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BtB2014 - Above the Khmer Islands by Lara Croft

DJ Full 9 9 9 9
Drakan 10 9 10 9
eRIC 8 8 7 7
EssGee 7 8 8 7
janachorider 8 8 9 8
Jay 8 9 9 9
JesseG 8 9 8 8
Jose 8 8 8 8
Josey 10 8 9 8
m.julien 8 10 10 8
manarch2 8 9 9 8
MichaelP 8 9 9 7
Mman 8 9 8 9
Mytly 8 9 8 8
OverRaider 7 9 7 8
Phil 9 9 9 10
Relic Hunter 8 8 9 9
Ryan 8 9 9 8
Treeble 8 8 7 8
release date: 02-Aug-2014
# of downloads: 140

average rating: 8.41
review count: 19
review this level

file size: 89.10 MB
file type: TR4
class: Cambodia

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"As Lara rides her quadbike through a few simple wallpapered tunnels at the start, it can be tempting to not set expectations that high, but there are some charming moments that develop this into a nice adventure. My favorite part is the levers puzzle for the underwater doors. It was a smart move to use glass walls so the player can easily see what changes they are making before they dive in with their final answer. Lara will also solve some other simple puzzles, combat some animals and troops, free a guide from prison, and do some (a bit too brief) platforming away from Naga. My only gameplay complaint is the required running back and forth, but that was not a huge impact in this level. The initial outdoor area is a bit simple with flat lighting (and tons of invisible walls) but the indoor areas have some nice colorful lighting, and I found the floating islands area surprisingly engaging. I think what makes it work for me compared to other floating island implementations is that the islands here have unique themes – there's a graveyard island, a palace island, a lake island, and so on – and the variety makes that area more immersive. Overall there's nothing grandiose here but still a joy to play through. 56 minutes." - JesseG (15-Mar-2021)
"A bit too square-shaped and undercrafted but still one of the most remarkable structures of the competition. A bit too much of forced running between locations but not unbearable - the real problem was that elusive jungle sword (good luck spotting that...). A rare thing is that I loved the ending. A worthy entry." - DJ Full (08-Jul-2019)
"Nice, relaxing entry. Nice variety of secrets, enemies and gameplay. I enjoyed it, especially the floating islands section. Different use of lighting and textures." - Ryan (04-Feb-2016)
"Another good level from this contest. When I was working on the betatesting I couldn't find many defects. The final release I think it was an entertaining level with no much backtracking. Even when you can get troubles in the floating islands and in the underground too where you can't figure out where to place the items, this is a very well worked level with a lot of details. The multi-levers puzzle in the pool room is a bit confused, but doable at last. Sure that this builder will bring us more fun in the future." - Jose (01-Feb-2015)
"This takes the theme in another direction, with a floating islands section that makes up part of the level. Detail is mostly good with nice geometry and some interesting lighting (maybe slightly TOO colourful at times). Objects are also well-used with some interesting uses to support the islands theme, and a nice idea at the end. A car repeating it's movement animations while idle looks odd though, and it would have been better if it disappeared. Gameplay is decent although this level is on the short side and the placement of the teleports to the Island part results in quite a bit of backtracking at a couple of points (although there's a cool enemy introduction to spice it up a little), along with a couple of sneaky switches that felt unnecessary (but not too bad). There's also some nice puzzles later on. A good entry but the shorter length works against it compared to larger levels with equivalent quality." - Mman (04-Oct-2014)
"A large portion of this level consists of a floating islands section, which sets this level apart from the rest of the entries in this BtB. I really like the colourful lighting in this section, and the bridges connecting the islands. Unfortunately, the builder seems to have gone in the opposite direction in the 'realistic' section, and made it too mundane: the lighting is bland, and the architecture plain and boxy. The caves at the beginning of the level are particularly ugly, with stretched textures.
Gameplay is a mixed bag, with some very easy tasks interspersed with a few more challenging ones. Riding the quadbike out of the caves in the beginning is kind of fun, as is exploring the floating islands later on. The six-lever puzzle which involves opening up a route through a transparent water tunnel is good, though some better camera work would have been helpful. It's rather easy to miss important items - the worst example being the dried lily which is hard to spot even if you're standing right next to it. The final flyby with greenery growing on the islands is pretty cool.
Enemies are fairly well used. This was the first level in this BtB in which I encountered elephants, which are adorable. A tiger fell off a floating island and continued prowling in the empty space below - which I discovered when Lara too fell off an island and survived as well!
Overall: A pleasant though flawed level with a nice and unique setting. Recommended." - Mytly (02-Oct-2014)
"Fun is the word to describe this level. The start was enjoyable already with the quad drive, I usually does not enjoy the use of vehicles which are often too difficult but here it was just perfect for my taste, and I did not mind the rather poor design of this beginning section. Better design was reserved for what follows after Lara finds the stepping tiles where she is transported to floating islands. Colourful lights for grounds , walls and objects giving a cheerful feel to the setting. The tasks to do are not difficult, jumps of course , and some elaborate puzzles with levers, so the game is never frustrating. Enjoyable." - eRIC (20-Sep-2014)
"During the early stages of this level I started thinking that it must be the work of a beginner. I felt this way because the lighting was quite player-friendly, and so I assumed the builder had not yet mastered the art of making his or her levels so dark as to be virtually unplayable. But as gameplay progressed I became more and more convinced that the builder must be confidently experienced with the level editor. For the first time in this BtB series I encountered a pair of rogue elephants that acted suspiciously like the wart hogs of early custom levels. But on the negative side the builder left clear evidence that he or she is not a card-carrying member of the SPCA, as you're obliged to kill a monkey if you want to collect all four of the secrets. The floating islands concept was also a welcome change of pace from what was developing into a pattern that tended to make each BtB level look more or less the same as all the others. And best of all, the lighting remained consistently excellent throughout the 74 minutes that it took me to complete the level (with the help of Dutchy's walkthrough). Since I've lowered the scores in my previous reviews on the basis of inadequate lighting, I think it's only fair to reward the builder with an elevated score in this department. Bravo. May I encounter more of the same as I continue with the series. The overall aura of sophistication is not as pronounced here as in other BtB levels I've played, which means it probably won't finish among the top two or three, but I enjoyed myself immensely from start to finish, and to me that's really what it's all about." - Phil (17-Sep-2014)
"This level provides an interesting diversion with a floating islands style portal to explore, as well as a more traditional style temple and grounds. Architecture and environments are good, but lack the finesse of some this year's entries. Similarly lighting is generally good but there is something lacking in the overall atmosphere. Some static objects have been colour tinted that doesn't make them blend really well with the surrounding setting. Conversely, the final dried lily plant hole is so well blended with the surrounding ground, that it is hard to see even when you are looking at it. The initial quadbike caves are somewhat plain, and could have been more carefully crafted. The sequence of gameplay is not always clear, and players may find themselves running around back and forth between temple and Floating Islands trying to move along. Clues are very clearly given for a couple of lever puzzles, so you won't get stuck on these. The vertical water shaft puzzle is perhaps the most interestingly designed puzzle in the game. The Guide and enemy jeep are also used to move the story along. Enemies are introduced appropriately as are the audio cues. It's definitely something different and players should enjoy exploring the floating islands." - EssGee (15-Sep-2014)
"Quite an inspired level that manages to be different from the rest of the BtB submissions in that it connects a sort of temple area with a floating island area that you go back and forth between. It also opens up with a fun little quad bike challenge and later on the backtracking never gets too tedious or too far, so the concept as such works quite well. I though the several flybys in here were particularly well done and greatly help the overall atmosphere of the level - like for example the appearance of the jeep. Progression is very smooth with fairly easy but diverse little puzzles to master, but despite the camera hint, I thought the placement and later use of the water lillies was rather an obscure choice and I did have to check the walkthrough for that. Objects are used well, especially the bridges in the floating island area, but the general architecture of the rooms and the lighting and texturing often seemed very basic und done without a whole lot of care, so cannot score quite as highly in that category. Overall a really fun and relaxing level at just over one hour for me." - MichaelP (13-Sep-2014)
"There's no lack of creativity in this level. I found many different things here, and I will mention the interrupted Quad run and the angry elephants (the first I met in the series) as examples. There are also good puzzles, and even a special one: that of the levers and the watery tunnel, to pick up a Buddha offering. I also liked very much the lovely change made in the (detestable) face's spring boards: here they are transporters, instead of spring boards. The author also had the kindness of not obliging anyone to repeat a boring action; after passing through a series of spikes, for example, we meet a monkey-swing to come back. The floating islands (always a good thing) are fun, and the ending, with the exploding dragon, is very creative and pretty. In fact, I found only a flaw in this part: it is very difficult to see the right place for the lily. As to challenges, they are not very difficult, but are good fun. Other good things are the illumination and the music. All in all, a very enjoyable level. Cheers!" - Josey (13-Sep-2014)
"So inventive, imaginative and mostly magical level. The beginning was not really engaging with a little ride in a flat cave. Don't be "scared", following rooms are more interesting. The central part of this level is composed by floating islands that remind me a level from the Revenge of Osiris. Some backtracking are required but not annoying. Some creative ideas like the 6 floor lever puzzles. This one requires reflection although I found quickly the good combination. In another hand, some puzzles are too obvious, like colored levers. Overall, not difficult level, It can be played by everyone. Good level! 8/10/10/8 (8.75/10)" - m.julien (05-Sep-2014)
"Very good level. the first part looked kinda boxy but the rest its okay.however the floating islands are the best part and the ending just nice." - janachorider (05-Sep-2014)
"This level has a number of things going for it, but there unfortunately are a few agasint as well. The whole segment with the floating areas is pretty good and there were a few nice puzzles here, like the multiple levers and the mandatory pushblock puzzle fortunately was quick and simple. At first I thought the camera had gone erratic as it kept showing me somewhere else, but eventually the enemy jeep showed up and I thought that was a very nice way to justify the sudden influx of soldiers to spoil your otherwise rather peaceful raid. On the other hand, the whole initial run with the quadbike could have been discarded and the vast majority of the areas has this big-empty-boxy feel. The outside areas with the lush greenery are very nice, but cut short with invisible walls. This is the 14th BtB-Khmer level I'm playing and so far it's been the only one to use this trick. It's not necessarily a bad thing as it helped streamline the level, but it could have been done differently I guess. 65 minutes, 3 secrets. 08/14" - Treeble (01-Sep-2014)
"The beginning of this entry is rather misleading about the quality of this level; the bare caves seemed rushed as if the author realized he/she needed to put something exciting in the beginning after the rest of the level was finished, but past that the true qualities of the level reveal themselves. This level provides something quite different in the form of a floating islands style setting in addition to the Khmer temple and the surrounding jungle that the level contains. The interiors of the temples are splendidly done with vivid light effects that are enhanced by atmospheric fog, and are presented together with good gameplay centered on a mix of exploration, platforming, trap-evading and puzzle solving. Gameplay flowed well with the next steps being clear to figure out, and satisfying combat engagements with an assortment of enemies are thrown in to shake things up. The waterway puzzle was interesting and was accompanied with a 2-D camera to give the waterway a curious perspective. There is some moderate backtracking involved though, so while the flow is good overall there were a few moments where I had to think about previously visited areas and what I may have missed there. I liked how the flybys were used to simulate dynamic changes to the level's environment, such as the gong sequence and the arrival of the mercenaries, along with the ending, enhancing the atmosphere further. This entry's elements are creatively executed and planned, delivering a solid raiding experience of an hour's length suitable for most skill levels. Good work!" - Relic Hunter (31-Aug-2014)
"This gets off to a good start with an entertaining quad bike ride, a super collapsing bridge animation and cross elephants, no really! The first impressions of rather gloomy caves are soon dispelled as beautiful temple areas appear and once Lara is transported to floating islands the whole thing takes on an almost dream like quality. There's plenty of eye candy, some nice puzzles and enough variety of gameplay to please. Readily achievable by most players and really good use of interesting enemies." - Jay (22-Aug-2014)
"Maybe it was not the best idea to place a quad bike tour through rather rough looking rooms right at the start (although the collapsing bridge is a highlight), but overall this level will probably end in my personal upper third in this BtB year. The gameplay is incredibly dense, with a lot of creative moments and almost never a dull moment - all that without being too linear, so even with a bit of backtracking which I didn't mind much this is a highly enjoyable and professional game. The way the floating islands are included in this game is great, and I'm a fan of this setting so the game worked even better for me. There are some great puzzles to solve, especially the one with the six levers, and I also enjoyed the platforming parts. Perhaps the tasks feels a bit too easy for their own good but at least there's a good dose of creativity. The atmosphere benefits from the sheer variety of settings and quite action-packed and detailed cutscenes which are very nicely done. Lighting is a bit uneven, with some outside areas and the floating islands being a bit dull, if highly colourful, while some inside areas and also the temple courtyard are nothing short of stunning and absolute eye candy. There are some textures which are strangely rotated, but this is not a large issue either. Enemies are very well used, especially in the nice boss fight, but I think pretty much every fight is very carefully planned and does its job well. The secrets are also very well placed, one even makes you sovle a mini quest. I only had a few issues with some objects going through walls, but overall it's quite fantastic given the limited set, especially in the final cutscene. Certainly an appealing and creative level and one of my favourites so far, yet I think the puzzles could've put the players' thinking caps on some more. 35 minutes." - manarch2 (17-Aug-2014)
"I loved this level. After a poor start, the game start on beautiful floating islands and return to earth to pick up some needed items. The puzzles are fairly simple. The game ends with an illumination of the islands. Beautiful." - Drakan (15-Aug-2014)
"This level differs from others btb I have played so far and that in type of location as you will be mostly in a surreal floating islands seeking for puzzle items and to bring those for using in other areas. So more than enough backtracking is required especially if you miss some of them in first exploration. The beginning of this level is rather on the boring side as there is a short ride with jeep in a cave also some easy spike traps in further temple where there is easy timed run too. But as I progressed further the level got more interesting especially the big temple where there are some puzzles like three pushables and six floor lever puzzles which was really creative but both are too easy but still entertaining. Also floating islands part has some puzzles but they were rather too easy as there are some levers marked with green and red colour, well you can guess which are deadly and which not. But also this part has quite nice jump sequences. Atmosphere is quite good but nothing extra as not only some areas looked boring but I also didn`t like much the choise of background music in most areas. I liked secrets placements and also liked most of the enemy placements especially the outside part of a big temple where there will be a "surprise" battle accompanying by very fitting soundtrack. Let`s say a nice level with some interesting moments but nothing really special. Playtime 50 minutes secrets found 3/4. 7/9/7/8" - OverRaider (08-Aug-2014)