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Level: LB Advent Calendar 2019 - Echoes of the Past back home search
Author(s): Talos
total rating:8.14 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Chel 8 9 8 8
Jay 8 9 9 9
Jorge22 9 9 9 9
Jose 6 9 9 9
LoreRaider 7 8 9 9
manarch2 4 7 8 8
Mulf 5 7 6 7
Phil 8 8 9 8
Ryan 8 8 9 9
ShadowZia 9 8 9 9
Treeble 7 9 9 9
category averages
(11 reviews)
7.18 8.27 8.55 8.55

Reviewer's comments

"If you've played previous levels from this author, you'll soon recognize the peculiar style: a good history, heroic musics, good use of the cameras, colourful texturization and not very clear hints to solve the puzzles. Not very long this new level but still worth to download and play. Good work." - Jose (17-Feb-2020)

"As every end of the year, Talos gives us a little storytelling adventure. This time very inspired from RotTR, Immortal Guardian outfit and bow included. The gameplay is quite simple, characters to interact with, small puzzles and objects to collect with some obstacles from time to time (timeruns, enemies or traps). The atmosphere and lighting are excellent, I loved the contrast between the warm/welcoming colors indoors and the blue/cold colors outdoors, hats off for this. The textures are applied very well, both indoors and outdoors (despite some stretched snow textures on the floor, but nothing serious). 35 minutes of play in total, recommended!" - LoreRaider (01-Jan-2020)

"A well looking little level with decent atmosphere and visuals and fitting usage of objects cameras and sounds. Well you know that I also like to see some actual gameplay in a level and the small amount of gameplay we have here (like a decent letter puzzle and some usages of the torch) is spoiled by backtracking and tedious pushable puzzles (both not quite of the "massive" kind, but considering the length of the level, simply too long/much). I still liked the storyline and there are several nice touches as you can expect from this builder. The final boss fight is more interesting, but it's easily possible to run out of ammo for it (I had about 5 explosive bolts left at the end). Sadly no secrets can be found here. Still, despite of the lack of involving gameplay, this is a charming and recommended effort that took me 15 minutes to finish." - manarch2 (23-Dec-2019)

"This is very atmospheric, the settings look absolutely beautiful and the title music is wonderful. This may not be a Christmas level as such, but it evokes the spirit of winter very well. There’s a lot of backtracking, which can be a touch confusing at times, but overall I found this to be an enjoyable experience, even if Lara didn’t get to interact with the cute cats at all! Trying to kill off gladiators with the bow and arrow proved to be a laborious task, but more than sufficient explosive arrows were provided to achieve that eventually." - Jay (13-Dec-2019)

"We can always depend on Talos to give us something fresh, entertaining, and off the beaten track. The previous review may have been somewhat over-analytical; I play these things mainly to have fun without paying much attention to historical or cultural accuracy. I did note the excessive backtracking here, however, which did tarnish the fun factor for me somewhat, but I spent close to an hour making my way through the labyrinthine castle and enjoyed myself throughout the process. I'm not sure why so many explosive arrows were provided, as it seems to me that the same number of regular arrows would have sufficed to deal with the retextured tinmen, provided you were careful to shoot them while facing them head-on. A nice diversion for the Advent season." - Phil (13-Dec-2019)

"It’s that time of year again where levels are being released that typically have little or no gameplay to offer, so let’s talk design first. Although both the wad and the textures of this level have been compiled from various sources—an approach that often results in the wildly incoherent ‘TRSearch grab-bag’ look—, the builder chose her sources with reasonable care and even managed to come up with a consistent colour scheme (a pale green for the outside; dark orange for the inside). In some cases the internal lighting of static objects could have been better adjusted (as in the first room, where a row of arches stands out for no particular reason due to its red tint); and a few of the objects don’t seem to fit in with the environment all that well—the giant crystals; the seasonal airport novels strewn about the floor; the static cats (wha–?); the cosmetics table, used several times in prominent places; one door, also used more than once, which isn’t tall enough for its opening; and, well, the Christmas trees. If you’re wondering why some of the courtyards (but not all) appear to be covered by sheets of ice, that’s because the level takes place in Kitezh, legendary sunken city of Russian folklore. Otherwise the level doesn’t look particularly wet, and considering it had been submerged for a few centuries, the place holds up remarkably well.
Still, a compilation from various sources can’t replace full customisation. Case in point, despite the setting we don’t get so see any Orthodox crosses (all crosses, whether statics, pushables or pickups, are good Catholic ones), presumably because there weren’t any ready to download; and in addition to the customary cultural mishmash, we also get to see low-res and high-res textures from various sources intermingled (goes for both room and object textures). The builder wastes four room textures on one blurry picture, of which a simple image search would have turned up better versions in an instant (Vladimir Blinov’s Vision of the City of Kitezh; actually a miniature dating from 1991, but rendered in pseudo-late medieval / Renaissance style). There are also some distorted textures; they are few, but noticeable in a small and otherwise conscientiously textured level like this.
Then there is the bizarre mixture of historical and Final Fantasy-style design, which is fully intentional, part and parcel of the plot. You get emperor Justinian right next to a white-haired FF-type character, who has usurped a fresco of military saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki. Lara looks like an FF character too when she has that bow made from antlers on her back (overly stylised and spectacularly impractical weaponry seems to be a defining feature of the style). The Lara model itself looks excellent, although her hands could use a bit more work, as they look like paralysed when she grabs a jumpswitch; the altered backflip animation appears to be slow-motion; the SFX make her sound like a chipmunk at times; there’s something wrong with the Lara cam; and of course you can’t but wonder how she could possibly perform her acrobatics with that amount of metal about her body.
Not that she needs to perform a lot of those, though: various issues notwithstanding, much care went into the design side of things, but gameplay clearly drew the short straw, and what little there is of it tends towards the obscure. At first it looks like the level does pushables and jumpswitches, and that’ll be it (the destinations of these pushables are indicated obliquely; a much clearer hint is this: push them on the tile that requires you to take the longest possible route, i. e. to the opposite end of the courtyard; all around the pool). It diversifies thereafter, but not much. There’s a step-on-the-right-tiles puzzle, and you have to recognise iron grates as shatterable, but most of the level is a fetch quest for a number of puzzle items and keys, which attempts to incorporate RPG elements by having Lara ‘use’ people—who don’t move but are exceedingly talkative—as puzzle holes (default animation). Climbable walls are usually indicated only in part, egregiously so in one instance that also involves hiding a key in a particularly implausible location.
It’s only near the end that you get an answer to the question why you’ve been lugging 70 explosive arrows or thereabouts all the way through a level that doesn’t sport a single enemy. That’s when you are confronted by three knights (these, too, look excellent) who are called ‘The Deathless Ones’ in-game. That being the case, and considering the fact that they are ridiculously overpowered, you may well conclude that you can’t kill them, but you can and indeed you must; although it’s not entirely unlikely that you run out of ammo when trying to do so (they are remeshed Horsemen, so any arrow that doesn’t hit them directly in front is wasted; there is additional ammo in the room where you meet them, but it’s well-nigh impossible to spot). Any vestige of gameplay ceases to exist thereafter, and the rest of the level consists in an awkward back-and-forth that merely serves to bring the story to a conclusion: eventually you get to meet the FF-type character whose image is displayed throughout the level, but his only function is to hand you a key and demand that you bring him the MacGuffin. (So all the time he had that key, but he preferred not to confront the Deathless Ones? Some warrior, he. And now that they’re gone, Lara is supposed to serve as his errand boy? Get that cross yourself, you pansy.)
I must confess that I found it impossible to follow the plot; partly because it attempts to tie in with the latest TR reboot; partly because the level is itself a sequel to an earlier level by this builder; partly because of the overly stylised font that makes the on-screen rendition of the characters’ speechifying almost impossible to read; but mostly because I cannot bring myself to care about this kind of storytelling. Fans of anime or avid readers of fan fiction may not have that problem, but I’m not going to vouch for it." - Mulf (11-Dec-2019)

"Here's a pleasant jaunt to commence this year's Advent Calendar. The settings here seem to be less colourful and possibly more mature than Talos' previous works, but the austere appearance actually works in its favour and certainly the atmosphere is good. Nothing too difficult to complete, although one sneaky trap and the somewhat surprising appearance of a few resilient gladiators might have you vexed for a bit (and might possibly be a bit too tedious to take down). The use of the pickaxe was a nice hark back to the Rise of the Tomb Raider installment, though. A very pleasant experience." - Ryan (10-Dec-2019)

"I'm currently trying to review all TR3 levels before moving my routines to the next level, but upon seeing the trailer for this level, as one of the six people who loved the armor outfits in Rise of the Tomb Raider, I just had to play it right away. And I'm glad I did. Talos has managed to capture perfectly the atmosphere from said game, even down to the use of music, and although gameplay can get a bit too obscure at times (such as the hidden key on the chandelier near the beginning), it's generally a simple and straightforward raid as you go back and forth opening new paths. At first I wasn't sure I was actually doing any damage to the Deathless Ones, but they take about 15+ crossbow bolts. I think this is inherent to the engine, however, as I personally never thought the explosive weapons were particularly effective against the Lost Library tin men. Anyway, I digress. Great fun here, don't miss out! 60 minutes. 12/19" - Treeble (09-Dec-2019)

"Erika's levels are always entertaining and filled to the brim with customized objects and unique touches. The design of this level proves that she does keep getting better and better with each new release. Puzzles were entertaining to solve and require a bit of back and forth to pick up and use everything. The custom character models were nicely done, as were the enemies. I was kind of annoyed that we couldn't light the torch on the nearby fireplace, as it made no sense to me why ever not. As another reviewer mentioned, the only design 'boo-boo' involves the water pool near the archives, in which Lara falls within before breaking the surface of the water 6 feet below where the surface actually is. Having not played the new Tomb Raider games beyond the first reboot that was released a few years ago, I had no frame of reference for this story, but I enjoyed the raid nonetheless and look forward to more levels from Erika and more Christmas levels in general! Merry Christmas!!!" - Chel (06-Dec-2019)

"Next generation trle based on the new Lara Croft with a mixture of Classic Tomb Raider. It was an enjoyable gaming experience. Love the Lara model. It was kinda difficult to deal with those knights with the new bow, but I got around that. Either way I enjoyed myself. That's the main reason why I play trle. Get that ole Tomb Raider Vibe even if its base on newer Lara. Tomb Raiding is Tomb Raiding. Many may not like or enjoy this trle due its not all classic Lara. It really didn't matter to me. It's creative idea & I enjoy playing the level. I'm hoping for another level like this, but a bit more longer with good story as well. So far good start." - ShadowZia (05-Dec-2019)

"Rather clever and nice not-exactly-Christmassy level (excepting the Christmas trees at the start). One can see Talos' craftswomanship has been getting better and better, less colourful but better designed with just one small mistake made with the water surface, which comes deeper than it actually is when she dives into the sunken dungeons. The abundance of explosives there makes the final fight visually more interesting even though it would have been exactly the same with normal arrows. Still, it's a really interesting, puzzle-based level in which Lara has to go on quite a few errands that do keep you entertained. I found it interesting that she couldn't get to the sunken dungeons before she had the entire axe because there was a much too excited boulder there that lost the necessary part of its attitude once Lara was in power of the axe. I found the ending quite anti-climatic but then again I know nothing of the story in which the level must have been based on... Cool, I say." - Jorge22 (02-Dec-2019)
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