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BtB2016 - Bandits Keep by Octo

Adrian 6 7 7 5
DJ Full 7 8 6 7
Drakan 7 8 9 8
Gorty 6 6 4 3
Jay 7 7 8 8
JesseG 7 7 6 8
Jorge22 7 7 7 8
Jose 6 7 7 7
Josey 7 9 10 8
Magnus 3 4 4 3
manarch2 5 6 6 5
Mert 7 7 7 7
MichaelP 6 7 8 7
Minox 7 8 8 8
Mman 6 7 7 6
MrJavi94 6 6 7 7
Mulf 4 5 5 5
Mytly 7 7 8 7
nerdfury 4 5 5 4
Nina Croft 7 8 8 6
Nomad 7 8 8 8
Orbit Dream 7 7 7 8
Phil 8 8 8 8
Revenge 7 7 7 7
Ryan 7 6 7 7
Talos 6 10 6 5
Tolle87 7 8 7 6
Treeble 7 7 7 7
release date: 15-Apr-2017
# of downloads: 147

average rating: 6.71
review count: 28
review this level

file size: 75.50 MB
file type: TR4
class: Persia

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"(4) Gameplay & Puzzles: This was an easy adventure that took me a bit over 30 mins. For the most part, the gameplay isn't bad, but not exciting either. Just going through the motions, opening doors back and forth. The first key, hidden inside a vase, really grinded my gears, however, as it looks too similar to the carpet once the vase is shattered. (5) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: Nothing really of note here; almost all rooms appear empty and lacking in objects. Minimal traps. (5) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The strongest aspect of the game is the flyby cameras. These are done well. The atmosphere is just not convincing however, due to many oversized rooms, an underwhelming and small outdoor area, and a boxy underground cavern. I think that the builder missed an opportunity to enhance immersion by having the player properly explore the outdoor rooftops (you only very briefly do this). You never really feel like you're in a Bandit's Keep. (4) Lighting & Textures: I know this was a debut, but I still think this category (especially the lighting) just needed more care from the builder. Texturing on standard-shaped tiles is decent, however often messy otherwise. In the first half of the game, the lighting is far too flat, with many super-bright rooms that have no feasible light source. It seems like the builder put more thought into lighting in the second half of the game, but there are still many issues such as random colored lighting blobs that just don't have a cohesive look to them. 4/5/5/4." - nerdfury (20-Apr-2024)
"When I first played this level back when it was released, it lost my goodwill early on due to the placement of a key that’s as insidious as it is unimaginative (on a random tile in a random room, where it blends in with the floor texture so as to be invisible to all intents and purposes); and I finally aborted this first attempt when I lost my faith in it as well due to a buggy setup that got me stuck. The recent, rather enthusiastic review by Orbit Dream suggested that maybe now’s the time to reconsider, so I had another go at it. However, my opinion of the level hasn’t changed, and this review was conceived specifically as a counterblast against his reappraisal.
In terms of design, it’s a game of two halves. The first gives you a brightly (and blandly) lit building complex connected to a little backstreet and a small plaza. The rooms of the complex tend to be rather large and of dubious purpose; there’s not so much a market as several locations in which the builder placed market stalls (including a storage room covered in spiderwebs; that fish should be rather smelly now). The texturing was done in a competent, but indiscriminate manner (Islamic interspersed with Old Babylonian), and the construction, while basic, is similarly adequate. In the second half, you go underground. The lighting improves, the geometry becomes a little more adventurous, the rooms tend to be of more appropriate size, and from what I recall, the texturing becomes more consistent.
When it comes to gameplay, though, the level is pretty much of a piece. While the second half plays better due to a little timed run and slightly more challenging enemy encounters, gameplay remains essentially the same fetch quest for items that it was in the first half (it also features yet another key placed in some random spot, although this time it’s marked by bubbles). The second half is also where bugs begin to creep in (an invisible wall preventing further progress if you use a pulley more than once; one of the bulls may not drop a vital key when defeated).
Throughout the level, there’s hardly any platforming, and only one solitary puzzle (the one with the pushable. It’s a fair one though—I can’t believe one reviewer pushed it across all the marked tiles and had the misfortune to leave the one with the correct orientation for last). There is, as mentioned, one easily accomplished timed run; there’s also a handful of traps, but they're negligible. You get kill some enemies while jumping around the rather too large rooms (I noticed the spike traps in the room where the final battle with the bulls takes place only after I had killed them). Mostly, however, the level will have you run back and forth in search for various items, which is why the level will be fairly short if you know where they are and where they go, but may well clock in at 90 minutes if you don’t. So, this level is pretty much devoid of anything that Orbit Dream usually likes in a custom level, and his reasons for taking to it as much as he does must remain a mystery to the rest of us; I doubt that his revisionist stance will gain traction. It’s certainly not bad as far as debut levels go, but Manjushri’s Sword (which, incidentally, wasn’t one) remains a superior level in pretty much every respect." - Mulf (16-Jun-2021)
"Here is a classic example of a level which suffered from being entered into a competition. Had it been standalone (with no immediate comparisons) I suspect it would have fared considerably better.Not having played (thus far) any of the other levels in the 2016 competition,I went into this with the specific intention of experiencing a debut level - and I came away rather satisfied with what was provided.To be sure,it won't win too many plaudits from a constructional perspective;but neither was it unambitious nor rough around the edges;and the lighting and texturing was everywhere competent,and occasionally rather atmospheric. It's of a rather generous size for a single level,and is very much a game of two halves: the first taking place in a middle eastern building complex (large courtyards and small markets);the second in caves and underground chambers. If the first half is your traditional 'what am I supposed to be looking for?' runaround (complete with targets to shoot;canopies to jump from;and a rather unfairly buggy key-placing moment);then the second is all about lever pulling and enemy shooting.The gameplay is generally rather easy going (there was a timed run so generous,that I could have taken a break and made myself a cup of tea in the middle of it) and dependent on quite a degree of backtracking (although you're never very far from anywhere you need to be);while the Finale was a little deceptive,as the re-textured bulls implied (erroneously) that you needed to find something for them to bash into. The ambient atmosphere was rather more effective in the first half of the adventure,as there didn't appear to be a background audio track in the underground section;while cameras did their job in guiding the player onward. All together,I spent well over an hour here;and found it to be one of the more confident debut levels - very much on a par with Manjushri's Sword (a similar debut from the 2020 BtoB.)" - Orbit Dream (28-May-2021)
"Not bad, but not great either. Contrary to most of the other reviewers, I actually liked the first town area more. It felt like it set up a nice prologue, a bit of a trek amongst the persian buildings before you finally delve into ruins. The only thing I was put off by was the coin part. That is a big sin there, I mean the camera totally clues you in where to put your coins but even so I just could not manage to do so. It turned out that Lara had to stand a mile back to insert the coin in mid-air. Anyway, I expected more from the underground sections but the gameplay was too simple and short: find a key and open the next door and repeat. Some timed runs and platforming spiced it up but it wasn't enough. With a complex and exploratory gameplay at that part, this would be an awesome level. Overall, it is an above average level, and a quite good one for a debut." - Nomad (31-Aug-2020)
"Mostly straightforward but the coin slot might confuse you and with the storage key I just gave up after half an hour (a textbook detailed pickup blending with detailed floor). The ending is quite satisfying but on the way to it you run through enormous rooms which, though matching epic ancient scope, are too simple to avoid emptiness - and while the amount of objects is correct, it cannot make up for the size. This all builds a tiring impression of very long breaks taken between activities, but well used audio and cutscenes wake us up from time to time, just like occasional combat and few secrets meant to ease it. Colors are good but often done by oversaturating the ambience (a mistake haunting many levels), just one step from uncanny valley but still bearable. Meanwhile the outside is too bright and/or lacks some lighting contrast. Overall this level is probably the crudest oil of the entire competition, but it does some things good and especially not bad as for a debut level." - DJ Full (05-Jul-2019)
"Good debut. There are not great puzzles, but the level is entertaining enough to take a ride. No much backtracking, enough guns and ammo, not difficult tasks, correct texturization, well placed flybys and musics. I think this author has potential to get better and create more interesting levels in the future. he only should take more care with the architecture, decoration and lighting, and implement some fresh puzzles to force players to think a bit. Good work, Angelo." - Jose (25-Oct-2017)
"As the only debut level in this BtB package this one works out quite well. Yes, the rooms, especially in the first half are a bit bare and square and too large, but at least everything is bright and cheerful. I got a little stuck with a really hard to see key near the beginning but it all flows quite well and easily from there. A little bit of unnecessary backtracking, but nothing too bad. You get an easy push puzzle, an easy timed run and a sort of boss fight at the end - everything else is more of the find key-use key variety. What I liked most is the rather very solid camera work and a nicely accomplished change of atmosphere as you go underground. A promising debut, so hope the builder will be releasing more in the future. [40 min, 3 secrets]" - MichaelP (30-Jul-2017)
"Although not as spectacular as some of the other entries, this is a very good effort for a debut. You can actually see the builder's development in the fact that the level becomes better as it progresses. First half looks empty and lifeless, without any lighting variety. You can't tell much difference between outdoor and indoor areas. Gameplay is also nothing special, all you do is run back and forth between areas and doing some trades with merchants (although it's funny how you can activate kebab machine and get paid for that, then turn it off again). There is one very badly chosen key which blends with the floor way too much and there is one obscure puzzle for which you probably won't understand the logic until you solve it by brute force. Fortunately, the second half of the level is way better, both visually and practically. There is much better lighting, better shaped rooms and some creative pieces of gameplay. Also, you will notice some original use of objects, especially chandeliers, where you must climb of them where you can, but also find harder ways when they are broken. That's one of those nice touches that I always appreciate. The final part of the level is inside one several-level structure with many locked gates, which ends up with very nicely lit vault area that leads you to the final fight with two bulls. Speaking of enemies, there are just as much of them as needed. They are logically placed, which means that you will fight some thieves in the city area, while the beasts and animals wait for you in the desert&ruins. Tunes and cameras could have been a little better (I missed some hints in certain areas), but they are decent enough. Overall, a good debut with noticeable progress as the level goes on, so we can expect big improvements from the builder in the future. 40 minutes, 3/3 secrets." - Tolle87 (02-Jul-2017)
"I had this level pegged as a newbie level about ten seconds in, because only a level by a new builder has rooms this large and empty and lighting this bright and flat. Things improve a bit as you go along (the rooms towards the end are actually suitably dark!), but it's still mostly boxy rooms and simple gameplay. There's a lot of running around pulling switches which open doors in another area and a ton of keys. It's the kind of gameplay that wants so badly to feel complex and interesting, but just feels like busywork. Follow the path to the right and pull a switch. Follow the path to the left to the newly opened door and find a key. Follow the path in the middle and use the key to open a door, which then leads to a switch which opens a door down the path to the right. Stop me if this seems familiar. That description is a bit reductive, but if you've played other levels rated around 4 or 5, then you've seen all of this before. It's not bad, but it's simple, and it makes all these little mistakes - boxy rooms, empty rooms, flat lighting, large rooms that should be small, small rooms that should be large, and so on - which a lot of people make when they first start making levels. It's all growing pains, I suppose, and it takes time to learn how to make a level with some real complexity in both architecture and gameplay. This level isn't going to win the builder's competition this year, but it only takes thirty minutes to play and it works, which is more than can be said for a lot of newbie levels." - Magnus (26-Jun-2017)
"This is an okay looking level, but a lot of it is quite cubic and some of the use of town-style objects (like the civilians and shops) doesn't feel very convincing to me. The lighting has highlights and some good moments but it's also quite flat a lot of the time. The texturing is good throughout though. The gameplay isn't especially difficult and the tasks are pretty simple, but it's mostly engaging and flows well. There's one key that blends in way too well though, and a couple of vital objects feel a little randomly placed (like an important key just lying in a pool). A decent level with some good ideas, but it seems to be made by a less experienced builder." - Mman (10-Jun-2017)
"Easy and fun level. The gameplay was straightforward and easy. It was just the beginning that confused me sometimes because there were many ways to go and i missed the key on the carpet. The Manticore was not always dropping the key and i had to reload many times until i could pick it up to finish the level. No serious problems in texturing and lighting." - Mert (05-Jun-2017)
"There really isn't anything unfair about this rather straightforward level. That is also to say it won't ever fry your brain cells. But it's not to say it's ever dull, in fact it will keep you entertained for the short-ish time you'll be getting through it. In a way, simple yet entertaining levels with nice enough settings such as this one are welcome among those that keep you permanently stuck and sometimes annoyed in spite of all their ingenuity." - Jorge22 (29-May-2017)
"It's obvious that this level can't quite compete with most other levels in the competition, but I also think that the builder did a solid enough, perhaps even first, job here. The texturing actually was quite cleanly applied, of course in these blocky areas it's quite easy but I've seen builders failing even on this. Still the application is quite eclectic and not so coherent as it could be. Of course there's much more work needed in terms of architecture (room connections are showing glimpses of talent already though) and especially lighting, which is very bland in most of the areas; the temple in the caves is a bit better in this regard while the start was very bland. There are also some decent attempts to create interesting gameplay (the boulders' puzzle area especially and also a few traps) but quite some time you spend on backtracking and using levers here and there which was not so nice. One lever really cried for a timed run and actually it's quite disappointing that it wasn't timed. The enemy and object placement is correct but nothing special and the rooms still feel pretty barren. A few cameras are nicely used but in general there could be more work also and especially in terms of music. There's nothing especially bad to say about this level, but it's not so memorable on the whole but maybe this will improve in the next level. Found three well enough hidden secrets in 25 minutes." - manarch2 (29-May-2017)
"Lara crosses the street to grab the Dagger of Time before the bandits can get to it. The ending felt a little abrupt, but otherwise the gameplay length was good. The gameplay itself could have used more sustenance. There is some combat and some traps, and one puzzle I can remember, as well as a timed run - however too much of the time is running back and forth carrying puzzle items. Trading that for more of the aforementioned things would have helped make the level more interesting. The puzzle that requires you to push a block onto tons of marked tiles is also a mundane way to spend time. Using many more decorative objects would have helped fill out the many large rooms in this level. The architecture is quite boxy compared to the other levels in the competition, leading to too much emptiness in the big chambers. But I do like that the builder was able to portray a purpose behind many of the rooms, from a garden square to an altar chamber. This level was in serious need of camera cues in some places - shooting a star and then not having a clue what it did only leads to the player wasting time checking each room to see what changed. The texturing is the strongest part of the level, maybe a bit wallpapered in the natural areas but otherwise the application was well done. The lighting appeared completely flat in the beginning of the level, but got a bit better as the level progressed. The ambient lighting was too bright overall, and I would recommend shifting the responsibility of providing light to lightbulbs instead of ambient light. Overall, the level has room for improvement in each area, but it at least lends itself to a smooth and straightforward raid. 54 minutes." - JesseG (25-May-2017)
"Perhaps this level was a little undervalued. It is simple, straightforward, and shorter than other levels, but Btb’s levels have to be somewhat short, isn’t it? And simplicity coupled with straightforwardness is not a shame, of course. Thus said, the level was well constructed and proceeds smoothly, with some easy puzzles and some interesting areas. I enjoyed specially the activities of the boulders’ area to open a door (even if it involves a pole and a tumbled ledge that have no use), the sneakily hidden secrets and the well placed music. There is not a grand environment as in other levels of the series, the objects chosen are somewhat scarce, but oh, my, those that love fights will like very much the toughness of the enemies present here, with special mention to the bulls (and mark very well the place where they finally fell, because they leave important keys and one of them, when it appears, is almost as invisible as a Storeroom Key found at the beginning of the game.) The camera hints are almost perfect, and the lighting is good. So, play and enjoy, that’s what I say." - Josey (23-May-2017)
"Do not miss the lever at the start of level, and then see the key on the mat. These are the only problems that I have encountered in this level which is quite simple and short compared to those already done" - Drakan (19-May-2017)
"Most of this year's BtB submissions have received stellar scores, so I decided to download this one next to see if I could learn why at this point it's at the bottom of the heap. Sadly, it's the only one I've played thus far that starts off in a daytime setting. I certainly hope there's no connection. Anyway, it does appear a bit amateurish at first, as if the builder didn't quite know what to do with all the available artful textures. But as the game wore on it looked more and more polished, and I believe the relatively low scores are reflective of this year's truly outstanding competing levels. I suspect the scores might be higher if this were a standalone release. Anyway, I spent just under an hour here, and although I wasn't swept off my feet by the gameplay I must say that I enjoyed a good raid. I experienced the flaw at the end that was warned of in the readme, and thus did not get the second key that would have enabled me to open the final gate and end the level, but that was the only glitch in an otherwise competent release." - Phil (08-May-2017)
"This is a more easygoing and simpler entry, a far cry from the others I've played so far. That doesn't mean that it's bad, quite the contrary, it was just... a little less memorable. There's a tad too much retracing of steps through the level and there aren't many puzzles, but I enjoyed outsmarting traps and accomplishing a timed run in the boulder room. Also a few bare and empty rooms and I did encounter the bug where the beast at the end didn't drop a necessary key, so I reduced the score in that category slightly, luckily I was near the end. Overall, not bad and a good try, if it is a first effort." - Ryan (30-Apr-2017)
"In comparison to the previous two entries I've played, this is a humbler offering which still provides a solid, if straightforward, experience. It actually felt a bit like a throwback to early days, especially with its initial hotel-esque areas which would try to recreate the real world counterpart improvising the use of objects here and there. The second half of the level didn't have an ambience track so it felt conspicuously silent with the occasional action track playing now and then. Other than a key hidden right in open sight (you'll know when you see it), it's otherwise a very simple raid which shouldn't prove taxing to the seasoned raider. 55 minutes, 2 secrets. 04/17" - Treeble (29-Apr-2017)
"Since I only played one half of BTB2016 levels, I cannot say that this is the easiest level, but it is definitely among three easiest and most fluent levels in this year's competition. You'll maybe oversee a key or a switch (or two), but you'll hardly get lost around here. Although the builder tried to give the player the choice to choose what to do first for two or three times in the level, the gameplay is simple and straihghtforward: find a key, use your laser sight, or that switch to open a door and move forward. When it comes to secrets, make sure to find them, secrets are very, very useful. Objects and decorations are not overused (to say the least), and the builder definitely used only a part of the WAD. The geometry is simple and blocky, nothing spectacular with respect to vista. However, this review is higher, because the enemies were placed nicely and contributed to the gameplay. I must admit, this does look like a work of a beginner, but it should not be understood as downgrading. Quite the contrary! Cameras were nice, with beginner's flaws, but the builder was generous in flybys and camera views, making sure to let you know what to do and where to go next. So, the builder used cameras to help the player and make the gameplay more fluent. However, the overall atmosphere was somewhat ruined by the lighting, as there was almost none... The builder must improve in this area, but it's normal for beginners to make mistakes with lighting. It is dull and uniform, and that is one of the level's downsides. OVERALL IMPRESSION: Very nice little level. It takes 30 or 35 minutes to finish, including finding all three secrets. You'll find a lot of weapons in this level, but there are also reasons to use them. Puzzles are rudiment, but present. You'll play this level relaxed and without any stress. Nice and balanced little adventure for rainy days, when you want to take a break from challenging and more demanding levels. Recommendable!" - Nina Croft (28-Apr-2017)
"This is a level that is actually far from being bad. I mean, it might look not visually impressive, but it has many things I liked about it, although some others that I didn't, just like the hunting for the first key. which was really hard to spot because of the patterned floor. There are not too many objects but the few that have been added were fit in a really nice way so I congratulate the builder for it. Enemies were also nice, except for those annoying and hard-to-avoid underwater snakes that needed to be lured away from a long distance to let you breathe and pull the levers without taking serious damage. Secrets were not hard to find as I found the three of them, that also were hidden in a clever way. As a whole, an entry probably made by a beginner that definitely wants to keep improving on his/her skills. Recommended for everyone." - MrJavi94 (25-Apr-2017)
"Not a terrible level by any means. Just not as polished as some others. Rooms were spacious but boxy and mostly empty. Lighting was off in places. Some different objects than I have seen in the other levels I have played to date which was nice. Gameplay very linear and not particularly imaginative. One key was hard to spot on the garish carpet and another didn't appear first time shohe sphinxes/bulls." - Adrian (24-Apr-2017)
"Level fairly easy, you have to search and visit all the areas to find the necessary keys to continue" - Minox (24-Apr-2017)
"Unlike previous levels played, Bandit's Keep is the only one who I found with no lights. And that's a bad shot, because the level is smooth and not at all boring. Indeed, for now I think it's the cutest one of this Back to Basics! And what that made me much pleasure, was seeing (finally) a choice of textures consistent (I know that can be silly, but I love story and ancient Arab art, and I can't see in the same room Assyrian-Babylonian textures mixed with Arab Moorish one's and other styles. Placed without a logic! There are differences of centuries between them. And many "layers" of sand). We pass to the gameplay, simple and straightforward (maybe too much),also suitable for beginners. Sore point, apart from the lights do not exist is a testing uncared for: I seen a mistake due to not so much attention (a chandelier leaving on the ground, for example), maybe with a final test that could be fixed. Some room too bare, but these are tastes personal. All the objects of all levels of competition are from vote 10. They are wonderful! I've never been a slayer of secrets (I don't care not even include them in my levels), so don't bother looking for them. The only one I found, was ahead my eyes. An hour of pleasant game :D" - Talos (24-Apr-2017)
"This is one of the gentler entries in the B2B competition, with enemies being few and far between, but effectively used. The gameplay is fairly straightforward, although a couple of objects are easily overlooked and may have you wondering what to do next. Mainly though it's comparatively linear and should be accessible to all players. The textures and objects may not have been quite as expertly used as in some levels, but it's decently built and pleasant to look at for all that." - Jay (22-Apr-2017)
"The gameplay in this level is fairly straightforward, mostly involving hunting for keys and switches. I liked the caves area where you have to find a way to drop two boulders. There are only two obscure moments in the whole level: one where it’s not clear where you have to place the coins, and one due to an almost-impossible-to-see key lying on a patterned floor. Enemies are mostly the ‘people running around with swords’ mentioned in the story, plus some snakes and leopards, and two manticores as the final boss.
The colours are kind of nice, but on the whole, the level is visually not very impressive. The textures are rather haphazardly applied, with every room filled with a mishmash of clashing textures. There is almost nothing in the way of complex architecture – all the rooms are plain cubes, and that too, empty cubes, with very few decorative objects.
Overall: A pleasant and mostly simple level, but not particularly memorable." - Mytly (19-Apr-2017)
"After playing Tales of brothers, 40 thiefs and Lara of Arabia, a strong contrast is very noticeable to this level. I’m guessing this one is from an author who has not made many levels before this competition. The beginning area is very beginnerish. The rooms are pale, flat, big, empty and simple. I can’t even say something about the light because I don’t think a sun was even used. Gameplay is mostly, very simple and easy. One thing I noticed is that the level gets better in light, texturing and design how I progressed through it, which means that the authors is actually evolving in his skills while he was creating it. Since this is a competition and levels need to be compared to figure out the winner, ratings will suffer on that logic ( not much ). Entries like this one will drown in the tough competition since there are probably more than 3 levels knocking on the hall of fame door. Overall, a very basic contribution. Recommended only for players who want to write a review." - Gorty (19-Apr-2017)
"This level is easier and not as nasty as the two previous ones on the list, though I still enjoyed it. The tasks were pretty simple and the level was linear but there was a good amount of interesting stuff to do (I had the advantage of knowing the package, as well x) ). Once again I thought because of the title that there would be lots of ennemies but it wasn't really the case, overall it was quite relaxing actually :) Architecture-wise, the first part of the level was a bit blocky, however the underground area was better designed in my opinion. The lighting was fitting with the setting although it was a bit too bright in general. Nonetheless, a nice level :D Statistics : 1h05 and 2 secrets found." - Revenge (17-Apr-2017)