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The Sphere 01 - Valley of the Sphere by DRR

Danjo86 9 7 9 10
DJ Full 7 8 8 8
eRIC 8 8 8 8
JesseG 9 8 9 8
nerdfury 7 7 8 7
Ryan 8 8 9 8
Tolle87 9 10 9 9
Torry 10 10 10 9
release date: 27-Dec-2022
# of downloads: 116

average rating: 8.44
review count: 8
review this level

file size: 62.70 MB
file type: TR3
class: South America

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Reviewer's comments
"Now this is something different indeed: a TR1 level in the TR3 engine with consequently a more manoeuvrable Lara. And it does work very well. The environments are inevitably rather grainy, but the textures are not too bad and the atmosphere still conjures up a sense of welcome nostalgia. In terms of gameplay, it is surprisingly challenging in places. A lot of the time, Lara will be performing acrobatics that are both quite difficult and out of the ordinary, so your next objective will likely not be immediately obvious. It certainly had me stumped a number of times, although never in a frustrating way and it is combined quite nicely with more conventional exploration (the main valley area was a nostalgic highlight). If anything, the T-Rex encounter was more annoying due to the inconvenient location of the shotgun and the fact that the arena was quite small. Overall though, a well done first effort." - Ryan (10-Jun-2023)
"This was a very challenging but enjoyable level. I´m not sure why the builder opted for TR1 optics with the TR3 engine, but I can´t say he didn´t make it work well overall – atmospherically from a build perspective, this was spot on. My only gripe is the lack of a Sky Box in the second section of the level where the hallmark pitch-black sky from TR1 jars just as awkwardly as it did in the original classic. Without doubt, the main challenge here comes from the obscurity and difficulty of platforming required. At this level, working out where you can get to is often just as taxing as actually performing the acrobatics to make it there. The level´s piece-de-resistance (with emphasis on the “resistance”) in this regard probably has to be a jump that literally drove Lara (and me) around the bend. So obscure was much of the platforming and progression required, that the level often had me scouting the very limits of the environment and even questioning whether I may have soft-locked myself without knowing it. Each will have their own take on this style of level design, but I´m going to be completely frank and say that I absolutely loved it. It´s rare for any TRLE level to take me back to what it was like in the early days when I was a less experienced raider, but this level mastered it superbly – forcing me to eek out every ounce of explorative value in the process. Apart from health packs, pick-ups were meagre on the other hand – the shotgun comes late in the game, and the raptor and T-Rex battles often degraded into exercises where I would have Lara repeatedly hang provocatively from ledges to lure her aggressors toward bouts of plinking of her tireless pistols. I did enjoy the Boss at the end however – the two attendant thugs combined with the hazardous floorplan was well designed and fun to negotiate. Loved this!" - Danjo86 (10-Mar-2023)
"(7) Gameplay & Puzzles: This is a medium difficulty adventure that took me about 1 1/2 hours. There is some tricky platforming that requires careful observation from the player, and these unorthodox jumps were my favorite aspect of the game. There is one puzzle near the start, a pushblock one, which feels rewarding and doesn't overstay its welcome. I would have liked to have seen more in terms of puzzles after that, however. The gameplay flow is generally enjoyable and engaging, however there are a few awkward hiccups. For example there is a tricky curved jump in the outdoor area with multiple waterfalls. After this jump is an area with a keyhole. However the player has no idea about this when they attempt the tricky jump, so they will have done the jump for nothing if they don't have the key. Another strange aspect about the gameplay flow is the T-Rex/shotgun secret and I will write more in the next section about this. (7) Enemies, Objects & Secrets: Static object decor is quite minimal. It's very well done in the lush outdoor area, but other larger underground areas seem to have a total lack of objects. I think adding some more would bring these areas to life, as opposed to them being "empty areas that you do platforming in". More could be done with traps; there are a few near the end of the game, but none before that (not counting the fire tiles in the room with the raptors/idol, as you can just ignore the fire). Generally, enemy engagements are exciting, as is the final boss fight, although I think it's a bit weird that you can just completely ignore the raptors guarding the idol. I found the whole T-Rex encounter to be awkward. So what happened was I sat there for ages, scratching my butt and shooting the T-Rex with the pistols. Finally, it died, and it was kind of a slap in the face to find the shotgun right after that. (It's also strange that the shotgun is a secret, as it feels like you're on the main path) (8) Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: The world-building and geometry is the strongest aspect of the game in my opinion; particularly in the outdoor The Lost Valley area. I recall no overly "boxy" areas which is great work for a debut. No issues with sounds, although I think there should be a tense music cue for the fire pillar timed run near the end. Camerawork, I am sorry to say, is lacking. I recall a couple of hint cameras, pointing at doors, after the T-Rex encounter, however I recall no cameras to build immersion and tension, introduce the player to a new area, Lara looking at a suspicious area, etc. For example when you enter the outdoor area, there's an epic music cue. A camera perspective change here would draw the player into the new environment. (7) Lighting & Textures: The lighting is good; of particular note is that the builder uses eerie lighting in an effective way in the T-Rex hallway. The texturing is decent at a quick glance, but if you look carefully at non-standard tiles, misshapen textures are common. There are also a lot of underwater cracks. Overall, I think this is a good debut, with a nostalgic and immersive atmosphere, however I do think there is room for improvement in terms of gameplay flow, camerawork, and texturing. I look forward to seeing the builder's growth. 7/7/8/7." - nerdfury (09-Feb-2023)
"It's strange to play TR3 in a TR1 suit, but it works pretty good. The style of this builder is something unique and I mostly like it. It starts with a very clever puzzle with movable blocks, but soon it turns into a series of so unusual platforming tasks that I'm still not sure if I did some unintended things, including bumping Lara's head into the invisible height limit. I literally mean it, more than once I was like "Oh here's an unintended way the builder should know about", but then after I wasn't able to find another way, I could only guess it was actually intended. Everything keeps balancing on the thin line of fairness except for one particular part where not only it's hard to spot the opening, but it also requires one of the most unintuitive jumps you'll ever do in a TR game. I think this is the first time ever that I found the key with ease, but then had serious trouble to find the keyhole, it's usually the other way around. The enemies are well balanced, there are occasional wolves and raptors, while the T-rex has its own little kingdom. He's very hard to kill, but fortunately he got stuck inside a wall so I was able to just stand and shoot him until he died (I notice I'm not the only one who encountered this). Anyway, be prepared for some unusual ways of reaching certain spots. Even the supposed level-boundaries might not be what they seem at first, so you're gonna need some outside the box thinking in order to progress at several occasions. All in all, we have a unique builder here and that says something after several decades of level building." - Tolle87 (30-Jan-2023)
"Great level using the textures from TR1 in the TR3 engine and revisiting an old favorite local, the Lost Valley. The level has a lot of platforming which I quite liked and just after the start in the water area after the first key the way is not clear and I was jumping and back flipping about quite a bit before I found the correct path. There are raptors that refuse to die and the T Rex in a cavern that fortunately for me got stuck in a corner so I could pummel him with 45 calibre slugs at my leisure until he lay down and died. You don't get the shotgun till late in the level so you have to rely on your trusty pistols. Expect a lot of exploration of various tunnels to find the items you need. There is a nice timed run over flaming tiles that really is quite easy but the final battle, if you have the shotgun is a breeze. Textures are quite good, not perfect but good enough. I really enjoyed this just under an hour romp." - Torry (11-Jan-2023)
"It's a TR3 level, and yet very neatly matches the asthetic of the lost valley from TR1, pretty interesting combination! I spent the bulk of my time exploring the lush valley for two keys and then two idols to unlock the way to the final encounter. None of this is a walk in the park, as Lara will need to pull off some tricky jumps and fend off a fair amount of raptors as well as a T-rex with limited shotgun ammo. I enjoyed the challenge, personally. There's also a timed flame trap run and a fiery boss fight at the end that ends things on a high note. The visuals get the job done and are pretty close to what you would be used to from a TR1 level. Some of the textures are warped or squashed, but nothing too distracting. 57 minutes." - JesseG (09-Jan-2023)
"An interesting level , a lost valley in the TR3 engine with raptors wolves and so forth. The decorative objects are few , the player can concentrate on the gameplay which is challenging. In the beginning and in the end sections , you need to find your way along rocky structures making some enjoyable curved jumps , a chance that the TR3 Lara model is a better jumper than the TR1 ; in the middle part in the lost valley, the difficulty is to spot some openings and other places to find 2 keys and their respective holes. That is where you also meet the T-Rex , i did not kill it i think it would have taken too long. The secrets are not more difficult to get than the regular gameplay. The thing i like the less in the level is the final boss with the crazy guy , this boss is quite difficult unless you still have spare shotgun ammos. What makes the challenge difficult here is all the deadly tiles on the ground, it would have been more realistic and enjoyable to have less , and even better to have real holes with spikes or lava. Aside from this end , a recommanded level to all raiders liking a challenge once in a while." - eRIC (29-Dec-2022)
"Cute and cozy but with difficulty all over the place: secrets are the easiest, while the main route requires advanced platforming - I couldn't believe the hardest two jumps were intended. Combat is nice but ammo is scarce so it's probably more satisfying to run from enemies. Overall not a universally accessible level, but nice to try if you don't mind the harder bits." - DJ Full (28-Dec-2022)