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Level: LB Advent Calendar 2006 - Nikolaus von Myra back home search
Author(s): Lumina Artis Coloris
total rating:8.61 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Akcy 9 9 10 9
Andzia9 9 9 9 9
Gerty 6 7 8 8
Jay 9 8 10 9
Jose 6 9 9 9
Kitkat 8 9 10 9
Kristina 6 7 7 7
manarch2 3 7 9 8
MichaelP 7 9 10 9
Phil 9 9 10 8
reborn1995 10 10 10 10
Ryan 8 9 9 9
Shandroid 9 9 10 10
sharnilal 9 9 10 9
category averages
(14 reviews)
7.71 8.57 9.36 8.79

Reviewer's comments

"This is a gorgeously crafted location for an Advent level: a serene, moonlit Turkish settlement with friendly inhabitants and well executed atmosphere, and the way it's done here is second to none. The textures are wonderfully selected (like The Citadel, it utilises a mixture that would normally be construed as a bad combination, but somehow works and doesn't detract from the visual appeal) and the audio choices and flyby sequences make this a must see. I was close to rating Lighting & Textures down as I found the indoor areas a bit too dark for me, but relented because the scenery is so beautiful. Gameplay maybe falls slightly behind due to the relatively exhaustive backtracking, the need to remember where each keyhole is, the tedious vase pushing and the occasional buggy nature of it (like manarch2, I somehow got locked in the timed gate in the maze so had to cheat a bit to get out. Nonetheless, it's a worthy experience that clearly demonstrates a visual talent." - Ryan (11-Feb-2018)

"This is a very atmopsheric level set in the hometown of Nikolaus, with a very authentic town setting that spreads charm in almost every corner. (Let's say all except the ugly hedge maze with very low ceiling; perhaps the builder also could've cared more for some strange portals throughout the whole map as passing those creates an odd camera bug as if Lara passed a solid wall.) The builder has a grasp on flybys and sounds are also effectively used here, the cutscenes with the inhabitants of the town are very cute. The visuals are impressive, yet texturing is occasionally hectically applied at times and I found mistakes even in one square high passages which should've been avoided easily. The lighting, while often very nicely expressing and supporting atmosphere, is also at times bit dull (a sun in each room at least would've helped). But as so often the "only" major problem of this level is gameplay. It's not only that exploration with finding and using items and levers is what you do most of the time here, it's also that you need to backtrack immensely long paths (why does the door to the garden with the lasersight never open? There are also two different guides walking permanently against it...) and especially if you miss certain items at first you're in for a hell of a backtrack (e.g. the first Nikolaus star) - better stay close to the walkthrough here. There are almost no puzzles to be solved here, the revolver is definately not needed at all to shoot that ball (just jump up with pistols) and the sole pushable puzzle is made excessively tedious - very long paths and the pushing animation is not continuous anymore so you always have to press Action again. Seriously, this is lousy design and nothing else. Then there's the timed run in the hedge maze, actually one of the few actual tasks in this level, but as the door closes behind me I never was able to get out of there except of using a bug to move through the nearby fence. But the worst thing was simply - this level is just more like a sightseeing trip and never actually tries to entertain with more diversity in terms of gameplay. One funny thing was that the bike actually could drive underwater. For the beautiful setting alone this is a highly recommended game but you have to be in a very good mood to forgive the more than secondary gameplay design. 45 minutes." - manarch2 (20-Dec-2016)

"Lara is in Nikolaus Hometown. It's a beautiful, snowy night. We can visit some beautiful places, like a palace, garden, library and many more. In many places it is very dark, so it's good that author has playced a lot of flares. Nice, quiet atmosphere. A Ninjas are friendly here." - Andzia9 (05-Dec-2010)

"While waiting for BTB to arrive I thought I would replay this level which I first played 3 years ago when it was released. I'm disappointed this builder hasn't released more levels since as I enjoyed this one so much. In fact back then we didn't have TRNG and NGLE and TREP were just getting started, and it's the overall environment presented in this level that has stayed with me since I first played. The puzzles are not too arduous and gameplay is fairly linear if you remember to follow the clues. There were a few glitches - Lara's push/pull movement is not the continuous one that we're used to, and the camera shots had to be ended by pressing the look button, but these were small annoyances. I had trouble with getting one of the gates open and eventually had to restart the game. I put it down to the fact that one of the ninja's had got jammed on the other side of the gate, so Ahmed couldn't open it from his side. I had to kill him later in the restarted game, as I couldn't get him to move out of the way so I could shoot the padlock on another gate. Neither of these problems appeared when I first played the game, so I just put it down to the vagaries of the ninja artificial intelligence. All in all, this game was just as enjoyable a the second time through and an interesting setting for a Christmas level." - sharnilal (31-Dec-2009)

"First time a round I binned this level, too confusing and too many bugs. Second time around I binned this level almost at the end, as it still had bugs and even with the walkthrough it still was too confusing. Loads of"invisible walls" the pushing was a drag as Lara wouldn't push in one go (like she used to). I felt restricted, as some areas you couldn't get to. A pity though as the whole lay out was very good looking. It came short on gameplay" - Gerty (26-Jun-2008)

"i'm surprised this level isn't rated higher. i really think this is a near perfect level. it's either my first or second favorite level i've ever played. i think the structure of the level is ingenious. the decor is very convincing and the author decorated a variety of areas and yet maintained a very consistent look throughout i think. there is a fantastic use of music throughout the entire level (the desert wind is the only one i might have reconsidered). there is so much to do gameplay-wise and every area is so worth exploring (definitely a "10" in the explorability category for me). This level is so epic and cinematic. i loved how the gameplay was challenging but didn't leave me irritably clueless. the secrets actually matter--you will put them to use at the end of the level. i love that the author took the time to include this; i get tired of secrets that are nothing more than extra pick ups. And i adored the very Eastern take on Christmas style. i do have some critiques of the level, and i only bring them up because i think when a level is this close to being perfect, it's easier to spot what it lacked. first, i had some trouble with the cameras in places (but the atmosphere and sound were so terribly strong that i just couldn't score it less than a "10"), and a couple of white ninjas had some buggy type problems when following me around. second, there were quite a few "end-of-the-world" parts that frustrated me a little. i desperately wanted to explore some places that should have been accessible by all appearances. third, there were a couple sets of double doors that never got opened so far as i could tell, and in the flyby sequence after pulling the library lever, it showed two people on a roof in an area that i never got to access (though i did shoot one with a revolver from quite a distance just for fun). fourth, the level was just a tad too dark in places for my taste, but i really can't fault the actual score for it since the level is set in a desert at night. fifth, i have mixed feelings about how the motorcycle was used; i found it rather difficult to navigate the narrow hallways to even get the motorcycle out into the desert, and then the desert really didn't make for all that fun of a ride. but consider these to be ultra-nit-picky critiques, because overall this level is a masterpiece. This is a BRILLIANT level that i will be playing over and over again. --Guy" - reborn1995 (01-Jan-2008)

"As soon as I started playing this I realised it wasn't your usual Advent Calendar offering, even if it is snowing. Lara is in Turkey looking for the tomb of the real-life inspiration behind 'Santa'. And what a lovely setting she has to look around as her friend Ahmed shows her around town. The custom textures really add to the Eastern feel as do some of the custom audios. However I know the level is set at night but it is a shame it is so dark, I would have loved to see the town in daylight. Also I enjoy looking for secrets {even if I don't always find them} and to be rewarded with a "special secret" room for finding them all was a really nice touch. This is a gentle raid in beautiful surroundings." - Kitkat (03-Jul-2007)

"Only seeing the initial flyby you know that it's a level with a very good design. A nice environment but too much dark for me (difficults the gameplay) although it's by night the moonlight (full moon) could ilumine some more the outside areas; was a good idea to put a lot of packs of flares in that room, I almost used them all! Gameplay was not very good for me 'cause I spent most of the time looking for too much keys and pulling switches to open a lot of doors, although there are another tasks, the level is not difficult itself. Unfortunately I couldn't find all five stars and had to end the level sliding down the ramp. The best were the excellent design, musics, textures, decoration and beautiful places I've visited as the Sherezade's bedroom. This builder is a true artist!" - Jose (06-Feb-2007)

"I had trouble finishing this one with all the bugs which hopefully have been fixed. The setting is oriental and nicely done when you first look at it but unfortunately there are a few areas where the 'end of the world' bug occurs and spoils the atmosphere. It's darkish and quite confusing with many keys, some of them double with no use, 5 stars to find and ninjas that jump around when you shoot them but will not hurt Lara. The guide was a good idea but there is a bug that stops him from walking forward and gets stuck between doors so it's impossible for the player to proceed into the level. The maze with the levers wasn't that difficult but again there was a problem and some times the door to exit the area with the key was closed and I had to reload and do the timed run again or walk around endlessly until it opens. I found six secrets and all the stars you need to enter a bonus area where you have nothing to do and the level ends. The normal ending, in case you are missing the necessary stars, has no finishing trigger. Anyway do try it out and hopefully the updated version is bug free." - Kristina (18-Jan-2007)

"Wow! This level has an intense atmosphere to it, with the nice little storyline and the wonderfully designed exotic, oriental location. The audio choices and the flybys make at a truly stunning event to play through this for the sheer beauty of it! It is admittedly rather dark throughout, but that fits the setting well and there is an ample amount of flares provided. I really liked the idea of the Golden Star secrets that at the end give access to a beautiful bonus room. Where the level did fall a bit short for me was the gameplay. It has some great ideas (like the use of the guide) but it is also rather tedious throughout with a lot of running around trying to remember where any of the dozen keys might fit now and I thought the hedge maze was especially unnecessary and the four object push puzzle could have been set up with a little less tedious pushing as well. Also ran into quite a few invisible walls here or there. However, all this does not spoil the uniqueness of this 70 minute adventure that you really should not miss." - MichaelP (15-Jan-2007)

"Anyone passing up these seasonal Advent levels doesn't know what he's missing. The two I've played so far this year have both been outstanding, and the ones I haven't played are rated even higher. This is a nice romp through a palace in the desert (similar to the one I visited in Libya while I was still in high school) that takes a little more than an hour if you know what you're doing (as I did, having an advance copy of the walkthrough). I found the darkness to be a bit much for my taste, however, so I bumped up the gamma on my monitor so I could see what I was doing without having to light a flare every few steps. There are ninjas and assasins all over the place, but all are friendly. Your tasks consist of finding various artifacts (together with five gold stars if you want a reward at the end) and allowing your good friend Ahmed to stroll (he doesn't run, thank heavens) ahead of you and open a few doors. The Rimsky-Korsakov music is a perfect complement to the action, and I had a good time here. Recommended." - Phil (20-Dec-2006)

"WOW! Amazing level. Beautiful places, buildings, a night adventure around a palace, then in the desert. The author must have some sense for filmmaking, because the fly-bys could belong to movies, watched them many times, of course the wonderful musics were needed for that too, which were selected perfectly. Sometimes I stopped for minutes, and just listened the music. The atmosphere is among the best levels ever. But a bit too dark, and even in the updated version, there are a few minor bugs left, Lara can ride underwater with the motorcycle, and the Golden Star in the library didn't count as secret. It's a great level, absolutely recommended." - Akcy (19-Dec-2006)

"I wasn't expecting such a beautiful and rewarding experience when I loaded this level up. Lara is surrounded by rich, dark and vivid textures which made me feel like I really was in Turkey. The atmosphere was a bit dark, but understandably so, since according to the story, Lara is exploring at night in an unaffected sultanate, which I would presume would have limited electricity. I played most of the level at night, so this wasn't terribly distracting. A guide takes Lara around to unlock some doors, and this, unfortunately is where I started having buggy problems. I got inside a large temple and instead of following the guide around and making sure to wait until he unlocked all the doors and gates, I started exploring without him...big mistake, but not huge. My guide got stuck in a small garden and forgot to unlock the garden gate. I thought I was stuck, but thanks to vimmers, figured out that I can re-open the front doors. The garden gate is a shortcut for future item collecting, and so I had to backtrack a bit (ugh), but it wasn't so bad. Some folks had trouble with some keys fitting the same locks, which caused a critical error, however, a re-worked version (which I think I played) replaced the original to correct this. Too bad this was not found in beta-testing (beta-testing has been rather slack lately-hint-hint-beta-testers). Everything made sense in the level, and the library was even next to a coffee shop! Music tracks were absolutely perfect and made the experience so much more satisfying. This was a wonderful raiding experience, and I hope that Lumina continues to build, hopefully a large project next, because I would love to spend several hours in one of her levels. Great job!" - Shandroid (17-Dec-2006)

"The builder really has created a wonderfully exotic Eastern town; it's stunningly beautiful and the lovely music enhances the atmosphere so well. The gameplay is compelling and occasionally quite confusing, but it's very rewarding when it all finally comes together. You need to find lots of keys, a couple of Nikolaus statue pieces and five gold star secrets and you'll have a lot of fun along the way. The final cut scene of the most amazing treasure room really sums up the level in one word - sumptuous." - Jay (16-Dec-2006)
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