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Level: The Imprisoned Spirits SE back home search
Author(s): GMac
total rating:8.75 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
DJ Full 7 9 10 9
JesseG 9 8 10 8
manarch2 8 9 9 8
Mman 9 10 10 10
PiscesAphrodite 9 7 9 7
category averages
(5 reviews)
8.40 8.60 9.60 8.40

Reviewer's comments

"Gameplay&Puzzles: 9. Definitely not a game for beginners. The level is quite long (it took about 7 hours for me to play it the first time) and there are several interesting ideas like the strobo room and the disappearing walls. The puzzles themselves are never so tough, but quite often some ability is required to make jump sets, in particular for those on the top of lava pits as well as for those in some of the timed runs. Enemies, Objects & Secrets: 7. I enjoyed a lot both the amount of enemies and their almost-always clever location. I sometimes even jumped on my chair while playing and finding a mutant or a semigod appearing from nothing in the room. The dark atmosphere in the whole game enhances most of the fights against the enemies. On the other hand, I found the object choice quite poor and I am very surprised of this because the author has shown a huge fantasy in developing the levels, the puzzles, the story, the buildings and the overall atmosphere, so I would have expected more fantasy work on the main objects. I have been very disappointed that the main objects to find, namely the last four dragon heads, were the same objects needed to access to the second part of the game. A little work more on these important final objects would have been appreciated. In addition to this, a minor negative point is that some of the enemies seemed to be put there just randomly, in particular the last semigods, therefore the fight against them has not been so interesting: they just appear as uninvited guests in one of the final rooms. Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: 9. I would like to give 9 and half but it is not possible. I must say that I literally love the work done by the author here. The music files in particular are just amazing. The only reason why I do not give a full 10 is because I would have appreciated a more appealing music during the fights against some of the main enemies, in particular the semigods: instead these moments have not been emphasized by a proper music, and this is a real pity because there are many beautiful music in this game that make the raiding a unique experience. Using some of them for the fights versus some of the main enemies would have been a better choice. Lighting & Textures: 7. Honestly this is the weakest point of this game, in my opinion. While the lights are amazingly located in all the rooms, the textures become quite annoying after a while. Indeed, as I mentioned above this game is quite long, therefore I would have appreciated a larger variety of textures in the different levels. Instead almost the same textures are used in all the levels, which eventually makes the visual experience a little bit boring. Final comments: Definitely a game that I recommend. Brilliant." - PiscesAphrodite (15-Aug-2016)

"What do you mean "A time to hate" doesn't have pushables? This makes no sense at all... Meanwhile the atmosphere is eerie and utterly isolating, with huge spaces and outworld structures sure make you feel like if you don't take this mission nobody else will. I particularly liked the slanted corridor and it's hard to tell which realm is better: Heal or Peace. Certain locations take too long and I'm sure some doors failed to open for a shortcut, also the storyline could be more defined as sometimes there are no characteristic differences between particular chapters which would explain their biblical names, and I don't really know what happened in the end despite of rewatching the final cutscene. In the end I cannot say this is the best one of GMac, but just like all of them it separates you from material world, so close your curtains and go through." - DJ Full (09-Jul-2016)

"What a fun journey this was! This is a huge levelset so brace yourself. I feel the atmosphere is the strongest part of this release. It sets a constantly spooky overtone, but manages to stay refreshing between different levels through the nicely crafted architecture and ambiance, and there was a lot of work put into the cutscenes as well, earning top score from me. The gameplay is also strong, with a decent mix of timed runs, torch puzzles, and plenty of combat (including dodgy those pesky spirits of course). My minor complaint there is that sometimes it takes a bit too long to backtrack because of the immense chambers in some levels. The weakest point is the texturing, not because it is used poorly so much as the fact that the same texturing is used throughout the entire adventure, and I found it tiring to look at the same gravel, pillars, and grates after 6 hours. "A Time To Dance" was the only level that used textures in a strikingly different way, and even then it was only in a few areas. The objects were mostly well used but have the same issue of being a bit tiring after 6 hours, although at least the enemies changed between levels. There were also those weird switches textured like uzi ammo clips (which also inconveniently blend into the environment often). What helps compensate for the eyesore effect is the nicely done lighting, which helps contribute to the atmosphere and adds plenty of different coloring to the levels. Overall, while the repeated objects + textures can add a slight feeling of the series overstaying its welcome, it is still an entertaining and impressionable adventure that I very much recommend. Time: 5 hours 54 minutes" - SSJ6Wolf (04-Nov-2015)

"This levelset consists of multiple levels of which most are quite short, none being longer than half an hour and some not even 10 minutes long. They are often designed the same way a few rather impressive and huge areas, some in quite atmospheric exterior settings, serve as the hub for the gameplay which is a quest mostly for a series of quest items. The side areas are a tad too boxy and not as impressive, yet always are textured decently and the lighting is of the same, if not quite perfect, quality throughout. What I found to be working not well concerning the visuals is merely a copy and paste of my other reviews, that is repetitive and not always clean use of most of the time greyish textures that create a kind of atmosphere that doesn't vary enough in each level and doesn't express well enough the kind of setting intended by the builder. I mean, if he uses the same kind of textures in each level, and also those which are used in his other (e.g. Scottish) adventures, it doesn't make the hell theme too convincing. The lighting is good, but too often relying on colours and the contrast is sometimes missing (sun bulbs are needed). Architecture is generally very fine, with the huge rooms having quite interesting geometry, but sometimes, as said, too boxy and I didn't like that some parts seem to be a copy-and-paste from other levels and also classic TR 4 levels (like the area from Catacombs). Still the atmosphere works fine with nice use of sounds and professional camera work though some cutscenes are just too long for their own good, especially the ones where the wraiths extinguish. Overall it felt a little more sophisticated than in the builder's other games and there are some very nicely designed parts among only few mediocre ones. The gameplay is thoroughly mixed too in its quality fun and even challenging trap sequences (especially with breakable tiles, boulders) are followed by tedious and way too easy platforming, a dull search for levers and items placed nearby and the torch "puzzles" often consist of picking up a torch, light it and then light several wall torches, all in the same room. The only good puzzle with it was in the last level, which I found to be one of the best of the pack gameplaywise. There are also other nice tasks, like the use of boulders in the third level, several quite tight timed runs and the use of flipmaps in the ninth level. The enemies in this level are quite fancy and often used in nice situations, some even underwater, and the wraith chases are more fun than annoying this time. The objects are well used too, even with a bit more variety possible from level to level, and the secrets are nice to find, some are quite well hidden actually. Overall this is an often fun and atmospheric level, but the thing that it often is too much of the same lets it down somewhat. 3:45 hours." - manarch2 (14-Sep-2015)

"Imprisoned Spirits has been a quite influential set visually since its release, with its strange underground castle aesthetic and abstract alien environments having been a clear inspiration for various designers since (especially those involved with Skribblerz). While it's a little grey sometimes there's a lot of coloured lighting use, and the pack gets more experimental with its themes in the latter half. There's also a lot of fitting new objects, and strange creatures to encounter. The only issue I have in this regard is that the music pool is a bit small, and while it contributes to the unique style the same unearthly tunes playing in almost every level gets a bit predictable. Now for a level by level summary:
A Time to be Born: This is mostly used as an intro level, with relatively short and unintensive gameplay that leads onto the later parts via a hub (albeit a linear one). The main thematic elements are introduced well, with the grey castle type environments built into giant caves, surreal uneven geometry, swamps and strange creatures, but this is mostly a part you pass through to access other levels.
A Time to Die: Now the gameplay kicks off, this is actually quite a complex start, with multiple routes to go and multilayered rooms, there's nothing especially difficult agility-wise though, with the toughest part coming from finding a blended switch in a large room. There's a nice intro to enemies that can only be killed with heavier weapons too.
A Time to Plant: Another exploration level, although slightly more linear. There's some puzzles to introduce the torch and and the introduction of the nicely modified monstrous Guide. The centrepiece puzzle involves guiding various rollingballs down to the bottom of an area, and it creates a nice multilayer exploration sequence.
A Time to Weep: After a short trip back to the first level you end up here. This is based around an impressive massive chamber full of huge alien pillars that you work your way down and around, and there's a nice lava-water switch towards the end. This is mostly a visual showcase with the gameplay involving searching the large rooms for semi-hidden objects, but it's enjoyable enough and there's clues if you pay attention.
A Time to Laugh: As with the first set this level feels like a semi follow up to the previous level, with the pillars reprised and placed inside more huge chambers (although more horizontal than vertical this time). The gameplay here unfortunately suffers from a bit of a symmetry issue, and, while there are various changes there are times where you have to backtrack across huge rooms to do similar tasks, and the horizontal scale doesn't help with that. Still, as before the impressive visuals and scale help carry this level despite that.
A Time of Peace: After another trip to the first level this introduces a major thematic shift; an outdoor theme, with an alien swamp and your exploration involving various rooms built in and around it. This is predominately an indoor level though, with various offshoot areas to explore and some more complex challenges (including a nasty collapsing tile sequence). There's also a nice use of enemies in a creepy dark basement type area, that almost seems to intentionally subvert the level title.
A Time to Heal: A second outdoor level, this time with few indoor sections at all. This is actually quite short, with the main puzzle being a non-linear hunt for four gems (that aren't too tough to find) and a relatively linear platform sequence after that. There's an interesting underwater sequence with moving flames that gives it a magical atmosphere. The title is fitting as this seems like a bit of a cool down after the relative increase in difficulty the previous level brought in. After this level you return to the first level and finally have the items to move on to the next section of the pack (based on their nature these are presumably the keys to Dragon Castle that the story mentions), but before that there's a small boss and exploration section to go through, as well as a narrative moment where you find and use another item mentioned in the story. After that you enter a Time to Kill, which presents a new outdoor (or underground?) forest type environment and some sort of Mansion. However, this first visit is very short and just a transition. There's a puzzle where you have to ignite yourself, but it's obvious enough and the level short enough that it doesn't offend.
A Time to Love: This is back along the lines of the first few levels, with an underground castle/caves style, but there's also some giant "heavy" pillar style areas and corridors. It's a bit trickier here, with tougher platforming and some interesting fliproom puzzles. This isn't an especially long level if you don't get stuck too much though.
A Time to Hate: After a tricky jumping sequence in a cave and a cage encounter this level has the cool feature of partially looping back with the previous one (without a level change), as you reach some parts you couldn't before and enter new areas. The Lasersight is the main star here and there's a nice twist on a shooting puzzle at one point. The amount of Monkeyswinging in one section felt like padding though, as you go over multiple identical corridors.
A Time of War: There's another theme shift here as while the fundamentals are the same the texture style moves towards more orange/brownish colours over the greys of earlier. This is another quite short and simple level with some small narrative moments as you wipe out a bunch of spirits and meet the Guide again, with the rest mostly being comprised of some easy platforming and a bunch of Demigod battles (making this a bit of a boss map).
A Time to Dance: Here some new high-tech type textures come into things, and, while the side areas are more traditional, the central area almost feels like being inside a giant computer or something. Fitting with the title, there's quite a bit of platforming and some agility tasks, along with some interesting ideas like an underwater enemy, overall it's still not too intensive, but it's probably the most involved it's been so far.
A Time to Kill: Now you get to enter the Mansion and explore the level proper. The Mansion itself functions as a hub to various challenges that test various skills you've used along the way, like more complex torch puzzles, a Lasersight puzzle and some combat. There's also an interesting if slightly visually irritating strobe room. After completing various tasks to open the end you get some nice wrapping up as you wipe out the last of the spirits and meet the guide a last time, along with a last flyby of A Time to Heal.
The gameplay doesn't get too tough outside of some difficulty spikes here and there, and most of the levels are relatively short and can be finished in about forty-five minutes maximum, the longer levels are actually contained in the first half (A Time to Die and A Time of Peace probably being the longest). Sometimes there are some odd sections where you get keys for doing very simple tasks, and a bit too much "find the random hidden switch", but usually the tasks are enjoyable. There's also a little bit of forced damage, although it's not especially common. IS is a great set and the influence it has had puts it up with some of the greats. A sequel is supposed to be coming soon so hopefully it will do a good job building on this set." - Mman (20-Jul-2014)
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