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Level: LB Advent Calendar 2005 - Once upon a Time back home search
Author(s): Horus
total rating:9.13 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Akcy 10 10 10 10
Bigfield 10 7 10 10
CC 9 9 9 10
diamond 10 10 10 10
DJ Full 9 10 10 9
dya1403 7 10 10 10
eTux 7 8 9 10
Gerty 8 9 10 10
Jay 9 9 10 10
Jenni 6 8 7 9
Jose 9 10 10 10
Kristina 9 9 9 9
Loupar 7 9 9 10
manarch2 7 8 8 9
MichaelP 9 8 9 10
Moonpooka 7 8 7 9
Obig 9 9 10 9
Phil 9 10 10 9
QRS 9 9 10 10
reborn1995 10 9 10 10
Ryan 9 9 10 10
Sash 9 8 9 10
Scottie 10 10 10 10
Thorir 8 7 9 9
Treeble 8 10 10 9
category averages
(25 reviews)
8.56 8.92 9.40 9.64

Reviewer's comments

"You know those Winter levels which have something really warm to it? Here's one of them. A nice mix of linearity and non-linearity, plain-sight switches and observation-requiring spots, and a solid dose of unique Viking mood makes this one constantly interesting, and it's very nice to see Lara and Kurtis cooperate again in this comfy scenery, my favourite bit was definitely the underwater puzzle when Lara holds her breath while waiting for the door to open so you can feel both characters in a genuine hurry - brilliant! The ending is a tad too weak to me, it just cuts without a warning." - DJ Full (23-Apr-2018)

"As can be expected from a Nadine release, the surroundings experienced here are close to flawless. The spacious outdoor areas are gorgeous to look at, particularly with the horizon in the Home of the Valkyries. Even the indoor areas have their own charm. It's not your usual Christmas level, although there are no enemies about, you will need to focus on getting where you need to be, finding the necessary items and solving the puzzle. Kurtis also tags along, although short of opening a few gates, he doesn't help much." - Ryan (11-Oct-2017)

"As in 2004, Horus' offering is by far the best Advent calendar game of the bunch. It really manages to create an atmosphere in a different world and all things like the new textures and objects work like a charm here. Still, I found that some things didn't work as perfectly as possible. The atmosphere definately feels too sterile, especially in the village sections, with a few changes it could've been something full of life but that didn't click with me totally; even the inclusion of Kurtis and several valkyries doesn't change much of this impression. This game could have benefited from more dynamicness in general - perhaps more flowing rivers, mechanisms, interaction etc. Cameras and varied music choices are also a bit sparsely used, but if existent, they are very professional. The gameplay is decent in this game and never exactly dull, but there are parts which aren't very inspired and often contain a long series of finding and using objects; especially in the second level and the first half of the third level there could've been more puzzles and diverse actions. As I said before, the "Christmas" marking should not be an excuse for uninspired gameplay. At least the exploration parts are always quite enjoyable, there's never an excessive amount of backtracking and thus the progression in this level is fluent and enjoyable. There are also nine secrets to find (not very hard mostly) that give you access to a special room and a bonus picture, and overall the hour I spent here was fun and magical despite not quite perfect. Recommended nonetheless." - manarch2 (28-Jan-2016)

"How should you describe a level which was described quite in detail? How should you lend to enthusiasm expression if other this have already made? I have no notion. Actually, I would need to write Only "wonderfully". And this best of all immediately 10 times one after the other. However, would be this accepted then as a Review generally? Probably rather not. So I must lend to my enthusiasm probably some more words. This level plays itself from first up to the last second so fantastically, that you would not like to stop at all. It simply fits everything perfectly. Unfortunately, more does not occur to me any more. I could fill yet several sentences with all these wonderful places, but then the player would know already everything and would run past heedlessly all. So: download and enjoy every single metre. It is worthwhile" - Scottie (15-Apr-2009)

"You can't really expect an ugly looking level coming from Nadine, and of course this is no exception - yet somehow despite me already expecting an exceptionally good looking level when I started this up - it still surpassed the expectations and I was charmed as if I was playing a level of hers for the first time. The settings based on Norse mythology strike closer to home for me than most other settings in the Tomb Raider world, and if it's as masterfully crafted as this trio of levels, it really is a treat for the eye from start to finish. Having Kurtis assist you as you make your way through the nicely designed village settings is a nice touch as well, and he certainly wasn't annoying or stubborn in my game, as it tends happen with companions in custom levels. The first level of the 3 was more linear than the following 2, so knowing how useless I am with finding my way in vast environments with lots of things to do, I enjoyed that part much more than what followed. It's not that there aren't any innovative ideas (think of the drunk guy for example!), or that the tasks here are too complicated, as it isn't the case with festive levels from my experience, but I found it was lacking focus (or additional camera guidance) for me to enjoy it fully, because I turned to the walkthrough on a number of occasions. I managed to find only 4 of the 9 raven secrets too, so will have to replay to get the others I missed at some other time. In a nutshell - the gameplay lacked focus as it progressed in this game and I was genuinely confused and lost at some moments, but those were certainly not the dominating ones in this trio set, and the wonderfully made environments more than make this an adventure worth experiencing. Try it!" - eTux (25-Nov-2007)

"The thing that stands out in this level is the quality of the textures and the lighting effects.All adds up to an atmosphere straight out a fairy tail with one flaw,if you don't collect all ravens you won't be able to complete the level.And you became aware of this only in the end when there isn't much to do.Loved the idea of Lara combining forces with Kurtis and the other caracters were intersting." - dya1403 (09-May-2007)

"I didn't play this 3-level set when it was released a little over a year ago, and for the life of me I don't know why. It provides about three hours of engaging gameplay without the distraction of enemies. Most of the action takes place indoors, and Lara's buddy Kurtis follows her around and watches her do all the work while offering little if any assistance. Along the way you pick up nine ravens for secrets, allowing access near the end to a special room where the password to the bonus zipfile is revealed. The environs are stunning, as is typical of a Horus release, and some of the puzzles are devious enough that I would have endured major frustration if not for Harry's walkthrough. The only glitch I encountered was near the end, when I combined the winding key with the toy car. Instead of dutily gliding under the crawl space, it just gyrated in place for a few seconds before exploding. I was therefore forced to enable the flycheat so I could squeeze into the necessary openings and continue. Other than this, I had a marvelous experience and can recommend it heartily." - Phil (07-Feb-2007)

"Unusually huge project for an Advent level. Perfect textures, objects and lights, lots of fanstasy-like pictures, beautiful places with the rainbow, valkyries, even a unicorn. Cooperative gameplay was an excellent idea. Great atmosphere, good music, what else can we ask for?. The todos are a bit too hard to be recommended for younger children, especially if you want to collect all the secrets, but highly for everyone else." - Akcy (11-Jan-2007)

"What can I say? Excellent texturing skills and great gameplay! I know you wanted a level with no enemies, but something is still missing. 7 for Enemies, Objects & Secrets and 10 for all others!" - Bigfield (15-Oct-2006)

"Nadine really has the Midas touch. I usually don't expect a great deal from the xmas levels, although I really enjoy them, but they are always a little lacking in something. And then here comes Nadine with this 3 level amazing quest full of fabulous things to do, places to visit, and wonderful secrets to collect, and just so Lara doesn't get lonely through her adventure she is given a handsome man, Kurtis, to escort her and give her a helping hand whenever she may need it. Others have described the locales you'll visit here so I won't go into them but I just have to say that I adored the second level 'Home of the Valkyries' with all the warrior women standing around and the brilliant progression through, it was a shame when I had to leave that level. All up this game took me 2 hours to play and I found all 9 secrets that gives you access to the secret password to open the bonus zip. I really hope this Christmas I find another one of Nadine's levels in my stocking as it will be the first thing I open and play, now I must be sure to leave the milk and cookies out." - Sash (20-Mar-2006)

"This was one of the best Christmas levels I've played this year but the last level of the game was tedious because of all the backtracking involved. Kurtis was a great idea and can be helpful in one level to open doors for Lara. In others it can give you hints but you have to listen carefully because it's not clear what he says. There are nicely done outside areas with snow and nicely decorated buildings. The last level was quite confusing with all those entrances and rooms to visit. You will find nine secrets if you search well, which I did and show the bonus wallpaper, plus some puzzle items like a cross, keys, a tile and others. It was an enjoyable festive level like most of this year's levels." - Kristina (05-Mar-2006)

"Another nice level from Nadine. Excellent ambience, pretty scenes and textures, impressive objects, a very good work. She said that her level is suitable for kids, but I don't think so; yes, you'll get no violence or blood, but this level is for expert players; it cost me too much to finish it 'cause it's too much no-lineal and you'll have to squeeze your brain to can advance, most of all in second and third levels. In the room with the torch is difficult to know where you have to use the car, 'cause there's no marked tile. I couldn't get all secrets, only seven of nine, so I couldn't extract the content of bonus.zip archive . Don't worry for the three wheels, you'll only have to place it at the very end of the game. It happened me a strange situation at the end: if you use the toy car over the tile which you get access when you place the wheels, then the wall to access to the room with the torch is not climbable, and if you pick up the car, again it's climbable. Like I said, a great level but for experienced players." - Jose (03-Mar-2006)

"i don't want to spend some words about this level. i think this is one of the best custom level of all time. it's perfect every single part. so i have put ten to all. perfect work." - diamond (31-Jan-2006)

"What a fantastic set of three levels! There are no enemies, yet the puzzle and exploration elements alone keep you consistently interested. Some of the puzzles are quite challenging (i definitely got stuck more than once). The decor is the best i've ever experienced, especially in the Viking Village (Dusk) level. i'd say it captures a very unique, yet very effective Christmas atmosphere. And i loved the music selections; they fit very well. The objects are very creative--the cross, the star wand, the toy car, and the raven-statue secrets. The cooperative gameplay with Kurtis was new for me, but very fun (although it did feel at some points like he got to just stand around quite a bit and not do his share)! If i had any criticisms at all, they'd be: i wish the staue-esque viking-women played an even more significant part of some sort, i wish that the village buildings in the first level were enter-able with some gameplay elements, i wish that some of the parts that look quite explorable were accessible (in Home of the Valkyries for instance), and i wish there would've been more people in the village. But none of those remaining wishes at all take away from what these levels do offer. i've only played about 20 trle levels, but these are definitely my favorite thus far! highly recommended! --Guy" - reborn1995 (25-Jan-2006)

"For a christmas present, Horus created a wonderful three-level adventure for us. She also hid an extra surprize into the package named as bonus.zip. But we only get the password for it after collecting every secrets. Lara is accompanied by Kurtis all the way, who is just standing most of the time until she finds the keys and levers needed for getting on, but sometimes both Lara and Kurtis need some help. Don't shoot Kurtis, not even on spec, because he becomes agressive, he starts hustling and doesn't want to do his task. In this case, only a reloading helps. The first level is for warming up; we have to solve some tasks, open some gates. The second level is already a real challenge with puzzles and skilled exercises, and also the secrets are hidden better. We have to find three cogs, that we will use on the third level, where we will be roaming in a small village, in a real christmas feeling. The gameplay is not linear, we have to run helter-skelter until collecting every items we need, but the real challenge is to find the secrets. The textures are gorgeous, the environments and the added sounds (especially the snoring) are also great; and of course Kurtis is a hit too. I suggest this wondeful christmas level to everybody. You can find a Hungarian walkthrough (as we don't have English version), savegames and pictures here: http://treditor.hu/16/once_upon_a_time.htm" - Obig (25-Jan-2006)

"Nice and beautiful level to end the Advent Calendar. Lara and Kurtis explore together the land of the Valkyries and the Dwarves in Christmas. No enemies and too much exploration and difficult jumps. The secrets (ravens) are sometimes very well hidden although it's easy to find them if you are wandering here and there looking for the next thing to do. I was stuck at one point because a door didn't open near Kurtis until I reloaded a previous savegame. This is not a level for beginners but is one of the most beautiful I've played. Great!" - Loupar (22-Jan-2006)

"This is a good idea, well executed. Lara's raiding in Norse mythology territory with Kurtis Trent for company. It's an impressive looking level, with some especially lovely artwork on the walls. I had to chuckle over the somewhat macabre secrets - dead birds. Yes, I know the importance of crows to Odin and his pals, but, I mean, imagine carrying them around in your backpack for any length of time. Whiffy. As you probably know by now, Nadine is one of our sneakier builders so finding all nine secrets is not so easy, but if you persevere you get a (most appropriate) password to access a lovely Christmas picture. This is quite a lot more challenging than the normal Advent level, but still accessible to most raiders and hugely enjoyable. A definite must-play." - Jay (16-Jan-2006)

"Well, if you expected a nice little Christmas Level, you will be thoroughly disappointed, as this is an adventure with many creative twists added that will have you busy and very entertained for several hours. Viking Village (Day) (8/8/9/10, 30 min., 3 secrets): From a very nice intro to the storyline you start this adventure with one of the less engaging parts - a rather tedious push puzzle, but it all gets much better from there, even though this first part is mainly about pushing a few buttons and progressing nicely alongside with Kurtis who works extremely well as 'partner in crime'. Home of the Valkyries (10/8/10/9, 60 min., 3 secrets): An impressive castle to roam around in and you will need to keep your wits about and a good sense of orientation to make it through. Wonderful horizon and really cool rainbow. The torch puzzle was fun, as was the climb/jump sequence (even though a little tedious). The scenes where you can watch Kurtis as he wakes his way through a whole room is just brilliant. Later on you help him upwards via an elevator as well and then need to go back and do his work, as he forgot a key. Finding the three gearwheels is not an easy task and finding the three raven secrets even less so, but I had a lot of fun around this place. Viking Village (Dusk) (9/8/9/10, 60 min., 3 secrets): The setting changes back to a nice little village full of huts to explore. Many doors to push open, sometimes to create useful shortcuts. This last part is more Christmassy with plenty of seasonal objects scattered throughout. The snoring guy was absolutely hilarious. The gameplay is rather non-linear and as there are few cameras you will be running back and forth quite a bit to check things out. The torch puzzle and use of the Toy Car in the dwarven workshop are nicely and very originally designed. All in all, a superb set of levels, demonstrating very much that a bit of creativity can go a long way even with the good old trle editor. Don't miss it and if you want to look at the bonus wallpaper, make sure you get all the 9 secret ravens along the way." - MichaelP (15-Jan-2006)

"One thing is for sure Nadine knows how to make levels, so feast your eyes on this one. The hunt is on as your goal is apart from hitting the finishing trigger, to get the 9 secrets. Like almost everybody I didn't find them the first time around, but the second time, I was lucky. I was still puzzled as I saw some question asked about the secret in the second level, the one after the chains. How on earth did I got hold of that one, I wondered. So playing it for a third time I couldn't get my hand on it anymore. I must have done something second time around that was so easy and now looking for it couldn't get it, Grrrrr. So Nadine, help me out please. For the rest it isn't an easy level as such, so do remember doors, gates and even some ladders. Helpful were the girls positioned at certain places. Kurtis was a pain in the backside and to understand him I had to change my settings for the first time after playing more than a 1000 levels. Not that he was much help but it was nice to hear the boss speaking LOL. 26-12-2005" - Gerty (07-Jan-2006)

"This is definitely something different! We are searching around a really impressive looking Viking settlement. This searching is for ways to open doors and find nine secret birds. I only used seven birds on the pedestals and the door opened for me, to get the password for the bonus zip. So tearing my hair out looking for the last lion's head to shoot (which I did) was not necessary in my case. The quest for the birds became almost an obsession with me. I played through these levels twice, but it was a pleasure in these well made levels. Kurtis is here from start to finish to help us. That is to say, he will help us, if we help him. So there is a lot of partings and comings together. I thought this 'co-operative' gameplay was excellent, and Kurtis' instructions via the voice of MichaelP. Most of the time I was able to keep up with him, and even got ahead of him on occasion, to monkeyswing, climb, jump, etc. There are plenty of see-through places where we must stand and wait for him to run to a switch and open a door for us. The one where we swim to an underwater glass panel and watch him, as we slowly lose our breath, was very unique. A word of warning though: On the balcony where we get the snowgun, after picking it up, if I ran around this balcony the game froze and I had to restart the computer. This happened every time I checked. So just to be on the safe side, pick up the snowgun and get off the balcony pronto. I also spent ages trying to get to places I afterwards found I needn't have bothered with, like trying to jump to the roof and shimmy over to where a bird is flying around a structure. Another hint: in the room with green heart box, shoot the lion's head with pistols. The snowgun and lasersight didn't work for me. I thought the levels were beautifully done, loved the valkyries, thatched roofs and walls of the houses, the puzzles, the jumping (especially in the tall water room), swinging, shimmying, the toy car, and I laughed so much when I found where the snoring noises were coming from, lol. Pick ups and secrets are all excellently hidden throughout the levels. This is one of those rare levels that grab hold of you, and won't let go until you've finished. And as there are no enemies here, it's great for children, and also an excellent 'training' level to practice all Lara's actions for the not so experienced - which is a nice Christmas gift in itself. Definitely the highlight of this year's Christmas levels. Thank you all very much, builders and all contributors. Happy Christmas everyone!" - CC (06-Jan-2006)

"A very nice Christmas-theme level. The setting is a Viking village somewhere around Christmas time and Lara and Kurtis has to solve a mystery... There are three levels. The first is a very nice viking village in daytime. It looks gorgeous and very atmospheric. There are very few Norse-themed TR levels out there, but it looks and works great. Throughout the three levels, you will also get help from Kurtis who pulls switches for you, and you must also help him. Very original and fun! Teamwork is not exactly what you get in most levels. However, I have read in the forum that some has had technical difficulties with Kurtis when he refused to do what he needs to do. Frustrating, as you need his help to complete the levels. As this is a Christmas level, there are no enemies. There are three secrets in each level and finding them all will reveal a password to open a bonus zip-file found when you install the level. Original, but the secrets are a far too hard to find in my opinion. There is no doubt that Horus is a fantastic builder. The atmosphere is great, especially in the second level. Lara will be exploring the home of the Valkyries. You can spot Bifrost on the sky. The rainbow-bridge between the human world Midgard and the realm of the gods; Asgard. The builder has great understanding of Norse mythology, and that is a good thing if you want to convince a player. :)The third level is more Christmas-themed then Norse. An interesting mix. The lighting is great, textures are fantastic. A great and challenging level to play for an exotic mix of Norse mythology and Christmas. I was seriously stuck a few times, so the level isn't for beginners, though." - Thorir (04-Jan-2006)

"Not exactly what I'd call a Christmas level, but interesting none the less to have Kurtis helping out. If the level is not going to be in the Christmas theme, I'd have liked to have at least something to shoot at to alleviate the boredom of just running around in circles trying to find out what to do (or get) next. The levels have lots of patterns with the main colour being pink but actually found it quite dull and too similar from one area to another. The areas to run around were vast and often went running in circles forgetting where I'd been or maybe have missed some hidden climbable wall somewhere, which could take hours to find due to the vastness of the place. This level is more exhausting to complete than fun, and feel that many would throw in the towel with exasperation. What made this level most exasperating though, is that you rarely had any cut scenes to show which door (if any) opened after flicking a switch or pushing a button, so most of the running around was in trying to find out"what did that button do?" Excellent replay value though: to collect all 9 secrets to unlock a bonus level. But if you can be bothered running around again ... (unfortunately, some areas don't allow you to revist them, so it's either load a previous save or replay again) - it's not one that I'll be revisiting anyway." - Jenni (02-Jan-2006)

"Try as I may I just couldn't get into the first two levels because I found them a tad stressful and not too festive. The hunt for the secrets and Kurtis refusing to do his jobs most of the time meant several re plays and that was rather irritating. But you need all nine secrets to access the bonus zip so we were all pretty anxious about getting them, and if you miss some of them you can't go back, so its replay time which I found to be an unnecessary waste of time. Viking Village (Day): I was a tad bored throughout the first level, it was quite dull and Kurtis wouldn't do his job, so it was back to a save game kindly sent to me by Jorge. There was a small pot puzzle at the start, and then you are simply finding levers and a key to make your escape. There are snowy areas and a few decorations about outside to remind you that this is in fact a Christmas level. Home of the Valkyries: This level is beautifully done, but I found it quite exhausting as again you are searching anxiously for secrets and praying you hadn't missed any of them. Again there wasn't much in the way of festiveness IMO, and Kurtis is there again doing what he does best, absolutely nothing! But I actually heard him speak this time. There is another small pot move puzzle, the torch comes to hand, and again you will be opening gates all over the place and getting very lost as you attempt to help Kurtis through doors so that he can then help you if he feels like it. Sorry, not much more I can say except the various ladies adorning the place looked very pretty. Viking Village (Dusk): Now this I liked a lot and made the whole game worth while for me. It's set in a large hut type house and it looked and felt Christmassy. The game play was fun and again you will go back and forth a lot, but it's actually a pleasure to revisit the many rooms of this house searching for your items such as keys, the handle and star, mechanical car, torch, cross and tile. I liked the use of the mechanical car and the workshop area was fabulously done, well the entire house is fabulously done but I really loved this area. In this final level you will get to place all nine of your secrets, assuming you found them, and then you can get the password for the bonus zip file, which sadly is not a bonus level but it is something nice to use next Christmas! Thank you, Nadine." - Moonpooka (28-Dec-2005)

"First level I boot up in quite a while, and I thought I'd get back into playing/reviewing mood with one of these wonderful Advent levels. This one was released just today and I loved last year's level by Nadine, so my choice was rather obvious. Nuff talk though, let's get down to business. This is a three leveled adventure (features a bonus file which you unlock only getting the 9 secrets) which will have Lara and Kurtis looking for three gears through the Valkyries land to use them back in the Viking village. Gameplay wise this was a fun level throughout the two hours it lasted, with enough - but not overused - object pushing and quite a number of hunts for keys. At least I got familiarized with the settings quickly so I wasn't left wondering 'where does this one fit' for long. All in all, quite a nice level and as I said above, it was fun having Lara and Kurtis playing along. Thanks Horus and Merry Christmas everyone! 130 minutes, 3 secrets. 12/05" - Treeble (25-Dec-2005)

"What can I say? Nadine never stops to amaze me with her level building skills and this is her usual pro standard but in a new genre! The textures and lighting is perfect. Michaels voice adds up to the story and the use of Kurtis is extremly well done! I have said it earlier but I'll say it again: Everything Nadine touches turns to gold. If it is ordinary egyptian levels, creepy places or just nice amosphereic places like in this level..it is done to perfection. Hats off to you Nadine, for another great level!" - QRS (25-Dec-2005)
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