Level: The Caves (Demo) back home search
Author(s): Nico
total rating:6.53 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
alan 4 6 8 8
DJ Full 3 7 4 7
Drakan 6 7 7 8
eRIC 4 4 7 6
Gerty 5 6 8 8
Gorty 5 6 8 8
Jay 5 7 8 9
Jose 4 7 6 8
KBoaz 4 5 6 8
manarch2 3 5 6 8
Manymee 5 6 9 9
McRaider 8 9 10 10
Mulf 3 5 7 7
Orbit Dream 4 7 7 9
Phil 6 7 7 8
Ryan 4 6 7 8
TheStig 6 7 7 7
category averages
(17 reviews)
4.65 6.29 7.18 8.00

Reviewer's comments

"Very atmospheric debut I have to say. In here you can see that “borrowing” objects (as well as the Lara object) have a drawback, namely some of them that are up for others to use, are not up to par so to speak. I found strange collisions and even some invisible blockages in weird places. But there is time for improvement if this builder is interested. I, as a player, would like to see more. Lights can be improved upon as at my end it was rather dark. But all aside I liked what I saw." - Gerty (11-Jan-2019)

"Level short but very nice, the texturing and lighting are correct. Large spaces with little to find, except for a few switches and a key (which has no name in the inventory). Good time passed." - Drakan (29-Nov-2018)

"I quite liked the appearance of this (very) short demo. Although it's a little too dark in places with no flares provided, the nicely crafted lofty caves still managed to instill a sense of foreboding. However, the gameplay is rather meagre and underwhelming, with a few switches to pull to open doors, some blocks to jump around and some bats and wolves to shoot. If the gameplay is improved, then the full version could be worth waiting for." - Ryan (21-May-2017)

"Promising this builder. The architecture and texturization are quite good and the natural environments are well created. On the other hand, pull some switches and use a key is a poor gameplay; the author could think about include some puzzles to solve and a better atmosphere with more musics (the background music disappears sometimes, and appears when reloading a savegame). The areas are well ornated and the objects correct placed, but don't forget to place some flares here and there and an extra gun (and some traps too). We'll see the final version." - Jose (08-May-2017)

"The best part of this demo is the atmosphere and textures because they look very nice, and they give the feeling of real and dark caves. Very similar to Anniversary's City of Vilcabamba. Of course, if Lara knows she's going to travel to this kind of caves, she must bring more flares with her! Though the light of the binoculars was useful sometimes. I see reviewers talk about a key; well, I didn't find any key, but I managed to get to the other side of the gate by climbing some rocks, though I lost a high amount of health. There is not so much gameplay to talk about, just platforming, swimming and get past some traps. Maybe in the full version there will be more gameplay and also some mistakes will be fixed." - alan (15-Apr-2017)

"Rather promising demo with atmospheric setting ( waterfalls , architecture , some oblique walls ) , the setting would be even better with more care for the texturing in a few spots and the lighting because it was clearly too dark , there are effects and spots but sometimes lights or sun bulbs are missed. I mean there are good textures but the player can't fully appreciate them. As for the gameplay it is quite simple , pleasant if it was not for the dull lighting : some witches and a key to find , a secret providing some gameplay , wolves and bats to shoot , the wolves at the entrance of the final temple can be killed from safe distance. An other category to be improved is the objects , the 'jumelles' are of the buggy kind and some randomly invisible objects or objects collision are a bit annoying. Still , despite the downsides, this demo may make the player wants to see more of the game." - eRIC (09-Apr-2017)

"January 2017 saw the release of the umpteenth custom level called “The Caves”, and while it does take Crystal Dynamic’s Anniversary for a template, it is thankfully not another remake of a remake (the author actually called it Les Grottes; it would have been Les Cavernes if its title was meant to reference either TR1 or TRA). But boy, does it try hard to ape the look of Anniversary’s Peru! It’s not like there is a dearth of levels that do either, which is why all these drab and dull-looking levels made up of huge rooms with nothing much to do in them tend to blend into one another for me, making them fairly indistinguishable. This one here looks fairly well-constructed, it has some good-looking objects in them, and it has atmosphere (to the extent that the generic TRA style can still elicit one), but all of that is strictly for the looks; as previous reviewers have pointed out, you are invited to explore, but there’s nothing to be gained from it, unless bumping into invisible walls is your thing. In fact, there is barely anything to do here, which is why I must count myself among the unlucky ones who foolishly went exploring only to stumble across a shortcut before even going down the stairs, ending the level after killing four wolves, passing through a set of awkwardly placed spike-doors, and pulling one lever, without even picking up the ostensibly crucial key. Not given a whole lot to do, then, you have ample opportunity to spot a few stretched and distorted (and way too many mirrored) textures, green plants randomly placed in rooms receiving no natural light, the waterfall so indistinctly textured that it might as well a light beam, and that water animation! Come on, really? It looks like a set of two rapidly alternating textures (mirrored, too). If the looks are all your level has going for it, they had better be better than that. I spent some 25 minutes in here, doing essentially nothing of consequence, so it came across as an exercise in pointlessness." - Mulf (09-Apr-2017)

"For a debut, this is pretty good, and very promising. There's a great use of textures and the environments are quite grandiose. However, here are some things I'd like to suggest to the builder: - Caverns are naturally very dark and shouldn't be otherwise, but you need to make it fair for the player by providing more flares than you did. Make Lara start the game better prepared (with more flares or an actual utility light) if you don't like to scatter too many items inside the cavern, or if you have a cavern not in the beginning but further in the game, give players the opportunity to collect enough flares. - It's ok to have plants in the parts of the cavern which are open above, but it seems that many builders (not just you) use plants as an easy way to make a place feel abandoned. However, it looks lazy when they're used so ubiquitously and unrealistically (plants need photosynthesis to live, therefore they require light!). - The lighting could be better. As it is now, it's very bland. There's so much you can do to make an environment more appealing, working with colors. I suggest you to read an article called "Lighting in game environments - the hows and whys" at There are also lighting inconsistencies between objects and their environment (place overall too dark but bones too bright, for instance). - Your environments are so stunning and grandiose, yet unfortunately there isn't much to do in each of them. It would be nice to give the players something to do where they have the opportunity to explore them (specially vertically). It would make the gameplay more interesting than just having Lara come and go after keys and pulling levers and so on. But of course, make it sure to fix the issue pointed out by the other reviewers, where anyone who explores the environment a bit more can skip a comparatively big part of the level. I'm not even the kind of person who finds every secret yet I found that same flaw. - That timer was confusing and distracting. If it's not a timed run, a timer is superfluous. - There were big issues with collision, ladders that didn't work properly, steep ramps where you could walk over without sliding, and so on. - This game really needs a better work with the sounds. Sound is an important part of the atmosphere, and it can influence the player's feelings when playing an area or when they're about to enter it (suspense, foreboding, marvel, and so on). - Speaking of foreboding: aesthetically there are so many elements (albeit repeated) which give you a sense of foreboding like the sheer amount of skulls and bones. Yet, very little actually happens, to the point they weren't even giving me the creeps anymore. - I like the use of enemies. Tomb Raider was originally more about exploration and adventure than action and combat. That is, enemies are just something you need to get out of your way to be able to sort out the puzzles and explore the environment in peace. - However, it would be nice to have the same effect as in the first original game, where you'd first hear the wolves howling before you actually faced them. Having them coming out of nowhere and jumpscaring the player or simply having them coming to you isn't nearly as effective as making the player anticipate the combat one or two rooms before by hearing their sinister howl. - And finally, some context before playing this would be really nice. That said, congratulations for your debut and for already showing a huge potential! I hope to see and play more levels from you!" - KBoaz (18-Mar-2017)

"The visuals in this release are the strong point of it, lookwise the builder has really done a good job in creating believable and atmospheric caves, far better than the TR 1 ones the level makes several allusions to. A bit more work in terms of music would've been nice and it really could've been a bit brighter here to fully enjoy the surroundings, but it's not that the gameplay is affected by it. Unfortunately, there's actually not even much gameplay to speak of. Essentially there is just a bit of easy exploration with a few levers to pull and a very short and simple platforming sequence and all is over after no time. Additionally, you can bypass a large part of the level by jumping down from the wall to the other side of the door opened by the key (so you don't need to find it) and there's also some seemingly unfinished business in the Vilcabama inspired building near the end. At least you can find one okayish secret and a few wolves and bats are decently placed (one wolf was stuck in a pool though). What I really disliked though were the many invisible barriers in this game that often prevented me to run further, some are caused by object collisions (already annoying) but some appeared despite of no object being placed anywhere nearby. There's some talent visible in creating atmospheric settings, but in terms of gameplay a large improvement is necessary to make a really successful game. Also, to the builder, in case he wants to finish this game, stick with the "just-allusions-no-remake" style. 10 minutes." - manarch2 (05-Mar-2017)

"A nice start here by Nico. As other reviewers have stated it's hard to judge what the final gameplay will be like based on this short demo, but what's presented generally looks good. Whilst the rooms are well structured, the texturing could be improved in places, and I also found everything a little too on the dark-side for me. All in all I netted just over 25 minuets with plenty of running around. Look forward to seeing the full release. Stiggy" - TheStig (02-Mar-2017)

"Well, it's a demo so assessing the actual gameplay is always a bit tricky. What there is of it is just fine, but obviously one would need to see a great deal more. Certainly the level looks most attractive and it never ceases to amaze me just how much lush greenery manages to survive in ill lit caves! It impresses as a debut level and I would certainly like to see the finished version with suitably beefed up gameplay." - Jay (01-Mar-2017)

"This level was impressive visually but not in any other ways. Everything moves along quite logically in a linear fashion, and I soon stopped trying to shoot the many little pots scattered about the area. Many could not be shattered, and those that could were empty. I missed the "obvious pool secret," but that didn't slow me down much in an exercise that took less than 30 minutes to complete. Unless I'm confusing this with another level (I've played a lot of them lately), the enemies looked like wolves in sheep's clothing. Lots of territory to explore but relatively little to do. I was underwhelmed." - Phil (11-Feb-2017)

"I hope this is really just a demo and that it will be finished someday. First thing I noticed that a readme file is missing, so no info about the level/project available. The game starts very impressive. The caves looked just fantastic and stunning in design. I wish the first part when going through the caves would last longer. Most areas were just too dark and flat in lighting, very monotone. This huge areas could be lit so great which just a little bit more work. The flybys were god, but the music in them lasted for like one third of the sequence. Another thing that bothered me is that there was no PLS, instead of 30 seconds lasting flares. There were many collision errors through the game and even some game killers ( jumping on some objects Lara was transported outside the level boundaries ). I encountered some weird untextured black surfaces. Some objects were even flying. A loading camera was missing as it showed the level from very far ( looked very buggy ). The overall gameplay was ok, but too short. I must say again that I really liked the architectural design of this game. Huge areas looking very beautiful, but with a bad lighting. It must have taken a very long time to create this environment but it feels unused in the game. This is Nico's first level release on and it's already far above average compared to other first releases. Some things could be very easily fixed ( like the loading camera ), but it's amazing that someone is able to use meta in his first level. Looking forward to play the next creations from this author as it's obvious that there is some huge potential. Recommended." - Gorty (22-Jan-2017)

"I'm glad to see an author with enough skills to actually give the original Vilcabamba some interesting and epic scope, but it's one of "meta2tr gone wrong" levels - I spent so much time on fighting invisible collision, checking if high roofs are accessible, exploring ledges leading to nowhere and two in return allowing to reach the final zone under five minutes, that I eventually joined the unlucky club of people who missed the obvious pool secret. Again [universal review chunk]I respected the author's vision and replayed everything like intended[/universal review chunk], including the said central pool which appeared to contain a whole separate challenge, hence +2 to secret rating. Not good the left pool climb at the city gates is a dead end, also not good I collected so many shells without any shotgun - but it's a "demo flaw" to naturally go in the full version - which, as for any remake, I hope is either fully full or nonely none. SUMMARY: A short, pleasant demo, granting different look than we usually get at the level we know. Long way to polish that, but you can try it already." - DJ Full (17-Jan-2017)

"Okay, I am having very mixed feelings about this one. It is obviously a remake of TR1 Caves, but is it a remake of the remake (=Anniversary)? I don't know, haven't played that in years, but it certainly felt grand and empty at the same time. There is an unintended shortcut that I found within the first 5 minutes, and at 13 minutes I was through with the level. I never found or used a key, I used one lever. So, really, Nico may want to go over this level a bit more before he releases what promises to be a very nice remake. Apart from that disappointing shortness, here's what I liked: It was quiet (as TR1 was for the most part, and that was glorious), it is nicely built and uses gorgeous textures, and it is always fun when a lot of things are climbable, not just that one obscure ledge that you have to seek for an eternity, before you can finally ascend to the upper levels. But that's where the flaw was - I simply climbed over the wall with the big door that had a key and landed in the second part. But overall, I liked it, I'll play it again tomorrow and see what I can do if I play it as the author intended. :) Oh, and one more thing: Next to the crisp, high quality textures, the old TR1 objects with their 32x32 resolution were disappointingly ugly. Maybe they could be retextured. Who knows?" - Manymee (17-Jan-2017)

"For such grandiose surroundings,I expected considerably more gameplay than I actually experienced - even when taking the Demo tag into account.There's plenty of exploration to be had here (countless ledges and alcoves);but for very little reward.It's clear that the builder spent most of his time concentrating on the impressive construction,and accomplished attention to visual detail;and treated the inclusion of gameplay as very much a secondary consideration.In fact,the most enjoyable part of the game was the optional Secret.The actual level progression required only the collection of a key,and the pulling of a couple of levers.Dogs constituted the enemy factor,but they were placed well;while lighting and texturing was very clearly the builders strongest point,as the environments were vivid and striking.The scenery had a pleasantly organic feel,with plenty of undergrowth and mouldering ruins.It made for good exploration,but provided little challenge. Presumably the finished article will be considerably more ambitious;but I would urge the builder to remove the distractingly silly surface-swimming animation,and the irritating object collision. As a Demo,it offers a maximum thirty minutes of diligent exploration for comparatively little gain." - Orbit Dream (17-Jan-2017)

"Short but a good demo, the caves are very well-designed and textures combine to perfection... I would like to see the rest of the level, good job overall!" - McRaider (16-Jan-2017)
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