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Level: LB Advent Calendar 2003 - Wintertown back home search
Author(s): BaGi
total rating:7.51 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Akcy 8 8 8 8
Andzia9 7 7 7 7
Bene 9 9 10 9
CC 8 9 8 8
eTux 7 7 8 7
Gerty 7 8 8 8
Jay 8 8 10 10
Jose 5 6 7 7
Josi 8 6 9 7
Kristina 8 9 10 10
Lady Lara 8 9 8 9
manarch2 5 7 6 6
MichaelP 7 6 8 8
Mulf 5 4 6 5
Necro 8 7 8 9
Obig 8 8 10 9
Orbit Dream 5 6 6 7
Phil 8 7 7 8
Ryan 6 7 7 8
Sash 6 6 7 7
The Aussie Adventurer 8 8 8 9
Treeble 6 6 8 8
category averages
(22 reviews)
7.05 7.18 7.91 7.91

Reviewer's comments

"This is a pleasant little Advent level that actually comes with its fair share of dangers, albeit easy to avoid. There's a room full of squishing blocks and death tiles, a slope jump/rope swing combination and three enemies to deal with (easy, once you locate the Shotgun). Gameplay is very simple otherwise, based around moving objects to their correct places and locating a few Red and Silver Stars." - Ryan (04-Sep-2017)

"Even being a Christmas level, you'll find some enemies to shoot. The environments are reasonably well builded and ornated. What I didn't like were the unmarked climbable walls. In the area with the smashing pillars I had to reload several times and be lucky so the pillar didn't close the way out when pulling the floor lever. Not good that you must find some secrets to finish the level, so be sure you find the crowbar, the revolver and the sight. You can also get stucked sometimes 'cause the new moveables or shootables, but I found them soon using flares. Not an appropriate background music (base/factory) but the other tracks are well. Not a great level but playable and sometimes enjoyable." - Jose (07-Nov-2016)

"I sometimes wonder about relatively high scores of levels, this level especially only received comparatively lower marks years after its release. Of course it's all really nice and sweet, actually the first advent calendar level ever, but honestly - apart of a few easy puzzles and the interesting objects and texturing I don't really see something special in here, not even for a game which has passed its 10th anniversary a few days ago. While the gameplay is most of the time an uninspired artifact hunt, only spiced up with the occasional pushable puzzle or (the highlight) a small room with movable blocks where some jumps require a bit of planning, but never gets beyond "embed some tasks into the given setting to make it more interesting" - the design is not very competent too, with pretty strange room connections, outside areas only being textured with stars (although a cute idea) and a bit of eclectic texturing, although the latter actually works fine in some rooms - but then there are rooms where the texturing could have been a lot more clean and coherent. I found the lighting to be really weird and disturbing the atmosphere a lot in several rooms, e.g. in the movable wall room, as it often kills any other colours in the room and is way too strong at times. The objects and enemies are quite cute and add a lot to the atmosphere, as well as a few aptly placed sounds (I especially liked the one in the first outside area, but situations like this one didn't happen often in this game). There were two secrets which are required for progression which should have been avoided, as well as the unmarked climbable walls. I also had a problem with the cameras as they appeared only for a fraction of a second, and they are rather sparsely used in general. All in all, this is a short and at times charming 20 minute level, but it was certainly more interesting the time it was released, but it might still be worth if you want to play a Christmas level in the advent season when no others are available yet." - manarch2 (05-Dec-2013)

"There are many fine levels rated between 7.0 and 8.0 that I have never played or reviewed, so I'm taking some time between writing walkthroughs and playing the epics to address this situation. Here's a Christmas level from a solid builder that shows its age a bit, but it still provides 30 minutes or so of seasonal entertainment. There are a few enemies to keep you on your toes, not to mention several deadly traps (including a squishblock room that was quite difficult to conquer). Nothing particularly fancy, but a pleasant little diversion." - Phil (23-Oct-2013)

"This ranks firmly among the "it's only a Xmas level;don't analyse it too much" category;and,taken as such,is reasonably entertainng.Hunt for 5 (rather well placed) Star pick-ups;shoot three baddies;negotiate a fairly challenging squishy-block gauntlet;perform a few simple pushable object puzzles. Nonetheless,the sheer illogic of the scenario,particularly at the start (the Library which has a helpful alternative exit through a crawlspace beneath one of the bookshelves) prevents a proper atmosphere from developing. A pushable object that looks exactly the same as a static one(and a static object which is actually shootable) don't do the gameplay any favours either. Texturing,while imaginative at times,is also deceptively cheaty (climbable walls which are not marked as such);but at least the music works well enough,and the level is perfectly playable. As with most Advent levels,this should best be played while in the appropriate festive spirit. Under that particular circumstance it is definitely recommendable; but only if you put your logic faculties firmly on hold." - Orbit Dream (26-Oct-2011)

"This is not kindly Christmas level. We can meet here few enemies and few traps. And atmosphere isn't nice too. Gloomy and sad streets and houses. Sometimes we can see few Christmas decorations. Music wasn't pleasant too. But in end we reach nice, warm and beautiful Christmas room." - Andzia9 (24-Dec-2009)

"Open your pressies with your shotgun! Kill the only three living beings in your neighbourhood! Get squished by moving blocks, or alternatively, set yourself on fire and burn to a crisp in an instant! What did you say? You’re not getting into the christmas spirit just yet? Well, goes to show that the rules that currently apply to christmas levels haven’t been written in stone since the birth of the ‘advent calendar’ venture in those remote pre-patch days. To die is going to be an awfully big adventure! — In this early specimen of the newly-born genre (which comes with a custom Title, but as it is the same old TR4 Title, only with the rooms slightly edited and retextured, I’m not going to make too much of it), Lara has donned her skin-tight neon-green combat pyjama for a sleepover in the local library, fully equipped with dual pistols, and boy, is she going to use them. Having had herself successfully locked up in the only room that this library consists of (granted—as it turns out, the location is a non-descript hamlet in the back of beyond, so they’re probably lucky to have any kind of library at all), Lara waits in vain for Ice Ahmet and Icky Blue Thing and his brother to show up and join her, eventually resolving that she better go home after all. As it turns out, you can reach the front door and come within ten feet of the finish trigger after some ten or fifteen minutes of solid, but neither taxing nor very inventive gameplay, yet still be short of two or three (possibly more) items you’d need to finish the level. There are two reasons for this. The first is the awkward design of one type of puzzle item (there are two types, both called ‘stars’, although both are disc-shaped), which makes it quite difficult to spot and thus easy to miss; the second is that the author relies a lot (too much) on ‘cleverly hidden’ switches, which are equally easy to miss. As intimated above, the player is allowed to progress almost to the end of the level without either making these pick-ups or using these switches, resulting an amount of backtracking that seems quite out of proportion for an otherwise short level like this. At some point all cameras stopped working properly (very likely due to a rollingball coming to rest on a trigger tile at an awkward moment during all the backtracking, suggesting that the level wasn’t properly beta-tested), which seems to be the cause for a bug in the squishy blocks room preventing me from using the intended path to the exit. The walkthrough at this point says, ‘you’re stuck, reload earlier save’: Great! I thought, don’t I just love this sentence! Now, instead of replaying a considerable part of the level again, I experimented a bit and eventually found that it is in fact possible to escape with a banana running jump to the ledge over across the instant-death tiles, which was easily the most difficult task in the level. Thus, what could have been a major calamity turned out alright in the end. Still, there’s one major gripe I have other than the author’s reckless acceptance of backtracking, namely her decision to declare a thing pushable that should under no circumstances be pushable—in this case a fence that looks firmly grounded in the soil. The whole room containing this pushable-that-should-not-be is set up as a mere booby trap, built solely for the purpose of further distracting the player’s attention from the actual solution, which is random by intention. This ruse provides a jarring note to the rest of the level. There’s one other thing in the level that might fall into the same category, a solid floor of ice that isn’t in fact solid. In my book walk-through walls and fall-through floors rank right down there along with random death tiles and suchlike (I can’t bring myself to apply the epithet ‘clever’ here), but in this case I’m willing to let it pass as a typical beginner’s misdemeanor, as it didn’t cause me to get stuck for any extended amount of time; the same applies to the unmarked climbable walls. There are some other marks of a beginner’s level: Both secrets—other than being dead easy or impossible to miss, respectively—seem to be required for progression, contrary to the concept. Somebody should have given the author a hand with how to use an actual horizon, as it is blatantly obvious that those supposedly distant stars are just textures on the walls and ceiling of the room; similarly, in order to simulate mountains surrounding the location, textures have been applied where the room box ends. Speaking of textures, they are a real jumble: For the village area mainly textures from TR4 City of the Dead have been used (which don’t look so dreary here as you might expect), but the TGA has textures from all classic TR games bar TR1 in it, typically those that sport some kind of ornament or other. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s the indoor areas that suffer most from repetitive texturing, especially the library, where the same texture is used on walls and floors, and the ceiling is barely more than a single brownish colour. I actually liked the crawlspace hidden in plain sight at the beginning, although I’m afraid that the all-samey textures and the bland lighting helped a good deal in effectively camouflaging it. Texturing improves as the level progresses though, to some extent. Since it’s around christmas time, there would of course be some textures and objects related to this theme, and indeed, the local shop owners have gone to great lengths to get the inhabitants into the christmas spirit; the guy from the bookshop even hit upon the idea of advertising the “Rainbow Fish” franchise in the sewers—and underwater, too! The new objects are mostly standard objects retextured to fit the season, to a lesser extent also remeshed, though not always successfully. There is one particular tree that has a comparatively large number of faces, but all of them are vertical—merely looking at it makes you dizzy. Try running around it in circles! This is probably where all the faces have gone that are missing from the other trees, which retain their ancient sprite-like look. As regards audio, it’s of course that time of year where you blow the dust from your “Kuschel Classics Vol. 12”, and hey, where’s that Richard Clayderman CD? The title track is taken from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; it’s the introductory first minute or so not of the “Winter”, but, somewhat surprisingly, of the “Summer” concerto (it’s not one of the best recordings either, I’m afraid). The level itself has one or two pseudo-classical tracks that someone had emanate from a synthesizer, and “As Time Goes By” for the grand finale, plus a short christmassy bell chime for secrets; all these can be considered appropriate, but I fail to see any serene festiveness in the TR1/2 ‘heartbeat’ background track, which keeps throbbing away throughout the whole level. Bottom line: Gameplay highlight is the squishy blocks room, with or without banana jump. Otherwise it’s pretty standard fare with some randomness thrown in, on the whole relying too much on cleverly hidden switches and imperceptible pickups, causing you to backtrack quite a bit and thus quite unnecessarily prolonging the time you spend in what might otherwise have been a moderately enjoyable inbetweener if you have half an hour to kill." - Mulf (12-Dec-2009)

"This was a nice level and I actually found it difficult in some areas. One bad thing about this level is that if you get stuck in one area you have absolutly no idea what to do and where to go. I spent ages backtracking trying to find some keys. Eventually I found what i missed and luckily, the level area isn't too big that I didn't have too far to go back. I guess this hightens the gameplay a little as it takes away some linear gameplay. The setting was nice but it is a little too much like the previous artcic levels this author has done. I guess if you have success with one level, why change the formula huh? It does take away a bit of originality though. All in all, this was a nice level and I did enjoy it. Prefect for playing at xmas time." - Necro (25-Mar-2008)

"A nice level with good atmosphere, just a bit too many deadly traps and enemies for a Christmas level. Lara goes home through a town, from the library. On the way she finds stars to open doors with. She can pick up two of the golden skulls too. Gameplay is fairly easy, recommended to anyone." - Akcy (14-Dec-2006)

"Wintertown is a Christmas/advent level from the author, BaGi. What I noticed most about this level is that the author has put in a lot of effort into the Christmas textures and theme. The nice textures give a great atmosphere that's helped along by the appropriate music/sound. The gameplay is good without being anything spectacular. I often has to head back through the level looking for items that I needed and thus, created a bit of frustration. The puzzles were real simple, basically consisting of item finding and lever pulling. The enemies in this level were nicely textured but were easily disposed of and posed no real threat. They could have even been taken off the level without taking much away from the game. All in all, a nice Christmas level that can be improved on. If I had to give this level a grade, I would give it a B, a distinction." - The Aussie Adventurer (01-Aug-2005)

"Lara starts at the library, late night and she decides to go home, to do so she'll have to collect a few stars and trek through this village. This is the first level of the first Advent Calendar (2003), and it is quite different from the levels from the second year. You have guns and you will use them thoroughly, will come across some baddies (tiny icemen and icey ahmets) and will be cracking open several boxes all along the level. The gameplay is rather easy and fast flowing, with the exception, maybe, of the squashing walls in the middle of the level along with a few sneaky jump switches. I just really regret not having played these Christmas levels earlier. 30 minutes, 2 secrets. 03/05" - Treeble (13-Mar-2005)

“This is a beautiful level. The story starts in a library where you can get the Crowbar and the Shotgun. It continues on a square where you can find a Metal Key. Then comes a quarter. Your objective is getting 3 Silver Stars and 2 Red Stars after having solved some puzzles. There are underwater rotating blades moving walls swinging sphere rolling ball and if you would like to get the Golden Skulls you must fight with spirits goblins and a nasty monster. The textures and the added sounds are very nice they add plus to the great experience. I don’t know exactly how many Secrets are on the level I found 2 of them. I recommend this great level to all of you. You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version) savegames and pictures here: http://www.freeweb.hu/treditor/12/wintertown.htm ” – Obig (01-Mar-2004)

“The first of the advent levels and a nice one it is too. Unlike some of the others on the calendar this has a deadly element with an ice monster and two little blue spiked marshmallow men but really the first can be killed from a safe vantage point and the others can take only such small strides that you can relieve them of a soul while they are still waddling towards you there is though a nice sliding block room with fire tiles that got me a couple of times and as I missed a well hidden thing here I had to come back a second time. To finish this 40 minute level you need to collect 3 silver and 2 red stars throughout the level as well as 2 secrets and of course that ending like most the others is found around a nicely adorned Chrissy tree. If I have a gripe then it has to be with one certain moving object as you would not expect it of being one but with the help of one of the reviews here I overcame that hiccup and went on to finish easily.” – Sash (24-Jan-2004)

“Starting this in a big library you have to find a way outside. Let your eyes roam around in every room you visit as it is worth while. What does stand out for me are the squishing blocks also the trees that are in a need of some water. Look carefully as well as there is a very well hidden ball to shoot. This is not an easy level as such but very entertaining nonetheless. Found 2 secrets. 17-01-2004” – Gerty (24-Jan-2004)

“A really nice Winter-level with great Christmas-decorations and fun to play too! You start in a huge library and have to find your way home (Lara's home that is). Not many enemies one beast and two of that nasty creatures from TR5 Ireland levels. Make sure you look carefully everywhere it's easy to miss something. You need three silver stars and two red stars but there are other pickups too ofcourse like crowbar keys ammo and medpacks. Have a good time I did!” – Josi (13-Jan-2004)

“Starting out in a library with some very useful Christmas presents dotted around the place you soon make your way outside into a beautiful night-time scene with starlight shining on the snow. Enemies are practically non-existent as this is a charming peaceful level suitable for children but still full of things to delight raiders of all ages. Everything is just gorgeous from the re-textured inventory items to the decorations everywhere. Collecting stars is the main objective and crawl spaces and objects to shoot are well hidden so keep your eyes well open. I found two secrets and enjoyed every minute of this magical Christmas level.” – Jay (03-Jan-2004)

“Just what's needed to get you in a Christmas mood. The custom objects were a delight. The medipacks wrapped in Christmas color the pictures of Christ and the wonderful town. Not too easy or too hard - perfect for an Advent level. Thank you BaGi for a great Christmas memory.” – Bene (03-Jan-2004)

“What a great little level. All Christmas lights trees snow presents. Lovely retextured objects loved the Christmas trees the large urns those lovely pillars and what about that almost impossible to see shootable ball. Lara is in a lovely white body suit. It's not so easy in places but still can be done like the room of slamming blocks the fire room the boulder swimming through circular blades dealing with the retextured ahmets and spooky babies. It's very dark in places but enough flares to use and I liked the use of coloured lights. I came across the key in the water by accident and thought that was it until I had to go back and get the lasersight. Textures are very good in places but in others look like they're just applied quickly to fill up the room.” – CC (28-Dec-2003)

“Christmas is my favourite holiday and winter is the best time of the year for me. This level is wonderful and it is rated according to the holiday’s spirit and not the usual way. It is violence free with just a few creatures to shoot therefore it’s suitable for kids. There are Christmas trees around awesome lights that I have never seen before in a level and I wonder how the author managed to create something so realistic and of course the usual decorations in the streets. The snow is everywhere with a gameplay suited for the holiday. We are gathering three silver and two red stars to place near the end. The gifts you need to shoot are custom as well and the medi packs retextured. The frozen water was very clever and one of the two keys we need and I couldn’t find made me wander for quite some time. I found two secrets in the hour it lasted. Everything is so cheerful and Christmas have something magic which personally makes me very happy maybe it’s the colours and jolly atmosphere. This is a nice level which I really liked very much and it’s recommended for grown ups and kids.” – Kristina (27-Dec-2003)

“A decent enjoyable level - in which I spent 35 minutes and not only enjoyed them but also worked hard to collect the 3 silver and 2 red stars. I admit I found that the pushable grating in the skull room some of the climbable - but not adequatly textured walls and the almost invisible swinging ball walked a very thin line from being unfair and sneaky but I managed to get through so it's not that bad I guess. The rooms were large sometimes empty and the looks maybe not up to what I'd like but this is not a bad level by no means just some free fun to get you in the Christmas mood and well worth it definitely try it if you haven't already especially recommendable when Christmas is coming.” – eTux (27-Dec-2003)

“Well this was my absolute favorite of the Christmas levels. I really had fun completing this level. You start off in a library find a secret and then have a hard time finding the way out! One thing I especially liked was the retexured enemies - the ahmet and those little demon men from the Lost Atifact 'spooky' level (Lara as a girl on that island). I had to stop and look at them - they took me by surprise. Anyway I loved the textures the lighting the gameplay the puzzles - everything. (And yes I missed that jump switch in the 'moving block' room the first time through.) I never did get those skulls from the pedestals - lol! I really think BaGi is going to be one of my favorite designers. More please!” – Lady Lara (27-Dec-2003)

“Wonderfully crafted as part of the Levelbase Advent Calendar this is an adventure of just over half an hour in a snowy Wintertown. It is fairly linear and not too hard (as was the intention for the occasion) but still has a few nice moments like the room with the squishing blocks the little ice men two secrets some target shooting and well hidden jump switches. The seasonal textures and elements are great and if you were not in the mood for Christmas after playing this level you will be. The only real downsides for me were climbing walls that are not really textured as such and the fact that one of the secrets is a must for progression but these are minor gripes so play and enjoy.” – Michael (26-Dec-2003)
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