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BtB2006 - Forest Palaces by Chronicles5

Anurag 7 8 9 9
Bene 8 8 9 9
Bojrkraider 7 7 8 10
CC 7 7 8 7
diamond 6 6 8 10
Dutchy 8 9 9 10
eRIC 7 7 7 8
eTux 7 7 8 8
Gerty 7 7 8 8
Jay 7 8 9 9
Jerrod 6 6 8 9
JesseG 5 5 8 8
John 7 7 7 9
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 3 8 8 8
Kristina 8 8 8 8
Leeth 3 5 6 8
manarch2 6 7 8 8
MichaelP 7 6 7 8
Mman 8 10 9 10
Moonpooka 9 9 9 9
Mytly 7 8 9 9
nerdfury 6 9 10 10
Obig 7 8 9 10
Orbit Dream 4 7 8 9
Phil 9 9 10 10
rjb 7 8 10 9
Ryan 7 8 9 9
Sash 8 7 9 8
Selene 8 9 10 10
snork 8 8 9 9
Spike 6 8 9 9
Staticon 8 8 7 8
Sutekh 7 8 7 8
Thorir 8 8 8 8
Treeble 7 7 8 7
Whistle 5 6 7 7
Zhyttya 5 6 6 9
release date: 01-Jan-2006
# of downloads: 134

average rating: 7.86
review count: 38
review this level

file size: 35.08 MB
file type: TR4
class: Oriental

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"The first BTB2006 level I couldn't finish, and hopefully the only one. Two major issues got in my way, the first being that an enemy was supposed to drop a gem but did not. This is noted in the walkthrough, but by the time I saw it I was too far ahead to easily jump back to an earlier save. The second issue is that I failed to pick up another gem during a double timed run, so I went to do it again but was softlocked due to the exit having closed itself for some reason, and the switch to open it could not be pulled again. Maybe I could have found a way to use a tool like fexinspect to work around these things but by this point I was just done. I did like the trap sequences that I saw, and the visuals were pretty good, in particular the lighting, although it was a coin toss whether Lara could pass through each waterfall texture or not. Abandoned at 26 minutes." - JesseG (03-Jul-2022)
"I dont recall playing an oriental level before and so this was a fresh experience for me and i just loved the style when it comes to the bright textures and the layout of the level so much so in fact i think i need to check out more oriental style levels. Ok so during the level you are mostly in and out of buildings set in some kinda forest areas with lots of trees and gorgeous waterfalls. the tranquil music and stunning setting might fool the player into thinking this might be a very relaxed and simple exploring adventure but in fact this level is also packed full heinous traps, timed runs and tasks which i just loved. As for enemies we have some nasty snakes and some men to contend with but make sure you check the men's bodies afterwards otherwise you'll end up like me spending several mins trying to find the fans they dropped that are need for progression lol. There is lots of exploring and platforming and the level needs all of laras athletic skills in order for it to be completed. The only negatives for me was the lack of any other music tracks apart from the looping one in the background and the amount of item searching and collecting because although the areas are original and attractive to explore in, the constant picking up items and using them can become quite tiresome and if it wasnt for the clever traps, timed runs and some of the platforming i think it would of become too overwhelming" - John (14-Apr-2022)
"(6) Gameplay & Puzzles: I would consider this a "light" adventure; there's some exploring, a few traps, very little combat, no tricky platforming, and one pushblock puzzle. I would have liked to have seen more of a challenge in all gameplay aspects, and seen more puzzles beyond the standard, dull "push-the-colored-pushable-onto-the-matching-tile" sequence. Also, 2 out of the 4 pushables looked the same in color, which wasn't good design. I did enjoy exploring in general, however I cannot rate gameplay higher as I don't think the level has good progression/flow, largely due to 2 factors: 1) there's an annoying spike trap hallway that you have to go back and forth over, MANY times, and 2) There is a game stopping bug involving placing a gem in a receptacle in the non-dev intended order. Now, I don't read reviews prior to completing a level, as I don't want to get spoiled, and unfortunately I inserted the 1 gem I had into the wrong receptacle (past the rope area) and then wandered around lost for ages as I could not progress further. Assuming the player has 1 gem, and they didn't go back to the starting area to get the 2nd gem, it is logical that the player would want to insert their gem into that receptacle past the rope area, so this is a critical bug. (9) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: Enemies were sparse, which is fine, although I think the game is lacking in a tough final battle of some sort; the ending felt a bit anticlimactic. Static decor objects were used very well, and I especially enjoyed finding the 2 secrets and how they had dedicated rooms that you could see while progressing through the main part of the game. (10) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The atmosphere was breathtaking and I really enjoyed the builder's use of non-rectangular geometry to vary the architecture. Natural areas involving trees and foliage were constructed with just as much polish as man-made interiors. I also loved the use of fog in certain areas. The background music loop, while lovely, was too short. Cameras were decent, although with such high-quality visuals, I would have liked to have seen more than 1 flyby. These two issues are pretty minor and this category still deserves top scores. (10) Lighting & Textures: I think, due to the colorful nature of the BT2006 texture-set, builders can mash bold/busy textures together to the point of being an eyesore, but that was not the case here. Both lighting and texturing were perfectly done in my opinion, color schemes were just delightful, and there were no overly dark areas. Overall, I am hesitant to recommend this level due to the gameplay not flowing well; however, I'm still glad I played it as it was made by the builder who many years later developed Arcadian Dream. 6/9/10/10." - nerdfury (17-Nov-2020)
"This is another visual spectacle in this competition, in fact I think it's even more attractive than most out there. I have pretty much nothing negative to say about the overall looks and atmosphere, except the fact that the default looping ambient track got rather wearying after a while. The gameplay is mostly simple, with a few mild traps, a very easy pushable puzzle and a few brisk timed runs. Actually, this level does flow surprisingly smoothly and nothing should really get you stuck, but a couple of things do slow the pace somewhat: a repetitive backtrack through one particular trapped corridor too many times, the aforementioned pushable puzzle might catch a few of you out as a couple of the colours are very similar (I'm not even the slightest bit colour blind, but it caught me out) and a possible terminal bug if you use a Gem in the incorrect place. Luckily, I did glance at the walkthrough a couple of times and was able to avoid it. Enemies, for a pleasant change, are relatively few: just a couple of thugs and a snakes, which made for a more tranquil experience. But all in all, this is a very pleasant, if undemanding experience." - Ryan (09-Apr-2018)
"Game-breaking flaw, that's the reason I'm giving a 3 on gameplay and puzzles. You can just be stuck forever if you just place a gem in the wrong place and that is something that should be fixed. Besides that the level it self was made in a way that you take to much time to reach anything even if the distance is to short, you have a lot of climbing and an unnecessary crawl below the traps. Other "flaw" is the fact that you need a secret to progress on the game, since the only revolver is on a secret. Still, lovely design and a great use of the textures but this level will only be enjoyable if you read the walk-through since you can be stuck forever, and for that reason I just recommend anyone to avoid it" - Leeth (16-Mar-2017)
"I have a LOT of mixed feelings about this level. The wad from BtB did saved this level from being a tortuous playthrough. Looking at the scenery melts my heart and calms my soul. The textures where beautiful and the author constructed a good level with them, but it fail to use a proper background music. The file was too short so the song was almost in constant loop. It annoyed me to the point of lowering the sound almost to the minimum. The gameplay however was where the author most failed. The first gem that you pick up will trick you into thinking you have to use it on the nearest door, which is definitely not the case. In fact you need to save it to open a double gem door, otherwise you WON'T progress. Forced to load a previous save. A part from this i do agree with most of the reviewers about the trapped corridor which you'll need to pass several times. It's tedious and there's no easy way to pass it. Another thing that annoyed me was how much frustrating it was too look over a railing and see the crowbar, but having to cover a totally different path to take it since the engine does not allow Lara to jump over railings. A bit of realistic touch here wouldn't hurt. BtB 2006 wad is amazing and i do recommend playing this level just because of that. But do have the walkthrough in hand." - Zhyttya (16-Mar-2017)
"The visual quality takes a large jump upwards with this level, it's the first time where the looks are convincing enough in every room. Textures are very carefully applied and together with the lighting evoke a very nice atmosphere. Maybe the lighting tends to have not enough contrast and is a tad too bright but overall the beauty of the areas isn't damaged by this. There are some really innovative traps in this level, like spike balls that always return back after you left the room and drop out when you get in, something I haven't seen before, but overall the builder didn't make too much out of it. The gameplay largely consists of lengthy backtracks that really destroy much of the enjoyment, and there are rather few actual puzzles to solve (one particular door puzzle reminding on the one in RX-Tech Mines from TR 3 sticked out here). There are also a few timed tasks, but they're fairly simple, save for a double timed run that was quite fun. It all gets a little worse when you have to do things several times, like doing the same timed run across a long ladder twice, traversing half a dozen of times through the same trap chamber and so on. A shame actually because I found there's a large potential in this game, the room connections are intricate creating some nice exploration parts and there would have been enough space to create some clever tasks. I expected the game to get better behind every corner but I was disappointed. Indeed placing a gem in the wrong receptacle might cause a dead end later but honestly it wouldn't be very obvious to place one gem near a door that requires two ones. Anyway. The complaint that the revolver secret is needed to progress is not true, as you can simply shoot the ball with pistols only; in general the two secrets are well hidden. There are also very few enemies that might have spiced things up a bit, at least the object design is quite attractive and nicely supports the atmosphere. Even if this game isn't as good as it could and should be it's a colourful and charming piece of work and definitely one of the better levels of the contest. Spent 25 minutes in here." - manarch2 (19-Mar-2015)
"This is another amazing looking level, with tons of detail, excellent lighting and fitting object use. The only problem I had is that the ambient music track used is far too short. Gameplay is good, with a decent variety of tasks and mostly smooth gameplay flow. There is a bit too much backtracking (and in general, the level flow loses it's way a bit in the last parts), but various shortcuts are provided and the level is quite compact, there's also a game-killing flaw where you can place a gem too early and not be able to progress (as you need two later), but I didn't personally encounter it. Another high-tier entry to the contest, although not quite up with the very best." - Mman (16-Jan-2012)
"Every time I feel the urge to play a bright and colourful level, I try out one of the Back to Basics 2006 levels, which are usually just chock-full of colour. Forest Palaces doesn't disappoint in that regard - if anything, it's even more colourful and prettier than the average BtB 2006 level. The looks are great and the atmosphere is good, even though the background music is distracting.
The gameplay is mostly trap- and timed-run-based - hardly any puzzles at all, except for a simple pushblock one and a small maze (which is fun, but is a little too similar to one from TR3). I generally love traps and timed runs, but in this level the former are too repetitive, and the latter barely challenging at all (I didn't even realize one sequence was timed until I had to do it a second time). There is a lot of backtracking - which wouldn't really be a problem, as the level map is so small - but it also means that you have to traverse a particular trapped corridor at least 6 times ... argh! I also had other issues with the level design - invisible walls, for instance, which prevent Lara from passing through a waterfall or hopping over a 2-click high fence, forcing you to climb up and then down a set of stacked rooms several times over. Luckily, I managed to avoid making a game-stopping mistake (using a gem at the wrong puzzle hole) but only because I had read about this issue in some of the other reviews, and was on the lookout for it.
The two secrets are tied together, as getting the first one gives you access to the other (though you can access it another way too). There are hardly any enemies except a few thugs and a couple of snakes - just the way I like it. Given the lack of enemies, the surfeit of weapons and ammo provided is rather useless, though.
Overall: A very short level, with not much to do in it except run from one end to the other. Still, it's on the whole quite pleasant and relaxing, and just right when you're in the mood for an easy raid." - Mytly (12-Apr-2010)
"The design of this level is awesome, great colors and nice atmosphere. The look is surreal but after all, it's an asian theme. Unfortunately for the gameplay, the level is less impressive... Except one timed run, the game is very easy, I found a lot of medipack, weapon & ammo, but they are useless, there are no danger for miss Croft in this level. However I don't penalize the rating only because the game is too easy (and perhaps too short), but for the error in the puzzle, if you use the first Gem for collect the Yin-Yang, you can't finish the game." - Jerrod (11-Apr-2010)
"Forest Palaces is another one of the oriental back to basics levels I played a long time ago, when the contest was still still hotter than... a hot pot of ... soup (darn, I need to work on my comparisons) but delayed the reviewing till now. Actually I couldn't finish the level then because I used a gem where I wasn't supposed to and got stuck for good, but when replaying now, I seemed to have none of these issues anymore fortunately and everything went well. As for the actual level and not my perils with getting through it - the first thing you'll notice that there's a lot of attention put into the construction of the whole area, lot of attention to details and of course there's a whole lot of waterfalls to find. The settings are lush, colourful (even more than the already pretty vibrant set that was provided for the competition) and a pleasure to look at at all times. There's nothing terribly remarkable about the tasks you have to do - traps, timed runs, sometimes both of them combined and an awful lot of backtracking - but that's actually half as bad when you're familiar with the area as the whole level is fairly compact once you get to know it better. Managed to find 2 secrets and they were well hidden, though tease you with being in your sight at the same time. A solid effort - worth the play for the eye-candy environments and the challenges it offers." - eTux (25-Jul-2007)
"Bugs. Don't you just love them? Well, no, obviously, and especially not when some careless building skills leave you with no other choice than to start the level all over again. I could have done without that gem hole tempting me to use it so soon...but thankfully it didn't ruin the level completely for me. What did annoy me, however, was the constant need to travel back and forth between areas. I must have ran that trap corridor at least 10 times by the end of the level, and it did get quite repetitive after a while. The rest of the gameplay is decent, involving a pushable puzzle, some rope swinging, a variety of blade traps and a few enemies to kill. However, none of these are particularly challenging. On a more positive note, the texturing and atmosphere was wonderful, and it looked beautiful at times. It's just a shame that the gameplay wasn't as spectacular as the surroundings." - Spike (19-Jul-2007)
"A very nice oriental adventure, here. As the title suggests, Lara starts out in a temple with a lot of forest and nature surrounding it. It's quite colourful and very beautiful! Lots of flowers! The gameplay focuses on exploration and getting through dangerous traps. Challenging, but not too difficult. In all, it's a nice adventure for most players. Took me about an hour to finish. There is however, quite a lot of backtracking to do in this level. So a lot of your time, will be to go back to an area you have already been to. But still: A very good and beautiful level!" - Thorir (15-Mar-2006)
"I liked this level that has a nice setting with waterfalls and traps that are also timed. You're looking mostly for fans and gems but stars as well. It is about forty minutes long with a medium kind of gameplay. The last part is a bit tiresome though since you have to repeat a few jumps/climbs but it's not too bad. There are is one or two minor problems but I've noticed worse bugs in other BtB levels this year. I found two secrets." - Kristina (10-Mar-2006)
"Forest palaces is another level that have divided me. It's so very very well done for the graphic and for the tecnical part but have some problems with the structure. There are some good ideas with good door time and some good traps. But the puzzles aren't innovative and i find it very boring. For the tecnical part i find it superb. The use of light the texture and all is made very very well! All is perfect and the author have a particular sensibility to use light and to use editor. I want to congrats with it. But the structure another part of a level isn't impressive. And i find a part in which i can't go ahead, i put a diamond in the wrong place...and i am stucked in the level. This is a terrible error but i can understand the author! everyone is human ;) In the music i have found another error becouse there is a music of foundation! i have turn off the stereo!! For this i have downrate the atmosphere and camera ...but i think that level was very well done and i am sorry about these errors....." - diamond (02-Mar-2006)
"This level is amazing. We are adventuring inside wonderfully furnished buildings and gardens with Lara, in the search for the Yin and Yang symbols. With these we can leave the level at the end. Look round carefully at each locations, because we need to visit them more times so that we can put things to their place that were missing during our first visit or pick up other items. The enemies are some thugs and two snakes, but they are not so convinient, so we can catch flies. Some traps and 3 timed runs are the hardest obstacles, moreover we have to complete the third one even twice. We can find two secrets, but we only get the second if we collected the first one. Something I didn't like: you better not run to the receptacle with your first Sacred Gem, because in this case we won't be able to collect the other two, hence, we won't be able to complete the level. Except of this annoying stick it was a good adventure; because of the wonderful environment it definitely worth playing. You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version), savegames and pictures here:" - Obig (01-Mar-2006)
"Very attractive opening scene. (Not sure the change of font for the loading screen etc, is v.successful, as I find the colouring and wording make it hard to read. [I think the regular TR4 font is one of things they did particularly well: v.stylish.]) Wow! moments as we reach 2 large rooms with waterfalls. Intricate timed run combination, amid lovely surroundings, to reach the Yang piece. Ah, I see that I shouldn't have done this (yet it is the obvious next thing to do), as the gem is needed with another to use in some doors that require two - and I understand as I write this that the third gem can only be retrieved after this point. A serious fault, unfortunately, so I cannot give the 9 I wanted to for gameplay. (The gem for the Yang piece could have been something else?) The 'secret' revolver is used, we see later, to shoot the bauble that gives access to the second secret, so that aspect is OK. (It is actually possible to shoot the bauble concerned by dropping 'just so' into the water and shooting it with pistols AS we drop - no health loss involved.) Ah, in the area for this second secret, my Lara has just become stuck in the scenery, by the waterfall below. A reload needed. And there is a triangular bit of pool, that if Lara slips into it, she cannot get out from. But a nice timed puzzle to leave the area. And I think I agree with others, that there is just a little too much to-ing and fro-ing over exactly the same piece of ground in one tricky connecting passage. My 'thorough exploring' time was 1hr 1min, though about 10 mins should be added to this due to exploring done before discovery of the 'gem problem'. My 'fast as possible, pick up everything' time was a few seconds over 17 mins. It is possible to go through the game and suffer no health loss. A very attractive-looking game indeed." - rjb (25-Feb-2006)
"This starts out real easy and before you know it you have collected three fans, but from there you engage into a 40 minutes adventure that requires you to keep your wits about - and has a severe gameplay design flaw, as you can use one of the three gems prematurely in the wrong receptacle. That aside you do get quite a lot of timed action which you also have to do repeatedly, but nothing too tight. The overall architecture is impressive and good looking and the relatively small map cleverly connected. Bottomline, a few good ideas that can become confusing, but if you are lucky it will flow the right way for you and you will have lots of fun." - MichaelP (19-Feb-2006)
"This level is lookwise a true pearl and one of my favourites thus far. The atmosphere feels so real and the texturing is just stunning. I'm not a huge fan of those enormous areas with a hundred thousand things to do, so the small and beautiful rooms in this level really appealed to me. Music is very well used and there is even added a secret chime(extra plus for that as I've gone through so many levels without it now). As for secrets I found two of them and here there's something on a bit of a negative note: there is a huge amount of ammo and weapons to find and hardly any enemies at all(only some ninjas and two snakes). There aren't many traps either; only two stargates, some blades, spike balls and fire emitters and this is why I've given it less points for enemies, objects and secrets. One thing I really loved about the objects though was the creativity in giving them names: Sacred Gems, Western and Eastern Star and Stone of the Shrine to mention some. Thumbs up for that one! On another negative note there was a bit too much backtracking in this level I'm afraid. While it's very nice to have small and restricted areas where it's easy to find the way back it did become a bit too repetetive and drawn out for my taste. Thanks to the builder for providing us with such a beautiful adventure....this is highly recommendable for everyone." - Selene (17-Feb-2006)
"My first review, on a level I liked: It starts with three Judoka heading for Lara which made me think, that this would be a fighting level. But no, it rather is exploring, traps and some timed action (easy). All this in a pleasant area, nicely put together with seductive repetitive music, not disturbed by enemy action. The waterfalls yard and the ropes area stood out for me. I don't know a single bit of texture that does not fit well and light was convincing - the extremely bright sparkles with the waterfalls my taste. Let Lara fall in the pit with the ropes and it still looks good (though she's dead) - or jump in the pool in the shrine area. The going back and forth was OK, since distances were small. The puzzle with a light blue and a dark blue pushable had me fooled once - great :). my favourite : when going round in circles forever, listening carefully one could actually hear the sound of a second gate/door opening, but it was extremely well hidden in the music/Thunder noise, which btw. was nothing boring to me for the short time the level takes. (>1hour for me) minor flaws : what are all those items for? 30 flares, not one needed, just as the shotgun and about a dozen or so MP. The first Anaconda (Shrine) was stuck in the wall all the time, and the need to throw that switch always twice was irritating. The gem issue should be updated by the author (a different key/hole for the Yin ?), if it wasn't on purpose :) I look foward to try other levels of this builder, once revealed." - snork (13-Feb-2006)
"This gets off to a good start with a need to find and place some fans. I must admit I went 'round and 'round the gated hallways without seeing the newly opened exit. Visually beautiful but maybe too much backtracking through a difficult area. The area with the timed gate and wall slicers with drop down ball/blades, in particular, was irritating as it had to be run through a few times. Timed runs were well thought out with a secret at the end of one if the Raider is quick enough. Two secrets found with an hour of gameplay." - Bene (08-Feb-2006)
"I'm not sure how I managed it but I got hopelessly stuck in this one at my first attempt by completely failing to find a large, open door. Upon checking the walkthrough and spotting my error, the rest was fairly easy (but not too easy) I really liked this level - the environment is quite charming with lots of places to explore and it is all well lit. There is a bit of running back and forth to be done but, as it is not a particularly large area, this was not a problem. Some of the cameras did not appear to work properly - a quick flash and back to the action - but this did not impede the nice pace of this adventure. Thoroughly enjoyable level though, sadly, the last one as I have now played all the B2b levels. Can't wait for next year's contest now. :-)" - Staticon (07-Feb-2006)
"A level with a good design, perhaps lights aren't very worked but textures are very well applied, beautiful scenes and good cameras. Background music is very very short, so it could take people being bored. Now I'm going to comment why I gave a very low punctuation in gameplay section. First time I played and moved the four pieces over the correct tiles and the W door didn't open; I had to read the walkthough (arg! I hate reading walkthroughs!) and I saw that I did the correct actions and the door sould must be open, but for some reason (?) didn't open and I had to begin a new game (second time yes it opens). Two of the pieces seems to have the same blue colour, only when you approach them to the place near the dragon tiles one of them goes changing the colour and turns more black (different lights in different rooms?). Is not good that you have to discover a secret to can continue playing (revolver) I've never see something like this in an official TR game. But the worst fail in the gameplay was this: once you get the first gem you can use in the receptacle of the door near the deep pit to get the Yang (it's easy that you proceed so, because the place is very near, and you don't want to go back there later); if you do so you'll never can open the double doors with the two receptacles for the gems, 'cause the last gem only appears when you kill the thug, and he'll never appear if you don't have the crowbar to pry one of the stars, and the crowbar is behind the double doors you need to open with the gem which you don't have; so you have to reload a savegame (if you have!) or begin to play the level from the very beginning! I don't know who's the builder, but I have the impression that he/she is a good builder, and I don't know how this person could planning the gameplay this way (?). For all this I had to give a low score in gameplay section. I'm sorry." - Jose (07-Feb-2006)
"By Golly,this is one of those levels which make you so frustrated you wonder why you bother playing TR! The Gameplay is a classic case of the builder knowing what to do and where to go,but the player being kept pretty much in the dark. In this case,place a Gem in the wrong slot too early and you've had it! (Even though the slot in question is close at hand and just begging to be used). Combined with that,way too much backtracking;a death hallway that needs to be negotiated several times;and a course for progression which is often unclear,and you have a veritable minefield of problems. However,visually this is a pleasing level and there's plenty to look at while you futilely roam around. The water effects work well;there are several well-judged timed challenges;and the texturing and overall construction is first class. Play this with the Walkthrough handy and you'll enjoy it.Play without,and you may come horribly unstuck." - Orbit Dream (07-Feb-2006)
"A level with plenty of backtracking, all you have to do is find artifacts place them in their place then a gate opens way back, backtrack there & get another artifact after finding it place it. The same with Crowbar once you find it again you have to back to the starting to take out one of the Dragon Stars. Well there are some parts that I liked. The first one was the Timed Run with 2 switches after the ropeswing,took 5 attempts & succeded at last. You have to find the Eastern & Western Dragon Stars by running back & forth the whole level , after this you get the 2nd half of Yingyang. Place teh Yingyang stone to end the level. Phew all this running is causing me to pant." - Anurag (02-Feb-2006)
"This was my second reviewing dilemma - what to do with a level that has a beautiful settings, nice puzzles but everything else not so good. If you want just to look how beautiful a level can be, then choose this one, you can't get stuck in here, if you avoid the points of no return. ;) There was quite a lot of things to do in different places, so you have to run a little back and forth. There was one pond where you couldn't get out if you felt into it (or I just didn't find a way) and at that timed entrance to the rooms you can get trapped if you repeat the timed run the second time, because the exit door closed and the switch is not resetable. Also use the gems first on the double doors. Was that intentional? Not for the hard core players, only if you want to relax your eyes and brains. Time: 53/31. Difficulty: very easy. Lighting: brighter/colours. Gameplay type: quicky/explore. Tech skills: basic." - Bojrkraider (30-Jan-2006)
"Another level of uncommon beauty. Just yesterday I opined that "Master Lu" was perhaps the most visually pleasing level I'd ever played. I'm having second thoughts now that I've played "Forest Palaces." I didn't quite reach the level of ecstacy apparently experienced by Jorge, but I was extremely satisfied in every review category. And best of all, I don't recall as much as a dark corner anywhere in sight. All of the gorgeous architectural and botanical appointments are well lighted so they can be, by golly, seen in all their pristine glory. Would be that we could have more releases like this one. The only mild complaint I could express would be for the looping ambient music that started driving me nuts after a while, but I was having so much fun enjoying the sights that I was soon able to put it out of my mind. Yoav has written a very nice walkthrough that took me through in about 45 minutes without a hitch. Highest recommendations." - Phil (30-Jan-2006)
"This level was extremely frustrating, after using the first gem to get the first piece of the Ying/Yang and then finding out that you needed it later and no other was then available was gross bad level writing. Also quite a few other bugs the worst was the block puzzle (played twice as I had to start again to get the gem), did not work properly, and combined with not being able to really distinguish the colours was exasperating. Enemies gave up objects when the drop worked, the enemies quite easily dealt with and some helped by grouping in a corner (baddies and snakes). The last bind was to keep repeating the moves as L:ara went backwards and forwards. Textures of the water falls at times a pain as they altered colours and blinded Lara for too long, otherwise OK and lighting fine if a little to bland. The atmosphere was nothing special and sound unobtrusive." - Whistle (29-Jan-2006)
"Warning ONLY use the gem you find the first time around on the double doors. Although in retrospect it is a great level I hated the repetition one had to do with that corridor with all the traps, also the ladder with the knives, one trip too many. The timed runs on its own were rather nice to do, but as with that corridor and the ladder, it gets a bit stale. There is even a place you can see through a waterfall and I even got in there. Not intended as there is nothing you can do there apart from swimming out the other way and that was the way I didn't needed to go. 07-01-2006" - Gerty (28-Jan-2006)
"Here I am at approximately the half way point of the Oriental series and I should just like to say a word or two about those passage blocking, knee high slashing knives. Never my favourite hazard, I now find it hard to articulate the amount of fear and loathing I feel for the wretched things and I really wouldn't mind at all if I never saw another one as long as I live. OK, now I've got that off my chest I can get on with the actual review. Apart from a potential problem if you use gems in the wrong order, this is a really nice level in terms of gameplay and I thought the sound of thunder in the background really added to the atmosphere. The action moves along nicely and there's nothing too difficult to achieve, making it a good level for most players." - Jay (23-Jan-2006)
"I felt a great deal of frustration in this level. Due to placing that famous gem in the single slot, Then I read I should have kept it and got another one for the double doors first. I was confused about those timed runs, using a floor lever and pulldown switch the first time, moving onto something else, redoing the timed run to get through the second door, and finding I was trapped forever. Reading the Stuck Forum I realised I wasn't the only one. I had to reload savegames so often, and finally had to start the level from scratch to do it as intended by the author. Short of re-releasing the level, the player must read the Stuck Forum, or wait until the walkthrough is out. Perhaps this would not have been so bad if I could figure out how to do that blade gauntlet without feeding Lara medpacks each time I ran through it. Certainly, this is a very beautiful level, but with some texture problems, and quite flat lighting in places. I will guess that this is one of the newer builders. In which case I would encourage them to continue building and gain experience, because there is huge potential there. When the problem of the gem is understood, the rest of the level is fairly straight forward. The timed climb up the waterfall was great, and the gates maze at the start was a good idea. Although the tease of seeing the crowbar beside you and not being able to get it, or run through the waterfall, was unusual, I did like that too. I found two lasersights, but shot the ball with pistols! The timed runs were cleverly done. Despite all I've said it's a very good level to play, and in hindsight, a short level. I smiled as I wondered why two thugs would have fans on their person while on duty!" - CC (20-Jan-2006)
"What an amazingly nice level. So fluent too! I loved it totally. The scenery was quite good, the traps weren't too many nor too hard, but lent the necessary thrill to the adventure. In spite of what I read elsewhere there was music throughout the level, indeed. And it was mostly about searching and discovering but never in a way that would ever drive you insanely stuck. That is, in my opinion, knowing and understanding the fine line there is bewteen a rotten near impossible challenge and true challenging fun. It gets four tens from me." - Jorge22 (20-Jan-2006)
"Although this has a few problems I found myself being really immersed into the beautiful oriental temple setting. One of the problems I speak of can actually halt progression as if you use a gem too early and in a slot unintended for it you will find later on that you are a gem short and you won't be able to finish the level, this of course is a major gaming flaw and one I thankfully didn't have trouble with, the other problem I see is that you find yourself backtracking at certain points, although this is a fairly centralised game, and this could be a little annoying to some. But I think the game has enough going for it with some fun puzzling, including delicious timed moves, and lovely aesthetics to make it a really worthwhile level to play and I enjoyed it very much. I found both nicely situated secrets and finished in just under 40 minutes." - Sash (18-Jan-2006)
"This was an easy and pleasing little game with a very fluent gameplay, even though I didn't quite get the purpose of some of the objects there (never used the monkey swing and only needed one rope, for instance). The closing door in a circle puzzle was very nice and reminiscent of TR3 (that's how I solved it, by the way, when the memories stroke me) and the timed-runs were nicely designed. This said, the push-dice puzzle was just that: pushing dice with no puzzle involved and I would have liked to pass one certain blades/spiked balls trap a bit less than eight or ten times. It's easy but tedious after a while. Speaking of which, there's a good load of back and fro but the level is small (in terms of size) so it isn't really a problem. Secrets are linked, meaning you can't find the second if you haven't found the first, which I'm not sure is a good thing (not sure it's a bad one either). Enemies are few and well-placed, coming in the form of a bunch of Chinese thugs and a couple of snakes. Atmosphere is so-so. The looping music didn't bother me, but the continuous thunder got tiresome after a while. Visually speaking this is a well-done, pretty level, pleasing to the eyes and offering a bit of variety. I noticed a couple of glitches, but nothing serious. All in all a nice moment in a pleasing place." - Sutekh (18-Jan-2006)
"This level has many qualities, and two flaws: a bit too much of backtracking (although it stays in the borders of what is acceptable) and a problem can occur if you don't find and use the 3 gems in the good order. Maybe this problem will be corrected in an updated version. Aside from that, the puzzles are various and entertaining, the lighting is suitable and the author has made a good use of waterfalls, ladders and traps. I think it is the first time I see those ceiling blades reset after use. I enjoyed also the timed doors and trapdoors and the puzzle with the closing doors. So, many good things to expect in this level, but I reckon that the problem with the 3 gems prevented me to fully enjoy it." - eRIC (16-Jan-2006)
"A This is a nice level to play. It looks good the only thing I missed was a piece of music, the constant rolling thunder is starting to get on my nerves after a while. There's a nice route through the level, only thing what wasn't quite correct was the 1st Sacred Gem you could use nearby to get the Yang piece, but then you would get stuck. Liked it even though." - Dutchy (14-Jan-2006)
"This is a beautiful level, although it's not really hard you will have a lot of fun roaming around the gorgeous rooms and gardens of the palaces. Lara will be collecting fans, gems, two stars and finally the Ying Yang pieces. Enemies are Ninjas and a couple of snakes. The atmosphere is wonderful, the back ground sounds and the water falls made it all quite lovely. Game play is constant; there are timed runs, and traps in abundance by way of spikes, wall blades, fires and dropping spike balls. Lara will use two ropes over a deep watery pit and this was a nice touch. There are a few problems I read about with this level, such as a ninja not dropping an item, and you should not use your first gem on the door that leads to the black half of the Ying Yang or you will not have enough gems to proceed, but I am happy to say I didn't get caught by any of these problems after being made aware of them. I found two secrets and suspect I missed more. A very nice looking level with great atmosphere and game play, I enjoyed it immensely." - Moonpooka (07-Jan-2006)
"This was quite a simplistic level, it was nicely built but it could have used some additional work to polish things up and make sure they worked the way they were meant to. There's a square hallway with doors that worked like the one in RX Mines in TR3, and I thought it was ingenious. Later on you get to a nice waterfall area and you see where you have to go, to get the crowbar, but the path to it won't be necessarily easy. The gameplay is a bit flawed, so if you misuse the one crystal you get you won't be able to proceed. At least one lever would only work on the second throw, there was a few invisible ledges (triangular sectors not properly assigned) and overall the lighting was really simple. The storyline says Lara's after treasures to discover, yet she leaves without any in her backpack. Not so sure about the ingame font now, since a few other BtB levels also have it... 30 minutes, 2 secrets. 01/06" - Treeble (07-Jan-2006)