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TR Forge Advent Calendar 2012 - The Iris Origin by AoDfan

Ceamonks890 8 8 8 9
Christian 7 8 8 8
Dick 8 8 8 8
DJ Full 7 9 8 8
dmdibl 8 8 9 8
Glouglouton 7 9 8 9
Jay 8 8 9 9
JesseG 9 8 8 8
Jorge22 9 9 9 9
Jose 8 8 8 9
manarch2 8 8 8 9
MichaelP 8 9 9 9
OverRaider 6 7 9 8
Phil 9 8 8 9
requiemsoul 8 8 9 9
Ryan 8 8 9 9
Sethian 5 7 7 6
release date: 19-Dec-2012
# of downloads: 181

average rating: 8.16
review count: 17
review this level

file size: 49.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: South America

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"The Iris Origin is a double-level set that had me fully absorbed for a couple of days. Gameplay is pretty much straight out of the TR playbook but it's nicely put together and still engaging nonetheless; overall it's between easy and moderate, in my opinion. The only real challenges involve finding all the keys etc that you need to progress - one particular key, in the village, held me up for quite some time, despite it being in plain view and on a plinth. My problem, I think - not the builder's.
Lighting & texturing varies from excellent (in the various caves, mainly), to a bit wallpapery (the use of the stone-wall textures is repetitive).
The only features in the game that I really didn't like were the opening secret challenges which ultimately came to nothing because I did not find the cog. Rather a lot of energy wasted here, and the cog was hidden far too well, it was almost impossible to find - and buggy to retrieve.
If you are after a moderate two-day challenge in pretty surroundings (or a one-day marathon) - I'd recommend this." - Dick (03-Jan-2023)
"A raid through two levels styled after Btb2008. Starting with visuals, when outdoors the rocky areas can be a bit rough in the texturing department, but on the other hand the lighting is very good throughout the adventure. Playing this adventure was quite fun - there are a number of puzzles to solve such as switches to set 10 flames alight together, a multi-mirror room, and maneuvering a pushable puzzle across a chamber. On top of that are a couple of traps, timed runs and different beasts to fight including a T-Rex as the finishing encounter. I could have done without the mazes - one being an underwater labyrinth and the other being a village that might as well have been a maze because of how the buildings were laid out. Not really an adventure to get advent vibes from but a satisfying raid nonetheless. 1 hour 17 minutes." - JesseG (16-Dec-2022)
"DJ Full summed it up well in his review when he questioned this level's name and story – the Iris Origin. Why is the Iris all of a sudden in Peru? Is it a second Iris? Did the Cambodian Iris that young Lara and Von Croy encountered once upon a time originate in Peru? Was this level perhaps the beginning of a large project? What is the significance of long pushable puzzles and why do some people obsessively enjoy them? Ach, I'm getting ahead of myself. This is an okay level for a debut, but had me frustrated or yawning at quite a number of intervals.

Gameplay & Puzzles: There is no worse way than to start a level by giving your players the option to go either right or left, and regardless which direction they choose, neither will draw them into the game. To the right you get faced with some annoyingly difficult jumps, to the left you get a timed jumping-trapdoor puzzle and a series of switches and burners that make no sense except via long trial and error. Neither of these routes is a pleasant thing to introduce within the first 5 minutes of a game. Once we do finally get into the actual Village, this ends up being quite an uninteresting maze of houses. Sure, it feels like a real village and step up from Vilcabamba in TR1 since we actually have little huts here, but you'll be wandering a long time trying to get your bearings amongst all these identical houses. And then, to top it all off for a bad first level: the trusty underwater maze involving doors and random switches.

The second level ends up being much better, at least in the sense of having a clear direction, and usually knowing what one is meant to do in order to continue. When you make progress in this level though you will eventually encounter a truly ridiculous pushable puzzle. It's clear enough what you're meant to do – it's just that when it hits you, you'll exclaim "You've got to be kidding me?!" But no – you are indeed expected to raise and lower some raising-blocks with a pair of switches, and move a pushable along a long narrow series of catwalks, until you finally get it to the top of the room and to the other side. This isn't a bad puzzle idea; however, it doesn't need to be stretched out over such a large area at a lame attempt to expand gameplay time. As I held down the action button and Lara just did her thing, I used the time to check my phone, eat a snack, and contemplate the meaning of life and why I sometimes still bother. What always fascinates me with puzzles like this is: someone out there truly loves them; why else would one build such a thing and even repeatedly beta-test it?

Enemies: The T-Rex who appears to also be a fire-breathing dragon was interesting enough, however when I killed it, it ended up dying standing up… and then I was stuck. I had to check the walkthrough to discover the T-Rex's death is meant to open the final door for me, so I had to keep on killing it until something finally happened. Eventually after a few attempts it didn't die in a standing position, but fell over, like it's supposed to, and then finally the trigger for the door worked. The wraith was utilized in an interesting way in this level – it triggers because Lara drags a skeleton corpse across the floor, so I'm guessing because she disturbed those bones resting-in-peace, the spirit is angry? It's a cool idea, but it's a pain to run through that maze-like village to find the totem pole that will neutralize the wraith. And then, you have to do it about two more times with two different wraiths.

Objects: This level uses the BTB Peru wad and tga from 2008, and does a pretty good job of selecting, placing, and utilizing the objects provided (with some good adaptations). I was not a fan of the flashlight though. This seemed to be a bit too much of a "well-someone-just- invented-this-for-TRNG-therefore-I-have-to-use-it" gimmick, which didn't end up working too well either: it illuminates areas at a distance, but not the dark area Lara is standing in (realistic for a flashlight I guess) and in the end it was buggy because when I had used up all batteries, the actual flare pickup item had returned to my inventory replacing the flashlight. And then nothing worked, but at least I didn't need a flashlight or flares because the second level brightened up.

Secrets: The secret system is probably the best aspect about these two levels, because they often involve clever puzzles or a cool separate little shrine/crypt with goodies. It's a bit strange though that items which are secret pickups in the first level become puzzle items you need for the main gameplay in the second level. If one carries these over without using them for secret progression in level 1 then one could skip major parts of gameplay in level 2 (such as that pushable puzzle, which would be a blessing).

Atmosphere/Sound/Cameras: The atmosphere and ambient music are good enough, and cameras are also used in a helpful way – in the Village at least, at an attempt to help one navigate the maze-like system of houses. However, the cameras do not help very much in the underwater maze.

Texturing & Lighting: The texturing becomes very wallpaper- y after a while, and a lot of areas begin to look identical in the first Village level. It's better in the second level, especially in the lost valley area, and I have to say that for a first level the author does a good job of creating believable room geometry for rocky cave and cliff environments. The lighting however is very bland and monotone throughout the entire experience. It begins quite well in the first 2 rooms or so, but then everything just becomes a flat green color that didn't do a good job of evoking any sort of atmosphere." - Sethian (20-Aug-2020)
"I quite enjoy a nice South American adventure, so I was sold on this one. It's a two-parter. The first being fairly short and has Lara exploring a village, for the most part, but also some nice inside areas in search of a couple of masks. The second is longer and involves more complex and involving gameplay with a mirror room, object puzzles and some nice exploration. Nothing Christmassy whatsoever about it, but that doesn't make it less enjoyable." - Ryan (23-Feb-2017)
"It should have been a bit more clarified why we actually search Peru for the Iris, as except from containing this particular item the game doesn't relate to its storyline in any way. Does the action take place before the Angkor episode? I don't think so, because Lara is older. If this happens after the VCI incident, then how did Lara lose the artifact she had once retrieved? And if she did, why is it an "origin"? Does it mean we're searching for a different Iris in a domain of its real inventors? Could happen, since the original object was made of hemispheres so this one could be complementary. But in such case, what will happen if we connect these halves? Pfff... you see, THIS is why whoever claims storyline doesn't matter is completely wrong. Games need to save us from unnecessary questions and let us just play. And how does playing go here? Quite good. Village exploration is entertaining, particular puzzle items feel important enough and on our way we can indeed battle some mostly well placed "primeval creatures" which, together with a bunch of nice secrets, form the strongest point of the game, and I particularly liked that nice touch with the boss, also one of few of this kind which work as they should. The scenery is well lit and textured though it could be less repetitive - I mean the houses which are easy to lose orientation among, and especially these multiple standable rocks we aren't supposed to climb. They for instance allowed me to prematurely reach the other side of the bridge and pull the switch supposed to open the temple door when it's still disabled, but I was wise enough to recognize I should return to that place for later activation. What was REAL trouble was that statue puzzle in the village - it's almost impossible to figure out without pure luck and it got me stuck two times: first when I played the game three years ago and now when I replayed it after forgetting much of the content. SUMMARY: A nice Peruvian try. Possibly we need a sequel explaining what it was all about. If you get stuck for more than 30 minutes just don't bother, check the walkthrough and continue." - DJ Full (26-Jan-2016)
"A very good debut in all aspects. Not icredible puzzles or impressive scenes, but I liked this jungle levels not very hard to play and correct features (enemies, textures, architecture...). Perhaps the author could let players enter in the final room and close the door behind Lara, 'cause you can lure the T-Rex to the corridor so it gets stucked and the fun is not the same shooting it from the distance. I've enjoyed this levels a lot. Recommended." - Jose (28-Apr-2013)
"Level 1- The Village(7/8/8/9)- The main objective of this level is to retrieve a few keys and masks which are all required, if you're ever thinking of gaining access to the Iris Temple. Upon loading up the game, I was given a sense of dejà vu as I traversed through the cave, being reminded of the mountain caves from TR Anniversary. Thankfully, unlike its inspiration, the builder made the level with a good amount of challenge in mind(which is sure to satisfy hardcore raiders.) Unfortunately, for players like me, this can lead to unnecessary frustration at points(such as a tricky-to- reach slope in the deadly green goo room), that can be too difficult to bypass and may prompt many players to download a savegame in order to progress. While I've got nothing against challenging sections of gameplay, I think the builder could have toned down the difficulty of some sections, just a little bit. Now, on to other aspects of the level. The secrets are quite a challenge to retrieve, and will take some good out- of-the-box thinking to figure out how to retrieve the prizes you seek. Enemies on offer here are traditional TR fare with wolves, bats, skeletons and even a few deadly white wraiths thrown in for good measure. Lighting, texturing, sound and objects are all used well to present a TR1/Anniversary Peru style atmosphere, with some useful camera hints and flybys, showing off what you triggered and where you need to go next. Finally opening the doors leading to the Iris Temple, through the use of the skull keys we've collected, we slide down into the next level, ready for what lies ahead. Level 2- The Iris Temple(8/8/8/9)- Now this is where the levelset starts to get good. Sliding downwards into the temple, we are immediately ambushed by a couple of hungry ferocious raptors, which want nothing more, but to have our mighty heroine for lunch. Defeating them, we are left to admire some scenery, which is reminiscent of the famous Lost Valley level from TR1/Anniversary. Taking a few pics as souvenirs, we press on to get some more keys and shoot a few more raptors and bats, which ends in a climax with you facing one of the more iconic bosses in the history of the TR franchise, and retrieving another artifact to add to Lara's ever-growing collection. The lighting, texturing, object and enemy use in this level is as good as it was in the previous one, so it still manages to retain that strong TR1/Anniversary Peru atmosphere perfectly. The gameplay has been thankfully toned down in difficulty for this level, but is compensated by a few tricky puzzles in exchange(which is quite welcomed.) There are also less secrets to find, but it doesn't mean that they still aren't a challenge to get. Overall, this was a fun yet challenging two-part debut levelset that manages to succeed in its ambition for the most part, outside of a few difficulty spikes in between the levels. The addition of a flashlight with a quite scarce supply of batteries was a nice but ultimately flawed idea, as there were little to no dark areas that actually required the use of it at all(for me at least.) The camera on the other hand, was a fun little novelty and I ended up using it for some quite good pics. If you're a fan of both challenging levels and Peru-themed levels, then there isn't much to complain about here." - Ceamonks890 (14-Jan-2013)
"I had a grand time playing this two-part adventure while exploring every nook and cranny so I could write a comprehensive walkthrough. My thanks to the posts in the stuck threads, and for insights provided by Mugs and Manarch2 so I could cover everything. For my money, the first level was by far the most satisfying, as it involved a quest for the five secrets here (out of seven total). To me that overshadowed the rest of the level, as you'll discover if you follow the walkthrough while you're playing. The second level to me was more pedestrian than the first, especially since the builder left an inadvertent shortcut that allowed the player to bypass part of the gameplay. The builder's debut level with its encrypted script file also made it quite difficult for the cheater, as I was left with the god mode as my sole means of self defense. Nevertheless, I have nothing but raves for this release, which I found to be most engaging and fitted to my modest skill levels. All told, I spent about two hours here, but remember that I was going through the two levels with a fine-toothed comb so I could prepare a serviceable walkthough. Recommended." - Phil (12-Jan-2013)
"I've got the Iris, I've got the Iris! The path wasn't short nor easy but I finally have it. In the meantime, there was a south american village, plenty of puzzling tasks to perform, rather nice settings themewise, traps and loads of dinossaurs a firebolt spitting T-Rex included, cog wheels, keys and disks to get - I must admit I had a lot of fun playing this. Nothing at all even remotely Christmassy about it but oh well... if that's what it takes..." - Jorge22 (07-Jan-2013)
"I would say this is something average, not very funny because it`s too easy but it`s quite enjoyable raid. Nice atmosphere some easy and some good tasks and thats all. I am sure AoDfan`s next adventure will be more advanced. 6/7/9/8" - OverRaider (31-Dec-2012)
"I may be a bit biased, as I generally like a decent Peru level and in particular one built with TimJ's excellent BtB08 Wad, but I really think this maiden effort has been underrated so far. It is quite an excellent game to play with only minor weaknesses and a lot of good stuff from beginning to end. In the first part (Village, 45 mins, 5 secrets) you are off to a fast paced start with some good jumps and boulder traps and a nice series of timed trapdoors. The Village itself suffers a bit from slow progression and wondering what to do next, but even the small underwater maze is quite bearable. The second part (The Iris Temple, 35 mins, 2 secrets) had me a bit puzzled for a while as it was not easy for me to find one crucial entry point into the next area, but once I was on my way there it flows nicely and has original ideas like the double mirror room a slightly too lengthy push/raise puzzle and a little sequenced timed run. Last but not least you get a nice boss ending with a special TRex. So, all in all - I would highly recommend this one and look forward to more from this builder!" - MichaelP (31-Dec-2012)
"This is pretty good, both in design and in moments of gameplay. I don't know why this is in the Advent Calendar as the setting is Peru and there are a bunch of raptors in the second level. Much of the first level is a group of stone huts in a cavern, and the dim lighting would normally have caused Lara to run around with a flare constantly in her hand, but here that was impossible as Lara carries a flashlight that requires batteries. This meant lighting wasn't always consistent, and I couldn't give Lara extra flares. Consequently, I wasted more than an hour running around this area, all because of a missed keyhole inside one of the huts. The keyhole was obvious, placed in plain sight, but I wasn't seeing it without normal help from flares. I tried to get over my frustration, as the second level is a lot better, with interesting choices for the map. The climax is a fire-breathing T-rex, but Lara only needs to run away from him. He bashed his head trying to get out a doorway, stuck there, so Lara could safely stand and shoot him. It would be a lot more exciting with him pursuing her around open areas. If play had gone just a little differently I might have scored this higher, as there is much good here." - dmdibl (28-Dec-2012)
"Given that this level is from the TR Forge Advent Calendar, you'll be expecting a pretty, enemy free Christmas level, right? Wrong. This level isn't remotely Christmassy. What it is however, is hugely enjoyable and a most accomplished debut level. Using the attractive Back to Basic Peru wad, the author has crafted a good looking level, with well balanced, interesting gameplay and a suitable mix of enemies (part two is positively heaving with raptors, but there's plenty of bouncing about room so they shouldn't do much damage and in any case medipacks are generously provided). Hope to see more from this builder." - Jay (22-Dec-2012)
"A quite good level. We can find the same wad as BtB peru andit's always a pleasure. I especially like the little town. Nevertheless I've found also 2 short circuits in the second level. We can go over directly the river without the 2 cog wheels (by the right) and go directly to the location with the big boss but without big boss just after the bridge. Good game" - Glouglouton (21-Dec-2012)
"An intersting debut consisting of two parts with a lot of creative ideas and promising gameplay. But I have to rate it down a bit almost concerning the 1st part (village). Streets and buildings look quite similar so the player has bo choice than to run in circles. An underwater maze may be quite confusing as a lot of levers open a large number of gates while a few trapdoors stay closed with no (for me obvious) function: All that for a single key? The flashlight (flares) didn't work properly, some invisible walls remained. Gameplay in the 2nd part (temple of Iris) was much clearer, straight forward, sometimes a bit too easy. Two cogs and a key have to be found to create a bridge to the temple, a lot of climbing and jumping in nicely created outdoor-environment has to be done to get them. A final fight with a t-rex marks the end of this little, but promising adventure in a convincing peruvian style." - Christian (21-Dec-2012)
"Very estimable debut!!!. I love peruvian atmosphere. This level is solid in all sections with a astonishing final boss. Good Job :)." - requiemsoul (20-Dec-2012)
"Really an impressive debut level and surprisingly professional; especially the gameplay was a delight most of the time with creative ideas all over the two levels. So what does prevent me giving it even higher marks? Well, despite being tested, I think there were quite a few issues in this two-parter that could have been more or less easily avoided. First of all, the village level suffered from a few very obscure tasks, like the four blocks Lara has to jump on to raise a block - there were a lot of simile blocks earlier in the level, so there's not a bit of a clue in that regard - and running around and around in the village was not much fun as most of the "streets" looked very simile and I soon got very disorientated when running through them. Levers and keylocks in the houses were often blending too much with the walls and it's easy to miss them because of that. Apart from these things, there were a few beginner mistakes like invisible blocks in front of the underwater doors, the light system is not really great because Lara can only take out a flashing light when she is standing still and the animation did not work properly for me. Nonetheless I liked a lot of things in this level, like the five-lever puzzle to melt an ice pond, the multiple timed runs up the tower, the very good lighting effects in the village and great texturing throughout the whole level - I maybe would've given it a 10 if not for the second level. This one is set mostly in outside areas that had walls whose architecture was repeated again and again and creates a lot of unwanted shortcuts for the player. One in particular was pretty odd as it's possible to reach the other side of the river at the start, but the builder must have known that since the lever won't open the door - but this can be highly irritating as players who first got up there certainly won't go up there again to trigger the door (although it's possible)! I also climbed up in the very first area of this level and reached a very odd water room above the valley (?). OK enough of the gripes, this is yet another fun level with nice climbing parts, a couple of challenging fights against raptors and at the end a fantastic T-Rex who is able to spit fire. The puzzles here are quite clever like the double mirror room and a few block puzzles, I also liked the usage of the cogs and the water to raise the bridge (though not overly logical); the choose-a-weapon secret was also great even if not totally unique. Summarizingly this was a game with great potential and with a little tweaking I imagine you could have earned 9's and 10's all over. It's not a bit X-massy but not regarding that, a more than solid first effort." - manarch2 (20-Dec-2012)