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Without a Paddle by Tombraider95

Adrian 10 10 10 10
billie2001 9 10 10 10
DJ Full 10 10 10 10
Feats 9 10 10 9
Jorge22 9 10 10 10
Kubsy 9 10 10 10
Leoc1995 9 9 10 8
manarch2 8 8 10 9
Mman 9 10 10 10
Phil 9 10 10 10
Raider278 10 10 10 10
requiemsoul 9 9 10 9
Ryan 9 10 10 10
Samu 9 10 10 10
TimJ 9 10 10 10
Torry 9 10 10 9
release date: 12-Jul-2022
# of downloads: 156

average rating: 9.63
review count: 16
review this level

file size: 168.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: Egypt

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"This was apparently a belated Create A Classic entry, and mixes various Tomb Raider 4 Egypt textures in a way that creates a Madubu Gorge type canyon. It's a beautiful setting with some vast views over large waterfall valleys, and the interiors are also are good looking with some giant structures. Later on it gets a bit gloomier but also a creates a great darker atmosphere with rainy night settings. A range of objects are also used and in creative ways, including some new ones like a makeover for the TR1 Mummies. A couple of interior almost seems a little too dark (not counting the couple where it's intentional), but there were enough flares that it wasn't really an issue.

The big thing this set is built around is the TR3 path split concept; there are two main ways you are given near the start, and there's actually a further split due to a Senet game with different outcomes depending on if you win or lose (although it's more of a switchover). So you have to play part of it twice to get the full experience. Both ways are fully featured and don't feel neglected, although the mixed path does lead to experiencing the most overall, as well as being the only way to get a secret ending. There are four levels, but the overall progression is linear, with map two and three having most of the path splitting. The Kayak is also a big feature here, although it's actually optional on one path, and it's used well, although it's still the Kayak so it's pretty clunky at times. There's quite a bit of the combat too, especially on the no Kayak path, and there's some tricky fights with Mummies in confined areas, and some nice twists on boss fights later, although you get plenty of higher tier weapons to fight back later (although I apparently missed the Shotgun near the start which made some earlier fights tougher than was presumably intended).
It's overall quite difficult, with lots of platforming over deadly rapids whatever path you take, plenty of traps (including some new dangers for the Kayak) and some quite elaborate use of the "timed ledge switching" concept. The secrets are mostly golden skulls which vary from being a little off the path to more elaborate, including the clever touch of making twelve collectable whatever path you take, but, as I mentioned, there's an "optimal" path where you can get two parts of a key for a bonus at the end (although it's small enough that it's probably not worth playing through the whole thing again just to get it). An excellent release that would easily be one of the top levels for Create A Classic if it had come out for that, although I feel slightly mixed on how much the path split adds when I think about how some elaborate areas go by fast or are missing if you only go one way." - Mman (26-Jul-2023)
"one of the best TRLEs i played so far, maybe the best, this is a masterpiece, leveldesign is a 10/10, also the atmosphere, and without a doubt the best egypt level i have ever played in Tomb raider. more of this please!" - Raider278 (29-Jun-2023)
"An amazing level. The settings are amazing and beautiful with many "wow" moments. The gameplay is very entertaining and goes from less to more, but I miss more puzzles. Secrets are challenging. And there's plenty of action. A very complete and very replayable level. Highly recommended and deserving of the Hall of Fame." - requiemsoul (23-Nov-2022)
"This is an extremely difficult and lengthy level set that had me at the keyboard for a good two weeks but is utterly impossible to navigate without referring to a walk through, either written or video. Right at the start of the first level there is a timed sequence that you really have no clue how to negotiate without the aid of a good walk through. Some better cut scenes would have been helpful here to at least point the raider in the right direction. The Kayak was fun and not too difficult in level two. Level three Damage Control had a lot of difficult platforming to negotiate and some routes were repeated ad infinitum. The last level was a Floating Islands scenario with lots of difficult platforming sequences coupled with traps and volatile enemies and really becomes strenuous. At one point I could have snapped a pen with my butt hole I was so stressed out. Really? Why make these so difficult? Lighting was generally ok but the cave and underground passages were way too dark necessitating the constant use of flares just to see where you were going. Secrets were plentiful and some you would simply stumble across but there were no reward for these, just a golden skull. Could not extra ammo or health packs have been added to the secret rewarding the player for the time and trouble in finding them? In my opinion it was a senseless exercise so I stopped looking for them altogether. Because of the difficulty and lighting issues I have deducted one point off gameplay and one point off lighting but other than that this was a masterful effort by Tombraider95 and I thank you for this. Like I said, it took me away from the real world for a good two weeks." - Torry (07-Sep-2022)
"What a fantastic level set! Great puzzles, which I thought were fair. The first pair of switches that 1 reviewer said was trial and error - wasn't random...if only that reviewer had looked up and seen the pretty clear clue... Superb landscaping and waterfall settings (loved the pyramid and detail given to areas in the background that weren't part of the actual progression path). Nice reuse of areas when water changed to sand. I don't mind having a challenging vehicle and terrain (water) to negotiate- leads to a nice sense of achievement when completed. Secrets were sometimes easy and other times quite tricky which means some should be found by everyone. The multipath design was ingenious and I had fun trying them all out...though I have to admit not to using the Save Crystal version. Yet another great effort by Bradley." - Adrian (02-Sep-2022)
"What a blast it was and what a throw-back to TR3 pacific and its damn kayak! Tombraider95 has offered us a great level that come close to perfection. The first thing you will notice is the return of the classic "circle" menu and added reverb sound effects that just show how much attention to details the builder has given. However, gameplay is not always perfect and the accumulation of some minor weak points make me refrain from giving a full 10 to this otherwise brilliant masterpiece.
As an example, the very first pair of switches your encounter right at the beginning is trial&error based with one being a deadly trap and the other not. Replaying this section to write the review, I realised the deadly one had red textures on both side. I've done the same thing in the past, but I don't think colour-based guesses are a good design, notably because some players could be colour-blind. Another trial&error switch room involved a deadly beetle hordes and fortunately I didn't play with save crystal, I could load immediatly after having released this plague. The pushable mirrors puzzle lacked a clue in my opinion, like active beams to indicate to the player they should move the mirrors to face the center. With the experienced raider logic it was still easy to guess, but I moved the mirrors thinking I would need to find a switch to activate the beams before it would do anything. I was quite surprised to find that this was actually the next step necessary to proceed. The torch timed run was a bit convoluted as the torch need to be well placed and the player need to know that the torch is necessary. This timed run was generous though and that's appreciable.
Surprisingly, almost every weapon was right on the path of the player except for the shotgun that was on the side of the first main building and I managed to miss it. I believe that once a weapon is supposed to have been found, it's not a bad idea to provide it again later on in case the player forgot to pick it up the first time. Otherwise, it was a nice idea to have each weapon be found on a different path.

The overall difficulty range from medium to challenging, but some points deserve criticism. The rope jump in the library was unfortunately unnecessarily hard. I needed to check a video to see how it should be done and I really think it comes to jumping at the wrong time and having a physics glitch happening. That kind of levels that aim to be callbacks to classic Tomb Raider shouldn't rely on glitches and stay accessible to the widest range of players possible in my opinion. At one point I also relied on a walk-running jump to escape a series of trap and I don't think those moves have their place in a level that isn't obviously advertised for expert raiders looking for a very hard challenge.
The controls of the kayak were as random as ever and avoiding fire traps and syphons, if enjoyable at first, becomes very tedious and boring once you're past your tenth try. At one point Lara falls in a big sink and is welcomed by two fire traps in her back. The construction of the level here isn't made to help the player understand and come up with a strategy to avoid the traps, but seem based on random chance with the timer of the traps. Those fire traps were even synchronised in such a way that one would turn on just when the other turned off and I had to rush in between the two when luck would let me have half a second. Then there is a huge chasm the player need to jump over, but for that important speed is needed. Unfortunately, the current are so strong that it's nearly impossible to go back and have enough distance to gather momentum. Then I got stuck before the grates of a huge skull and needed a few minutes to get out of this annoyance. The builder has unfortunately not improved upon the experience of the kayak from TR3 but rather made it even worse. I really think that weaker currents wouldn't have changed the flavour of the level but would have made for a better experience. The end of the level was surprisingly much more enjoyable than the beginning. The two rooms for the blue gems with the demigod mini-boss and the other one with the blinking tiles were admirably crafted, as well as the boss level.

Regarding the objects, there is a lot that we can appreciate. The ancient scroll was for example very well written and was a good way to involve the player in the plot. The secrets were all appropriately placed without being insanely hard. I really loved the first one of the second level (East path) that was hidden in plain sight. Some were surprisingly even easier to find than the correct path. The hidden lever for the second door in the very first temple could have been a good secret as I missed it for a good five-ten minutes. And why was the music scroll a secret? I thought it was the continuation of the level! Enemies are generally well used with tough combat (ammo is sometimes scarce) and sometimes good scare moments. For example, I had a dog creep up behind my back in the library. I don't know if the fact that it didn't jump on me was on purpose or a bug of the AI, but I thought it to be even more scary like this. The added animations were a really nice touch, but forcing Lara to climb without jumping became a hindrance with time. On the other hand, I really appreciated the fact that she could still run smoothly after a slide. And it was really cool to see the skeleton ghosts from TR5!
The atmosphere of the entire level is just perfect and the "classic" feeling of Tomb Raider accompany the player from beginning to end, with beautiful cutscenes. I particularly liked the one after picking up the hourglass and that one at the very end for the alternate ending. It's the first level I play with the diagonal steps and wall that the new editor allows and I found the way the builder used this function to add quite a lot of charm to the architecture, even though they were quite buggy at times. The diagonal walls made some ennemies (notably the TR1 mummies) behave weirdly and become stuck in their pathfinding. Putting some "box" squares on the diagonal could have prevented that maybe? I loved the fact that we see huge pyramids in the distance throughout the whole adventure. As I already said, I loved the care put to the sound effects: for example you can hear the rain hitting the rocks while inside corridors and the sound of the blinking tiles was well chosen. There also was a good use of the entirety of the TR4 background audio catalog.
The different environments from TR4 and their textures were quite nicely mixed. The library and catacombs objects did not feel out of place at all. I've found the levels to be beautifully textured and lit, although quite dark at times. A few more flares or a longer burning times for those would have been a good addition. But overall it's just wonder to the eyes, with astonishing environments.

To conclude, the difficulty is medium-challenging and really enjoyable except for a few exceptions relying on pure luck or glitches and that's unfortunate. I find it both surprising and disappointing that the game and the author in his readme pushes the player to take the kayak path (East) and that this path doesn't lead to the reward that is the alternate ending. You need both to take the path of the frail AND to lose at the game of Senet. Why? It would have made more sense to reward the strong winners! The way all parts of the level are built in an intricate way with all paths crossing each others several times is really noteworthy and admirable. I'm also impressed to see that the builder managed to have both a functioning kayak and Senet game, as well as several other additions from other Tomb Raiders. Heavily recommended." - TimJ (04-Aug-2022)
"This one has it all! Spectacular environments and a very good gameplay consisting of a well balanced mix of platforming (tricky at times), puzzles, traps, timed sequences and whatnot. I also liked the idea to choose between different paths (kayak or dry path and winning or loosing the Senet game), which gives it a replay value. Each route gives you 12 secrets (but different weapons) and some combination of paths/outcomes leads to a secret ending and a 13th secret. I took the dry path (not a kayak fan) and won the Senet game, this combination didn't give me the secret ending but I still ended up with 13/12 secrets! I guess I must have managed to steel a secret meant for a different path. lol The overall difficulty is medium but each path has at least one challenging moment. Mine was a very hard to avoid boulder. Excellent game which I very heartily recommend and one of the few that I will definitely revisit." - billie2001 (04-Aug-2022)
"This is my second review of the same level... Sorry. At first, I was bewildered to find out I couldn't end the game because I had missed one of two broken pieces along the way. I was led to believe that by the bits and pieces I saw on walkthroughs. Alas, I was very wrong, and there's indeed a different ending if you don't have both broken pieces, just like there are two possible paths. So, what can I say? This is really good material, but you have to be aware there are two distinct possible endings before you start, so that your possible confusion doesn't match my first (wrong) impressions. Having said all that, I found the game excellent texture, settings and atmosphere wise. I must thank the existing walkthrough makers for helping here and there along a not necessarily very clear pathway, even though I wish it had been possible to understand there were both endings without having to watch the entirety of the walkthroughs. Some of the trap sequences were really tough (the moving platform area, for instance), but rewarding once completed. The skull secrets were nice. There were perfectly enough guns and ammo to deal with all the baddies, especially the Atlantean mutants. My favourite areas were the River Rapids (for the great looks of it) and Realm of the Duat (for the interesting, and still very much doable pathway). The Senet game was a top spot, and I won. Not exactly simple, but highly recommended." - Jorge22 (02-Aug-2022)
"A great raid. I'm not at all a fan of the dividing paths but it was interesting to see different ways across the map that partly join or are very close to each other. The only thing that disappointed me was that the secret ending could only be attained by following a very specific route, if you don't wish to play everything (even the double parts) you won't reach that one. Perhaps two characters following all those different routes could be used to avoid this split? The plain gameplay is mostly quite enjoyable, with a good mix of puzzles, traps and in one route the kayak adventure, plus some tricky alternating platforming sequence in between. Sometimes things felt a little weaker, e.g. in the lost library part with some tedious backtracking and if you just play one route, some areas felt a little underused. On the other side the finale in the floating island setting was a quite worthy conclusion. Secrets in both routes are well hidden, enemies are quite nasty at times (especially towards the end) but rightfully so. The atmosphere is well done and especially the large outside areas are spectacular, with musics and cameras being perfectly used as well. The texturing and lighting are also quite good but the lighting is not that perfect, several areas could have benefited from more contrast, which also affects the smoothness of the gameplay progression at times. On the whole, a very nice game and despite some issues warmly recommended. Took me 1:25 hours on the longest route." - manarch2 (31-Jul-2022)
"Ever since some screenshots of this level surfaced on the forums during last year's CAC, I've been impressed and excited by the quality of the design for an Egypt-themed level. Unfortunately it was not released in that CAC, but it would enter my Top3 if it were there. This is a very well-built set of levels, with very well-designed rooms and gameplay that evolves correctly over time. As mentioned in the level's story, we have two paths to choose from if we want to play with or without Kayak. I played both ways to be able to say that I played this level completely, and the first time I played the Kayak way, which is shorter but has its difficulties and peculiarities. I can say that almost everything on this level is perfect, with enough varied gameplay and puzzles,but some points ended up “hurting” my gameplay so I can’t say it's a 10/10. As I'm also a level builder, I follow the premise that “the main lighting should always be directed towards the player's destination”, even as a way of not hiding and cluttering the player during the level. At level 3, near the end, we have two paths to follow to collect two gems that open the main door. On the right path I noticed a very interesting and dynamic gameplay, but on the left there are some negative points in my perception, specifically regarding the premise I mentioned. Right at the start there are some platforms where the player explores but doesn't see progress, and I had to resort to external help to know that there is, on the right side, a dark place where Lara must jump and grab to do shimmy. The same occurs further on, where there are bells hidden in another room for Lara to fire and which can only be discovered by trial and error (shooting everywhere). I believe that lighting in the room where the bells are would solve this problem and it could have been identified in the betatest stages, but it's an element that ended up going unnoticed (just like the bells are unnoticed in the game XD). These are small details that I think would bring even more "sparkle" (pardon the pun) to this excellent custom level. Specifically about Kayak, it was interesting and sometimes stressful (almost a rage quit), but that's because of the player's lack of skill when driving the ""Everyone's favorite vehicle"", as said by the author of the level. The final battle, despite some difficulties, is exceptional in my opinion (since I have a project in progress with a similar boss fight, but for now without the same quality as this level). In summary, I can say that it is a recommended level for everyone who expects a quality Egyptian adventure, with good puzzles, gameplay and some small slips that may not be noticeable to all players. I congratulate the author for the release of another excellent custom level. I finished the level (first gameplay on the Kayak route) in 2 hours and 47 minutes, finding only 2 secrets. My rating is 9/9/10/8." - Leoc1995 (28-Jul-2022)
"I went into this TRLE hearing good things and I wasn't disappointed! The levels looked amazing and played just as well! The puzzles were challenging but not too obtuse, just how I like them, and for the most part I had a blast playing through the level set. There were a couple of flashpoints of frustration for me, the timed run in the first level but that was mainly down to my own inadequacies... Also the "Kayak Jump" I still have no idea how I made it past that bit even now! Both those sequences took many attempts to get through... Only other nitpick I have was it was a little too dark for my liking but luckily ample flares were provided although I nearly ran out at one point in the middle of the level set. Other than that I had a good time playing this TRLE and look forward to the next release from the builder. TR2 Revised Part 2 maybe? :P" - Feats (25-Jul-2022)
"Wow, what an experience. Let it go on record that I'm reviewing this levelset after following one of the numerous routes on offer. There are numerous ways to traverse this game and mine is just one of them. Really the only drawback is that due to there being different ways through, you inevitably have to forego some of the raiding on offer in the other routes, unless you replay afterwards to cover what you missed. I may go back and do that some time down the line, when I have more time to devote to longer games. But suffice to say that there's enough varied gameplay here to keep you entertained, including the return of the kayak and the Senet game. Recommended." - Ryan (25-Jul-2022)
"This is the most ambitious level I've played in many a moon, and it undoubtedly required months of painstaking craftsmanship. Even though it comes with four separately named subparts, the builder considers it as a single level. Perhaps its biggest drawback is the feature that allows the player to choose from several alternate paths, and unless you know this fact up front and where the paths diverge (and meet), you can be robbed of a substantial portion of the gaming experience while yet being able to reach the finish line. While writing the walkthrough I had to scratch my head a number of times trying to figure out how best to document the varying paths, so as to enable the player to sample them all if desired. Hopefully the finished product bears some semblance of intelligibility. As for the game itself, I would place it in the "challenging" category. I didn't make a count, but during the course of the walkthrough I probably said "save your game" at least 30 times. Some of the jumps and traps were quite difficult, requiring a number of tries, although I was always able to progress without the assistance of someone else's savegame. The glitch-free videos covered about two and a half hours, and my time while playing and writing was twice that, so I would definitely call it a "long" level. The confusion aside, it's quite immersive (my dictionary and spell checker both tell me that's not a recognized word) and fun to play, and of course I took great pains to experience every single nook and cranny. This is one of several instances where a builder unable to meet the deadline of an organized competition nevertheless stuck with his game plan later to give the raiding community a gem long to be remembered. High recommendations." - Phil (24-Jul-2022)
"Tomb Raider Without A Paddle Note: I was a tester of this level hence very early review :) Wow, another level which was supposed to be an entry to last year's Cac; this time it's from Bradley! After his last extremely successful level (Tomb Raider: Biohazard), I knew I was going to try his next level and I was of course not disappointed. Gameplay The gameplay throughout the level consists of visiting some temples and buildings such as the Lost Library style room or even completing some puzzles like the Senet Game spoiler note: I took the kayak path and I didn't go through the Senet game as it is for the other path). The game also consists of lots of platforming and navigating with Kayak if you choose Kayak of course. The platforming is nice (especially the flipmap change in platforms) and puzzles here are also good. Though I felt like some sections felt short, I would love to have the Lost Library be slightly longer. I thought that the puzzle in the temple (where you enter in the 3rd level) was a little bit vague and had to step on the tiles to know what to do. I was given a alphabet paper but that still didn't really tell me what to do, so I had to ask the author to help me slightly. But other than that the gameplay felt smooth and wasn't very repetitive. Atmosphere & Room structure The atmosphere is fantastic and realistic, you have opened areas with different caves and temples, and the kayak river which resembled TR3 Madubu Gorge with traps etc. The room structure if of course great, none of the areas felt too small nor large nor boxy. The outdoor areas is beautiful and also the pyramids in the background are really great addition to the environment. The flipmap change from day to night is also really cool, I liked it. No complains here. Lighting and textures The lighting feels warm, welcoming and natural, greatly represents how it would look like in Egypt. There weren't any flat spots or anything. Texture placement is also great. There's a good usage of TR4 egypt textures throughtout the game. Again no complains Summary This is another excellent 4-parter TRLE level by Bradley, his levels are always high- quality, and we all know that we will not be disappointed with his releases. This level of course resembles the classic formula, if it was released for that competition, it would no doubt be in the in the Top 5. Wholeheartedly recommended and I am keenly waiting on his next releases. pros - Great gameplay - Great environment, both outdoors and indoors - Not too difficult nor too easy - Love the change between day and night. - great lighting Things I missed - Lost Library to be slightly longer :p Neutral - When you choose a path, you will be able to pickup one of the weapons: Desert Eagle or Rocket Launcher. Because I chose the kayak path, I got the rocket launcher only. I am not sure if I like this mechanic because I found the rocket launcher to be needless in the later parts of the game cons - slightly vague puzzle in the 3rd level" - Kubsy (15-Jul-2022)
"What a blast this level was. If you have played anything from the author, you can probably already guess that this level is highly immersive and entertaining in all aspects. Early in the game you get to choose between two distinct paths, the one involving a kayak, while the other one contains more platforming, battles, and puzzles. I enjoyed both of these paths equally much and thus, I recommend playing through them both. Although some sections in the game felt slightly slow gameplaywise, there are several entertaining timed runs, jumping tasks, and puzzles distributed throughout the level. I especially loved the platforming after the two paths merge, e.g. the use of floating tiles that disappear and reappear at certain time intervals was absolutely brilliant. Besides the great gameplay, the environments look fabulous and will completely immerse player into the world created by the author. All in all, exceptional work." - Samu (15-Jul-2022)
"Insane. After playing one of the best TR2 and TR3 levels, now comes Brad with TR4 and, while he'd win CaC if finished on time, I'm glad he dropped out and did what he did, because the results are amazing. The mummy caves are a bloat and postpone getting to good stuff, but everything else is a flawless victory, so after a gallore of wow moments I decided to give a full 40. I'm sure this levelset will become an instant classic indeed." - DJ Full (14-Jul-2022)