing with atmosphere. The gameplay isn't far behind
this stunning potpourri. I was stuck A LOT of times in
the game but it is possible to solve on one's own so I
take off my hat to the builders for building a
challenging level forcing you to use your brain without
entering the 'impossible area'. Once I finished the game
I really felt like I played a solid, long game (the
existence of a plot with a start, progression and end
supported this feeling) which wouldn't look out of place
if it was canon. Very rewarding too after all those two-
thumbs up puzzles. A couple of complaints though, maybe
it was me but I couldn't figure out some aspects in the
scenario. What is Dracula doing not attacking Lara in the
levels, i.e. in the Sanatorium? Letting her come and go
as she pleases in the castle? What is up with his
henchman attacking Lara and then helping her and then
again knocking her unconscious? Is he bipolar like one
reviewer mentioned? Besides these I think the mirror
puzzles were overused. Overall, classic and definitely
recommended." - Nomad (21-Jan-2018)
"After the Jerusalem Project, these three builders have again joined forces to create another high quality adventure. While the Jerusalem Project probably edges this one out slightly, this still has to be seen to be believed. The actual puzzles in the first level are simple and mainly involve exploration and jumping exercises, but the jumps around the Castle are well thought out and require careful skill and observation. Once into the Castle, things become more cerebral and invoke thinking, as there is a pushable puzzle to be solved alongside a couple of tight timed runs, also Koukol gets introduced here. Whitby is a bit more simplistic, but the atmosphere is still kept on a high level as we continue into the Sanatorium level. I wasn't fond of the maze sections here, but that's probably true for every difficult maze I encounter. A quick travel later and we're back at the Castle. There's a few memorable scenes here like the ballroom scene, plus the traversal around the huge column room. Later, once Lara disposes of Dracula and peace is restored throughout the Castle and grounds, the level ends. As said, maybe I ever so slightly preferred the Jerusalem Project over this one, but this is still one I highly recommend for everyone." - Ryan (17-May-2016)
"Transylvania: This is by far the most beautiful and atmospheric level in this game (and that’s saying a lot). The sight of the castle looming up out of the fog at the beginning is enough to send shivers down my spine. The gameplay is somewhat less impressive, as it mostly involves making your way down to a river, across it and then up the snowy slopes to get inside the castle courtyard. There are some cool moments, such as Dracula turning into a bat and flying across the river, the words ‘Help Me’ appearing in blood on a bathroom mirror, or Dracula’s dementors creating an ice floe to enable Lara to cross the river.
Dracula’s Castle (first time): After getting knocked out by Koukol (Dracula’s servant) at the end of the previous level, Lara wakes up in the castle dungeon. Getting out involves an interesting pushblock puzzle. There are some cute scenes in this level, such as Lara making a phone call, and even getting bitten by Dracula! The interior of the castle is just as lovely and atmospheric as the exterior in the previous level, though some parts are rather dark.
Whitby: The level begins with a cutscene showing Lara escaping from a ship she has stowed away on. (A bit of gameplay on the ship would have been nice.) She makes her way through the dark and rainy streets of Whitby, stabs a vampire along the way, blasts her way through a warehouse, breaks into an apartment, goes through a cemetery and into a morgue. The gameplay is low key and involves mostly exploration and fetch quests.
Dr. Seward’s Sanatorium: I was somewhat less than thrilled with this level right from the beginning, because of how pointlessly dark it seemed. I can understand why the outdoor areas might be dark, but why was the interior of the obviously functional Sanatorium also nearly pitch dark? The negative feelings only increased as the level progressed, as it involved so much running around, with a lot of obscure tasks. I did enjoy a pushable puzzle in which you have to lower a statue into a garden using moving platforms, even though the whole thing seemed to last forever. But I finally lost my patience when the next task was a hedge maze, immediately followed by an underwater maze (aargh, double mazes!) and quit the game for several months. Even when I returned, the level continued to be frustrating, as I wound up in Sarah’s room without the holy water, and there was no way to return to get it, so I had to reload a savegame and redo a large chunk of the level.
Dracula’s Castle (return): The highlight of this level is a fantastic scene featuring a vampire’s ball. Lara joins in the dance, but unfortunately, the vampires notice that she is reflected in the mirror, and thus not a vampire. Lara winds up imprisoned (again!), but makes her way out by moving a cannon to the upper part of a tall tower room (an excellent puzzle), and blasting her way out. The final section involves staking both Sarah (whom Lara was unable to save) and Dracula. The game ends on a rather ominous note, which suggests the possibility of a sequel.
Overall: While this is a fascinating game in most respects, with an interesting storyline, it does also have a lot of frustrating moments.
The atmosphere is top-notch throughout. While the visuals are spectacular – I particularly loved the beautiful interior of Dracula’s Castle and the snowy outdoor areas of Transylvania – I was really annoyed by how often visibility was sacrificed for the sake of a spooky atmosphere. Yeah, I get that this game is about vampires, and therefore necessarily has to be dark – but I still believe that it’s possible to create a level that seems dark without actually being dark (and that if anyone could do it, it would be brilliant builders like these three).
I think that these three enormously talented builders’ masterpiece was The Jerusalem Project, and that Dracula’s Return, while being very impressive in most regards, is not quite as superb as TJP.
Recommended." - Mytly (25-Sep-2015)
"Gameplay & Puzzles: The gameplay of this is very good but
not perfect. The game is huge and for me thats a very good
thing. Sometimes some objects (like some keys) were very
well hidden on the scenario on a creative way but equally
frustrating to find. But other than that, puzzles were
creative but there was a cannon pushable puzzle that was a
little frustrating to perform. Finding items and what to do
on the sanatorium was nice but sometimes very confusing.
There were strong points too, some logical actions to find
objects. It's a nice gameplay when take the whole game but
with some avoidable frustrating things.
Enemies, Objects & Secrets:Well placed. Creative, enemies
could give challenge. A lot of secrets and nice to look for
Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The atmospheres were very well
built on all levels. The thing is sometimes the authors
should use the same sprites on the levels. There were a
level with a very beautiful rain sprite and them on the
other one the rain was default from the editor. It would be
better same sprites once its the same project even if the
authors are different.
Lighting & Textures: For me lights and textures were perfect
used. The scenarios were very huge." - Adriel (08-Jun-2014)
"Another custom level that was very enjoyable and really well
made. I enjoyed the creepy atmosphere of each level, and the
textures made it nice and spooky. There were many great
puzzles, and overall, a very great game. Recommended." - MegaGamer (08-Apr-2014)
"Transylvania (9/10/10/10, 50 min, 6 secrets): Hands down the first part of the adventure is the best in terms of gameplay. You get to explore the snowy woods and Caves around the Castle and master many tricky jumps around the cliffs and castle walls to eventually get inside - all great fun! It also very nicely sets the scene with a fabulous introduction of Dracula himself and the 6 secrets spice it up even more.
Draculas Castle (7/10/10/10, 30 min, 2 secrets): A shorter section that introduces you to the Castle interior and gets you acquainted with Koukol and Dracula. There is a push puzzzle and a novel use of a sword and some torch action as well. The toilet secret is really nicely done, too.
Whitby (7/9/10/10, 25 min, 2 secrets): Another short part but absolutely dripping with atmosphere. The rainy city setting comes across really nicely and there is a great sense of place, which carries on as you get to the cemetery and the morgue. Maybe the secrets were a bit too easy here and putting that small emblem to the large cross was not obvious at all, but I loved this part for the shivers it gave me.
Dr Sewards Sanatorium (6/9/9/9, 70 min, 6 secrets): Oh my... I am sorry to say, but this part did not work out for me at all. I really left with the Impression that a huge area was built first and then a desperate attempt was made to squeeze in some gaemplay into it as an afterthought. There are also a few attempts at humour that were a bit lost on me, but the main issue is really a LOT of running around back and forth across the map - only to find the next key and then the next door and so on - none of which is very guided, so you may well run around the place forever and go nuts after a while (well, maybe suitably so - after all it is supposed to be a Sanatorium for lunatics - lol). To add insult to injury, this part also Features a hedge maze with an underlying underwater maze - argh! I sure was glad to get back to the Castle after this section...
Draculas Castle (8/9/10/10, 50 min, 4+1 secrets): Ok, yes, I know it fits the theme, but the whole mirrors action is a bit overdone and often way too sneaky to figure out without the walkthrough nearby. That aside though, this part is a great climax of the whole wtory and the dancing scene is one of those few ever classic moments in TR custom Level history. I really liked the whole multi lever canon prison section, as this is exactly my type of puzzle sequence.
All in all, this adventure fully deserves its very high scores for unique story telling and great atmosphere and animations, while it falls a bit short in offering a coherent gameplay experience. On that front, in my opinion, Jerusalem remains the much better package by these oh so talented group of builders." - MichaelP (23-Jan-2014)
"I recently played this level and its amazing.contrary to which everybody says the voice act is not amateurish.its very good although i didn't liked the end with sarah chagal
being killed by lara i thought she could be rescued but nonetheless i recommended." - janachorider (01-Nov-2013)
"All has already been said about this game, and I agree with quite a lot of its observed drawbacks and strong points; nevertheless, I feel compelled to say three things more: (1) Clara overreached herself at the vampires' dance; I'll treasure that part forever. (2) The sanatorium level was very, very dark. It's a pity, because it was so creative and fine. (3) I simply loved all the FMV sequences, in special that, at the very beginning, of Dracula turning into bat and returning to its sinister self; it was too funny for words! Good job, and thanks to the trio!" - Josey (30-Aug-2013)
"I have been very busy of late and have ceremoniously neglected Lara. I thought Dracula's Return might be an enjoyable level. At times it was, but as a whole, it was a tad boring and sometimes tedious. On a positive note, the atmosphere was great. I would have liked to see more of the Transyvania sub-level with less tedium. If you forgot to do something, you had a trek back to where you needed to go. Other parts of the level were equally challenging, just figuring out what to do and what you weren't seeing in order to proceed. There were nifty gameplay innovations, however, and I enjoyed that, I just wish the level was more fun. There is a canon puzzle that is really cool, but designed in such a way that it is so tedious going back and forth between levers until you get it right. I think a puzzle can be innovative without being so tiring and tedious. The authors worked very hard though, on characters and nifty animations that only made the experience more authentic. I have said this before and I will say it again. Please, oh, please find an English gal to voice Lara. Lara is not German, she sounds wrong when she is voiced by a German gal, not that her voice is not beautiful, it is just wrong for Lara." - Shandroid (20-Aug-2013)
"What can I add that has not already been covered? Not a lot,
I can tell you! This truly professional level-set has all of
the qualities that we have come to appreciate by these
talented builders. I did require some help from the forum but
mostly due to me losing track of where I was up to. The
"Pride & Prejudice" style dance sequence was delightful -
especially since we see familiar characters from the original
games inappropriately attired for such an event!
I was really sorry to see it end but I cannot say I came away
feeling disappointed. It was everything I imagined it would
be and much, much more! I always look forward to levels of
such expertise - please keep making more for our enjoyment!
Top marks!" - High Priestess (11-Aug-2013)
"Although preparing a review isn't rocket science, and although reviews of custom levels aren't of pivotal importance in the overall scheme of things, they mean a great deal to the builders who have devoted their considerable time and talents to an aesthetic achivement for which they receive no compensation other than the praise (or condemnation) of those who play their levels. Anyone who cares to check will find that my scores are more generous on the average than those of other reviewers. This is mainly because I tend to play only those levels that have been well received by the community. There are enough of those in our inventory that I've never lacked for something new and fresh to download. This is not to say that I've found these levels uniformly enjoyable. Some are downright annoying in one or more areas, but in reviewing them I try to put my personal feelings aside and assign scores on the basis of the Review Guidelines. Having said all this, when I place Dracula's Return next to the body of work out there (2,600 or so levels) I cannot in good conscience award a score of less than 10 in any category. To be sure, there were aspects that I found annoying, but those are matters of subjection that are only peripherally related to the quality of the production. For example, most of us here know that I intensely dislike dark levels. Dracula's Return is almost unremittingly dark, and I was unable to really see and enjoy the painstakingly crafted textures that abound from start to finish. On the other hand, we have a spooky setting here where things go bump in the night, so the player should naturally expect something other than bright and sunny surroundings. As a reviewer, I must realize this truth, make allowances for it and resist the impulse to let my feelings guide my scoring. Three builders worked as a team, but the levels fit together rather seamlessly, and the story line and cut scenes made for a more fulfilling gaming experience. In all I spent a little over six hours in net playing time, but without Dutchy's walkthrough I would have given up in frustration. I took the time to gather all 21 secrets, and some of them were quite difficult to claim. At the very end I found I had enough explosive ammo to kill the skeletons and witch, and when they die the traps along the stairs become disabled, allowing easy access to that final secret. Although the gameplay may be obscure and convoluted in spots (that's why we have walkthroughs), and although the voice acting may sound a bit amateurish to the trained ear, there are sufficient demonstrations of excellence to ensure an early spot in the Hall of Fame for Dracula's Return. High recommendations." - Phil (02-Aug-2013)
"This is certainly an epic, but unfortunately not a particularly enjoyable one. The first level is undoubtedly the best, with some fun platforming and exploration, but after that the gameplay dramatically taildives for the rest of the game. From level 2 onwards, there seemed to be 1 good puzzle per level, with the exploding barrels in Whitby, the gnome puzzle in the sanatorium and the cannon puzzle in the castle. The rest of the 5 hours spent here consisted of pulling a lever which reveals another lever across the map (and repeat), dull pushblock puzzles and some just plain non-sensical puzzle solutions (such as shooting a picture or opening the church doors with an empty bottle of holy water). A particular lowlight was the maze (followed by an underwater maze). There is also a massive lack of cameras when doors open, leading to Lara running around for hours looking at where to place a key, or trying to find an open door. The objects (even though they are well designed and fit the level perfectly) also go a fair way to spoil the playing experience, with a few bad collisions (especially the spiral staircase) hindering Lara's progress at every turn. The final bad aspect of the level (along with the gameplay) is the bad voice acting. On the plus side, however, the game looks magnificent, with immaculate attention to detail in every room, building a realistic setting and one of the best looking castles I have seen in a level. Sounds are used effectively in dramatic or scary moments, and really add to the atmosphere. When a game looks so great, it seems a shame to ruin it with some terrible gameplay and voice acting. What the characters are saying is barely understandable at the best of times, while the script isn't good either, with some parts that just don't make sense. It's important to bear in mind that most of my quarrels are on the gameplay front, while the other aspects of the level are practically faultless. Overall, the level looks amazing, but it plays pretty badly, with very little flow. The story is unique and interesting but ultimately falls flat with some bad scripting and voice acting. 5 hours, 8 secrets." - Cory (29-Jul-2013)
"That level is just brilliant! The story is nice, use of objects is creative and not linear. The atmosphere was amazing, through whole level I felt chills. The only (dis)advantage that this level has it's difficulty. This isn't level for beginners! But there is other levels for them so all who likes non linear gameplay, some challenge and adventure touches to custom level it's ideal one. I loved use of certain items, animations and whole world created in this level although was forced to back up myself with walkthrough at times. Anyway this level is one of its kind and should be rated even above 10! Recommending for its uniqueness." - Casual Raider (25-Jul-2013)
"This is very good custom. Well, everybody already said everything about it, so I only recommend it." - Andzia9 (09-Jul-2013)
"While playing this one a wrote detailed Review-parts to every section of the game. I deleted them.
All I have to say is that I'm happy to have been part of this perfectly created adventure!" - Christian (29-Jun-2013)
"Thanks to Lara the evil was able to spead across the world?
What, people drinking too much red wine? Anyway, this is a
grand mystery adventure the Tomb Raider way and even though
I did a few things upside down and the other way round and
had to check the walkthrough for confirmation plenty of
times I wouldn't dare rate any of the items here with less
than 10. This kind of tales in the level editor world
deserves to be rewarded. What can I say, there's a story
line, no matter how naïve since this isn't about a novel,
there are plenty of puzzles, that need to do things in a
specific order that would be the only thing to make me
downrate (if one can speak that way) the gameplay to 9 if it
weren't a bit unfair, loads of atmosphere in different
environments, objects a go go and just a tiny bit of traps
and some well placed enemies (and Lara spends most of her
time weaponless). I must say I loved it and was sorry to see
it end so soon. A must for vampire stories lovers and haters
alike." - Jorge22 (28-Jun-2013)
"3:23 in the morning. I should go to sleep because it's
already sure I'll have a problem with getting up in the
morning to make a trailer for this. But denying all
reasonability instead, I'm sitting here and typing a review
which is in fact irrelevant - because this game should never
be rated higher than Jerusalem Project, nonetheless I
stubbornly it got from me those four tens I'm about to
submit, along with a bunch of useless commentary, because
there's nothing to fix in this game, apart from Whitby
backtrack, cursed by me from its very birth. I'm going
crazy, not only in self-contradicting manner. Recently I
also found myself:
talking like Koukol while picking up items in custom
having a sentiment to DJ Bobo's song "Vampires Are
Alive", treated by my friend as an insult to all vampires.
Fortunately, it didn't happen for me to picture blood in
a dish of beetroot soup. But it might be yet to come, as
well as other post-betatesting symptomes, occuring whenever
a game, together with its production process, sinks so much
in real life than it's impossible to differ those realities
from each other. An example of blowing up barriers between
them might be recording mortuary cutscene audio, for better
echo reason performed in the TR Meeting house corridor, and
the whole house was listening to that macabric yelling. That
caused a spontaneous laughter, which apparently also wasn't
wasted, and we can hear it now in the lips of the sanatorium
receptionist, a "Fool of the Week" competition winner.
Another example might be sitting till late night and playing
in order to get rid of even smallest errors, with numerous
instances of "just one more error and we finish" phrase. A
true devotion of builders taken to a whole new level, and in
fact a whole levelset. And then some people will wonder why
they can't make an epic game... Because only if You give all
Yourself to it, with time and patience and no fear, it can
be done. There is no other requirement, everything else is
written in the manuals. But even if the game was released in
Test 11 state (the one I've first seen it in), with all its
flaws still persisting, I wouldn't draw a single point from
my rating - because I simply cannot imagine a non-
gamestopping error capable of killing fun here. SUMMARY: 4
AM in the morning. A revolutionary hour. Everything occuring
at 4 AM is good. I'm closing this, then, saying nothing
more, because whatever I write, it won't be comparing enough
to tell the climate brought with creation of this game. The
only way to experience it is to download now and launch the
executable. And beware! Those are still being updated!" - DJ Full (20-Jun-2013)
"I liked a lot many puzzles from this adventure, but I can't give a 10 in the gameplay section 'cause the excessively no-lineal game, finding often dead ends and having to go back very long distances to look for the items I needed. Also many areas were too dark for my monitor and was very difficult for me to see all the details I needed to get a fluid advance. Rest of the game is really impressive: incredible architecture and amazing objects, perfect texturization, extraordinary atmosphere and cutscenes... Highly recommended, but better if you're following the walkthrough (less funny). Many thanks to the authors for their huge work." - Jose (20-Jun-2013)
"Excellent from beginning to end, a topic a bit difficult to interpret but led with great success by the authors ..
The gameplay is very good which makes this game very entertaining (a little confusing in the Sanatorium level but overall the game worth it).
Thanks to the authors for this great job, a hall of fame without question ..." - McRaider (19-Jun-2013)
"Clara, Masha and Sponge, the creators of The Jerusalem Project, brought to us another MASTERPIECE - Dracula`s Return!!! As I was expecting from this game perfection, I must admit that even if there were some minor problems which I mention at the end of this review, this game really is perfect and became one of my top collection (I have 31 TR custom games in my top collection so far). Let`s start with the graphics: breathtaking!!! Just woow, new textures which were perfectly applied on amazingly builded enviroments, cunstructions and areas in every level and together with perfect fitting background sound is creating an amazingly superb atmosphere all the time. About enemies, there aren`t many of them because this game is mostly based on exploration, admiration and puzzle solving, but the few enemies were perfectly placed and always making epic moments. Camera flybys were nice to watch and cutscenes impressive. I liked also secret system and hunting for secrets (I was able to find 19/21) which by the way were interestingly hidden. Well, puzzles are excellent, gameplay very impressive and never boring, new ideas and never repeating tasks are waiting for you in this fantastic game. I liked all the levels and especially I liked Dr Seward`s Sanatorium most, but I was stuck in this level 4-5 days not knowing what to do next. I don`t use walkthrough or stuck thread because I love enjoying TR and it`s indescribable feeling when I solve the puzzle or task on my own without any help!!! So as I mentioned I was stuck here 5 days then I said myself: "What Am I missing here? What Am I doing wrong?" So I looked at stuck thread in community forum and found out that one important item may disappear (saddly it happened to me), so I downloaded the fixed tomb4.exe and replayed sanatorium level again from the begining (Also the download link should be fixed with new tomb4 as it`s mentioned in forum). I am not going to lower my score because of this bug because in my opinion this game just deserves a perfect 10. I enjoyed every second playing it and I was really sad when I finished it and of course happy as well, because it was a pleasure to play this unforgettable adventure :) A big big THANK goes to Clara, Masha and Sponge, respect from me!!! Absolutely recommended! 10/10/10/10" - OverRaider (17-Jun-2013)
"Brilliant levels and game. Sometimes little creepy :) all game breed with great atmosphere, graphics, sound, colors. First level with snow and cold Transylvania is so beauty full and very hard adventure. You need to find lot of use full objects very good hidden. Little hard for me was after big abyss where to go and finally found one village more there :) Dracula's castle are brilliant made and you need to "follow" Igo who is Lara's very good assistant. Good to slow her, to cover the clue :) Mad house are excellent too for looking for keys, rooms, lunatics :) and scenes with flying book which are shows diary and sometimes clue. One big 10 from for all Dracula]s return level. Highly recommend for hot summer days ;)" - Ivan (16-Jun-2013)
"Dracula’s return is definitely one of the most amazing level sets I have played. As a huge horror fan I found this level very amusing and I really enjoyed playing every minute I spent with Lara running through the beautifully design levels. There is hardly anything to say bad about the game, but there is one thing that bothered me a little bit. It’s the gameplay. It was sometimes VERY confusing and too hard to follow the thoughts of the builders. I spent on some parts 20 – 30 minutes looking for anything that could take me to the next part of the level. But thankfully I found most of the answers in the forum. The confusing gameplay parts may be hard, but there are very original and creative. The garden where I’m supposed to find the squirrel was impossible for me to discovery by myself, but it was something I have never seen in any other levels. There are so many other new and very creative gameplay elements that kept me from proceeding to the next part of the level that giving 8 or 9 for gameplay would be just stupid. The authors put so much effort into integrating new objects into the gameplay. And that’s it what I can remember from the game that I didn’t liked. Objects were well placed and used, including many new ones that fit greatly into the levels. Music was amazing, creepy and sometimes managed to scare me. All levels were very atmospheric and it’s just amazing how C-M-S managed to create such a scary atmosphere in all levels. Not to forget the well done cutscenes !Giving lower than 10 in any segment would be unrealistic :)I'm looking forward for the next CMS project and I hope its gonna be again something spooky with a dark story." - MpGrill (15-Jun-2013)
"Any level by Clara, masha and Sponge alone is a treat by itself, but as soon as they start to collaborate, you can be sure the game will be something magical, and I doubt exceptions could be possible.
Transsylvania (8-10-10-10): The game could not start any better than with the fantastic cutscenes at the start. Huge, snowy forest landscapes, best described as a mix between Golden Castle and Chapel in the Mountains, and a kind of moat are surrounding a huge castle and with knowing what your goal is it's great fun and also a brilliant atmospherical device. Put that aside, I did not have such an overly good time in this level. Despite being mainly about exploration and finding items this is a fun one because of some novel ideas (the chicken :D), great objects, lots of ideas and techincal skills visible. So - it's really good - but it's also confusing as well, with a couple of too well hidden things that kept me (and most likely other players as well) running around for hours - the lever on the arch, the key hidden between two timbers, just to name a few. I honestly wouldn't have minded so much but progressing in this level isn't so easy, due to the excessive amount of tree objects and the uneven mountains, with the steady risk to fall down into the moat - for the sake of realism, it's great but it somewhat lessens the fun in this level. Things pick up after creating the "bridge" and being able to do a fine climbing session to finally enter the castle, including a most interesting timed lever sequence, being the first "real" puzzle in this level - maybe instead of hiding things too much a few more in the first half would have been better. 45 minutes.
Dracula's Castle - Part 1 - (9-10-10-10): Without opening the readme files you can see this level is made from the same builder who has built the last level, because of the great transition between this levels and some indoor areas from the first level now being accessible, and a very nice way of storytelling in-game. Those comparatively small things are what divide the good levels from the masterpieces. Coming back to the level: I really enjoyed myself in this first visit in this level, starting with a simple (i.e. possible with standard tools) yet ingenious puzzle concerning three numbered pushblocks, and the rest of the level is just getting better and better! All those funny cutscenes with Koukol, the mirror room, the first encounter with Dracula, the usage of the telephone - this might not be the most involved level but it's cinematic, it's fun, so it's a great part of this levelset. And it has definately the most funny secret I've ever found, which just has to be seen to be believed. I only found a little bug with a Lara butt floating above the table in the rear room of the kitchen but since it's the only technical issue in the whole game I encountered this is more than excused. 25 minutes.
Whitby (7-10-10-10): The word "cinematic" also fits to this level, because of the great starting cutscene (not the only thing that reminds me on Sponge's latest Xmas game) and various encounters with zombies, but this turned out to be my least favourite level of the set, only because of the gameplay which simply didn't quite catch me as in the other levels. It definately has its moments, e.g. the usage of the torch and the timed run at the start, but it suffers from two main things. Firstly, there's nearly no challenge in this level (except for the thing mentioned later), call it lack of puzzles, lack of varied gameplay, whatever, but as a result it felt a bit underwhealming. Secondly, the only "real" task in this level - finding various items across the level - is spoilt bysimply too many items tbing near-impossible to find oneself and for some of them one has to read the builder's mind therefore, e.g. finding several items on shelves full of items, the squirrel hint being too easy to miss and even if you got it the item is still close to invisible. But with the help of a walkthrough those things will be much easier, and the setting is scenic enough (it's highly atmospheric in fact, just as all others in this game) to make that kind of searching halfway bearable, so I'll be a bit more generous. 25 minutes.
Dr. Seward's Sanatorium (10-10-10-10): Ah - finally! After the gripes I had with the last level, this level couldn't have been better placed (and not only for coherence matters). Everything in this level is heavily inspired ranging from the excellent atmosphere that could not have been better in any way (unluckily this level came out after BtB, because it would've been a hint for masha's level) and gameplay is superb. Tons of great ideas, packed into a not too small map which means a bit of to and fro, but compared to the previous level, the exploration feels much smarter despite of some moments where I ran around without knowing what to do next. And even if a tiny bit of frustration might come up, it will soon vanish when you approach the next task or be stunned at the next atmospheric area. There are too many ideas to actually list them all, but especially the gnome puzzle (which can be half-skipped by placing a secret which I didn't like) was a marvellous task. Not everything is nice and sweet though. Right from the starting flyby you'll notice that you soon or later have to face a quite large hedge maze, and indeed, it's large and confusing. I really dislike mazes, so after opening the trapdoor I said to myself "If this game has one single more maze, I'm gonna scream." Well... as you have probably guessed, that AAARGH! came ten seconds later, but actually it's quite a bearable maze, even if underwater, and ends with a nice method to get rid of that elusive bats. To sum it up - a fantastic level which alone makes it worth to play this pack. 80 minutes.
Dracula's Castle - Parts 2 and 3 - (9-10-10-10): Even more fun provided back inside the castle, with the ballroom playing a most important role in the second part, serving for a great dance sequence and also as a most clever mirror room, both to Lara's advantage and disadvantage, since soon after she wakes up in the dungeons (I wonder why nobody has bitten her until now) and has to manage a very much dizzying but fun cannon puzzle involving several raising blocks. Koukol seems to have a rather bipolar relationship to Lara - he was actually the one who brought Lara to "jail" and then he helps her to get out? Someone should make a psychoanalysis with him - wait - Mr. Freud seems to be the perfect choice and he's depressedly waiting in the Sanatorium! Else than that, the rest of the game is just great fun (the cistern puzzle is just another wow moment) and the only thing I slightly disliked was the unmarked spot to use the shovel, but it's still possible to figure it out yourself. The third part of the castle is quite short and I think it would spoil everything if I told you anything about it, but it's definitively a touching finale to a spectacular game. 30+10 minutes.
Summary: Can anything else be said about this game? I don't think so - all non-gameplay-related things in this game are taking the TR standards to a much higher level (yet again, you might notice); the environments are built with a devotion to detail several notches above most highly rated games; animations, objects, enemies, textures are spectacular in design and placement; secrets even if often on the easy side and a bit repetitively hidden were a good extra task. But compared to The Jerusalem Project, the gameplay in the levels (except in the centrepiece, the sanatorium) lacked a bit of intensity (not originality) and was relying too much on hidden items in the first and third levels. I would still consider this to be moaning on a high level since all levels are thoroughly enjoyable and the great ideas far outweigh the few downsides. I hope I'm not mistaken that the end cutscene promises a sequel, which I'm already deeply awaiting. Spent 3:35 hours in here and found all 21 secrets. "Highly recommended" would be an understatement for any level of those builders when they join together, but I think you know what I mean." - manarch2 (11-Jun-2013)
"Given the uber talented team behind this multi part level, you'll be anticipating something special. You've certainly got it. The ever fascinating story of Dracula has been given a brilliant showcase here and everything has been done to first class effect, from cut scenes, animations, marvellous custom textures/objects, interesting puzzles, great enemies (and occasional allies), wonderful music - the attention to detail is quite astonishing. The classic locations are present and correct - Transylvania, Dracula's castle, Whitby and the Sanitorium and it's all beautifully made and a constant pleasure to the eye. I just wanted to carry on playing it for ever. Superb." - Jay (10-Jun-2013)
"There was never a dull moment in this adventure! I loved it so much that I am planning on replaying it some time in the future.
I was expecting an epic adventure when I saw the title, I respect the authors' choice, it's a unique setting and being a fan of castles I couldn't stop but clap at the marvelous design.
From start till finish there's NOT a single repetitive moment or puzzle in this game. I have high praises for this set of levels.
Congratulations for achieving a high quality standard with your skills!
I'm still amazed by the attention to detail, intriguing puzzles and use of textures as well as objects!
It took me more than 2 days to complete this game but it was well worth the effort, memorable and unique!" - young Lara Croft (07-Jun-2013)
"Instant classic as "The Fearless Vampire Killer"!. Huge,
innovative, varied and incredible gameplay, epic moments, good
lighting and textures. A must have! Congratulations people!." - requiemsoul (07-Jun-2013)
"It was june 3, after a hard day of working I discoverd two good news:
1 - I am in the podium in btb2013 :)
2 - Dracula's return is ONLINE :O ... :D
I immediately download the game and after 30 (very)long minutes I can finally play this fabulous adventure through Transylvania.
The game start with a wonderful title who showing Lara in her car and driving on a cold road with the moon hight in the sky.
When you start the game, we discovered a nice cutscene and in the middle of a river with the terrific castel of Dracula.
The design of this level is perfect.
The gameplay is extraordinay with some terror moments and wonderful new objects and musics.
Then, we follow Lara through the amazing castel and discovered a funny character of the adventure: Koukol.
The second level in Dracul's castel is also perfect with many cutscenes between many characters (Koukol and of course ... Dracula ).
Maybe more challenging than "Transylvania", there are a fews brain teasers but nothing impossible if you search corectly .
Maybe a bit short in the first visit but like I say, it's just a first visit so don't worry, the level is not finished and fews surprises wait Lara in the second visit.
After a new cutscene, Lara start in a new aera of the adventure: Withby.
It's a marvelous little town and docks Sponge created.
The design, the textures, the objects ... everything is exellent in this game.
Terror moment, brain teaser are also very well done.
It's for me the easiest level of this game.
So after this nice trip to Withby, it's in a wonderful sanatorium we found Lara.
Just a word ... flabbergasting :O.
Personnaly, I never think some tasks are possible with the editor.
It's my favorite level of the game and also the one where I was the most stuck ^^. But like Dracula's Castel, if you take your time and if you are logical, the level is not really hard.
The news musics are exellent and give a perfect terror atmosphere to the level.
We also discovered many news characters and even a big "fan" of Lara Croft ^^.
It's with a nice ending sequence we re discovered Lara wo is back in dracula's Castel.
More challenging than the first visit, we discovered many news rooms of this extraordinay castel with many news puzzles and also many news fabulous cutscenes (the one in the ballroom is gorgeous ;)).
So to conclude, I spend 4h29 in this game (but certainly more in the reallity... 3 days ^^) and I just found 13 secrets (with 2 very usefull).
Like I real movie, the story is revealed steps by steps.
For me it was impossible to stop the game, I always wanted to know what went happened after.
Certainly one of the most beautiful castel adventure of the TR ccommunity and certanly very quickly in the top 10 and hall of fame.
Thanks a lot Clara, Masha and Sponge for this incredible adventure with a master of the horror movie and our favorite adventurer ;).
Don't miss this game. A must of the Editor." - BigFoot (05-Jun-2013)