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Dark Skies 8/9 by justin

Akcy 9 8 10 8
alan 7 8 9 8
Cuqui 9 9 10 10
DJ Full 10 10 10 8
eRIC 9 9 10 9
eTux 8 8 10 9
Gerty 8 8 9 8
Jay 8 8 9 9
JesseG 7 9 8 8
Jose 6 7 8 8
Kristina 7 8 8 8
MichaelP 8 8 9 9
Mman 7 8 8 7
Nomad 8 9 9 9
Phil 9 10 10 10
Ryan 8 9 9 8
Samu 9 8 9 8
Sash 8 7 9 9
Treeble 10 10 10 10
Yoav 9 8 8 9
Zhyttya 6 8 7 7
release date: 29-Aug-2003
# of downloads: 121

average rating: 8.51
review count: 21
review this level

file size: 126.30 MB
file type: TR4
class: Cave/Cat

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"The final parts of this adventure occur in some sort of island (reminded me of TR2 Floating Islands) where you must complete some tasks in order to proceed. Interesting cameras and atmosphere sounds, as well as the texturing and the lighting. Overall, pretty good levels." - alan (13-Apr-2023)
"The last set feels like a proper conclusion to the series, especially atmosphere- wise. The apocalyptic vibe continues, and the mountain looks looming and threatening, with the soundtrack of Ruins of Pindus Mountain increasing the tension. The music is well chosen, however I have one criticism: it ends up abruptly and I kept forgetting it does that expecting something bad to emerge, so the loop could be handled better. Gameplay is at times quite good. The area is huge and fun to explore. I didn't mind the backtracking because I enjoyed the sights and I wasn't sure I was done with a particular path anyway. I loved how you enter the truck in the last level for some reason, and the puzzles with the car were good additions. Unfortunately the levels had some issues. Especially the door closing behind you in the first level is a nasty one and it could easily be prevented. There are just too many paths to follow so it is a very likely move to take a look behind the door and doom yourself. Besides that I felt the pace dropped sometimes but not a big deal. Ending felt solid in idea, but in practice it was sort of anti-climactic like something was missing. The Dark Skies was quite a long adventure which increased the need for a dramatic ending I guess. Anyway another solid effort overall, and I enjoyed this series a lot. Thanks a lot for the experience!" - Nomad (14-Jul-2021)
"The final two levels are unfortunately a bit of a step backwards from the previous three. While there are still a few architecturally interesting areas, most of these levels are cramped tunnels that look similar to each other. Texturing and lighting are about the same. Gameplay took the biggest step back, due to the large amount of backtracking required to complete this levelset, and it will be even more if you miss one of the many switches. I got completely stuck in a large chamber because I missed something in the previous area, but the door to it was closed. I had to use DOZY to progress. There are so many skull doors that it gets tiring to look at them, and figure out which one you just opened, if you were lucky enough to get a camera cue. On the plus side you get a number of blade traps to dodge, a few timed runs, and a pretty fun drive in a Subaru before facing Anubis in a brief final encounter. 53 minutes, for a total of 7 hours 7 minutes in the series." - JesseG (28-Nov-2020)
"I think I played through Dark Skies the first time before this part came out, and never actually played it. It seems you are back on Earth, in some sort of temple high in the mountains. The high mountain feeling is nicely done, with precarious platforming over an abyss, and there's an organic ruined feeling to it all, but the lighting feels a bit flat, although the second level is a bit better in that regard. It still looks fine but I feel it's a bit of a step back from the execution of the previous set of levels.
Gameplay is generally pretty varied, and probably the strongest individual challenges of the set so far, but there's something a little off about it as I seemingly managed to get trapped in a torch puzzle area by doing something early (as you had to do something elsewhere first, but the door out of the area had shut), and in the final encounter I had to rethrow a switch before a door opened for some reason. A return to issues like that felt unfortunate after the last entries had mostly averted that. One underwater switch also felt a bit too blended. The bigger puzzles like an extended torch puzzle (bug aside) and a driving sequence are well-executed though. I preferred the last trilogy, but this is probably the second best part (although the sheer strangeness of City Ruins still sticks out for me), and it's unfortunate that the final couple of levels seemingly never came out.
Dark Skies is a very inconsistent set with some quite dated early entries, but it's elevated by a constant feeling of surreality thoughout that I don't feel another level has quite captured, with the possible exception of Lost Spirits/Farplane in Revenge of Orisis (and that duo is a whole other beast in itself). The execution frequently isn't quite there-especially earlier-but you can see the attempts to make something entirely alien here, and it's worth playing through for those atmospheric high-points; thankfully it's generally enjoyable outside of a few low-points as well." - Mman (29-Jan-2020)
"I played the entire series in one go in release order and as I do for any other multilevel game with a single plot, I will rate all parts identically. The definite highlight throughout is atmosphere - despite of frequent visual minimalism the author often nails it with simple touches and focal points, so there's never too much, never too little - and yes, the graphics are the weakest link but they look much better than the levelinfo screeshots, what the heck... Gameplay is diverse and gets you through multiple locations, topics, sceneries and mechanics, enemies and props also feel like they belong, and the further you go the better it gets thought the ending could be a bit stronger. I don't think I was bored a single time here so it's all highly, highly recommended." - DJ Full (18-Oct-2018)
"Even though I didn't rename the script files as suggested in the walkthrough (to avoid the savegame bug), I personally never encountered any problems. The atmosphere is taken up another level in these concluding levels with the rumbling of thunder in the background and the sights of floating islands situated against the scenery. The Subaru makes an appearance and you use it for a short period before commencing on foot. A few of the tasks are tricky (the jumps to and from a rope and the jumps past a swinging blade to an upper level), but otherwise, there's nothing exceedingly difficult or frustrating to stop from playing these levels, preferably along with the rest of the series, the rest of which will apparently not be forthcoming, which is a shame, as I would love to have seen more." - Ryan (19-Nov-2017)
"Another couple of good levels from this author. Perhaps too many switches to pull and few puzzles; I found two difficult tasks: the sprint down the ramp with the rolling ball and the circular blades at the bottom, and the jumps on the slopes with the swinging blade. Cool enemies and guns, but very few, the secrets are hard to find and also never found ammo for the uzis. The best of the game was the good atmosphere, the many helping cameras showing you the way and the ride with the car. The texturization is not bad, but a bit odd. Not a great levels but entertaining enough to take a try." - Jose (13-Oct-2016)
"In all honesty, i'm kinda glad that i've finally finished up Dark Skies. Well actually, i didn't quiiiiite finish it. I've encounter the save bug in level 8 and got me quite frustrated about it, as i was forced to repeat the whole level again. I completely gave up on the jeep part. I just couldn't get through that gap...and i tried so many times. I don't know if i was missing some kind of nitro into the car, but i found it impossible and eventually gave up. It's sad because i was enjoying the levels quite a lot, but this is something usual on Justin's levels: making some kind of puzzle/platforming area near impossible. I'm a fan of challenge but not like this. Guess i'm not really a big fan of Justin's levels. Although i cannot deny the brilliant atmosphere, too bad that the music reset on these levels was too rush." - Zhyttya (29-Jan-2016)
"Couldn't get this level to run through the download that is presently available, so I was glad I still had the original TOM files somewhere on a CD, so I could finish this saga. Although, floating islands is absolutely not my game-play, but coming this far I had to finish it. I did rename the Script2.dat into script.dat and I had no problem whatsoever. You will go back and from level to level and riding that car was not helping me with my fear of heights. It still can compete with all the newest levels out there, in my humble opinion." - Gerty (11-Mar-2011)
"This latest instalment of Dark Skies series is truly nice work. Mountain areas look very good and this game contains plenty of things to solve and jumping tasks to clear. I think that driving a car in mountains was also very fun and it's good that author has created many puzzles that require some thinking because mere shooting and jumping isn't very interesting. My opinion is that textures could have been used more creatively because the way of using them is a bit messy in some parts of the game. A way to escape from the final area where's a kind of boss enemy is quite hard to figure out. Despite I did the same that was explained in walkthrough I didn't manage to finish the game. I still enjoyed the rest of the game and I recommend this game and all the other Dark Skies level for everyone who haven't played them yet." - Samu (28-Mar-2007)
Basically cave levels, but we can see the Dark Skies many times. It feels that the story is about to reach it's climax. And my only complaint is just about this, namely that it's still not the end, there are two more levels in the new game menu marked as coming soon, but it's been almost two years that Justin published these, his - so far - last levels, and I'm afraid we may not see the conclusion. I really liked this series, These last two levels are really go by the title. Dark and gloomy, and even the relative lack of enemies is fit the atmosphere. Gameplay isn't hard, and we've got plenty of ammunition from the previous levels. After the Porsche, we can drive another car now, even if for just a short time. Usually I don't like fixed cameras because they are for the expanse of playability, but in this case they were superb, especially the one at the beginning of Alabronicus Hall. The added music was great too. Fortunately I haven't encountered any savebug, only the flaming Subaru, but I found that it didn't show up if I didn't save in the tunnels. - Akcy (20-Jul-2005)
"Two excellent levels and like in the level before there is car (Subaru) to drive. Good puzzle to find the key of the car good gameplay and atmosphere make this a nice level." - Yoav (23-Dec-2003)
"As penman for Justin's walkthroughs since his Atlantis days I've shied away from reviewing his levels. I'm not sure what my reasoning was at the time. However since I've also written walkthroughs for Piega's levels and I haven't hesitated to review HIS levels I suppose the inconsistency is silly. Besides I didn't realize until reading about Michael's little review contest (12/12/03) that only eight reviews (before this one) had been submitted for this great duo of linked levels. Several early reviewers had much to say about some kind of savegame bug but as noted in my walkthrough I never did encounter it. What I DID encounter was the Flaming Subaru bug near the end of the second level which caught Justin completely off guard when I reported the problem to him. However that was the only glitch in an otherwise superb creation one that all TR fans should play. The atmosphere is similar to that in the previous levels in this series; and although the action doesn't take place beneath bright sunny skies it's rarely so dark that flares are required. I understand that Justin has a whole new series in the works and it's mighty comforting to know that we can soon expect more great levels from this talented builder." - Phil (14-Dec-2003)
"I haven't met bugs in these two levels. I used my savegame from Dark Skies 7 (Crossroads) and I never had any problem. I'm a fan of Justin's levels and I enjoyed these ones. The haunted atmosphere is fantastic and the gameplay always exciting. There are some difficult timed runs torch puzzles lots of switches to pull and huge rooms to explore. I was fascinated by the mysterious surrounding. Play it. It's an enjoyable adventure." - Cuqui (07-Nov-2003)
"Been some time since I last played a custom level (about a month or so) but I simply had to come back to this one. I started playing this level-set right after it was released but I must admit I didn't go far - my skills were really spoiled by the time lol - but this time I came and I made it. I must say it was a quite enjoyable adventure! A little dark though but the overall environment was simply jawbreaking on the mountain peeks. Really unusual as unusual as Atlantis III was one older level from this author. The drivable Subaru was great for a change (as the Porsche was in early Dark Skies levels) and the gameplay well the gameplay is at Justin's standards - good to keep you gripped from beginning to the end and this is more than enough. AND to tap it all I must say those unusual rotating cameras at the beginning of Alabronicus Hall were INCREDIBLE! You could believe you were not playing Tomb Raider at all! In the end you'd free Seth (or some other angry god) and I must say I really was scared - guess I am getting old lol. Running round and round and that damned God right on Lara's tail! Highly recommended. 3 secrets 1:45 hours." - Treeble (26-Oct-2003)
"Although warned there was possible savegame bugs in those two levels I used the savegame I made in Crossroads (at the end of Dark skies 5/7) and I am pleased to say that I have met ZERO BUG. Maybe I am lucky or maybe the difference is that I used the scripts of Dark skies 5/7 loaded my savegame saved after entering in Dark skies 8 then used the scripts of Dark skies 8/9 (after renaming script2 in script). I could not tell but I encountered absolutely no problem. That must be said. What I can also say is that this new couple of levels in this series are very pleasant to play with no major difficulty and no frustration. The actions takes place in what seem to be floating mountains with an alternance of outside areas caves and temples where Lara will have to find two infamous artefacts: the hand of Deimos and the eye of Apollo (The shape of these artefacts are completely new) and use them before dealing with the winged evil guy. Do not expect to see the blue sky here what you can expect is sinister places under dark skies and jumping above dark pits. I liked very much the atmosphere the tasks that were at hand the fluency of the gameplay even if I could have done without any vehicle. By the way the keys of the Porsche work to use the Subaru! If unlike me you start or restart the series here many weapons can be found in those two levels to dispose of gunmen giant mosquitos tigers and demigods. I am ready for the next levels of the Dark skies adventure." - eRIC (22-Sep-2003)
"He's a funny guy this justin. It seems he now got into a rythm of disappearing for a while and then making a quick re-appearance all of of sudden with yet some more proof of his fabulous level building skills. These two parts here take the Dark Skies series further and while you can happily play them stand alone I would highly recommend to play the whole series as they work better as part of the whole package. Ruins of Pindus Mountain (8/8/9/9 45 min. 2 secrets): The level is oozing atmosphere right from the start. Yes a bit dark but I had no troubles and used very few flares throughout. With that early boulder chase with a slicer dicer at the end I thought I would be in for a real tough one but it turns out to be a rather fluent and straight forward adventure moving from lever to lever pull a few blocks two easy torch puzzles and a timed door to finally get the Hand of Deimos. I did have a 'stuck situation' when I did not use the rope first but went into the door on the right because somehow then things did not work the way they should so I had to replay some parts but other than that no troubles with savegame bugs as other reviewers stated. The two secrets are nicely done as well in this part. Enemies are a bit of a non-event with a few baddies tigers (?) and mosquitoes along the way. Alabronicus Hall (8/7/9/8 10+15 min. 1 secret): You come here twice from level 8. First to solve a neat multi-underwater-door timed puzzle and eventually collect the Subaru keys from inside the truck and then again after quickly having collected the Subaru from Level 8. Speaking of the car I think it is brilliantly rendered and a reason by itself to play these levels. You move it around Level 9 interrupted here and there by needs to pull switches to change the roads and finally reach the Hall and pick up the Eye of Apollo and there is also a nice secret to be had. Towards the end there are some nice effects thrown in as well as a few demigods and Seth but you can easily outrun him and finish the adventure. All in all very atmospheric and not too hard levels that fit nicely into the overall and very special mood of the Dark Skies series. Don't miss them." - Michael (17-Sep-2003)
"The new installments in this fascinating series are up to Justin's usual standards. Extremely atmospheric and eerie. Unfortunately I encountered the savegame bug which did make life somewhat difficult at times. Perhaps in a lesser level I might have abandoned the whole thing but I wasn't going to leave a Dark Skies episode in a hurry. I did find that completing an entire task in between saves helped a lot i.e. don't throw a switch and then save; make sure you complete the whole task connected with that switch. I've never come across the savegame bug before and I must say I hope I never do again. However that aside these two levels are very much in the same vein as previous Dark Skies levels but perhaps somewhat easier than 5/6/7 (and with more medipacks). I had all my inventory items from the previous levels in any case so I never ran short of anything. I would highly recommend that you play the whole series rather than starting with this installment as I think you will definitely appreciate it more that way. There is a quite confusing underwater door puzzle that may slow you down for a while but in general the gameplay is reasonably linear. The jeep has been re-textured as a Subaru which is rather fun and I liked the way the keys were found in the back of a lorry (although I already had a set from previous levels). Not a huge amount of enemies - a few ninjas demigods Tinnos wasps and tigers. I look forward to the next installment. 03.09.2003" - Jay (04-Sep-2003)
"Moody brooding and suspenseful just like the rest in this series Justin sure knows how to make the best of atmosphere. He also has a handle of authentically creating environments of ruin this time set initially inside a temple in a mountain and later in the second level trying to cross from a plateau on the mountain to another temple in another mountain. Thankfully I never had any trouble with bugs as eTux did and also found that this time around the levels were a little more linear in their concept but you nonetheless will get confused at times such as with the small water maze that has closed doors but if you swim around you will trigger one of the doors to open which is timed so swim fast you also will leave the Subaru in the first level but don't worry as you go retrieve it later after you collect the keys in the second level. Enemies play a small part with a few men dressed in white karate style outfits some white tigers a few giant mosquitoes that didn't really attack three horned semi-transparent demigods and finally flying Seth but he is easily imprisoned in the same area you unwittingly release him from. For some great atmosphere a really cool environment and a not so bad game at that you should go check out this 75 minute double level and see if you can collect the third secret as I only found 2." - Sash (03-Sep-2003)
"I had trouble rating these two levels. I say that because the whole atmosphere is great gloomy with some areas quite dark and caves around. The game play though wasn't very good we have to get two pieces of an artifact place it and exit. I found the levels confusing with enough doors to make you wonder where to go next. I encountered a bug at the end; I saved between pushing two levers and after placing the artifact mentioned above and pushing the other door a door didn't open. As I understand that is most likely to happen in any time when playing these levels. I was lucky enough to only have that problem once. The Subaru car was a nice touch a cute little thing. There are hardly any enemies some tigers and wasps. I would say play this level but be very careful about the bug mentioned above and better play the entire series to fully understand what these levels are about. They are fun levels no doubt but very dark in my opinion." - Kristina (01-Sep-2003)
"I wouldn't wonder if these levels won't receive many reviews because of some very annoying bugs that occurred to me in level 8 - so I have to warn you - save in many slots as the savegame bug kicks in and after reloading all doors close and actions you did become undone - basically you have to do the whole level in one go. Ruins of Pindus Mountain - Atmosphere wise this level is fantastic and even if the texturing is a bit chaotic it's done very well in Justin's style. The tasks here like the timed run the torch puzzles (don't know why you had to light the 4 skulls on the sticks though) are fine and very inventive but every fun that I had in the level was spoiled because of the bugs - I tried to save in water and reload - CRASH - I tried to save near a trap so I could reload if Lara dies - CRASH - I saved before the rope so I could reload in case Lara misses it and falls down to die - I reload and the rope is gone - all doors closed all switches unflipped - all enemies reappearing and the burning skeleton is not burning anymore (so you can't light the torch anymore) - well and this happens practically in every spot of the level. All I can do is to hope that you are lucky enough not to encounter them as I was tearing my hair out of frustration when they showed their ugly faces. Alabronicus Hall - luckily Kristina (thank you Krissy!) provided me with a savegame at the start of the level and I could play this one - and luckily without the bugs as in the previous level. The level seemed short to me but the flow was good - and rising the bridge or the Subaru elevator were very creative ideas. Also liked how you sort of entered a different realm of the already wicked but atmospheric surroundings through the stargate trap - nicely done. Escaping the final boss was fun and a bit challenging - and even if all these ideas were fine they didn't make up the frustration I had in the previous level. Before I forget I also have to add that the background music in both levels was very good. Overall - I didn't downrate much because of the bugs but I really have to say that they are real fun-killers. Otherwise the level isn't hard and is rather enjoyable - if you decide to play this pray that you don't get the bugs! Still... can't wait for the next installation in the Dark Skies series!" - eTux (01-Sep-2003)