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BtB2020 - The Dharma Jewel by Drakan

Adrian 10 9 10 9
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
BlackWolfTR 9 9 9 9
Dick 8 9 7 7
DJ Full 8 9 8 7
eRIC 9 8 8 7
Feder 9 9 8 7
Jay 9 9 9 9
Jorge22 8 8 8 8
Jose 9 9 9 9
Josey 10 10 10 10
Lizard Queen 9 8 8 10
Magnus 5 5 5 5
manarch2 8 8 7 7
MichaelP 10 9 8 8
MigMarado 10 10 9 8
Mman 8 7 8 6
Mytly 8 6 7 6
nad 8 8 7 7
Phil 9 9 10 8
Relic Hunter 8 8 8 8
Ryan 9 9 8 8
Topixtor 9 8 7 7
Torry 9 10 10 9
Treeble 9 10 10 10
 
release date: 14-Jun-2020
# of downloads: 140

average rating: 8.39
review count: 25
 
review this level

file size: 112.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: Oriental
 


author profile(s):
email(s):
drakan72@wanadoo.fr

Reviewer's comments
"This level would be much more balanced if the bonus town was the prologue instead. Visuals often cross my uncanny line but aren't tragic. Gameplay is varied enough though the task intensity could be less uniform, leaving more room to get immersed and admire." - DJ Full (05-Apr-2023)
"This is a really interesting level with quite a few nice touches that you don't often see together and in the main you will be able to stumble your way through without a walk through. I only had to refer to it twice. Once in the boss fight room to understand what needed to be done and then at the end, trying to figure out which vase I had missed and wouldn't you know it, it was the first one right at the beginning of the level across the water that I didn't even see. These vases, if you get all 10 allow you access to a bonus level of sorts which in and of itself wasn't necessary but was neat nevertheless. The three monster boss fight in this extra level is worth the effort. There was one timed run that had me reloading the game for quite a while but is eminently doable. The torch timed run was irritating until you figured it out. I managed it a completely different way than the walk through after quite a few tries." - Torry (23-Nov-2022)
"Actually I only play a few btb levels and this one is one of the few I played. And WHAT A LEVEL!! Since the begining to the end it was a real pleasure to play this small adventure. I really liked the author not use the snow textures and create a kind of "warm" level. The level is not really hard and can be play by everyone. There are also and "easy" and "hard" mode for those who prefer a different kind of gameplay near the end. We have also the real pleasure to discovered a "special" challenge in a quest of 10 vases to broke. JUST GREAT!! A bonus aera is also present and it's a very fun 15 min of gameplay added. Congratulations Drakan for this marvelous game :-) !! Recommended for everyone." - Bigfoot (02-Sep-2020)
"I have to say that from a gameplay perspective this was right up my alley - it is diverse and taxing throughout without ever being too obscure or too hard to accomplish the tasks that need to be accomplished. You always feel you are progressing, but you do so in a way that it was you who figured out how. This level has actually not an ice cold feel but sends you more underground and around caves and temples. You get some torch action, a bit of platforming, enemies that surprise you from behind, a few traps, some target shooting, push puzzles and -Yay! - a bounce pad. The easy/hard timed run choice was a clever idea, although even the easy one is not so easy after all and the boss room took me a moment to figure out what to do first. I strongly recommend going for the nice side quest of shooting 10 vases, becuase it rewards you with a few minutes of extra gameplay (and at least one more secret there). The overall room geometry and atmosphere created may not be as refined as in some other masterpieces, but the highly engaging gameplay makes more than up for these small deficiencies. [100 min]" - MichaelP (29-Aug-2020)
"This was the first level I chose to download and play for two reasons. It hadn’t been downloaded as much as some of the other levels and I really liked the name. What I liked about the level: 1) The gameplay is very intuitive on how to proceed and what you need to do. 2) A safe place to calmly dispatch the terribly frightening Yeti (or massive chicken). 3) I love it when builders put in very clever hiding spots for passage ways in plain view if you just turn around instead of taking the obvious straight route. Such clever and compact use of all available space is what I consider excellent builder skill. 4) The steam/mist floor vent in one of the rooms that made Lara rise up to reach the otherwise unreachable exit. Very clever! 5) I have to mention the classic TR music in the lower grotto area with the raising platforms was such a joy to listen to. It made the gameplay and exploring very nostalgic. 6) Good building technique (imho) restricts the player from leaving an area until they’ve accomplished all necessary tasks to limit backtracking, etc. and this builder did that, so well done! 7) Loved the block puzzle and the ability to push the block over the edge and use it to further gameplay. What I didn’t like: 1) I got stuck standing up in a somewhat buggy wall crack but luckily was able to escape with a front crouch roll out onto the floor, so can’t technically call it a “bug” per se. Just a little smaller space in the corner of the wall crack would avoid this and not affect gameplay whatsoever. 2) This level has a fair share of enemies, but I prefer few to none. I used lots of medipacks and ammo which I prefer not to do but this is minor and only a personal preference. 3) Hiding the torch under the dead soldier is clever except I had to reload to a previous save game to go back for it which is not exactly good building technique for me. 4) The so called “easy” timed run is not so easy and at this point kind of ruined the game for me. In conclusion though, I enjoyed this level (even the Boss fight was great once you know how to defeat him) but the long and complex timed run (even in easy mode) makes this level not so good for beginners or average players." - Lizard Queen (27-Aug-2020)
"Playing BtB levels and writing reviews is hard work, and like Lara, I could use a vacation. In this level, she’s vacationing in Tibet, when some rando asks her to risk her life to get a jewel back from a monster or whatever. Lara, of course, is thrilled to get a chance to shoot stuff (and anything that distracts her from the dark thoughts that enter her mind when she’s relaxing is welcome), so away she goes. This is, for my money, one of the less exciting levels in this year’s competition. It’s just so dark and dreary and… brown. The architecture feels haphazard, and the lighting is a bit dark and really flat, making it hard to spot switches and ledges. The gameplay fares a bit better, but it’s still nothing too special and there’s a lot of pulling switches and opening doors, and sometimes it just feels like busywork. Probably the most memorable thing about the level is that there’s a bonus for breaking ten vases throughout the level, which adds another five minutes or so of gameplay to the hour-long level, and an additional boss fight (which it took me ages to trigger, since it turns out that you’re meant to pick up the secret before you open the door to the exit, and not the other way around). I guess sitting around a campfire and singing Kumbaya would have been less interesting than this, but only just." - Magnus (27-Aug-2020)
"I really wanted to like this level more than I did. The gameplay is mostly quite entertaining, and moves fast and smoothly. There are several tasks I enjoyed – the double zipline ride to get the revolver, the timed run with the torch, and raising the cage in order to be able to reach it via the bouncepad. The long timed run in the canyon is really tough, at least the hard version, although the easy one is not too bad.
The enemies are a mixed bag: there are some supernatural enemies such as yetis, bird monsters and hammergods, with some human enemies thrown in at random. The boss fight involves avoiding the Seth-like boss, and finding another way to neutralize him, which is fun.
But the looks … *sigh* the looks are just depressing. Around 90% of the level takes place in some dreary underground place, which is very poorly lit. Most of the rooms are shrouded in darkness or lit in a uniform brown or green shade. It gets particularly annoying because flares disappear from the inventory in certain places – I have no idea why. The builder seems to have made very little attempt at decorating the places with attractive textures or objects. There are a few exceptions: there’s a rather pretty secret room (though it doesn’t seem to count as a secret); and there’s a lovely village area at the end, which can be accessed only if you shoot 10 vases throughout the level. Why couldn’t more of the level look like that village? It’s one thing if a builder is incapable of building attractive locations – but when they clearly are capable, why do they refuse to do so? I really don’t understand.
Overall: A level with pretty good gameplay, but little in the way of eye candy." - Mytly (17-Aug-2020)
"This starts with a small island setting and then moves on to a temple, along with a couple of other things later. The areas have generally okay geometry, but many of the larger areas feel a bit empty, despite some creative object use at times (and, in general, the outdoor parts look much better). The texturing is generally good, although I don't feel the different themes used flow into each other too smoothly so it feels like a disconnected series of areas rather than an actual place (and the design isn't wild enough to work as something intentionally chaotic either). The lighting is the weakest aspect though; there is some nice use of things like highlighting objects to signal points of interest and secrets for the observant, but, outside of few very good looking areas, it tends towards being either kind of dark or monotone. Also, the saturated oranges and blues that make up the main colours of the lighting don't feel especially flattering to the textures, and wash out a lot of the color variety they already came with (and also don't tend to be used as contrasts to each other much).
The gameplay is pretty enjoyable throughout and provides a good range of tasks. The previously mentioned visual issues do also result in the level feeling like a disconnected series of tasks outside of one or two parts, but those tasks are fun outside of a couple of things that still go by pretty quickly. There's a good mix between the exploration and action, and some nice use of modern features like a boss to dispatch in a non-standard way, and a difficulty selection for one timed segment. There's a task to break multiple vases throughout the map, and succeding at this actually leads to the best looking part of the map, so it feels a little odd to have it be extra, but the level is forgiving with letting you go back to find them, and they aren't too hidden in the first place. There's some slightly bizzare enemy placements, but one inspired surprise near the start successfully scared me and put me on my toes for much of the rest, so I guess there's a method to it? Despite the issues that suggest this being a bit of a learning experience this is a good entry and hints at a lot of future potential for whoever made it." - Mman (04-Aug-2020)
"A rather grungy and unattractive level it has to be said, but one clearly designed by someone who knew what they are doing. The settings tended to support the gameplay which was good, but often confusing. Some of the other BtB entrants I’ve played have felt very challenging and yet I’ve managed to get through them without resorting to the walkthrough (not much anyway) - but here I did not feel the challenges were so great and yet I was dependent on the walkthrough on many occasions; the game seemed to be misdirecting me somehow. Not sure what the problem was, maybe the fault lay with me." - Dick (04-Aug-2020)
"Here is a very satisfactory game. It is all divided in small blocks of quite interesting tasks to perform, some nice and easy, some difficult. The caves' somewhat dark environment is just expected, and I didn't have to use many flares. Weapons, flares and medipacks are fairly provided, some with certain unwelcome surprises...the second time I played this, I chose NOT to pick up one of them. It was never so hard to grasp what Lara had to do in a particular area, but demanded attention and careful thinking, for it was easy to do things in the wrong order. Some objects (a wind patch in particular) are totally unexpected and a pleasurable surprise. The author also had the great kindness of providing some unusual game choices (hard mode or easy mode of a task; return to the beginning of the game, or end it, or go to a lovely, lovely, lovely, bonus area - don't miss this, find all the breakable jars!) There was also provided, but not so clearly indicated (attention to details!), a beautiful secret area where several pickups could be found. In resume, I had great fun playing this level, except for that crazy and long timed run (that I decided to do only once in my life), and simply had to give it full marks. Cheers!" - Josey (24-Jul-2020)
"Another great BtB2020 level, no doubt! Plenty of different and diverse rooms. Plenty of more or less nasty enimies for Lara to fend off. Plenty of a classic and credible storyline. Loved it! I just wish some of the textures and lighting could have been a little more colorful. Nevertheless, it is a jewel of a level! Thank you and congratulations on a great job!" - MigMarado (10-Jul-2020)
"This level didn't quite click with me, although it's obviously very well built. I loved the little touches such as the torch vanishing when it's no longer needed, and boulders crushing either objects or enemies. On the other hand, being ambushed very early on by a giant guardian for simply picking up some shotgun shells felt a bit weird. You'd think these guys would be reserved for the finales, but fear not as there's one (alongside two hammer demigods) in a side adventure you get to experience if you shatter 10 vases across the level. On such technicalities, there were quite a few interesting features at play here, such as a low-gravity jump, some floating rising platforms, the bouncing pad (first time I ever saw it in a TR4 level), among many others. Gameplay is generally speaking rather linear, but I found myself stuck quite a few times not realizing new paths had been open after completing certain areas. Definitely worth checking out, maybe my timing was just poor. 110 minutes, 3 secrets. 06/20" - Treeble (06-Jul-2020)
"Halfway through this level I had my review all mapped out, figuring that with three BtB levels nearly under my belt I finally had a basis for comparison. I was all set to give this one a thumbs down, saying that with all the available tools the builder had elected instead to provide another good but run-of-the-mill underground level with drab appointments and excessive darkness to boost. But about the time we get to that timed torch exercise, things take a definite upward turn. The surroundings become much more pleasing to the eye, the gameplay becomes crisp and engrossing, and I didn't want to see it all come to an end. The icing on the cake is that gorgeous bonus area at the end if you find and shoot 10 vases along the way (and they're hard to miss if you're following Dutchy's walkthrough). This is obviously the work of a seasoned builder, and I'm surprised the scores haven't been higher than they are. My total playing time was just over two hours. High recommendations." - Phil (05-Jul-2020)
"Another fun level with special care towards gameplay and secrets which I am fine with. There are a lot of different tasks, some easier, some harder (the hard version of the excellent last timed run couldn't have been much more tight, while the torch one was very generous). There is clever usage of traps as well as the enemies which are decently used as well. Seldom there is a moment where you don't know what to do next, despite a few parts where you need to stop and think before going on. What I generally disliked was the quite dark lighting and at times flares are not working (too many flames?) or are removed from the inventory (??). The five secrets plus one extra secret are quite hard to find but rewarding, especially the last nice looking village (despite missing lighting) which you get to see if you shoot all the vases. In general the looks are a bit monotonous though, despite occasional highlights, and architecture is not as refined as in some other levels in this contest. Anyway this level is quite enjoyable and I left after 55 mintues with a good impression." - manarch2 (03-Jul-2020)
"This is a very neatly built level, with well used textures and music. The lighting leaves a lot to be desired in many areas, though, as it's simply too dark at times. This disturbs the game flow enormously. The tasks are not really innovative or spectacular, but you have enough to do, also because the level is quite long. You have to shoot down ten vases to get into the bonus level, a beautifully designed Tibetan village, the only real outdoor area. Also worth mentioning is the very tight timerun, which goes over a longer distance. There is a secret room in the game, but it doesn't count as a secret. It's a pity, since I found it." - nad (03-Jul-2020)
"Another surprisingly lengthy level in this superb competition. This particular entry tends to put the sole focus on the gameplay, with the general architecture and texturing being a generally secondary factor. Not that the looks are unappealing, but the room decoration is a bit plain, the textures a bit jarring to the eyes and the lighting tends towards the gloomy side the majority of the time. The gameplay provides a good mixture of tasks that should satisfy every level of raider, with some good uses of elevator platforms, surprisingly challenging traps, utilisation of Lara's ledge jump manoeuvres, a laborious but undoubtedly ingenious pushblock puzzle and a boss fight that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "adrenaline rush". I also liked the way the secret system was set up - being able to access an additional bonus area by shooting 10 vases sporadically scattered around the level. I'd probably be rubbish at the guess the builder competition, but I've certainly got a good idea about this one (and no, I refuse to say in case I'm embarassingly wrong!)." - Ryan (30-Jun-2020)
"Another good and long level to enjoy with a lot of tasks and good features. The timed run in easy mode was ok, but the time for the first trapdoor was too tight. Try to shoot all 10 vases scattered around the level (not difficult to find) or you'll lose a part of the gameplay, with more puzzles, an extra secret and more bosses to shoot. Again, many dark areas without flares to properly explore, well placed cameras and correct use of musics and objects. Good work!" - Jose (28-Jun-2020)
"I did not especially liked the first underground area, but the fun really started for me in the second one and onwards the level is full of activities with rooms containing excellent gameplay : the large room with ledges and the adjacent one with the revolver , or the one with water and ascending/descending platforms. There are some good ideas in some other areas as well ; the level ends with a great timed trapdoor , then a boss. There is some bonus if you find all the optionnal vases to shoot. The setting is solidly made with an emphasize on diagonal walls, it's obvious that the choice of textures was not the builder's first concern and what i liked the less here is the lighting, often in the reddish tones , and anyway the level is not very easy on the eyes. This said , quite an entertaining level." - eRIC (28-Jun-2020)
"I really liked this level's gameplay. Clever use of a wide range of TR tasks including elevator-platforms, boulders that smash object/open trapdoors, reduced gravity etc. Good puzzles. Liked the vase quest and the reward of an extra location to explore. My favourite so far of the 3 levels played in order." - Adrian (26-Jun-2020)
"This is surely one big mixed bag for me; on a positive note, gameplay is generally inventive and fun, and I personally LOVE the trolly level design (for example in the first cave when you pick up the shotgun ammo...); also nice little easter egg if you stand still for a while. There is also a bit more combat if compared to the other entries I played until now, and final optional boss battle was sure fun; found all secrets, and I must say they were all nicely hidden, but I still missed some more enemies here and there; so I decided to reward that category with one more point because I felt a 9 was necessary here. As for the negatives, this sure isn't much of an eye-candy level, with most places designed strongly with gameplay convenience in mind, or looking a bit abrupt and maze-like (without actually any mazes); texturing, while solid and without errors, often looked a bit random and with different materials clashing into eachother, and lighting was mostly using just one orange tone without many shades. However, the final optional area is a different thing: I don't know why, but the mood and polish of that small section is visually far better than the rest of the game in my opinion, texturing and geometry being more worked out and perfected; gameplay here as mentioned was fun too, and a nice reward for finding all vases, with all the random things tossed in here like the Quartz skull existing just for the little flyby it triggers; just a pity the market area didn't really contain anything (at least I think, since there was a gong but I found no gong hammer). All in all a fun gameplay oriented level, that will surely be appreciated by more experienced players who like a bit of trolling in their levels. Good job!" - Topixtor (25-Jun-2020)
"In contrast to the usual Tibet theme, the builder presents an adventure with a warmer feel here. The action begins outside with a brief visit to a lagoon before descending into caverns and catacombs underground. An earthen color palette dominates with browns, tans, oranges, greys and reds with an occasional cooler color thrown in to vary up the atmosphere. The gameplay has a task oriented feel that opens up other tasks for Lara to complete, from lighting braziers to reveal pickups to platforming for the right switches and opening new areas. Spike traps are thrown in to provide some danger, along with the occasional mercenary goon to shoot. There were a few nice platforming elements as well, including an optionally challenging timed run, platforming with rising and lowering platforms, and some use of the jump pad to get up to higher areas. Things come to an end with a Seth battle, and an optional visit to a neat secret village if the ten vases are found and broken. I feel that some more clear direction in the beginning areas would help tighten up the gameplay flow, and maybe finding ways to incorporate cooler colored themes would spice things up too. After a while the level does feel rather monotonous in its setting with many areas having a similar theme to them, though the secret village was a nice aesthetic change that unfortunately came a little too late. This was at times frustrating in the beginning, but once you can work out what needs to be done the game does solidly entertain. Overall I had a good time." - Relic Hunter (21-Jun-2020)
"Good use has been made of Lara’s ‘new moves’ in this lively level. The action takes place mainly indoors so there are few glimpses of snowy mountains, which may well be a preferable visit to Tibet for those with no head for heights. There’s a good mix of gameplay to achieve, with one timed run that I found really tricky, even using the easy option, but it was rather well devised for all that. Enemies are sparingly used and you’ll find more than sufficient pickups to deal with them. Another excellent, entertaining entry in this year’s competition." - Jay (20-Jun-2020)
"Another level suffering from "the lonely yeti" syndrom: one single yeti on the entire level, that just comes out of nowhere, like it's been lost in that cave a long time. And you can kill him from a safe distance, so it really has no point at been there at all. That being said, here we have a level that takes place in several underground caves and temples, with a couple of outdoor areas which were pretty good to look at. This level reflects some nice ideas, like the 10 vases to shoot at and its reward (which I couldn't get because I missed 2 of them), or the opportunity to choose between the easy or the hard way. Those concepts where well accomplished indeed, so gameplay was mostly fun and creative. You get plenty of ammo along the way, but since the boss is invulnerable, there is no point at saving it for the end, so better use it on those gunners. The weakest point to me was the lighting: it was bland and monotonous. And there were parts where it was cut between rooms (it can observed while walking on the tight rope outside). Something I noticed as well was that the items in the inventory had the wrong lighting, they all seemed very greenish and dark, don't know exactly why. Found 1 secret out of 5." - Feder (19-Jun-2020)
"Unfortunately, I ended the level one vase short from being able to visit the village... Well, I did start on the wrong foot with Lara trapped between the water and the starting island but, from then on, everything moved smoothly. Or did it? I can't complain of any lack of difficulty, among so many different kinds of traps and rather puzzling situations. Furthermore, that long timed run is almost sadistic during its first part and I've lost count of how many times I tried it before being able to proceed (in easy mode, yes). The final boss, a demon, isn't actually that difficult if you know what you have to do - which you're not supposed to... I can't remember getting any flares and I thought it was a little scarce on medipacks. This adventure takes place mostly in enclosed spaces and is looks well designed for the most part, even though not eye candy. The atmosphere is ok. And it's really very action-packed. Tough in many ways. Not for the faint of heart. A little overdone? I liked it, but I would have liked it more if I'd managed to visit the village without having to go back to the start of the level and if it were lovely and peaceful." - Jorge22 (19-Jun-2020)
"Really good level! Gameplay was mostly located in undergrounds but we also explore some open locations. There were many traps and nice puzzles, I really liked it. And I love how author give us secret village when we shoot 10 vases! Great Idea! This secret Village was really beautiful and we also have something to do in it. Secrets were ingenious hidden. Athmosphere and lighting was great but sometime a bit monotouns. I also very liked the idea of giving a hard or easy time trial version! I picked hard version :) The textures was good placed. I got 3/5 secrets and finished level in 1 hour 48 minutes. Reccomend, thanks!" - BlackWolfTR (16-Jun-2020)