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BtB2020 - Manjushri's Sword by constantine

Adrian 7 8 7 7
BlackWolfTR 6 7 7 6
Dick 7 7 7 7
DJ Full 8 9 9 8
eRIC 7 7 7 7
Jay 7 7 7 7
John 8 9 9 8
Jorge22 8 8 7 7
Jose 7 7 7 7
Josey 8 9 10 8
Lizard Queen 8 8 8 9
Magnus 4 4 5 4
manarch2 5 6 7 6
MichaelP 7 7 7 7
MigMarado 6 6 8 7
Mman 8 8 8 7
Mulf 6 7 7 6
Mytly 7 6 7 7
nad 6 7 8 7
Orbit Dream 7 8 8 8
Phil 8 8 8 8
Relic Hunter 7 7 7 7
Ryan 7 7 7 7
Topixtor 6 7 7 6
Treeble 8 8 8 8
release date: 14-Jun-2020
# of downloads: 80

average rating: 7.18
review count: 25
review this level

file size: 109.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: Oriental

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"This level starts off in Tibetan village with some music of tomb raider legend Nepal to set the atmosphere as we explore around the village’s buildings and rooftops looking for items to progress. Some items are laying in plain sight, some items are under pushable items and others need a bit more platforming or exploration to the higher or lower parts of the buildings for retrieval. It’s during the later parts of this area where the gameplay starts to change for the better as we are slowly introduced to traps (including a new horizontal swinging column) crumbling ice walkways ,challenging timed runs and my favourite: pole swinging and jump/spring pads as we progress to some large underground snowy caves and caverns. For enemies we have snow leopards, spiders, a giant boss bird some eagles and a wraith ghost before a showdown with big boss god itself. Overall an enjoyable level with good variety in environments and in gameplay with a mixture of both relaxing exploration and platforming and then later on tricky traps and timed runs in some lovely looking areas" - John (13-Aug-2023)
"On the simplier and less tough end of Tibet. It's quite big so if you choose a wrong path you repeat a lot - but in the same time it's fun to explore. Recommended" - DJ Full (28-Mar-2023)
"This is the second of the builder’s BtB levels, and it has more in common with the first of these (The Horn of Amalthea, which was also his debut) than with its immediate predecessor (The Harp of Dagda, a contribution to the CaC contest). For the purposes of this review, I divide the level into two sections (village and caves) which correspond to the two sections in Amalthea (cave/canyon and town), just with their positions swapped. While gameplay in the brief cave/canyon section of Amalthea is merely perfunctory, a lot more happens in Manjushri’s caves and on the ledges of its rock walls. It’s also arguably the more engaging part of this level, since the first section is mainly a fetch quest for four items distributed more or less at random all over the village. Progression is reasonably interesting though, as it involves some platforming and dodging a few traps, although there are really only two challenges in this part (both of them timed runs). The jump from the ledge you reach after the trap gauntlet to another ledge which goes around a building across the street is obvious, but unnecessarily fiddly to execute and could be counted as a challenge, too.
Although the builder doesn’t try to dazzle, the village looks fine, and there are some fine, judiciously used light effects. There is a good number of rooms which serve no purpose, including the entire building in which the level begins (I found myself apologising to no-one in particular for shooting out their windows when I could simply have walked out the door like a well-adjusted person). Because of the many decorative objects it can be difficult to tell what’s relevant from what’s not, which might be regarded as a challenge of its own. Having searched the village methodically, I still found myself one prayer wheel short, so I had to start the search over again. Luckily the area isn’t that large, and I found the thing I was looking for soon enough—hidden in plain sight; apparently someone had purloined the prayer wheel and was now trying to sell it on the black market. The monastery I could now enter was a bit of a disappointment, as apart from the second of the timed runs, there’s not a lot more to do than shove a few pushables around. I did like the cooling room though, where the monks keep blocks of ice, even if it’s never revealed what they use it for. Soon thereafter, you reach a point of no return.
The second part is non-linear like the first, but both are self-contained. This is a good thing, since the builder sends you once more on a fetch quest for Important Items. Due to the non-linearity and the non-obvious course that the ledges require you to take, you may find yourself up the proverbial ledge without a gong thingy, in which case you have to repeat a given sequence after finding the thing that’s missing. I didn’t mind this, as I considered the platforming here entertaining enough. There is also an original trap in the form of a rotating beam that may shove you off ledges you need to use for jumps. The design of the ice caves, however, was somewhat underwhelming; I expected more from the builder of Dagda. I found the mirroring of textures often quite distracting here.
Enemies are generally better, i. e. less randomly, placed than in Amalthea, except for the two guys who shoot at you in the village—these are as random as they come. (Early on, I was walking through the streets minding my own business, when I noticed a guy with a gun ambling towards me, as SAS are wont to do, and for a while I merely observed him inquisitively; maybe he had been issued AI objects and was trying to show me something. This, however, turned out not to be the case.) Enemies don’t play a major role though, most are a nuisance rather than a threat, and even the big ones at the end seem underpowered. TR2 veterans like myself might be puzzled by the fact that the gong isn’t used to summon Birdmonster, who is already there, strutting about like he owned the place—which, I guess, he does. It’s unfortunate that the builder allows you to shoot him from a safe spot right at the entrance. (I went back to try and see if I could let Birdmonster live, as I did in Phryne Croft’s Talion level; and yes, he’s not a problem once you know what to do. I don’t know why, but I’ve somewhat taken to the guy, and his death animation is just so pitiful.)
As in Amalthea, the builder chose to use a piece of music as a background loop, which prompted me to turn the audio off (a piece of music is always a bad choice, but in this particular case the serene tinkling would also have been spectacularly out of place in many situations), so I didn’t hear any musical cues the first time around. The audio choices improve a lot later on, though. Orbit Dream shouldn’t put his lamp under a bushel when it comes to his prowess regarding the sniffing out of secrets; I found only one (that’s OK though: if you find all three, you only get ammo that you don’t really need). Unlike some other reviewers, I didn’t find the ending anticlimactic (though the boss fight preceding it sure is), as the giant lotus flower opening up to offer the object of your desire is set in scene to good effect. That object didn’t look much like a sword though, did it? (The level should have been called The Sword of Manjushri, so as to keep the structure of the titles intact across all three of the builder’s levels; or better still, The Halberd of Manjushri.)" - Mulf (11-Feb-2021)
"I'm currently performing a rather loose 'mopping up job' of playing/reviewing levels in the 7 category.Working my way up the list I quickly came upon this entry (from 2020's BtoB Competition);and,owing to the decidedly lukewarm reviews it has so far received,expected little more than a plainly average experience. Perhaps because I have no familiarity whatsoever with any of the other levels in the competition (and can therefore look upon it objectively),I found it to be a perfectly entertaining romp of over an hour. Admittedly,the block-pushing and blade-evading gameplay of the mid-section is rather uninspiring;but the two other sections (the three parts of the level are clearly delineated) are decently entertaining. You explore a rather impoverished but well constructed Tibetan village to begin with,for the purpose of a fetch quest;and you end by performing all sorts of athletic challenges inside a series of icy caverns. Along the way you encounter a few enemies (although the threat of the largest of these is rather tepid);acquire three none-too-difficult (otherwise I wouldn't have found them!) secrets;and get to enjoy some well constructed environments. To this end,everything has been put together with sufficient skill that I never once had reason to complain;and the development of the quest itself is quite satisfying. A perfectly entertaining and rewarding adventure,which has regrettably been dwarfed by those around it - but that has always been the price that builders are required to pay,when choosing to enter their work in competition with each other." - Orbit Dream (27-Jan-2021)
"The shortest entry for me so far but nonetheless an enjoyable raid, which is rather straightforward and fast paced and never outstays its welcome. The opening flyby is inviting and you first get to explore a little village, then a monastery and then go underground into icy caves. Overall the arreas often look a bit bare and square, but I did actually not mind all that much as you progress quickly between them. Tasks are simple and fairly obvious, even the two timed ones and only two of the three secrets require a little closer attention. The turning beam was a bit of a unique addition, so I liked that idea but with many of the other things it felt more like a: "oh this is in the WAD, so let's just use it once" approach, instead of trying to create a coherent adventure. Still, for its relative simplicity I thought the level does work out quite well and if you look for an easy entry into the BtB2020 levels, then this one is a great choice to start with [40 min]" - MichaelP (29-Aug-2020)
"This was the 2nd level I chose to download and play as it was the least downloaded at the time and wanted those to get a fair shot at being played and reviewed. What I liked about the level: 1) The whole market area at the beginning filled with lovely objects. I especially loved the animated chickens, the carpet ox and the roses tucked behind one of the buildings. 2) The two swing poles in the temple were perfectly spaced, the animation flawlessly smooth and so much fun to do. More like this please. 3) The catapult platform in the lower icy area is a hoot!! I’ve never seen that in a level before and I absolutely LOVED IT!! I could do this all day. 4) A big thank you for not putting any pesky bats or bugs during the monkey swing. 5) Few enemies always get high marks with me. What I didn’t like: 1) A very minor issue could be a bit more lighting in one of the rooms above, but again very minor to my enjoyment of the level. All in all a very enjoyable level, well built, no bugs and great fun jumping the awesome catapult platform. What a treat! Good for beginner or average players." - Lizard Queen (27-Aug-2020)
"I played and reviewed Shigatse Stone just yesterday and gave it my “most likely to have been built by a newbie” award, and I kind of want to change my answer already? This is another level were the simple gameplay, large rooms and flat lighting seem to indicate that the author doesn’t have a lot of experience with creating levels yet. This time, Lara’s looking for Man… Mansh… Manjula… a sword, which is hidden in a tomb beneath a small village. It’s probably the least picturesque village in BtB 2020 – it’s just visually kind of uninteresting and all of the streets and houses feel oversized. The goal is to find four key items, which are pretty much just lying around in odd places, but fortunately they’re not too hard to find. The level in general isn’t very difficult, with all of the paths being very obvious because of the simple geometry. The one puzzle involves going into three rooms and pushing boxes three or four tiles over. The whole level suffers from having gameplay that is just too simple. You’ll walk into a room and get chased by wraiths. So you climb up a ledge and run into the next room, and the thingamajig to get rid of them is right there. Or you’ll come to a fork in the road - you go to the right and find a closed door. You go back to follow the left path, and there’s the switch to open the door. I just don’t find it very stimulating. To the author’s credit, everything works the way it’s supposed to, and there’s a nice mix of platforming, action and exploration. At thirty minutes, and with only one level left to play, I’m confident in saying that this is the shortest level in this year’s competition." - Magnus (27-Aug-2020)
"There’s nothing wrong with this level, per se, but it does feel somewhat unambitious in comparison with most of the other BtB2020 levels. Gameplay can be quite enjoyable and even challenging at times, such as the timed run in the monastery or climbing around in the snowy caves. There are some good trap sequences in the basement of a house in the village and in the caves. Some of the tasks can be dull or repetitive, though, such as the three nearly identical pushable tasks in a row in the monastery. The finale feels a little underwhelming, as the level ends before you can actually reach the item you’re seeking.
Enemies are fairly easy to handle, and there are too few of them to really pose a challenge. The secrets are well-placed; getting all three of them gives you access to a special reward, which is a good idea, but as I found only two, I missed out on that.
The village area at the beginning looks nice, but rather empty. There are so many decorative objects in the package – why didn’t the builder use them? The same thought kept occurring to me throughout a large portion of this level, unfortunately – the room with the boss fight, for instance, is a huge but almost featureless hall, with barely any decorations or interesting architecture.
Overall: A mostly pleasant level, but it lacks anything that would make it feel special or memorable." - Mytly (16-Aug-2020)
"This is a village that leads into a monastery with ruins and caves beneath. The visuals are relatively simple but it still looks decent, with the village and caves in particular looking good. The houses and monastery interior are a bit cubic though, and the lighting varies somewhat too with the caves and village exterior having the best and the rest being simpler. There is some nice contrast at times though, and, while cubic and without much lighting, the ancient trap-filled tunnels beneath the town contrasted with the serene town itself gave it a foreboding atmosphere. This is probably the shortest map so far, and it goes by pretty fast, but there's a decent mix of challenges and smooth pacing (one or two item placements could trip you up, but the areas aren't big enough for it to be too obtuse). There are also a couple of creative object uses to make obstacles too. Pretty humble compared to some of the other entries here, but it's still a good level." - Mman (15-Aug-2020)
"This level is quite short and easy. Short and sweet may be good many times, and this level does not totally disappoint. The builder clearly showed some interesting skills, and should certainly keep adding on to her/his output, so she/he may carry on growing. I suggest having a purpose for every room, making every kill and every object found something a little bit more special, and being a little bit more classic in the use of objects, such as push-blocks. The use of slopes and taking advantage of Lara's skills when exploring the terrain is also needed. I thoroughly enjoyed the ambience and I came away from the level happy it was short, fun and beautiful. It just needed a little "je ne sais quoi" to make it stand out." - MigMarado (10-Aug-2020)
"A very nice level: unpretentious, straightforward and enjoyable. The little Tibetan village is lovely in the simplistic environment, and I only hoped there were some more items to pick up at the initial building, because all those rooms seemed a little of a waste. But I liked very much the Secrets, with all those useful items that Lara can pick up if she finds all the Seraphs, some of them, smartly hidden. With two not so easy timed runs, the level just escapes being too easy. Sound and cameras are ok, and so are enemies, but we could have some more lighting and traps. Good work!" - Josey (09-Aug-2020)
"The raiding community has been so spoiled by the excellent submissions in this year's BtB competition that when one comes along that's merely good it's almost like a letdown. I had that feeling here, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of a most decent raid that clocked in for me at 50 minutes. The surroundings aren't as stunning as perhaps they could have been, but you get a well-rounded level with timed runs, swingpole gauntlets (I had quite a bit of trouble grabbing all the poles in the five-pole exercise and had to save between each one) and a pickup bonus for finding all three of the well-placed secrets. This one won't be near the top when the final ratings are tallied, but it's certainly a worthwhile entry." - Phil (05-Aug-2020)
"Not directly comparable with some of the behemoths of BtB2020, but an enjoyable level nonetheless. Room geometry was somewhat crude and not very heavily decorated with objects. Gameplay was enjoyable and made a change, but it was very easy." - Dick (04-Aug-2020)
"The shortest raid in this year’s Back to Basics series, it still clocks in at a modest 45 minutes and features easygoing, briskly-paced gameplay in its runtime with a nice selection of Tibetan settings. There is a village and its catacombs to explore, and caves with an embedded monastery later on. The gameplay centers around an item hunt in the village for prayer wheels and while it is mostly exploration and platform based, it does features a few traps to evade and throws in a timed run for good measure. At the monastery there are more timed runs to test the player’s agility, and a neat little section with a rotating pillar and platforms to maneuver around. What holds this back from being particularly memorable though is that it lacks “wow” moments, and feels like a very by-the-books checklist kind of raid. There’s the timed runs, a few pushing puzzles, some places to explore, but it didn’t feel like everything connected in a particularly meaningful way and more like just a series of rooms and settings to be pushed through. The atmosphere and looks were servicable, though did feel flat and in need of more contrast. However, this is far from a bad level if my comments imply it to be, which it is not. The 45 minutes I spent here were enjoyable, and if the builder’s intent was to whip up a less intense level I think it served its purpose. I hope the builder’s next release can show more ambition." - Relic Hunter (30-Jul-2020)
"Short compared to some of the other efforts this year however a reasonably solid effort. Gameplay not overly inspired and enemies perhaps a bit too easily dispatched, but nice secret hunt/bonus and I liked the revolving pillar room." - Adrian (24-Jul-2020)
"One of the shortest levels from btb and also very straightforward. I completed it in 47 minutes. At the beginning we are in village and we need to collect here four things, that are easy to find and very quickly to find. And after this we are in undergrounds. We find some pushables, parkours and boss fighthing. Gameplay was sometimes just poor but it's still have nice moments. There were 3 secrets and if we find it we found room with many pickups. I found 2/3 secrets. They not to hard and not to easy to find. Atmosphere was sometimes poor and some soundtracks don't feel into location. Texturization was medium and lighting also. Overall, it's not bad level but it's quite good and relaxing level." - BlackWolfTR (15-Jul-2020)
"This is one of the shortest (thus far) levels in the competition and fairly linear and straightforward. I suppose it speaks volumes of the extremely high standards this year that this, although not among the top ranks, is still a very pleasant and playable level, that should be accessible to all but the very new raiders. It’s a nice progression from the small village to the nearby caves and you shouldn’t get badly stuck at any point." - Jay (11-Jul-2020)
"My first impulse would be to directly compare this smaller, simpler level to the nine I played before in this competition. But would it be entirely fair? The settings aren't as astounding (far from it) as in previous levels, and the atmosphere, lighting included, isn't as polished. It's also pretty straightforward and comparatively very short. But is that such a bad thing after the ordeals I've been through (excellently created ordeals, it's only fair to say)? I may think of it as a moment in which I'm allowed to breathe a little. Thing is the way the level evolves is well thought of, it looks solid enough and there are some perfectly interesting moments along the way. Maybe it isn't extraordinary, but I quite enjoyed it. So... Yes, perhaps this is the younger brother of other Tibetan Back to Basics levels, but it does have its moments and more variety than it may look at first sight. No wow moments, but quite nice." - Jorge22 (08-Jul-2020)
"The most modest entry thus far, but still a fun to play one. The adventure begins in a lovely village while we search for a couple of buddha statues and prayer wheels to reach the underground temple. Gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward, with quite a few pushable blocks being there just to hide something instead of serving as a purpose for a pushblock puzzle or something. A few jumps and twists later we get the gong and proceed to finish the level. Not particularly difficult so it's a nice way to unwind after a long day. 55 minutes, 2 secrets. 06/20" - Treeble (06-Jul-2020)
"Notching up at 50 minutes of net gaming time, this is definitely one of the shortest and most easygoing entries into the contest. It's not unpleasant, but will be unlikely to give experienced raiders a good challenge (aside from one surprisingly tricky timed jump sequence) and the environments are a little less polished and a bit on the empty side, although I agree with another reviewer's point that it projects a feeling of isolation quite nicely. Enemies aren't too difficult to deal with, although the surprise appearance of a bird monster and hammer god spiced things up somewhat. Not a truly memorable experience, but not bad at all for the time it lasts." - Ryan (06-Jul-2020)
"I tried many of this year BtB levels that started very well and ended a bit on the weak side, and this is probably the biggest letdown in the pack - let me explain: I saw the relatively low scores and didn't expect much and so I was surprised; I was in awe; You start in this atmospheric, TRLegend-vibing village that seems to prepare you for something dark and magnificent, and then you enter that cave, arrive at the monastery, and snow starts falling; honestly, that was probably one of my favourite moments of the competition until now. But as I believe that a few bad apples don't really spoil the bunch, unfortunately the contrary also works for me - a few good ones can't make a quality one. For every step forward you do in this level, it gets worse; while the starting area is decent enough and lighting actually stays likeable throught the whole game, soon enough texturing starts being more and more wallpapered, geometry more and more flat and unrealistic, all kinds of little graphic mistakes start appearing, the exploration quickly unfolds in pretty dull and generic (long) back and forth, and the general logic of the enviroenments starts falling off too, culminating in an anticlimatic boss fight in what could have been a really nice throne room but looked like a generic columned hall, followed by the artefact discovery which at least was satisfing enough... Secrets were decent, tho. But other than that the only original gameplay idea for me here was the rotating pillar trap. Also, mercenaries and leopards didn't really make sense in an inhabited village. To keep it "short", a somewhat valid entry that feels rushed, unpolished, and wrapped up to meet the deadline - but worth playing nonetheless at least for the starting areas; I reckon there was the intention to create a nice atmosphere, so I look forward for your next work, hoping critics will help you become a better builder!" - Topixtor (04-Jul-2020)
"The game begins in a small Tibetan village and ends in a snow cave. So you can also split the game into two parts that have nothing to do in common. The tasks are quite simple and the areas are designed very simply. Lighting and music are used harmoniously, except for the underground passage in the village, which is simply too dark. This is a short simple but quite well built game." - nad (03-Jul-2020)
"This BTB2020 clocks under one hour , well built and quite pleasant to play. The setting is less decorated than in other levels of this BTB, but that succeds to be realistic at least in the village at the beginning as Tibet is a poor country. Exploration of the village first , and then once inside the temple there is more fun with some traps, pushable blocks , swinging poles , platforming , a couple of big enemies that do not take too long to defeat. Finding the 3 secrets provides a bit more gameplay and is greatly rewarding. A level that plays well." - eRIC (25-Jun-2020)
"This time you'll explore a small village to get several artifacts and get access to the temple and to the caves where the sword is. This level is nice to play with no hard tasks and no problems if you explore a bit; I only got disoriented near the end 'cause I missed an item hidden in previous caves (not good let the player advance without the necessary items) but the level is usually entertaining. I missed some more musics and cameras, and the texturization is sometimes flat in certain areas; few enemies to shoot, one of the seraphs is very well hidden and all the ammo and medipacks you get if you find all three seraphs is not very necessary near the very end, only to fight with the final boss. Anyway another enjoyable level from this contest. Good work." - Jose (22-Jun-2020)
"This is a shorter offering in this year's competition and maybe a little less professional than some others. A few rooms might need some more work in terms of architecture (walls are pretty flat even in some "natural" parts) and the texturing is occasionally wallpapered, especially in the room with the waterfall and in the ice cave towards the end. Still, there are some more attractive areas and the village setting at the start is not unattractive either, nicely giving a certain feeling of isolation despite inhabitants being present. The gameplay is okay, after a bit of dull exploration at the start the game improves and features a few decent traps (especially that rotating pillar) and timed runs, while the triple pushable puzzle was a bit lazy. Enemies are decently used and of the three secrets one was too easy to find, one was okay and another one was quite well hidden. Nothing groundbreaking in this game but enjoyable for the time it lasts, 25 minutes on my end." - manarch2 (20-Jun-2020)