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BtB2010 - The Black Lodge by eTux

afzalmiah 9 10 10 10
Andzia9 10 10 10 10
Bene 9 10 10 10
Bogey 9 9 9 9
Capt. Abbey 9 10 10 10
Cory 9 10 10 10
Dick 9 9 9 8
DJ Full 9 10 10 10
dmdibl 10 9 9 9
Drakan 8 8 8 8
Dutchy 10 9 9 9
eRIC 10 10 10 10
Eva 10 9 10 10
jawi 9 8 10 10
Jay 10 10 10 10
JesseG 8 10 10 9
Jorge22 10 9 9 9
Jose 8 8 9 8
Josey 10 10 10 10
Juno Jim 10 10 10 10
Magnus 8 8 9 8
manarch2 10 9 10 9
masha 9 9 10 10
MichaelP 10 9 9 9
MigMarado 10 10 9 10
Minox 9 8 8 7
Mman 10 10 10 9
Mytly 10 10 10 9
nerdfury 10 10 10 10
okuhtfesq 10 10 10 10
Orbit Dream 9 9 10 10
Phil 10 9 10 9
Ravenwen 8 8 10 9
Raymond 9 10 10 10
Relic Hunter 10 9 10 10
repley 10 10 9 9
rtrger 10 10 10 10
Ruben 9 10 10 9
Ryan 10 10 10 10
Scottie 10 9 10 10
TheStig 10 9 10 10
Treeble 10 10 10 10
release date: 01-Jan-2010
# of downloads: 196

average rating: 9.48
review count: 42
review this level

file size: 58.90 MB
file type: TR4
class: Venice

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"(10) Gameplay & Puzzles: Wowee, the many puzzles in this level are absolutely phenomenal. Initially, after entering the red curtains area, I was disoriented and confused by the rooms changing, but I'm so glad I stuck with the adventure and gave the gameplay a chance. It's heavily exploration and puzzle skewed (and I would say challenging in terms of problem-solving), but there's a thrilling "sliding" platforming task and timed run thrown into the mix. My favorite gameplay elements were shooting the panels which made debris drop, as well as turning off the power to a spike trap that a goon tries to activate. I can't think of anything that I didn't enjoy and I was just giddy with glee the whole time. (10) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: The enemy positioning was super innovative just like the puzzles. I especially enjoyed the goons climbing up from the floor, one by one, as well as the "immortal" demigirl that you initially can't damage. There were so many memorable and interesting object placements and I can't hope to name them all, but here are a couple of examples: the long chandelier hanging over an upside-down underground city, as well as the chair objects used to help solve a harp pushables puzzle. I only recall a spike trap but it's used very cleverly and I still think this category deserves top marks despite the level lacking traps. (10) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The surreal atmosphere is top notch and one-of-a-kind. I particularly enjoyed the "no firing weapons" areas, tinted red, and how the candles on the walls would keep swapping positions, creating a very spooky aesthetic. Another subtle detail I loved, which really added to the spooky atmosphere, was Lara's mirror double "breaking off" in a surreal way (it's hard to explain). Sounds were used well, as were flybys to draw the player in. I particularly enjoyed the blood-curdling scream when the final demigirl dies, as well as the flyby showing a goon activating a spike trap to kill Lara. (10) Lighting & Textures: While this level certainly isn't as traditionally beautiful as other entries, both lighting and textures were used with polish and to great effect, particularly the eerie lighting changes in the red curtain rooms. I felt like it wouldn't be fair to rate this category against the other traditionally beautiful entries as the builder clearly had a very different vision. I believe he used lighting/textures to the best possible effect to support his vision, while having texture restrictions. Overall, while this unforgettable level wasn't very challenging in terms of platforming/finger dexterity, it was just the right amount of challenge for the brain and I loved it so much. I'll play it again, and I would passionately recommend it to anyone interested in game design, even if they're not familiar with TRLEs. It's the perfect example of utilizing logical puzzles that make sense, in a surreal world that doesn't make sense. 10/10/10/10." - nerdfury (17-Mar-2021)
"Wonderful level, for Twin Peaks lovers, and probably also for those who don't even know what that piece of cult TV is. The gameplay is wonderful, everything lines up perfectly, the game is fluid and tight without ever being easy, it keeps you guessing and all the back and forth somehow fits. I praise the builder, eTux! Thank you! I definitely recommend this for all skill levels. There's also something for everyone in the themes and settings, I think. Great level!" - MigMarado (26-Feb-2021)
"I'm admitted not familiar with the whole Twin Peaks concept, but to be able to construct a level such as this while sticking closely to both the provided materials and the source material itself is an achievement indeed. The surreal surroundings are ingeniously made and a pleasure for the eye, while the gameplay is nothing short of brilliant. It may initially seem to be a series of confusing rooms, but the many neat little puzzles such as the flipmap sequences and the twist on the standard waterskin puzzle. For its sheer originality, this deserves high marks. Very well done indeed." - Ryan (19-Mar-2016)
"I do not remember playing that level at its output to btbVenise, but I had played other excellent levels of this contest. Certainly it's a decent level, but I do not know what it took to get to the other reviewers that level in a storm high marks in the first places of this contest. Maybe this is not my kind of level. There is a sort of succession of identical rooms ((very labyrinthine), turn in circles constantly, enemies pop out of the ground from who knows where. Exhibit secret second was illegal lifts. I do not like more getting shot without being able to respond and it is necessary when the sandbag is placed. last flyby is choppy. There is some good things, like 2 timeruns, although very simple to perform. Not kind of level that I like but very correct." - Drakan (19-Aug-2014)
""WTAF!" I found myself repeating on a couple of occasions as I made my way through this incredible level. While I still have one last entry in the BtB-Venice series to play, this has definitely made its way right to the top for me. And it's rather ironic, when you think about it, because it's the level which least tried to represent Venice as we know it (other than the initial area). My mind still boggles trying to understand how the red curtain maze works, and it comes to a complete halt when I wonder WTAF Elvis was using when he conceived it. While a very simple setup overall (thankfully, I know I'd be doomed forever if Elvis wanted to be mean with it), it's pure genius. This level also featured some of the best camera work I've seen in years (granted I haven't been doing my best to keep up with the LE scene, but still). This is also one of the rare levels in which keeping a filled waterskin at all times pay off. Gameplay is never obscure and it's relatively short, so there's never a dull moment and it doesn't drag on forever relying on unnecessary backtracks and the like, so definitely my personal favorite of the lot. 45 minutes, 1 secret. 02/14" - Treeble (01-Mar-2014)
"Yup, I forgot to review this one - thanks to Moritz for finding it out. So here I am again, about two years after playing through the game for the first time. One thing that surprised me now was that I remembered most of remarkable places, however inbetween my two takes I never realized they all come from this single adventure. This is supposedly because the amount of different aspects pictured in here is astounding, with the plot about getting into/out of a magical realm allowing to merge all these ideas without any artificial squish, and we can very clearly see where ghost world touches the human one, so everything feels integral despite of implementing AI element, magic floating, trap disabling, roof collapsing, altering room timing, remote demigod killing and an inverted cave. In condensed words: even a totally surreal place doesn't feel out of place and everything makes sense, so gameplay/puzzle field is simply brilliant, except some backtracking required (what is not that disturbing in this rather compressed map) and a lack of waterskin hint repetition directly before the final elemental filling (because at this point no player will remember the clue given several dozen minutes earlier at the level beginning). About the lighting... colorful, sparkling and lively. Of course sometimes unexplainable, even the cave corners which should be normally darker are glowing with some kind of... I don't know - bioluminescent or ectoluminescent algae??... but hey, here comes the "surreal" argument, and can it really justify any lighting inconsequence? Well... it's ridiculous, but for me it can. SUMMARY: It's definitely hard to choose the winner of BtB'10, for the two leaders are outstanding on their own. I presume what eventually made The Black Lodge lose to One Day In Venice is much shorter net gaming time plus spooky mood many people might find unfamiliar on the contrary with the winner's broad sunlit heights. Nonetheless it's still a level which should be taken on, because the creativity is strong in it and there are barely (if at all) things that might cause confusion or annoyment. Very highly recommended!" - DJ Full (23-Nov-2013)
"Well this definitely was very different compared to other Back to Basics 2010 levels and I enjoyed it a lot. eTux makes very original levels that are very enjoyable and not too hard. I hardly needed the walkthrough for this level which I thought was a good thing. I only needed it around the middle of the level closer to the end. There were some very good ideas from this level like an upside down area and the strange water passage. I really loved those curtain maze areas. That effect on the floor makes it look even better. The floating platforms were a great idea also. The texturing in this level was unsurprisingly flawless. The lighting was strange at some times but it works with the area and looks amazing. Not many people can do that. The enemies were very well placed and the builder has put enough medipacks to survive. I liked the areas where there was a Demi-God which casts a spell where you can't use weapons. A fantastic and original level that has to be tried by everyone. Highly recommended." - afzalmiah (03-Mar-2012)
"Ooh this was wonderful... I didn't want to stop playing, and I wanted to drive the boat. Don't worry, I'm not really complaining, I am aware of how much work goes in to making a level this remarkable. Having just returned from a quick trip to Venice and finding it pretty creepy and unpleasant (it was August) I really enjoyed this crazed-Venetian atmosphere. I was only mildly annoyed by the navigation of the red-curtain rooms and loved the extremely clever and beautiful level design, the atmospheric soundtrack from the Caves level, the stressful swimming routes, and the bit where the jokester makes you drop your weapons. What can I say? I for one have never really played anything like this, I find it unique, gorgeous, and just difficult enough to be really entertaining. You should play it." - Capt. Abbey (23-Dec-2011)
"I don't give a 10 to gameplay too often but this is one of the levels that most deserve it. Although made with the BtB wad that all builders had, this is something entirely different. Right after the already impressing, even if not perfectly textured start with the shooting of the wires to let some stones fall of the floor, Lara doesn't walk around Venice and explores a bit - no, this time you get to an intriguing entrance to the lodge, enter it and solve never seen tasks, like the maze with I-don't-know-how-many- flipmaps to let the player run in circles and still visit new places, a fun sliding sequence over breakable tiles. A wire has to be taken to interrupt the current circuit, an upside down church can be admired. Plus the search for four challenging secrets, well-thoughtout fights (I loved the one with the hitmen climbing out of the floor), tight but solvable timed runs, one of the most fun levels ever. The architecture was stunning, such as the atmosphere (great sound, great effects, extraordinary camera work). Texturing only slightly worse, with some little mistakes, but they are forgivable." - manarch2 (19-Aug-2011)
"I didn’t really watch Twin Peaks (my family did), so I only heard that it was good. But I bet it wasn’t as good as this level. It was THE MOST unique level from this contest and I can say it right now, even if I haven’t played the last two of the BtB2010. There were lots of brand new ideas and creative gameplay parts, for instance: rooms where Lara couldn’t use weapons, the maze without the end and many many more. There are three main areas: the city, the lodge and the cave with the inverted clock tower. The last one really should be called “unique”, “extraordinary” and “inventive”. It is the only such area in the whole competition. Not only it has great architecture, but also brilliant lighting and texturing. For attention also deserves the water on the walls and on the ceiling. In this area author showed off what he is really capable of. The level is worth playing at least to see this area. Unfortunately, probably because of the size of the areas, the game is quite short and took me about 50 minutes to pass (as an opposite: Knights of Cydonia took me 2 hours!). Nevertheless, it’s still entertaining and very enjoyable. Atmosphere in this level is a topic for a very long composition. In the first main area it’s strange, even toxic – you’ll get the feeling when you look at the green sky. Then it turns to mystic, what can be seen in shining floor, colourful lightbulbs, ‘weird’ texturing and so on. The effect it produces stuns me. Definitely, the atmosphere is the main advantage of the game. If there wasn’t such unique atmosphere, the whole level would look different in a major way. That’s why I gave 10 for Lighting & Textures. Aside from the custom’s length, another disadvantage is lack of objects. I know that it was author’s purpose to keep one style in the Lodge, but I think that it could be better with more objects. Concluding, the game is great and definitely worth playing, despite its tiny disadvantages it can provide huge amount of joy. If you haven’t visited the Black Lodge yet, you should as quickly as you can." - jawi (04-May-2011)
"It is an excellent level that does not look like an ordinary level, it is pretty fantastic and I found it a bit odd. there are some bad posed textures, and much rooms are alike. I had a bug when I took lodgedeathmask, Lara found himself down in the water, I had to take a backup. The latest flyby is a bit jerky but this level is very original. I recommend this level to the side of his fantastic achievement but not for the context Venice." - Minox (11-Mar-2011)
"I was just thinking, I'm tired of all these enemies, and constant jumping about - I'm looking for something with puzzles and some thinking... Ah Haaaa... What a great change from the "norm" !!! What an imagination !!! I guess the "flipmaps" were all the rooms, connected in a very confusing way. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this departure from the norm - I loved the column of water, and other ideas that challenged the regular physics of a game. Another great one, eTux !!! Thanks !!!" - Juno Jim (13-Apr-2010)
"A very creative level. Instead of adventuring in Venice, it goes to a surreal place. That suprised me very much. But I love that setting, it's incredible. Lots of puzzles to solve, intresting rooms to see, well-thought secrets, and the level isn't hard. Recommended!" - rtrger (06-Apr-2010)
"Well, this one was certainly different! I had a few initial concerns, especially in the what seemed like endless rooms with red curtains. As you get into the flow of things they just get better and better. Texturing and lighting is sublime, and I loved the cavern squence. A touch surreal, but easily one of the best that I've played of this series so far. 100% recommended! Completed in approximately 1 hour. On a side note, it looks like there may be more to come here? I could see a shot-gun and other picksups in the final fly-by. I hope the author continues this adventure!!!" - TheStig (02-Mar-2010)
"Not a classic style, but a good level anyway. The author knows perfectly how to deal with the editor, and the level is innovative and you'll find a lot of original features. Many flipped rooms, surprising effects and several surrealistic touches like the lot of enemies appearing from the floor one after another; sometimes it's not clear what to do or where to go, but the game is not very hard. I've missed some more guns and ammo 'cause there are plenty of enemies, also I've finished without medipacks in the inventory. The best I liked was the atmosphere and the excelent management with the cameras. Not the kind of levels I like, but very professional." - Jose (01-Mar-2010)
"I can only recommend that you familiarize yourself a little bit with the concept of 'The Black Lodge' from the Twin Peaks series, as it will make your experience with the level so much better. Yet again the author pulls off something very special. The ideas are original and quirky and make this level stand out miles from the other entries in this year's BtB and in a good way too. From the dropping of the ceiling and the timed run for the entire secret area at the start into the otherworldly red curtain areas, where you will wonder whether your sense of direction still works correctly, this is a special level indeed. The big cave area looks great and has a few surprises as well and the 'fire walk with me' reference is simply but effectively portrayed. A very unique adventure that is clearly one of my favourites of the 2010 BtB levels (40 mins, 3 secrets)." - MichaelP (01-Mar-2010)
"You know you're in for a different kind of Back to Basics level when the story makes references to Twin Peaks. If you've watched the critically acclaimed TV show, you will certainly appreciate this visit to the Black Lodge, but even if you haven't, it's still a very interesting level. With twenty-three levels based around the same wad and texture set in this year's competition, it's nice that there are a couple of levels that aren't afraid to do something different. You visit some strange places, but my favourite was easily the maze of red curtains, which anyone who's watched the TV show will recognise. The gameplay is also fairly unique, with some cool ideas like an almost-never-ending stream of enemies that crawl out of the floor, safe spots where Lara can't use her weapons, and a good use of flipmaps. It's not a particularly difficult level, but it's a lot of fun and, though it's set in a strange place, everything in the level makes sense in its own way. At thirty-five minutes, this level is neither too long nor too short, and it's definitely one of the Back to Basics levels that I recommend the most." - Magnus (28-Feb-2010)
"Another masterpiece in the contest! The special about this level is the setting, which differs greatly from the rest of the entries. So you'll enter a very unique and mysterious place. The basic idea behind it is executed excellently in every category. You can't fault anything about texturing, lighting and sounds. The gameplay fits also very well into the whole thing and is interesting with it's varying tasks. You really have to play this especially for it's unique setting!" - Raymond (28-Feb-2010)
"This is an eerie and very imaginative level. The setting is more like wonderland than Venice, though. You will find devious traps and massive assaults by enemies. The latter may require some care as you will not find that many medipacks. There is also some tricky jump sequences. In one area the rooms are connected in a weird maze-like way, which can be a bit confusing. There are lots of flipmaps in the level. They are often used in a creative way, but maybe there is little bit too much of this. There is a quite apt secret in the wonderland area, but if you haven't got the item needed to access it when you arrive, you are smoked. You cannot return back to get it. The other secrets are quite good too, and don't suffer from this problem." - Bogey (27-Feb-2010)
"I'm not quite prepared to say that I saved the best for last, but it's a close call. The 2010 BtB competition was unquestionably the best ever, and I hope that this fact will quell any budding movement to cancel this annual event as being an antiquated relic. I'm not sure how many of the 23 levels were debut releases - at least a half dozen, I'd say - yet not a single one could fairly be classified as a dull or uninspired work. To all of you first-time builders, I applaud you and I implore you to keep at it. I thought I'd correctly guessed at least a few of the builders, but my submission was no more on the mark than most of the others. I'm sure I'll be as amazed as everyone else when the builders' identities are revealed. Now, concerning The Black Lodge, I'm not normally a fan of the surreal, but everything here was fresh and charming. It was no short level, either. Even with the walkthrough it took me more than an hour to complete it. There are many nice touches, such as jumping into a water column and pulling a lever to join it with another water column. I didn't experience the Wandering Witch bug mentioned in the readme, and everything clicked to make a most enjoyable raid and a perfect capper to a wonderful two-month tour of Venice. Bravo!" - Phil (25-Feb-2010)
"Although I got the impression we didn't see much of the Black lodge, this level was ingeniously put together, must have been a crime getting all those flipmaps to work. But the result of it is magnificent. To figure it all out it took me quite some time. The effects and lighting are great, music applied well. Where did that scream come from when that last enemy died? Can't remember having that in the audios. See... It must have been an expert builder to find something like this. So I can't say anything else than... great job..." - Dutchy (13-Feb-2010)
"An atypical entrant in this year's BtB in that you hardly get to see the standard Venice paraphernalia of canals, ornate houses etc. Although these do feature at the start of the level so we know the builder can deliver in this department ... but chooses not to. The gameplay is fluent and interesting, supported by some impressive techno-wizardry that is used to design new puzzle ideas etc. Despite its unique atmosphere I feel it does not compare in the looks department with many of the standard Venice levels on offer in this year's BtB. How could it when many of the rooms are basically red-curtain lined boxes?" - Dick (04-Feb-2010)
"Nice and interesting level. First we are small nice town and later we are get to strange but beautiful another world. We can see there few amazing things: like curtain maze, disappearing objects or turned tower clock. There is no difficult puzzles or tasks." - Andzia9 (03-Feb-2010)
"This is a perfect blend of story telling, setting and gameplay.It's also uniquely brilliant and could be used for a plot in a dark, spooky film. The author tells us the Black Lodge is a place where dark spirits dwell; it exists next to but not in or of our world. Perfect set - up for a surreal atmosphere and this one is rendered to perfection. Crazy clocks; red curtained rooms that become doorways; red blinking lights and those dark spirits proving their power by taking Lara's ability to use her weapons away from her - leaving her to gather fire, water and a protective gem to defeat them. Speaking of defeating them, I won't soon forget the piercing screams. Very nicely done and appropriate. I 'knew' where the first secret was but was too distracted to search so I got only 2/3. I smiled to see the clothesline in one of the secret rooms - well, this is Venice, after all, so also appropriate and amusing. "Come Fire Walk With Me" and I say ....anytime. Not to be missed." - Bene (03-Feb-2010)
"Well, I never! To be out of it is the only thing what I can say. He juts so much from the BtB2010 monotony that this is a must to play. But this is of course not the only reason. The Flyby's are partly real pieces of art. The riddles were really good. I have liked, for example, the idea to defeat the witch without weapons. Or the room where the mafia dudes climbed from the ground into the room. Hardly one had shot one of the guys, the next already appeared. Or the library where completely on top remains lay on stay ropes and one had to shoot these stay ropes. The first time run was shortish, moreover the lever for the door was well hidden. One could find enough ammunition for the shotgun and the Uzi's, thus the opponents were no problem. Moreover one could find many medipacks. It should be added that the lighting was really good. All together a real highlight of BtB2010." - Scottie (31-Jan-2010)
"This is a really hard level to rate, as gameplay was never too complex, but the effects used oculd only have been created by a master builder. One of the shortest levels in the competition but certainly one of the best. The architecture was fantastic as was the texturing, but I got the feeling that the builder wanted to achieve a little too much. There were various bugs through-out the level which partially affected the gameplay, but other than this, there were no other problems. One of the best in this competition, definately a front runner. 45 minutes 1 secret." - Cory (31-Jan-2010)
"This level is brilliantly unique. After a quick trip through an ordinary Venice location (I found a lighting a bit strange here, and not in the good way it is later) you enter another world. The author truly takes advantage of the concept, with all kinds of crazy ideas and the centerpiece of a strange inverted-yet-sort-of-not clock tower. It's both interesting and flows very well, the only issue I had was the enemy AI having some problems in the clock tower area, but they don't carry anything important so this doesn't really effect the gameplay. I also felt slightly cheated at the end when a flyby shows an area with items lying around (suggesting more gameplay) but then having the level end right after, but I'm going to guess there's a secret or something that gives access.
Part of what works so well is that it still has a certain venetian atmosphere to it despite the overall theme; it almost always feels like a part of the contest even though it's very different. The curtain corridors seemed a little blocky, but as part of a whole I felt it kind of worked, as there were some very detailed areas that contrasted with those corridors, which, if anything, added to the alien feeling of the level. Another level that's very likely to be in the running as favorite for me." - Mman (25-Jan-2010)
"Regardless of what you expect from this level, you find something completely different, because this level is different and unusual. There are unusual and innovative ideas that have been ingeniously designed and implemented into the level very entertaining. The theme of the competition is Venice, but you won't find the ambience of Venice. Dark spirits live in the Black Lodge beneath Venice and they are playing a perfidious game with Lara. So she fights his way first through a maze with constantly changing rooms, where to solve a moving puzzle and a torch puzzle. Later she got into a cave, in which everything seems to stand on his head and an upturned bell tower needs to be explored. With the help of an element puzzle Lara is able to defeat one of the witches and collect the mask, providing access to the final mirror puzzles. I liked the timed shimmy task and the jump sequence over broken plates too, which I would have liked more, to give Lara a little more work. The many enemies were with the available weapons (mainly from the Secrets) easy to defeat and the idea how to get rid of the witch is top. The sound was also well used, as compared to other levels, however, there's missing variety. The same applies to the atmosphere, the other levels just come out better. Overall, a great level with very few weaknesses." - repley (20-Jan-2010)
"A very unique and original level, atmosphere and environment-wise; it has a very special character and style that are quite surreal, bringing to mind optical illusions or a magician's tricks. However the beautiful, colourful rooms are not there just to look at; you have plenty of tasks to do and some of them are quite tricky. The highlight is definitely the red curtain complex, with the various puzzles and several connected hidden rooms that look alike, but are not." - Ravenwen (19-Jan-2010)
"This is a very different take on the Venice experience and, given that the builder is obviously a Twin Peaks fan, it's perhaps not surprising that there is a surreal quality to the whole thing. The action starts out in a normal Venice setting, but once Black Lodge is accessed everything becomes like a dream world. The gameplay is great, the enemies have been used in a very different way, and although at times I did become a little confused, I was filled with constant admiration for the immense imagination behind this level. Just when I think I've found my favourite of the competition, another one comes along. OK, I think this may finally be the one. Brilliant." - Jay (17-Jan-2010)
"Perhaps not an entry you would expect to see in a contest called "back to basics," but I say this with respect, not disdain. What makes this level so different? An upside-down clock tower with pools of water both above and below it and magical ledges for you to activate, makes just one of the crazy areas Lara goes through. Another would be 4 square rooms connected to each other - or is that it? As Lara circles the rooms, they change around her, in fact creating a long string of rooms to explore. Other rooms constantly flip states as you try to maneuver through them. Just by the nature of the level, backtracking can be somewhat tedious, and textures can feel somewhat repetitive, but where it differs it is well done. This is the shortest entry I have played so far at about 45 minutes, and besides the timed shimmy run and some tricky slope jumps, I felt that there could have been more for Lara to "do" to make the level a bit more substantial. On the other hand, combat is certainly engaging, having as many as 8 baddies in a row after you. And it was satisfying to fry that nasty witch! This unforgettable level should be played by all." - SSJ6Wolf (17-Jan-2010)
"This level starts off quite deceptively enough like a 'standard' Venice level, in what seems to be a library overlooking a canal. A very nice puzzle hints at more fun to come, and a short trip to the canal outside for a secret once again seems to promise the usual kind of sightseeing. But a minute or two later, you make your way underground - and enter into an otherworldly realm, beautifully introduced with a slightly surreal cutscene. The word 'surreal' will continue to cross your mind pretty much throughout the rest of this level, as you wander through a red curtained maze that seems to rearrange itself as you pass, fight seemingly never-ending enemies that climb up through the floor, encounter an evil spirit that will leave you unable to draw your weapons ... and that's just in the first 20 minutes! There's a lot more to come, including an upside-down pool and buildings, using water to start a fire, floating invisible tiles, mirror rooms that you can enter, and a lot more of the red curtained mazes. And at the end, there's a nice little slope-jumping challenge before you get back above ground.
The brilliantly innovative gameplay flows smoothly - I was never stuck, though I did keep losing my way in the mazes (for which I blame my lousy sense of direction, not the level). The only category it falls short in slightly is textures: the red curtains are way too overused (granted, they seem to be a reference to 'Twin Peaks', as is the title, but still ...). But apart from that little quibble, this is a fantastic (in both meanings of the word) level, and I'll be very surprised if it doesn't end up in the top 3 in the BtB competition." - Mytly (16-Jan-2010)
"A uniquely imaginative and entertaining entry in the BtB contest. I agree this is by a top author. This works wonderfully as a counterpoint if one has played other, sometimes trying, Venice levels. I was hoping to be as wildly enthusiastic as some players, but I can't help but compare this to other levels such as "One Day In Venice," and think of all the hard work done there to create a substantial world. The main chamber in "The Black Lodge" is beautifully done, but besides that most of this is red curtains. There were glitches, such as when Lara lights a flare in the rapidly flipping room. The flyby to introduce the main chamber is great, but maybe it convinces players that they are subsequently seeing more than they are. I don't want to criticize this. I enjoyed the level immensely, and found it the perfect ending to the Venice series with my final contest review." - dmdibl (15-Jan-2010)
"It is not typical venice level. It is a excellent fantasy level. Very nice lighting and nearly perfect textures,intelligent riddles and new ideas make this game to the magic adventure with a wonderful ambience and very much pleasure. Very interesting and fascinating - for the layer and for the builder. Absolutely recommendable" - masha (14-Jan-2010)
"Whoops...things are certainly different here....Lara finds herself in surreal and seemingly unreal rooms, which keep changing, shimmering lights and the always identical red environment with the curtains is impressively designed. Similarly, the whole area around the upside down clock tower is perfectly built, even though I had initially overlooked the transparent platforms. The puzzle ideas are very nicely done... you encounter a few 'aha-moments'. A small timed run, enemy placement and traps were all rather player friendly... an interesting and diverse level!" - Eva (14-Jan-2010)
"Wonderful! A level that would deserve top marks at least for its originality and creativity. Without departing from the main theme (Venice), the author has constructed a totally "different" level, with places of an amazing beauty; without making the level too difficult, he/she required imagination, skill, and intelligence from the player. Thank you!" - Josey (12-Jan-2010)
"I have a feeling I could have carried on playing the game forever and ever in the end. Starting up in a rather scarcely decorated environment with only a few simple tasks to do it soon became obvious there is much more to it than the eye can see at first sight.Only the way back to the water to refill the bottle three times in a row became a bit tedious in the end. A marvel to see the dying flame wandering across the floor to take the fire witch into oblivion ! The weirdest adventure I have come across so far in this years BtB but its bound for glory up on the top ranks due to its unique and surprising ideas and genuine perfection." - Ruben (11-Jan-2010)
"I think I've run into an early contender for the winner of BtB 2010! It's a wonderful thing when one can use their imagination to create such a compelling, thrilling scenario with top-notch gameplay and masterful use of the editor. The premise is quite unique, as Lara travels to the mystery realm of the titular lodge and has to use her wits to seal the place up. Gameplay is very fun and well paced, starting off with a small puzzle then ramps up the excitement with very cool flipmap rooms, a collapsible tile jump sequence, timed trapdoors, and clever puzzle solving. I liked the crowbar's use to rip out some wires and then stick them in another place to open a door. The other highlights for me were the jump to the suspended waterfall, and the death of a previously unkillable spirit (it's a little special in this one). The "mirror" rooms were also a really cool touch, and did I mention the cameras? Very cool, cinematic use of cameras in this level. Perhaps the only thing that miffed me here was the constant running to-and-fro to fill the waterskin up. There is a puddle of water around, but running there and back to where the waterskin needs to be used got a little tedious. Surely one of the top levels in the set, highly recommended." - Relic Hunter (09-Jan-2010)
"Absolutely fantastic... The textures are nicely done (though the red curtains get a little old), the puzzles are brilliant, and the game flows very well. The flipmap work is some of the most unique I've ever seen, and there's a wonderful fly-by sequence that is entertaining and highlights the rest of the level. The item amount is nice: not too much, not too little. While it does seem to stray from the Venice theme, The Black Lodge is a must-play!" - okuhtfesq (06-Jan-2010)
"Quite imaginative indeed. True, up to a certain moment, I felt like I was doing everything by intuition and not really by reason but it all starts making sense after a while. It's a surreal maze surrounded by red curtains and topped with very original puzzles. Not a begginer's work. I thought the technique (textures, sounds, lighting...), perfect as it certainly is and despite the awesome flyby near the start, didn't entirely match the gameplay, but that's just me and sorry, I speak as a player, not as a builder. But that's no complaint at all. Highly recommended." - Jorge22 (06-Jan-2010)
"Undoubtedly one of the most striking levels ever assembled and a quite extraordinary experience.Clearly the work of a seasoned builder,whose knowledge of the quirks of the LE is 'intimate' to say the least,this could easily be the runaway winner. In appearance,its usage of textures and lighting to create something other than the expected norm is nothing short of genius.Sound and atmosphere is of the highest calibre,while the use of camera's is extraordinarily effective and a joy to watch.What slightly let it down for me was the somewhat overabundance of gimmicks in the gameplay,which occasionally had the feeling of self-satisfaction on the part of the builder.After a while,the use of constantly flipping rooms became irritating;and a descent sequence (involving breakable tiles) to an all-important hang-lever was avoidable altogether simply by jumping in the opposite direction and using a small medipack.These are minor quibbles overall (although it must be said that this type of 'alternative' adventure may not be to everyone's taste)and the level as a whole is a veritable masterpiece.There are way too many brilliant and inventive moments to list (any ONE of which would be considered the undoubted highlight of most other levels!),and the best recommendation I can give is that you go there and experience them all for yourself." - Orbit Dream (06-Jan-2010)
"I thought that I would play many of the BTB 2010 levels before sending any review , but when confronted with the excellency of The Black Lodge, I changed my mind, for there is no reason for me to compare this level with what may come next as it is absolutely brilliant. You start solving a first very good puzzle , then you are embarked in a journey in an underground adventure before finally reaching the outside city. On the way the author has designed many ingenious puzzles , using flip maps in a mystic kind of way, and the progression although intriguing remains always steadfast without much difficulty. Aside for the inventive situations and puzzles , there is also a couple of action moments with the descent of the high cave on breakable tiles , and at the end a fun ascending by using slanted blocks. The design , shaping of the blocks , lighting are very well made and pleasant , the use of enemies and objects quite smart , and the use of audio tracks perfect. I can't explain it but when I first went down this well shaped underground tunnel and reaching the lodge with this impressive use of cameras , I had the thought that this level is made by the author of Pseudo-Tomb , maybe just an intuition but I think it was confirmed later on when reaching the impressive cave with its mystic touches. Anyway whoever is the author , this level is very very inventive , and must be made by a builder with a high level of expertise. Highly recommended and quite fun to play. [1 h 05 - 1/3 secrets]" - eRIC (01-Jan-2010)