trle.net
Level: The Lost Soul of Maria back home search
Author(s): TombRaiderFan
total rating:9.35 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Boom Raider 8 9 10 10
CC 8 9 10 9
DJ Full 10 10 10 9
ersatz 10 10 10 10
eTux 8 8 8 8
Gerty 8 10 10 9
Ivan 10 9 10 10
Jay 9 10 10 10
Jose 9 10 9 10
Kristina 8 8 8 8
manarch2 9 9 9 8
MichaelP 8 8 10 9
Monika 9 9 10 9
MrJavi94 10 10 10 10
Phil 10 10 10 10
QRS 10 10 10 10
Ravenwen 10 9 10 10
Ruben 10 9 10 9
Ryan 9 10 10 9
Shandroid 10 10 9 10
Spike 9 9 10 9
TrueRaider 9 9 10 8
category averages
(22 reviews)
9.14 9.32 9.68 9.27

Reviewer's comments

"I've not played many of this builder's earlier levels, but throughout this memorable and very well put together game I felt that this was definitely his best effort to date. There are couple of slightly irritating parts and a few sections that were a bit repetitive (mostly the overusage of flame traps and having to traverse certain areas too often) but my overall impression is that this is a high quality effort. As others have mentioned, there's an air of the Underworld Unfinished Business series about it all, with the appearance of Demon Smalls and the rich, stony textures used. The atmosphere is brilliantly spooky too, and the TR5 Black Isle sounds are used nicely. Some of the gameplay has its difficult parts, including tricky jumps and traps, but there's also some brilliantly inventive timed runs and puzzles. Generally nothing that will get you irrevocably frustrated. Highly recommended." - Ryan (19-Jan-2018)

"This is a full, immersive and well organized adventure with complete storyline and lack of redundancy, what again appears enough to make a great custom release. It's so flowing I didn't even need as much time as the author thought, but only about 4 hours in stats, and only 7.5 hours of real time because reloading and dying was reduced to my own fault or will. Things to fix would be climbable surface inconsistency, lack of texture transitions and too intense fog - I'm sure distance fadeout would do much better than the active VolFX recommended in the readme. SUMMARY: Great little one. Not that scary but absolutely well done. Play at some point." - DJ Full (16-Jun-2016)

"First things first - the storyline of this level is absolutely terrific and should be a good reason to directly download this level, just as it did with myself, but - which is already my largest gripe in this level - it didn't really pan out in the game, which as result felt rather confusing and I lost the logicness of the actions at some point; the builder really should have cared more for that. Put that aside, I really enjoyed the 2:45 hours spent in this game; all levels are really enjoyable with good and diverse gameplay elements, a well crafted atmosphere and plenty of unique touches. The progression in this game is more linear as one could imagine after entering each level, and there are only few really outstanding tasks, but because of the fluent progression and hardly any part where gameplay feels dull the game entertained me from start to finish - and the puzzles in this level are quite original, e.g. the "death puzzle" (nothing for children though) or the (albeit potentially misleading) math and letter puzzles. While the spooky settings are partially fantastically created and some areas are totally immersive - what comes to my mind are the huge outdoor area in the first level or the whole prison complex - the looks of this game are simply getting too sameish and drab after a while, the first three levels use more or less exactly the same textures, afterwards a little bit more different graphics can be seen but it's not enough because I think that when you have a long levelset that pretends to have some diverse settings there should be a decent variety of the areas that shouldn't look all the same. I mostly blame the choice of textures for it, which by the way felt a bit wallpapered and several times are not perfectly applied; and not architecture or sound usage, because they're just what you'd expect from a great level, especially the great audio files which maintained the high atmospherical standard throughout the whole game. All in all a memorable game that provides a lot of great things, but it was a bit uneven for me because of the mentioned settings. Still highly recommended." - manarch2 (08-May-2013)

"Maria's Castle Gardens - (10/10/10/10 - 1 secret) - Level of Difficulty = Average. An awesome level as an opening to the whole adventure. The gameplay for me is flawless (the best if you activate the Volumetric Effects in the setup file). The atmosphere is beyond perfect, so I don't know what words would be the most precise here. The textures are very beautiful and most of the floor textures are based on Ireland levels from Tomb Raider Chronicles if I know well. What more could I tell about this great level? Sound is amazing too. It fits very well with the mystery this level might give at all. I almost forgot to tell about the puzzle in the second part of this level. The puzzle consists basically in placing the dead men's graves onto the corresponding tile according to what is mentioned in the book she finds nearby. Just take a look to the pictures on the walls and you'll know where to place each one.
Maria's Temple Bridge - (9/10/10/10 - 1 secret) - Level of Difficulty = Average. Another spectacular level. Let's go by parts: The gameplay has been slowly decreased in this one. Not because it's a little bit harder than the previous one, but simply that I didn't enjoy it as much as I did with the other one. As said previously, gameplay here is some harder. Some very bothering wasps, fire spirits will take you wherever you go till you kill them and a possibly tricky timed run. Atmosphere is flawless whenever you have activated the Volumetric effects. It made me to feel myself inside the adventure, like if I were her partner in her mission to find Maria. Sounds is also very well set to the category this level could represent - maybe fear and mystery. The textures are awesome, too.
Maria's Cryptic Darkness - (10/10/10/10 - 1 secret) - Level of Difficulty = Average-Difficult. Gameplay here continues being better and better, at least even better than it was in the previous level in my opinion. About the enemies, there're much more bothering wasps, and some big monsters guarding the entrance to their lairs (of course where critical items are). The textures are brilliant; the puzzles... well, there're no puzzles if I remember well here. The quality of the atmosphere design seems to not be decreased.
Over-Darkened Hell - (10/10/10/10 - 2 secrets) - Level of Difficulty = Difficult. This level gives us a totally different look as the all the previous one gave. Also, the outfit has been changed too and it's as great as the other one in all the aspects. I think the gameplay in this level could be, in general terms, between average and difficult. Some of the reasons that explain it could be the amount of enemies there're. One or two demigods, a lot of small demons, big monsters and vultures. What could I tell about the atmosphere has not been already talked about before? It's great too. Traps make of this level a more challenging and enjoyable one, and in mix with the amount of enemies... that's the why I considered this level as the hardest out of all the four previous ones. In general terms( talking about the four categories displayed here), this level is flawless for me.
Prison of the Labyrinth - (9/10/9/10 - 1 secret] - Level of Difficulty = Average. Gameplay here decreases again, as happened with Maria's Temple Bridge. Many enemies such as big monsters and vultures in big amounts, which make challenging gameplay. Sounds is very well set as in all the previous stages. Atmosphere is some worse than in all the previous level. Sounds are still awesome. It seems the author knows what track to choose according to each theme.
Prison of the Labyrinth - The Number Room- (10/10/10/10 - 0 secrets) - Level of Difficulty - Difficult. I enjoyed a lot playing through this level. First to say, the puzzle to discover the only true number for this stage. As the level name says, there's a room with several number as solution to the Mathematical operations displayed on the board in the previous level. The final solution of the those operations is the number where you'll need to place the key in. And it's based on a tricky timed run, so be fast or... there's no need to tell what will happen if not. Sounds while in the timed run is intriguing and the rest brilliant as always. The textures are equal as the previous level, so I'd say they both are interconnected somehow.
Maria's Dream - (10/10/10/10 - 1 secret) - Level of Difficulty = Difficult. This time we're inside Maria's dream, which sould be rather a nightmare. Gameplay is hard in my opinion, a lot of flame-emitters and timed runs ( and in some occasion these two are together). Enemies are basically flying bugs. Atmosphere & Sounds are stunning. This builder is highly talented in level building as we can notice. Puzzles here are for clever people I would say. Could someone think that the five movable objects on each one platform have to be placed by making a "magic word" according the the five letter collections on the wall? So discovering the method of this puzzle is not an easy task. So now, what could I tell about the textures that I haven't told before? They're... you know. Great!
The Final Battle - (10/10/10/10 - 0 secrets) - Level of Difficulty = Difficult - Extreme. Here is possibly the most difficult level of the game. The reason is clear. Do you remember the torso from the Great Pyramid from TR1? Well, in this level you won't fight against one torso guy, but against FOUR. And here's where the demons hid Maria's Soul. Once you take it, the huge doors where the two first torso guys are open and they'll start to attack you. Here starts the difficulty. And pushing the block while the undead knight is annoying you with this slow movements and the sword he weirds may not be an easy task. So try distracting him before pulling it away.
Maria's Home - Well, I have not much to say about this last level. It's just when you place Maria her Soul and save her forever.
Overall - Conclusion & Recommendations (10/10/10/10) - An awesome and perfect adventure to play through. It's a game you will hardly forget of having playing it and you possibly enjoy each moment of it, exactly as I did. Highly recommended for all kind of players - From unexperienced to expert players. Thank you very much for this stunning adventure, Chris." - MrJavi94 (02-Jul-2012)

"I've wanted to play this for a long time, and a while ago I did download it and started it up. However, I was a little put off by the massive rooms and what seemed to be multiple directions in the first level. But it turned out, the second time I downloaded it, to be quite short and the rest of the levels flowed pretty quickly too. My total time was just under 4 hours, but it felt like a lot more, probably because of reloading many times. This deserves its now Hall of Fame position because it is unique. No other level set that I know of is quite this occult, or has many strange but intriguing sequences of both gameplay and cutscenes. I loved the story and the oppressive atmosphere, my favourite kind. It was quite easy, even the timed runs because they almost always involve flames which you can manipulate by saving and reloading as that turns them off briefly. Cheating maybe, but otherwise it's nearly impossible. The number puzzle really confused me, I just didn't have the patience to try and figure out the logic, but I really commend Chris for this type of puzzle as it's original and the ones you can figure out it is very rewarding. The push/pull word forming puzzle towards the end didn't work for me at all, no matter where I pulled the blocks. I had to find a savegame from an Italian forum to get through this bit. Maybe it works for most people but it didn't for me. This, sadly, detracts from the overall pleasure I got from this. The textures I found very good in the later levels, but in the first few there wasn't much variety and the huge high walls stood out as a bit bland. What also annoyed me slightly was that every jump sequence seemed to involve timed flames, all of them! This got tiresome and I was glad to finish the game in the end. I really enjoyed the whole episode, but there were just little things that seemed 'unprofessional'. I agree with Elvis that some things seemed to have been thrown in for the sake of it. To be honest, it was never a major gripe, but it just felt odd. I really loved the end credits sequence and especially the photo of EssGee lol. Great game, a must play if you want to experience another side to Tomb Raider." - TrueRaider (23-Jul-2008)

"What a fascinating level. Great storyline, and everything we see and experience is consistent with Lara's attempts to save little Maria Dashul's soul. There are some gruesome sights to be seen. But there are awesome sights too. According to the readme when Lara starts out on her quest she has an accident, is unconscious, and wakes in an altered reality. Right from the start we are aware of sinister goings on in spooky surroundings where otherworldly forces are at work. Each level goes deeper and deeper into the tortured soul of Maria.
Maria's Castle Gardens/Maria's Temple Bridge: Two connected levels. Great atmosphere as we explore the dark castle, tower and grounds. I don't know why we see so many pictures of 'Girl with pearl earring', but a lot of them 'mean' something. The little white ghost (aka Demon Smalls) is constantly trying to lure us through some of these into death traps. That is, if we are foolish enough to follow him. There is a somewhat disturbing graveyard scene, but the puzzle here is excellent. Lots of climbing, swimming and jumps to avoid fire emitters and spikes. All to find the key to the bridge. And what a sight this bridge area is. Totally surreal and extraordinary architecture. We see giant monk heads slowly turning above us, and non-encounters with other hooded monks. As you can imagine there is a lot of climbing up to dizzy heights, rope swinging and pole climbing, with some very interesting jumps, trigger tiles and levers to operate. We are making progress and moving closer to our goal as we see the ghosts looking in books for inspiration on how they can stop us. Maria's Cryptic Darkness: Now inside the castle, and the dark dank spookiness continues. If the monk head switches don't do it for you, then perhaps the tube of guts, or the decapitated body will. Yuck! Then there's the giant crested mutants. But it's a mystery why some of them are locked up. Although there is nothing too tough here, we do perform some very good tasks, like the dash to avoid the beetles, some good timed runs, climbing the transparent cubes, the glass floor and archer puzzle, and of course watching the flybys. The well hidden crawlspace took a while to find, despite the huge red arrow pointing to it! And despite the overall gloom, some rooms are really quite beautiful. Watching as Lara climbs higher and higher in the final room is awesome.
Over-Darkened Hell: Lara in a new outfit, has been transported to a dark cave. Talk about sinister surroundings! All those bloodstains, guts and gore, torture chambers, demons, and general air of uneasiness, this very atmospheric place would give you the chivers. But we are also mesmerised by the pink water, the unusual doors, the demigod statues, icons and images, objects and enemies. What we are looking at is a brilliant interpretation of good versus evil. We make our way around these huge rooms high up and low down via the usual climbing, jumping, ropeswinging, trap dodging and timed run across lava before the gate drops and we find ourselves in...
Prison of the Labyrinth: It seems that we have some help here, but we have to work for it. A female torch bearer will open some doors for us. But the other fellow, the blind man, wants his eyeballs first. Gross! And to get his eyeballs we must desipher his prophecy. Don't know about anyone else, but it was 'walkthrough' time for me at this point. Unusual here are all the fuseboxes to shoot and use. But very appropriate are the huge mutants, the red devil guards and fire wraiths. And if the 'prophecy' wasn't enough, there is a numbers/gates puzzle setup to work out. It is actually more of a timed run to switches, but in a particular order, and dash to the exit before Lara fries. We finally locate Maria's cell and watch a lovely flyby of Lara reading her diary and entering...
Maria's Dream: With hands coming out of the walls! Nope, this is still a nightmare. On the other hand... no pun intended... this is actually quite normal, compared to the previous gore. If we've managed to figure out the clue there is a good object pushing puzzle here. But beware. It has to be done in one go or the swords will not go down around that glass jar you need. After a few traps and flying shellies, we have a choice, Heaven or Hell, but interestingly enough they both lead to the same place...
The Final Battle: Is more of a visual stunner than terrifying. The sight of the huge mutants! They, like the decaying, but useful knight, can be trapped in their own nightmare, which is a relief, as we take back Maria's soul. The final level is a short, but lovely scene where Lara visits Maria at home in her bed and returns her soul.
So, to sum up. This has been one of those levels that really grabs you, with an excellent storyline, fascinating to look at, very unique, original and memorable. More puzzle-based that otherwise, which is natural considering the theme. And an absolute must-play." - CC (12-Nov-2007)

"Last time the small TRC Ireland demons were prominently focused on in a series, it became a huge success, so it's not surprising that this trend would be picked up in other levels sooner or later, and as you can guess - the whole point of me mentioning this is that TombRaiderFan's "Lost Soul of Maria" is one of those levels. It's of course silly to assume that the demonic presence is solely responsible for a game's success but it certainly adds to this game's already unique flair as they are added in the game's first levels for various reasons, whether for effect, showing Lara the way or as enemies later on. And while it's hard to ignore where this aspect as well as the castle-like looks dominating the game's settings are inspired from, it of course has much more going on. Most notably - there are a couple of neat puzzles, that took me some brainstorming to do before I figured them out, and for one I didn't even get that far so did it via trial and error. The best thing about the whole game for me was the soundtrack though - I don't know where most of it originated from, but it was well chosen and fit this game very well, especially the title track is beautiful. As you guessed from my scores that are comparatively lower than those of most other reviewers, there were parts that were not so attractive in this experience for me too. For one, while it offers a number of unique puzzles, they are scarce and far in between, the rest of the tasks consisting of you pushing switches or levers. There are a number of neat jumps too, so it's not like it's beyond redemption, but generally this rarely offers something new. Returning a bit to the puzzles - I'm not a great fan of builder's recycling their ideas, so was not sure what to think of seeing one puzzle I had seen in his previous game too. While the storyline actually is relatively original comparing to the most you get in the custom level realm, I think it would've benefited if it had been more sophisticated. Numerous times I was wondering what's actually the purpose of this all taking place in a castle, when did the demon god (or something) come into play and were elements like the blind man, the torch bearing girl, the prisons, the sudden and at times inconsequent level jumps just there for gimmicks or was there more purpose outside the given context of the story? This might seem like nit-picking - and true, Tomb Raider levels can easily get away with an uncomplicated plot and plot-holes, but only to a certain point in my opinion. If certain things feel like thrown in just for the sake of it, you start to question the rest too - like is all the religious imagery, creepy drawings, blood or ugly creatures really consistent with the atmosphere the builder wants to convey or just thrown in, so the level would seem creepy? For example - I didn't really like the "Over-darkened hell" level, as it felt somewhat out of place from the pack and just thrown in without a real purpose - as you don't really achieve anything here, but run through the level and then return to the all too familiar castle settings. Having beta-tested most of the game I was also somewhat puzzled to find some of the issues pointed out to the author still existing within the game, plus some new ones having slipped in, like an awkward way in which Lara holds the grenade launcher what you find in one of the 6 secrets (according to the walkthrough. Found only 4 on my own). He may have been stubborn, or maybe the comments just slipped past him, but I suppose it's Chris's prerogative to do whatever he feels like with the information he got. All in all - this may sound generally pretty destructive, but I don't think it's really a bad game as such and I think I recognized it's quality as such with my scores, but I must say it didn't convince me entirely. Good choice of additional audio tracks, though, as mentioned. Worth a try if you wan't something a bit different." - eTux (08-Nov-2007)

"While most levels I encounter have similar formulas of exploration and acrobatics, this one is unique in that it has some true puzzles that are nothing short of genius in the TR-world. While they are set up in the basic format using heavy triggers and 'pick the correct door' rooms, the puzzles themselves are pretty hard to work out, and gave me a great sense of satisfaction when I finally finished them. Apart from that, the rest of the gameplay is business as usual, with well implemented jumping and shooting tasks, although there were some parts where I had to use several reloads as I was out of medipacks and being chased by Wraiths. The texturing is also great, and suitable for the environment, as is the general atmosphere. It feels spooky, and both the indoor and outdoor areas feel exactly like they should, and the audio only compliments this. A great levelset, and definitely one for the puzzle-fans." - Spike (27-Sep-2007)

"Maria's Castle Gardens / Maria's Temple Bridge (8/7/10/8, 30+15 min., 1+1 secrets): The intriguing stroyline sets you up nicely for this game and you are immediately taken in by the atmosphere, supported by excellent choices of audio files. Many times a short flyby will carry the storyline along and allows for easy progression. You cannot help but think of the Unfinished Business series, because the level has encounters with our friend Demon Smalls and uses the same wall textures, but the gameplay overall nicely stands by itself. A nice burner room here, the rotating heads, the devious fire wraiths, some ropes, some switches and levers - not too hard but keeps you busy and you sure want to always know what is around the next corner. Nice idea with the graveyard push puzzle. The only thing I really did not like was the rather unnecessary walkthrough wall/picture.
Maria's Cryptic Darkness (8/8/10/8, 30+15 min., 1 secret): Inside the castle now and it sure is a huge castle indeed. Really liked the high waterfalls. Gameplay gets actualls even easier here with a sequence of head-buttons to push, but the enemies are quite a pain and very tough (wasps, poisonous mutants and beetles). Although the 'kill the beetles' buttons were a nice idea. You find (and use) a decapitated head here and two mosaic tiles. Again an unnecessary climb through wall is a bit of a gripe, but just a minor one as there is some fun to be had with a timed run, timed burners, great use of electricity, and some platforming jumps through cubes. Again, nice short flybys accompany the action in just the right doses and keep up the interest in what awaits next.
Over-darkened Hell (8/9/10/9, 30 min., 2 secrets): This gets better and better. Lara in a new outfit and spooky caves with lots of blood all around. The cool door and other objects also add nicely to the experience. Enemies are poisonous litttle blood ghosts, fire wraiths, devil demigods and scary vultures with horns - so overall quite a hellish experience indeed. Ok, there is again a fallthrough floor (my pet hate), but the gauntlet through burners, spikes, blades, spiekbags is fun and the platform jumps around the lava room are too with a nice timed run at the end.
Prison of the Labyrinth (8/9/10/9, 15+15 min., 1 secret): Beautiful intro with the female guide and generally rather simple gameplay here opening and exploring the various prison cells. But then of course there is the Number puzzle, which is a bit obscure to resolve all by yourself. More mutants, vultures and wraiths to deal with and then one hell of a timed sequence during which you need to flip five switches before Lara bursts into flames. Nice challenge there. I liked the burner room with the hanging cages and it all ends with a cool cutscene after which Lara gets thrown into Maria's Dream.
Maria's Dream / The Final Battle / Maria's Home (9/9/10/9, 30+10+5 min., 1 secret): Eerie atmosphere and very well crafted to suit the occasion of a dream that Maria with her troubled soul might have. Those hands coming out of walls and ground, the water like ceilings - very well done. What I found generally remarkable is that throughout the whole series it is actually never too dark in terms of ambient lighting and yet still quite spooky. The whole room with the word puzzle was a pure delight to play through with the jumps, the burners, the push puzzle, there are flying skeletons to kill, at times in inconvenient places and then you get to find artefacts to open the doors to Heaven and Hell, only to find both doors lead to the same place - interesting twist of mind there. This place then provides a very suitable final battle with the (easily dying) TR1 monsters and a few more of those flying skeletons before you get Maria's Soul and give it back to her at home.
Overall, this is a rather fast paced, not too difficult to play through series that carries a great storyline along really well and which you therefore should absolutely not miss! Great work, Chris - let's work on some more, please ;)" - MichaelP (08-Jul-2007)

"This is a biggie (as in large and as in great). The story is in the readme that is included and do read it so you know what you are up against. I missed 2 secrets so this is on my replay list. This is no walk in the park although the game-play on its own sorts itself out. Do remember what you picked up and use it, as there are different objects than the normal ones you find in here. There is a lot of jumping and also a lot of emitters to avoid. There are even a few short cuts I found that probably were not intended and I got stuck (literally) as I probably did some illegal jumping for the second Eye. There is a fiendish timed run, but when you know how it works and what to do, you can make it. There aren't that many pick ups but the secrets give you ample ammo and weapons. However I did spot some paperthin walls (and a screenshot to prove it) and some object Lara should collide with but didn't. The puzzle with the number I couldn't solve so I was glad that I wasn't the only one, as the solution was in the stuck thread and still the run after that was frustration hell." - Gerty (16-Feb-2007)

"A Great work by TR Fan ! Absolutely enjoyed this level . I really do not know what mysterious bugs in outside levels Kristina is talking about cause I played it right through from beginning to end and never encountered any difficulties or bugs that would have caused the game to crash etc. Hope to see much more from TR Fan in the future , I have become a Fan already !" - Ruben (19-Jan-2007)

"After Jens' 'Be My Valentine', I think this is the spookiest level I have played. Actually it's more like not pleasant in sight some times rather than frightening. The plot is quite interesting with Lara searching for a lost girl named Maria and has to find and return her soul to save her. Of course this is some kind of a dream or maybe not! The levels are enough to keep you busy for a while and the enemies are mostly poisonous ugly creatures and big beetles. The area with the red blocks was something new and not easy to figure out so think 'climbing'. The puzzle with the graves was a bit freaky but nicely made. The problem is that most of the time in the outside areas you get the 'end of the world' bug. I didn't find most of the secrets; I only managed to find two. If you are easily frightened do not play this but you like such levels this is going to be one of your favourites." - Kristina (18-Jan-2007)

"I wondered many times why so many levels even with special effects, new animations and interesting story have such a dark and typical textures and almost all game you have to looking for some flares because nothing is visible - I hate it! The Lost Soul of Maria isn't like that. Player is removed to the wonderful and amazing but also very dangerous and frightening Maria's dream world. Lara wants to find her and her lost soul. It is not easy and will take some time. One of the most important part of this game is music so don't forget to download it! I had a lot of problems with word puzzles mainly because english isn't my native language so I had to find walkthru but even with it ....it wasn't easy, finally I found the right solution. The last timed run is really mortal and I almost gave up but you can believe me it is possible! The strong point of this game is that author using new textures and very fresh ideas didn't lose the main and real Tomb Raider climate. Only the final part in Maria's home could be a little longer but all levels composed one story made on the highest level. That is why my opinion is 40/40 and I am waiting for the next part!" - ersatz (23-Dec-2006)

"It's pure enjoyment reviewing levels like this, as much enjoyment as it is playing them. 'The Lost Soul Of Maria' is definitely one of the most original, imaginative and genial levels made so far; it's one of those levels that not only show the genious of the builders, but also demonstrate clearly the potential that there is in the editor itself, as they go far beyond the common and conventional settings and storylines and provide a result that is stunning in its originality and geniality. 'The Lost Soul Of Maria' could be subtitled 'Lara in Nightmare-land', as we follow Lara in her quest for a girl's lost soul, in nightmarish imaginary places that however don't create a feeling of fear, but rather one of psychedelica and dreamy eeriness. Everything that is used in this level (or better, this mini-game) has a purpose, and the result is an adventure that stands out from every aspect. The objects are original and wisely used; there is imposing music, an impressive fog effect that dominates throughout the sections. Lara gets to wear more than one outfits and this is a nice addition to the whole. The first levels are rather easy, but it all becomes darker, tougher and more imposing as you proceed. There is a great variety of settings, creating different feels in each section/set of sections. All the parts are great, with immaculate texturing and some fantastic gameplay sequences; various elements from the classic TRs are re-introduced in an inventive way and seen from a different perspective. My personal favourites however have to be 'Maria's Dream' - a masterpiece eye-candy graphic-wise, and 'Over-Darkened Hell' for its gothic feel and its subtle references to classic TR1's Atlantis levels. There aren't many enemies in the level, but all of them appear in crucial parts, offering some good action sequences. The mutant monsters weren't too tough to beat - especially as in several places they would get stuck in openings, making killing them too easy - but the skeleton harpies provided a good piece of challenge wherever they appeared. The secrets could be a bit more challenging (I managed to find all of them without consulting a walkthrough) but this is just a side-note; the imaginative puzzles make up for this, as well as the excellent timed events. Besides there are so many good elements in this game, that this detail is of no real importance. 'The Lost Soul Of Maria' is a must-play for all raiders, but experienced, open-minded players will just love it." - Ravenwen (19-Dec-2006)

"I'd never played any other levels by this builder, so I have no basis for making any comparisons, but this is definitely cream-of-the-crop material. The visual amenities are nothing short of stunning, and there are enough fresh touches to give me confidence in my prediction that Maria will wind up in the Hall of Fame. I was reminded of the Underworld UB series as I played, not only because of the Demon Smalls critters that you see along the way but because of the rich and colorful surroundings. In fact, I was tempted to call this Richard Lawther Lite; but since I'm giving top marks here, that would be unfair to the builder. The adventure took me about five hours to complete, and the only thing that didn't enthrall me was the occultic ambiance. But hey, this is only a game, and a well-designed one at that. Highest recommendations." - Phil (07-Dec-2006)

"The author said that if the ratings are good and everyone enjoyed it he shall consider building a second part. I think the set of levels is quite good, and the author should must consider this (although it represents a lot of work). I only found two obstacles: the prophecy number was too much difficult for me, and the secret word in the room with the five moveable pieces too, 'cause I'm not an english speaker (I'm spanish) and my english vocabulary is poor, but forums can help everybody in this cases. There are a lot of new features in the game, new textures, new musics, new objects, original puzzles,... and that is always good for the players; I liked the ambience not too much dark too. Generally gameplay is not hard, although there are some tricky tasks; sometimes I didn't know what I was doing (when the metal cage drops in the water) but only few times. This is one of the authors who gets better with the time, and I really enjoyed this game. Good work." - Jose (28-Nov-2006)

"I played on a Mac and encountered no problems with the level itself. I thought it a very interesting game and I enjoyed it most of the time. Sometimes there were too many monsters at once for my liking and I just don't like beetles nibbling at Lara. The puzzle in the prophecy room was nothing for me. I didn't even attempt to solve it. I got the right number from the forum. The timed run in the number room was tricky but after several tries Lara reached safety without being roasted. The pushing puzzle was not so difficult once you knew the word. There are many things I could mention that are special in this game. I have played it twice to pay the second time even more attention to details. The atmosphere is partly eerie and I just loved it. I hope very much that there will be Maria Nr.2. Played about 5:30 hours net time." - Monika (15-Nov-2006)

"This is the first level I have played by this author and I must say that I was amazed by everything in this adventure. First of all the story, atmosphere, textures and lighing are simply stunning. I'm a big fan of eeire games/movies and this one is really creepy! Especially the connection to serial killers and silent hill etc. The gameplay is just about perfect. Seldom hard, never easy. Just average and fine not-at-all-frustrating smooth gameplay hehe. The secrets are not so hard to find but they are hidden in clever ways. If you want a 4-5 hours of epic pure fun adventure, I can really recomed this one. Way to go, Chris! I hope you will make a sequel to this one! All tens from me." - QRS (13-Nov-2006)

"I really love levels that have a great story and the detailed level to go with it. There is so much here to make everyone happy. I am a sucker for beautiful castle gardens, check. There is also a part of me who enjoys a good scary place, and well, we have a few here while searching for Maria's Soul. The Devil objects were outstanding and looked like they were about to come to life and attack Lara. I could imagine putting myself in her shoes and how frightening it would be walking by all these devil sentinels who appear to be breathing(!) and could slaughter you any second, but stay at their posts. I loved that. There were so many challenges in this level, from the outrageous twisting backflips, to the math puzzle (yeah, ok, I couldn't do that one by myself) and accompanying timed run (did that one, though!), to that word puzzle (uh, huh?). Chris made you look around and think before you go on blindly from room to room. So much thought went into this fantastic level, and even though some things had me scratching my head, at least there were things to wonder about, which is more than most levels provide. The final battle was fun, but perhaps made too easy since Lara was able to stand above the huge TR1 monsters and plunk away at them from safety. This however, to give the author credit, did make me so relaxed that, when additional monsters appeared and blocked the way to the ladder to safety, panic certainly set in, which just added to the fun. I was not able to use the volumetric f/x like instructed, and I wish I could have, as this would have made the level creepier. All in all, there is so much here to make most folks happy, and don't be deterred by the puzzle and timed run challenges, as although difficult, they are not impossible. I wouldn't attempt the level if you are beginner, or really even a so-so player until you feel fairly seasoned, or you may be stumped by the twist jumps and some other areas, but do not pass this level up when you are more skilled, you won't be disappointed!" - Shandroid (06-Nov-2006)

"Maria's Castle Gardens/Maria's Temple Bridge: Wow, talk about atmosphere - the place is absolutely dripping with it. Lovely spooky Black Isle audio and dark, dank grounds to explore. I was tempted to say 'Vermeer was 'ere' because there are paintings of Girl with a Pearl Earring all over the place, but that would be crass, so I won't. Er, oh well never mind. I'm lumping these two parts together as you come back to part 1 after a detour through part 2 to find the graveyard key. Oooh, graveyards - ratchet up the spooky one more notch. There's a lot of climbing and flame avoidance and some really interesting areas to explore. No enemies apart from a couple of flying bugs and the occasional imp, but the imps don't bother you at all. The graveyard is very unusual and rather unsettling, with a good puzzle. Maria's Cryptic Darkness: Again, a most interesting level, visually grand and with large mutant hell beasts for added interest - those things are really tough. Also, there's an unusual effect with red cubes that I worked out surprisingly quickly, entirely by accident (story of my life). Over-Darkened Hell: Ah, Lara's outfit has changed - nice to know she's managed to pack more than weapons for this adventure. There are a really worrying amount of demigod demons waiting to greet you (mercifully only one of them actually comes to life) and the decor is decidedly bloodstained. Lots of fire tiles to run across and a nice (not tight) timed run. Prison of the Labyrinth: The main elements of note here are a numbers puzzle and a real sod of a timed run - it's tight I tell you, tight. Phew. You finally meet up with Maria too. Maria's Dream: Excellent puzzle - something really different that I thoroughly enjoyed. Winged skeletons and the most amazing looking beings, somewhat like the elephant man, that I think were re-textured mummies. You need to find artefacts to enable you to visit heaven and hell, which interestingly enough appear to occupy the same space. Feel free to start an interesting metaphysical discussion among yourselves on that one. The Final Battle: Not one, but two boss baddies from the Atlantean levels and a crumbly crusader to assist you with breaking things, before you lock him away in a room. Great stuff. Maria's Home: Aaaaaw. Short, but very, very sweet. Lara returns Maria's soul and this wonderful level regrettably comes to an end. The author may give us a part 2 if this is well received. Yes please." - Jay (02-Nov-2006)

"Wow, about of 5 hours of gaming and probably little more because saves and loading and loadnig again and again.. WHat a horror show and some parts from silent hill and other psiho-horror-mistery movies or games. Very nice levels and i player with pleasure. Some kind of spooky and weird atmosphere with music and all areas of very big and giant castles and after interior of same one. i always like big and huge areas with a lot of searching like beggining and finding bridge key and after go to cemetary and over bridge and return. Veru huge and nice looking and good for move up grey tower. After some tricky jump to water, was lazy to jump over down :) Very nice maked moved doors when something are happened areas with "water roof" are brilliant and all compaq to atmospehere and all playing for me was what is next and next. Little buggy with puting five spirit blocks for word and i must moved this again. First time was with saving and put on all same places and after when saw on forum help i did with right position. Last level too nice and beauty with heaven and hell pictures and sounds. At last marias house was cute nad little back to reality for Lara's advenure and hers rest. CHeers." - Ivan (29-Oct-2006)

"What can I say... but that I really enjoyed this level. It kept me in my seat for a total gameplay time of almost 7 hours ( 15 hours in realtime ). Puzzles were well thought out but a little too much running backwards and forwards for me. But hey, other people like that in a game , So who am I to be judging. Not wanting to give the game away but I could not seem to get the "spirit word puzzle" to work, but if i did then there was no confirmation of it being done correctly. I still managed to complete the game so I must have done something right ;) ( hence only an 8 scored in the review.... so i'm jealous ok ;) Some of the jumps and platforms were along the lines of " no way will I do that" and most of the times I was right !!! persistance payed off and I got to the top though whoopee. Timed runs/jumps were very close, especially the number/prophecy puzzle. Nigh on impossible ( and I confess I borrowed a saved game from someone who HAD done it ) as redemtion for this I have been attemping to try this timed run again by my lonesome self. I am slowly knocking seconds off my run. :( Monsters,etc, are quality models. Scenery, lighting, layout are well designed I tried it with VOL FX off, then switched it back on again. The atmosphere and effects are immediatly visible. The music is wonderful, Haunting but sorrowful in places, and just in the right places My lad had one criticism though, as the designer is a student maybe he could have found a girl to do the voice of Maria " come into my dreams.... Lara " Oh, how we laughed ;) So once again... overall I loved it... well done I was thinking of entering a walkthrough but decided against it. I managed to get through ( although as I said it did take up 15 hours of my day.... just follow your nose and look for the not so obvious )" - Boom Raider (25-Oct-2006)
back home search