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Level: BtB2005 - Skellycombs back home search
Author(s): GMac
total rating:8.14 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bene 9 8 9 9
Bigfoot 8 9 9 10
Bogey 6 7 8 8
CC 8 7 9 8
Deekman 8 8 9 9
Dimpfelmoser 8 7 8 8
Drakan 9 9 10 10
Dutchy 8 8 10 9
eRIC 8 8 9 8
EssGee 8 8 9 9
eTux 7 8 8 8
G.Croft 8 8 9 9
Gerty 8 7 9 8
Gill 8 8 8 8
Horus 8 9 7 8
Jay 8 7 8 8
Jenni 9 8 8 9
Jerrod 6 7 7 8
Jorge22 10 9 9 10
Jose 7 7 7 7
Kristina 7 7 8 8
manarch2 6 7 7 7
MichaelP 7 7 8 8
Mman 7 8 8 8
Moonpooka 8 8 9 8
mugs 9 9 9 9
Obig 8 9 8 8
Phil 8 8 8 8
QRS 10 9 10 9
rjb 8 8 9 8
Ryan 8 8 8 8
Sash 8 7 9 8
Staticon 8 7 9 9
Sutekh 8 7 8 7
category averages
(34 reviews)
7.91 7.82 8.47 8.35

Reviewer's comments

"We like or do not like big rooms, I like and I took a great pleasure to do this level of Georges. The only trouble was to get rid of this wraith by having to return to the cross to eliminate it. That said it is a level of platforms mainly that suits me very well. The lighting, the textures, the atmosphere for me are almost perfect. A level easy enough, to recommend." - Drakan (18-Nov-2018)

"Admittedly, this wasn't my favourite of George's levels, but it was still fairly entertaining while it lasted. There was a neat moment with a skeleton triggering an action, but everything became rather standard after that. A two tiered maze with skeletons (you probably guessed by the level name), a lever sequence with more of our bony friends and some bone piles to shoot. As mentioned, fairly entertaining, but a bit dark and doesn't quite make my favourite list." - Ryan (23-Feb-2017)

"A very nice short level with a nice use of the textures and lighting. The level is not very hard and can be played by everyone even by the beginners. It's maybe a pity all these lever switchs to use. The enemies are also not very hard to kill exept maybe the wraith who attack when we pick up the Jewel. By the way, the big room where we pick up this jewel is awsome and very well designed. A great use of the cameras and specially the one who showing a rollingball who destroy the floor for reveal a deep hole. Great stuff. To conclude, it's an exellent entry for this btb2005 catacombs. Very recommended." - Bigfoot (18-Sep-2014)

"Another game that starts most interesting with a great cutscene with a skeleton and a boulder creating a hole in the floor, and a nice search for several bones, but then somewhat loses interest. Especially the large (and also not very beautiful) multi-level room which has to be traversed quite for some time (and possibly even twice) is absolutely boring, but the five-lever puzzle at the end doesn't stand much"behind" that one. A real shame, because there are some really interesting parts in this level - what comes to my mind are the extensive timerun and the rope jump (which has a really nice twist to the usual swinging) - but in the end I just was glad this level was finally over. Even the sole secret is fairly strangely hidden, it magically appears in a room visited ages ago while there's no obvious need to return there. Lookwise this level is rather solid, and even if the areas are fairly large they look believable and have received enough care, except the large area mentioned above, where the textures looks fairly wallpapered. A bit more could've been done to get rid of the blocky feel of the areas, and some of them are a bit barren, but that's not really a strong complaint. Overall, I spent 30 minutes in this game which has its moments, but didn't manage to keep me interested until the end." - manarch2 (06-May-2014)

"This level distinguishes itself from others in this Back to Basics with a certain sense of scale; some corridors are so long they gain a certain foreboding to them, and there's also an interesting "underground city" area that's very original for a Catacombs level. Texturing and lighting are also high- quality throughout, although the scale seems to result in some walls being a bit flat.
The tasks here are mainly switch hunting and one or two block- pushing puzzles, and the gameplay could have done with some more things to spice it up. However, it's enjoyable and there's some nice jumps (especially in the underground city) and exploration. One timed run has a pretty vague clue but it can be worked out if take note of it. Fun but it could have done with some more variety, especially in the second half." - Mman (27-Oct-2012)

"There are several errors in this level, when you activate the first lever, there aren't nothing (no sound, no music, no camera) for prevent the player it's a timed run ! There are only one bird statue, not really fun the long way back when you are on top of the maze. The flybys are very good with a good choice for the music, but there aren't sound ambient during the game and the last but not the least, Lara didn't found a treasure at the end ! :'(" - Jerrod (20-Mar-2010)

"This level is beautifully designed and executed with spot-on camera work, excellent lighting and a delightfully playable gameplay. I wasn't even too troubled by the tight timed run. I don't think that I can add anything more to what other reviewers have said already so I wont even try. I must admit, though, that my favourite part was the huge room where I collected the Horseman's gem. Excellent work." - Staticon (26-Nov-2005)

"I quite liked the architecture in this level and the textures were apart from a few exceptions nicely used. That exception would be for example the huge square hall with very blocky towers, the walls were all textured with about 4 different textures and thus created a "wallpaper-effect". What I also liked were these little nasty traps every here and there to spice up the gameplay a bit. In gerenal the gameplay was quite fun, even if some actions just lasted a bit too long, like pushing a pillar or monkey swinging. From my point of view the audios didn't always fit with the camera sequneces very well, the soundtrack often seemed odd to me. The skeletons were very well used, there weren't many but the ones he used are very well placed." - Horus (03-Oct-2005)

"Another gem from the btb2005 levels. I just love how George has created the amazing flybys with the skelletons jumping out from everywhere! Also the flyby with the boulder creating the hole with the slope is a piece of art by itself. Ligthting and textures are great and even if there are only wraiths and skeletons present (no much more in the catacomb wad is there? :) ), George makes their appearence extremly good in an almost artistic way! The gameplay is perfect in the usual way from this author. Not hard nor easy but extremly enjoyable! As usual there are huge areas present in George's levels and this is no exception. A very clever way of reaching the gem in one of these huge rooms. Way to go George! 'Basic' or not, this is a masterpiece! My only 'complaint' would be that it could have been longer but as a fan of George's levels I always wish that :) - 2005-08-29" - QRS (29-Aug-2005)

"Since the names of the authors working on this project were publicized, we now already know that this level was created by George Maciver, who haven't disappointed us either now. Those who know his levels know what to expect. However this is not his hardest creation, it's not short of tricky solutions. For example, we can find only one statue for getting rid of wraiths, so near to the end we have to run through almost the whole level to eliminating the cruel enemies on our trail. Or another case, when we have to swing over a fiery pool. However, most of my time was taken by finding the one and only secret, because it simply 'appears' on a place where nothing refers to it. With that exception, this is a fantastic level. :) You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version), savegames and pictures here: http://www.treditor.hu/15/back_to_basics14_skellycombs.htm " - Obig (22-Mar-2005)

"Skellycombs has a somewhat classy feel to it. The rooms may be big, thus making your sprint button work hard thorough the level, but they're very atmospheric, well lit as far as I'm concerned, as you would expect from a good, standard TR level. Also of special notice are the flybys which have a nice cinematic feel to it. The gameplay offers nothing new in particular, but I enjoyed the huge complex room somewhere by the end of the level, where you acquire a gem (another one for the collection) and overall is enjoyable. As the title indicates there are plenty skeletons to keep you occupied, but the wraiths are frequent guests in this temple as well - especially the last one is interesting - you have to backtrack quite a bit to get rid of it, but since I couldn't for the life of me remember where the bird cross was, I let it haunt Lara further on in hope of finding a new cross. Well, and so I lived hoping till Lara slid into the murky end of the level, but I actually didn't mind as the poor restless soul made my end sequence more lively, and I had plenty of medipacks to survive this interesting finale for me. If any other gripes, then maybe that some of the pillars near the start felt architecturally superfluous (ie - objects to fill the room with, but no real purpose, you can see) but judging from the story they might have been intended to be decorative elements if this was a museum according to the author. Don't know how this compares to George's other levels, but it's a fine level as far as I'm concerned. Try it!" - eTux (01-Mar-2005)

"Grabbing atmosphere, interesting progression, and a good lighting a bit on the dark side. Shooting bones in a spooky area infested by wraiths, a timed door in corridors trapped with spikes, a lot of jumps to perform in a big room with many buildings chased by skeletons, and more good fun in a classic way. I really loved the skeleton triggering the spiked ball triggering itself a flip map. A satisfying level." - eRIC (01-Mar-2005)

"The highlight of this level for me were the flybys. Very well done, especially the first one with the boulder crashing into the room and opening up a hole in the floor. The setting I found to be a bit uninspired with rather huge and fairly empty rooms, a little on the dark side and Lara spends quite a bit of time out of the 45 minutes in this adventure simply running from A to B without doing much else. You get to shoot a few bones, a tricky rope swing over a fire, a not too hard timed run for the crowbar and then a huge room which is actually quite cleverly constructed for you to make your way to the top, but still felt a bit on the tedious side with levers and buttons and a lot of running again. As mentioned already, the skeletons are nicely introduced via the flybys and well placed on those ledges. I did not find any secrets in here." - Michael (01-Mar-2005)

"Very cool layout. Refreshing for some reason that I couldn't put my finger on. It felt like playing Tomb raider for the first time. Not really as many skellies as the title would lead you to believe." - Deekman (01-Mar-2005)

"Not surprisingly, you will be pursued by skeletons in this archetypical catacomb level, but they are not that many. There are also wraiths, and one of these will force you to do a long backtrack. The game is uniform and repetitious, but there a few highlights. For example, there is a timed run where a skeleton and a trap are very effective distractions. It is very irritating when you play, but well conceived. There is also a very sneaky rope swing to manage. Some jumps are bit tricky. They are not really difficult, but require some care, and you sometimes have a skelly behind your back." - Bogey (27-Feb-2005)

"The author excelled in two areas with this level, the first being some just beautifully designed flybys that at times had a cinematic feel, and the second being a great sense of urgency as you trek through this spacious temple. The use of enemies was for me less a health risk but more a spur to make the player move their butts and not just dawdle through and I really enjoyed that aspect, I even intentionally allowed the final sprite to stay alive instead of backtracking to it's 'kryponite' cross as I thought it would be too far to go back and I didn't think there was much more of the level to go, but about ten minutes later when I finally did find the finish I was glad that I had let it fly free as it's dogged persistence on me really made for a thrilling and nail biting end sequence, especially the long monkey swing. This is one of those levels that relies on it's gameplay being based more around the progression through the level with levers, buttons, and the like instead of puzzles, though there is a timed run and some bone shooting, but this does not make for a boring level at all and the jumps around this one huge room was testament to how best to make use of an area simply. I have a really firm idea who built this level as there are at least two tell tale signs in my opinion, the spike traps and that huge room's architecture, but hey I've been wrong before and I'm sure I'll be wrong again. The level took me just over 40 minutes with no secrets found, although after reading the other reviews I did go back and find the one there is and I think it was one of the most obscurely placed ones I have ever seen, like who would have thought to look there." - Sash (18-Feb-2005)

"The name is apt after you played this one and I am still not bored a bit after having a second go at all the levels. This time to check if the walkthrough is OK. The first fly by is so good, seeing that skeleton triggering that boulder, I had to watch it again and again. First half is outrunning wraith and the second half is being clever in outwitting skeletons and if that doesn't work you still have explosives. Overall I had a good time. The atmosphere is very well done, gameplay has enough excitement. This was indeed an exciting game. But I would have loved to get my hands on a shotgun in here. 01-02-2005" - Gerty (11-Feb-2005)

"This was a nice and well laid out level, which gave me a lot of fun while working my way through it, nothing too tedious here though, and it's quite manageable and fairly straight forward in game-play. I only got stuck once, when trying to retrieve the gem, I just didn't know where to jump too on top of those high roof-tops areas. But after that I managed everything else with ease, I had lots of fun outrunning the wraith, quite a mission that was, as you had to go right back to the beginning again, just to extinguish it. There were not too many puzzles to solve in this level, but there are lots of skeletons that you need to avoid, but after finding the crossbow and some explosive arrows this took care of them more easily. You will also encounter many levers to pull, a bit too many for my liking, as half the time I didn't know what the lever had done, and where I should go to next, so I was running around quite a bit trying to find out what they did. But saying this, it's a most enjoyable level all the same, and if you like playing levels with lots of skeletons, then this level is for you, so d/load it now and give it bash. I am sure you won't be disappointed, as this level is quite fun to play, giving you plenty of excitement along your adventure." - Gill (06-Feb-2005)

"Certainly one of the most atmospheric levels in this competition. It is dark in some places, but not annoyingly so, and there are flares available. To avoid lots of heart attacks I'd suggest players pay attention to piles of rocks on the ground, these usually mean spike traps, and there's nothing so infuriating as Lara dying in a split second if she runs into them. This place has enormous rooms you spend a lot of time running through, and it could get a tad tedious going back and forth despite getting excellent flybys. One flyby shows a boulder crashing onto a floor - excellent. Having said that I thought this was probably the most free flowing level in this back-to-basics challenge. I played it without help in just over an hour. The title is very appropriate, lots of skeletons, and you have to deal with a number of them long before you get the crossbow. Lots of wraiths/ghosts too and one of them had be running like a lunatic all the way back to the only cross I found near the start. Pay attention to the floor also for where to push an object. You're looking for a star and a gem. This gem is very high up in one of the tallest rooms I've seen in this competition, but the route up there is very interesting and challenging. The final room had me scratching my head for a while. I thought once I used all four floor levers the exit door would open. No such luck. So I ran back everywhere I could to see what happened. The answer is actually in the four levers room. Clever. An excellent level, highly recommended." - CC (04-Feb-2005)

"Run run run - run from wraiths that rises when you shoot bones (free the spirit) and run run from skellies. One timed run chased by a skeleton of course. The catacombs are filled with spike traps but there are clues to where they are...One big room is like a 3-d maze with paths and jumps between structures. Not sure about the mission here - since the read me talks about a museum and Lara's long fingers - but she leaves empty handed." - G.Croft (25-Jan-2005)

"Half the mystery and fun of the B-to-B challenge is guessing the builder. Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to play other levels by many of the builders in this competition and that is a distinct disadvantage. Some builders have developed a sort of signature or imprint to their building style that a player can sort of feel as they play. This is one of those levels. Now I'm not gonna make a complete bozo of myself and name that builder but I have a very strong feeling about this one and I'm very curious to see if my gut feeling is correct. Skellycombs is a well structured level with distinctive halls and complex temple ruins to explore. Architecture is sound and good use is made of the standard texture set in conjunction with well placed lighting to create an environment that has a really good atmosphere. Impressive flybys give you a prelude of what lies ahead in your travels. There's a hellish wraith chase which involves a deal of backtracking but I do suggest you make the effort to vaporise that critter as the 4-lever puzzle room takes some solving. Not too easily done in the presence of this whispering death. This level provides a most entertaining gaming experience clocking in at 1:04 but I found no secrets." - EssGee (25-Jan-2005)

"It's name is very apt flybys showing skellies jumping out from behind corners (ta da!) as they guard the huge rooms of the catacombs but not too many skellies to be annoying (in fact it was fun dodging them). Favourite parts are the first skelly who assisted Lara by stepping on a pressure pad to trigger a spiked ball; the large climb up to the get the gem jumping through doorways and dodging skeletons on the way; and the race to put out the last wraith all the way back to a previous room (great fun!) Excellent textures and lighting (especially when swimming in the water) and the spike traps were great! It isn't a large level but is straight forward and thoroughly enjoyable." - Jenni (22-Jan-2005)

"This may be the most solid level I've played in the challenge so far. Classic but classic as in perfect good textures good action well done lighting all perfectly balanced. Professional flybys too namely the first one with the skeleton coming out of the floor and the spike boulder opening a hole on the ground. The enemies are ice wraiths (when you shoot bones) and most naturally skeletons. The room with the gem at the top was very well done as well. Very good to play after some minor attempts in the challenge. (January 18 2005)" - Jorge22 (19-Jan-2005)

"These games have been such fun and this one was certainly no exception. This is my last one and I must say I'm sorry to see the series end. You arrive in a large hall where some 'furniture' shifting is necessary to get the proverbial (in this case literal) ball rolling. The room that you arrive in via a short swim has telltale doors that you know must be opened. Get ready for some interesting raiding bones bones and more bones pesky body-burning sprites and skellies by the score (these are quite aggressive). This is a fun and challenging game and you'll have a great time playing it. My last chip goes to Geckokid." - Mugs (19-Jan-2005)

"Research wise this is an easy level despite the lack of cameras and the sheer number of huge rooms (and I do mean HUGE) which combined with a somewhat 'neutral' lighting gives an impression of desolation. Quite appropriate for a skeletons lair. Skellies you will meet as the title clearly hints albeit not that many but still enough to make Lara's life miserable until you find the crossbow and the laser-sight and thus are allowed to behead them. Wraiths also roam the place the last of which will have you make a pretty long detour in order to get rid of it. Continue backtracking then and you'll be able to find the single secret of the level. The main difficulty is on the agility side. Some tricky jumping here and there but fortunately not the frustrating type a rather devious rope swing and a timed run through long corridors riddled with not-that-easy-to-spot spike traps. All this combined gives an excellent gameplay although too weak on the puzzle department for my liking." - Sutekh (19-Jan-2005)

"The level isn't bad. Puzzles aren't very well simply you have to pull switches to open doors. Perhaps there should be another puzzle so you have to think a little more too. Some rooms are too huge. Geometry isn't well worked too much 'squared'. Textures are dull. To kill the last white ghost you have to run across half level and pass through a lot of same places. But gameplay is correct cameras and objects well and lights are good (flares aren't sufficient for me)." - Jose (18-Jan-2005)

"At first I wondered about the title but then near the end of the level I understood why it was named like that. There are too many skeletons and wraiths with the latter feeling pretty bad I guess that didn't get mentioned as well. I am afraid the gameplay apart from a few nice jumps isn't impressing. Most of the time you just run to avoid the enemies or extinguish them you push levers/buttons and there's a quest item a gem. The timed run was a nice touch so was that skeleton that triggered a ball to drop and I like it when builders give hints for their traps. The room that was interesting was the one with the jumps where the player has to make it all the way up to the top but don't think that it's too easy. The end had just levers to push and that was it but I felt that more could be done with that room. It's a pity that such a good looking level with a nice gloomy atmosphere and well designed wasn't as great gameplay wise. Nevertheless I think you'll enjoy it." - Kristina (17-Jan-2005)

"A level I really had fun playing. The puzzles weren't difficult (just needed a bit of thought) and the one secret I found - in a location I would not normally have gone back to - took care of the skellies. The almost ending flyby showing many skellies popping out behind pillars seemed to jump out at me. I don't think I've ever seen that done better. The jumps to get the gem were done in an unusual room with the jumps never too difficult although it took awhile to figure out how to get to get to another button. In fact thinking about what I just wrote I've changed my rating for atmosphere sound cameras from an eight to a nine - even though I thought the pools were overdone everything else compensated for that small design feature as I enjoyed the over all design. I had thought I knew who built this level but as I didn't find what I think is one of his trademarks I could very well be wrong." - Bene (17-Jan-2005)

"Lovely 1st cut scene (including a boulder breaking part of a floor) to show us that things are starting to happen in this relatively empty great hall area. (Perhaps there is a feeling that this emptiness is trying to lull us into a false sense of security.) There is a nice use of the sound 'archive' where many actions are accompanied by different appropriate music. The whole environment has a grand 'elegance' to it. There is quite a collection of bones to shoot up (all relatively close together) - and we can 'enjoy' the white sprites that escape from some of them! Then carefully noting a certain telltale sign of spike-trap danger that begins to appear we gradually discover how to open a series of doors some near pools of water that provide welcome refreshment. In time - not too much - we reach a great towering room (introduced by fly-by) where - well you'll have to find it to see what happens there. For those who like jumping ..... There is some backtracking necessary though in a few places - or 'repetition' would be more accurate (though it takes far less time on the 2nd occasion as you know where you were going). The location of the secret I felt to be a bit 'iffy' as it required a return to a previously visited location (but only after a certain point in the game did this work). Admittedly this was not far away from your (possibly 5th!) visit to the single bird statuette in the game - or 'anti-sprite' as one person has accurately termed it. To how many places do we need to return in order to find such a secret though? I'm not sure there are many 'secret-hunting' players who would relish re-visiting every place found in a game just in case! Indeed I had reached the famous area of '5 skeletors in a fly-by' fame (although I think I found even more within the room in question - but I had explosive crossbow bolts by then) with that fifth sprite still in tow before I realised that I had to use the only 'anti-sprite' for this one too - so I had to go back rather than forward unfortunately at that point. An interesting attractive game despite the niggles. And different again from the four previous levels I've played showing just how inventive our community of builders can be." - rjb (16-Jan-2005)

"A 'Back to Basics' level using the catacomb wad so no need to go into detail about enemies and objects - you know the score. Given the title of this level I was hoping to find at least a shotgun quite early on in the proceedings. I didn't but I did eventually get some explosives and the skelly problem wasn't initially as acute as I'd feared. There's a really good effect as a boulder opens up a passage in the floor and the manoeuvre on the rope avoiding the hot water and the spikes was obviously devised by one of our sneakier builders. There a nice timed run that isn't too difficult as long as the damn skeleton doesn't get in your way. I only found one secret." - Jay (10-Jan-2005)

"This is a good workmanlike level that took me a little over an hour to complete. The ending sequence with the five levers and all the guardian skeletons was a nice conclusion but before then I started becoming a little bored with the bland surroundings and the constant push-a-button-find-a-door routine while running through another passage or hopping through another opening. The huge room where you find the gem high up near the ceiling was another nice touch but there was a mite too much backtracking required in here as well. Maybe the other BTB levels have spoiled me but this one wasn't one of my favorites. Still it was a fun play and one that I would recommend." - Phil (09-Jan-2005)

"This must be the 11th level I played from the B2B competition and I'm still amazed that there is so much movement and diversity; in gameplay as well as in the setting. Here the sprint key will be the most used and I don't think there was remotely as much running in the previous ten levels I played. To give the author his due I think I did it the hard way and I could have done with less toing and froing if I had paid more attention to my surroundings but what the heck I had a great time running back and forth. It's a catacomb experience with a difference; true you get the usual suspects; rather a lot of wraiths (btw have you ever used the word wraith in an everyday conversation? I haven't neither have I ever heard anyone speak about those strange beings. A virtual creature if I ever encountered one) and the compulsory skeletons (you might have guessed as much from the title) a crowbar to be found a star and a gem to collect; you know the drill. I really liked the dramatic flyby near the end where the skeletons jumped into view from behind stone pillars the huge room that you had to work you way up in was cleverly constructed and there were some tricky jumps that I found quite challenging (although to be perfectly honest with you I think I did some that weren't strictly necessary). So all in all a rather fluent and entertaining adventure that has all the trademarks of an experienced builder. Where there any secrets?" - Dimpfelmoser (09-Jan-2005)

"A level that grabs you sinister by the sounds and lighting the name already suggests what is coming and there are plenty of those also Spirits of which the last is really a pain till you discover there's only one Bird statue in the whole level so where was that... Tried finishing without backtracking but that didn't work as the MP's were scarce in this level. Nice build-up opening doors to finally get the Star to enter that amazing room with the Skellies on the ledges trying to push you off didn't have the Shotgun was there one? So it was a real challenge to get safely past them not much puzzles but the level itself was a big enough puzzle loved it..." - Dutchy (09-Jan-2005)

"This is another favourite of mine from the back to basic challenge. More atmospheric than anything else so that will always be a hit with me. The rooms are large and not much to see in some places but get down to the nitty gritty and you'll have a wonderful time. Starting in the upper rooms move an object to proceed and then go under ground to do some shooting wraiths will attack in abundance so you won't be idle for a second. Moving on you'll enter the spike trapped underground halls where skeletons lurk and a star has to be taken. Back up top you have to go on a quest for a gem and make some pretty fabulous jumps around brick buildings while being chased by skellies they just never give up do they? Nice use of textures items and enemies and the underground areas were well lit. Quite an exhausting adventure but top class stuff here so don't miss it." - Moonpooka (04-Jan-2005)
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