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Castle of the Moon by Astraf

Cruzader 6 7 9 9
DJ Full 5 6 9 9
eRIC 6 7 10 8
Jay 7 7 10 9
JesseG 6 7 9 8
Jorge22 7 7 9 8
Jose 6 7 7 9
Lizard Queen 7 10 10 10
MichaelP 6 6 9 8
Mister-B 6 7 9 9
nerdfury 5 7 9 8
Orbit Dream 7 7 9 10
Phil 7 8 8 7
Ryan 7 7 9 9
Sethian 6 7 8 9
Wolf7 7 7 10 10
release date: 13-Jul-2020
# of downloads: 124

average rating: 7.80
review count: 16
review this level

file size: 39.60 MB
file type: TR4
class: Young Lara

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"A rather short - 20-30 minutes - adventure, in which you explore a moonlit castle, so indeed, a very aptly titled level ;) From the start I thought the level had some nice GMac vibes to it, but the style is still a bit different along the way. Quite an amount of backtracking needed here, as you do have to repeat a number of trips several times, but given the map is very small it really is not too bad in the end. Atmosphere is the highlight and works very well all the way up to the beautiful scenery at the very end. Had not come across the use of a bull in a while now, so that was also a nice surprise." - MichaelP (14-Mar-2024)
"One of the most misleading puzzle designs ever - unbelievable, but you will probably need a walkthrough for this otherwise 12-minute level. A pity, because the atmosphere is very good." - DJ Full (14-May-2023)
"(5) Gameplay & Puzzles: This is an easy adventure that took me about 20 minutes. The vast majority of the gameplay is exploring a castle (including plenty of backtracking), with some basic platforming here and there. Unfortunately there are no real puzzles. There are 2 specific gameplay tasks that do not make sense to me, and contributed to an illogical gameplay flow: A) There are 2 tiles that have a special texture which indicate that the bull needs to ram them. However only one of these tiles is real. Why not just apply a regular texture to the other tile, then? B) Later in the game, there are some wooden bars, and they are all evenly spaced apart. Lara can only squeeze between 2 specific wooden bars, and not the other ones. This is very player unfriendly and can cause the player to be running around in circles, confused, if the player happens to attempt to squeeze between the "wrong" wooden bars. (7) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: There's only one enemy, a bull. The static decor objects are very well applied, however the trap design is pretty lackluster. There's only one trap -- a rolling ball, in a sloped hallway, and the player will likely have seen this setup many times before in other TRLEs. Unfortunately there are no secrets. (9) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The atmosphere, castle architecture and sense of place is absolutely stunning. I was very impressed by this, and how the builder intertwines all of the castle rooms. The ambient background music is excellent as well; subtle and eerie, without being overpowering or distracting. I think cameras needed just a bit more work; there are no flybys to build immersion (except for a brief ending flyby) and there are a couple of missing static camera hints when using levers. (8) Lighting & Textures: Both the lighting and texturing is of a very high standard, although there very occasionally is a misshapen texture or a wallpapered area. I think the builder did a wonderful job with adding pops of red lighting, which contrasts well against the predominantly dark blue color scheme. Unfortunately it's a very dark level and the player can't use flares. Considering this, I think this category would have been better if the builder had included more "warm spots" to act as a balance against the pervasive darkness. Overall, I would summarize this level as "backtracking through a beautiful castle, while dodging one bull and one rolling ball". The level is memorable in terms of atmosphere, but not gameplay. 5/7/9/8." - nerdfury (14-Sep-2021)
"Not very entertaining this level, only if you like the exploration through nice areas, the castle is very well builded, textures are well applied and the selected objects well placed. But few more. I suffered a lot of backtracking after pulling switches or finding keys and usually there's not a camera to show you where to go or what to do so you need to figure out the place where the triggered object is. There are enough medipacks scattered all around just in case you get problems with the bull, and I was stucked only 'cause I never imagine I could go through the big metal bars. A pleasant level with young Lara, enjoyable anyway." - Jose (15-Oct-2020)
"A short, yet visually lovely level (at least, some of the sceneries, with a special emphasis on the water and its reflections and the moon), starring Young Lara, no weapons and no flares. I found the gameplay less special, but not on account of Lara having to pass through some bars - I found that acceptable and not at all shocking. On the other hand, when you think of TR4's bull kind of AI, it seemed to me that the mosaics it needed to smash could have been better placed. Sort of relaxing." - Jorge22 (28-Aug-2020)
"A short but very atmospheric level. This TRLE had a relaxing yet mysterious and eerie vibe to it, very cool. The small castle looks calm, a little spooky yet inviting. I did get stuck a few times in this level however it was only once that I believe it was just bad design, specifically there is a point where there are some bars similar to some prison bars, and it looks like you can't get through them however you actually can squeeze through 2 of them even though visually it looks impossible, so that was bad but otherwise it was quite an enjoyable albeit simple level without any puzzle set pieces to speak of. It took me 30 minutes to complete however if you don't get stuck like I did, you can probably finish this one in half the time." - Cruzader (25-Aug-2020)
"An interesting, albeit short, level. I really liked the scenery created by the author, with a good atmosphere. The gameplay is very simple, and even a little uninteresting at certain times. Textures and lights are well placed by the author. An interesting level that I suggest to the author to continue and expand, adding more diversity to gameplay. 20 minutes." - Mister-B (24-Aug-2020)
"The builder’s readme states that he wanted to build a short, relaxing level and I think he’s succeeded rather well. The soothing background music and the beautiful moonlight on the water are most effective and the enemy action – a wraith and that stupid bull – plus the really rather gentle boulder trap all put me in mind of the content warning at the beginning of some TV programmes “contains mild peril”. Frankly, mild peril has always been my favourite! I think this would be an extremely suitable level for a young, would-be raider to try. Charming." - Jay (22-Aug-2020)
"I think this is actually quite a special level, and actually the first of Astraf’s I played. I enjoyed it a lot and so decided to play his other stuff, before replaying and reviewing this one. It’s a short and sweet level, but in many ways actually his best work so far. I happen to like Young Lara levels quite a lot (unlike most people) and think they can be great when done right. Astraf has managed this here, for the most part, and that clearly shows how much he has grown as a builder.

Puzzles and Gameplay are quite simple, however there are some cool twists here but also some problems. One thing that is great about this simple level’s design is that you’ll be entering the castle and some of the areas within via a more ‘Tomb Raider-y’ approach – climbing, jumping, swimming – rather then just finding an easy switch that opens the door. Once you are inside an area that you climbed into however, you then find a switch by the door that was initially baring your way, and can now open that door from within to make for easier back-tracking later. I think this is a very cool structural concept that is often over-looked.

A downside to the puzzles this level offers is the Sphinx- Bull we have to deal with. In a sense, this big guy is perfect for a Young Lara level, since he cannot be killed and we need to keep him alive to solve a puzzle, so it doesn’t matter that our girl doesn’t have guns. However, I think the author should’ve created the room in which we need to use him as a larger ‘arena’, because it becomes very difficult to align him properly so that he smashes into the switches he is meant to smash into. A major problem with this is also that only one of those switches actually gets triggered, but the player does not know this, so it appears buggy. One ends up spending a lot of time trying to get the bull to properly hit that other switch, and he just will not… so one thinks that one needs to keep trying until the bull hits hard enough, but after a while one just realizes that the author must’ve not set up a correct trigger for this. This was really the only major downside to the gameplay experience.

Within that very same room there is also an easy to miss area we are meant to climb up on: some grassy slopes that lead us, via jumping, to another area of the castle. The reason why it’s easy to miss is simply because it’s dark and we don’t have much time to study and examine these slopes because our friend the bull is banging around. Also, with how some of the switches leading into this room are setup, we are led to believe we can lock the bull away in here once he has served his purpose… but no, you are meant to traverse through here again and head up those slopes. I guess I simply wasn’t thorough enough and so I was stuck for a while wondering how to progress in this castle when it seemed like I had done everything I could. Once you get up those slopes to another level, you’ll dive into a pool who’s current will drag you along until you drop out of a waterfall… or will you? There’s a bit of an odd structural bug here that if you don’t have Lara swim just right, she will get stuck dropping out of the waterfall, forever banging her head against the ceiling. Re-loading was the only fix I found for this.

Since Young Lara has no weapons, luckily there are no major enemies. The bull already mentioned is more part of a puzzle, and only really a threat because you’ll keep letting him smash into Lara in an attempt to try to trigger those difficult to trigger switches. What is interesting visually is that the author has surrounded this castle with small ram statues that seem to guard the perimeter as decoration, and then within you encounter this actual ram- horned-Sphinx-bull. A nice detail that is easily overlooked and perhaps part of the inconspicuous story? That aside, a wraith triggers at one point, and out running it until you find a pool of water to jump into in order to neutralize it is really the only major hazard you have to deal with.

The objects used generally seem to fit together, and the author tries to not make it too obvious that all these objects have been stolen from Egypt. There are some badly rotated flame emitters that don’t match up with the chandelier they are used for, and there are some bars that are meant to keep you out of an alcove but then it turns out you can actually pass between them right in the middle, which again is a bit of an obscure gameplay setup. Other than that, everything does seem to fit together and form a cohesive whole, and as already mentioned I was a big fan of the authors use of switches and doors that open once you’ve made it inside an area. There are sadly no Secrets, which is a shame because this level definitely made me want to explore and discover more.

There was only one other issue concerning some cameras: at one point I flicked a switch that showed me a door opening in an area I hadn’t found yet (due to those grassy slopes I missed!). The problem is this area looked bland and almost exactly like all the other blueish-dark-areas-with-doors I had explored… so I started running around confused and backtracking to every single area I had been in to figure out what on earth this camera showed me. In future I’d suggest marking out these areas or doors with textures or objects so that players know which part of the castle you’re showing us and whether we’ve been there yet. There’s another switch we reach underwater that didn’t have a camera linked to it, so I had no clue what it did, but luckily there was only one closed underwater door left in the map that I could recall so it wasn’t too hard to find. Still, a camera showing this would’ve been helpful.

Now on to the best part of the level: the atmosphere and the music. This is the major selling point, and it’s enhanced by the good textures used, the dark lighting, and the quite beautiful horizon with the full moon. In fact, that horizon does half the level’s work, and perhaps without it the level would barely stand out. I personally thought the color combination of the harsh demonic-red of the windows and lamps throughout the castle was a bit of an extreme contrast to the relaxing blue/purple ambience of the environment. Moving past that though, this level truly has a wonderful atmosphere and since the author said he wanted to create something ‘mystical’ and ‘relaxing’ I think it’s safe to say he succeeded in every way. The ambient music used is also spell-binding, and because of it I really wanted the level to keep going.

Sure, it is dark. And my one suggestion for Astraf would be: it’s clear you played around with a custom engine for this (TREP or TRNG) as shown by the edited health/air/loading bars. So why not go an extra step and give Young Lara flares and binoculars? I’m sure a lot of people will not enjoy this level simply because they like to have flares and binoculars to light up dark areas, and Young Lara is normally limited with this. But with these new engine patchers, this is an easy fix. The darkness of the level did not bother me, I thought it was just right. But it would’ve been nice on occasion to maybe light a flare and it also would’ve given you a chance to have extra pickup items in the map, rather than just medipacks. Again, all that aside, I really enjoyed almost every minute of this level, and look forward to seeing what you make next. To be honest, I’d say you should make more dark haunted castle Young Lara levels. Regardless, great job and more please!" - Sethian (13-Aug-2020)
"I saw that Astraf was building quite a few levels these days and I was in need of a break from some of the hard core levels out there, so here I am. What I liked about this level: 1) Few enemies which goes without saying for most Young Lara levels but I still like to reward level builders that don’t use too many enemies regardless. 2) The Moon and the distant light reflecting off the shimmering sea was a wow moment for me proving that you don’t have to have super lagging graphics to portray a wonderful horizon effect. 3) The vivid colours of the lights glowing thru stained glass windows against the darkness of the moonlight were so beautiful up top in the cathedral. 4) The ambient music was so beautiful and peaceful… just perfect for a level of quiet and relatively uninterrupted exploration. What I didn’t like: Nothing! Everything that was expected from a simple, beautiful, quiet Young Lara level is here. Conclusion: I really enjoyed playing this lovely well built level. Very suitable for beginners or average players." - Lizard Queen (11-Aug-2020)
"The title has a charming ring, but the magic faded for me fairly early. I always view Young Lara levels with a jaundiced eye, not only because of a lack of weapons (although with no enemies other than a wraith that's no problem here, and a bull that I consider a deadly partner rather than an enemy) but because the lack of flares leaves the player at the builder's mercy in the lighting department. And make no mistake about it, despite the huge full moon that graces the many outdoor excursions this is a dark level. The darkness is not my major complaint, however. What got on my nerves after a while was the constant backtracking, even as shortcut doors were being opened periodically to lessen the burden. What we're left with is a rather short raid which the glitch-free video covered in less than 12 minutes. I took quite a bit longer than that, as I was writing a walkthrough along the way, and despite the shortcomings mentioned above I did enjoy exploring the castle and engaging in a short bull fight along the way. A relatively stress-free diversion from the crop of current BtB levels." - Phil (08-Aug-2020)
"Not being one to rave about Young Lara's exploits, I was actually really pleasantly surprised by this one. The gameplay, of necessity, doesn't pose too much of a challenge and is a little light on puzzles (although it personally took me quite a while to get that damn bull to cooperate fully, and the exploration factor is incredibly well handled and could potentially take quite a while). Aside from that little downside (and the unfortunately rather short duration of half and hour), this adventure does what it sets out to do really well. The atmosphere is sublime, the audio is haunting yet also relaxing, the textures and construction are spot on and it does at least entertain well enough for its duration, so I can definitely recommend it." - Ryan (07-Aug-2020)
"The only reason i don't rate higher is the shortness of the level. With young Lara and only 2 enemies , this raid where every thing works and makes sense hasn't any flaw. The gameplay seems quite simple but chance is that there is the possibilty of misdirection but in the good sense of the term. Not a difficult level though. Objects , texturing , lighting are good and atmosphere is excellent and could not be any better, almost dream like and relaxing." - eRIC (27-Jul-2020)
"An absolutely amazing piece of art this custom was for me, this author really nailed a relaxed atmosphere for literally almost 20 minutes of gameplay. Somehow this feels like a demo to a bigger game, and I am wishing for that, because it is just wonderful the whole atmosphere and texturing but the game is really short and almost, and say almost, gameplay less, apart from an interesting rolling ball and an extremely tedious bull sequence. Literally 20 minutes where your eyes will be blessed by beauty, does not require too much time, you might invest it into this, what do you think? Wolfy Regards." - Wolf7 (20-Jul-2020)
"A brief young Lara level with relatively straightforward travel from switch to switch. There are few threats here, including a single boulder, and a bull to push some buttons for you. The layout makes this a bit tricky to survive, but after jumping straight up at the right time I got through. I have a huge issue with a certain gate made of bars, for some reason Lara can walk between two of the bars, but not between any of the others, which is not very player friendly. I would've never guessed it was possible without watching a video walkthrough. The castle has a nice and compact structure, with return routes opening up for you automatically to reduce backtracking. The level is just a little too dark for me, considering you cannot use flares, but not to an unplayable degree. Other than that the texturing and lighting is quite good. Overall, a good choice if you are in the mood for a short trip to explore a spooky castle. 32 minutes." - JesseG (19-Jul-2020)
"This is one of those deceptively simple levels which a player could charge through in a matter of minutes,provided they knew where to go and what to do.Without that foreknowledge,however,it becomes a quite different matter;and I spent the best part of fifty minutes exploring. It was time well spent,as this small adventure has been beautifully presented.The texturing and lighting is immaculate and creative;the construction,solid;the use of objects and enemies is imaginative and never too excessive - although I felt that the simultaneous implementation of the only two enemies in the level was a little cheeky.Being a Young Lara adventure there's no combat,and exploration therefore becomes the order of the day - and this is highly immersive,if a little vague at times (that seemingly inevitable,and infuriatingly unhelpful,camera shot of a door opening in a room we haven't been allowed to visit yet and therefore didn't know existed). Puzzles are generally absent (but the amount of diligent searching somewhat offsets the need for many of these);while sounds are evocatively handled. Bonus points are awarded for the tasteful choice of the background diorama,which beautifully enhances the location. Overall,an immersive and atmospheric little adventure;which everyone should experience." - Orbit Dream (14-Jul-2020)