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Level: Black Villa back home search
Author(s): illyaine
total rating:8.84 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Chronicles5 8 8 9 10
DJ Full 8 8 9 9
dmdibl 9 8 10 10
GeckoKid 6 7 9 10
Gerty 7 8 9 9
guss18 8 8 9 9
Ivan 9 9 10 10
Jay 9 9 10 10
Jessica Croft 7 8 9 8
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 8 8 9 9
Kristina 7 8 8 8
manarch2 7 8 9 9
MegaGamer 7 8 9 9
MichaelP 7 9 10 9
mugs 9 8 9 9
Phil 9 10 10 10
Ruben 9 9 10 10
Ryan 8 8 10 10
Samu 8 9 9 9
Shandroid 8 9 10 10
Vaughnage 10 9 10 10
category averages
(22 reviews)
8.09 8.45 9.41 9.41

Reviewer's comments

"This is certainly a unique attempt at building a level (not the first of its type though, Debbie Overstreet was the originator with her Lara at the Movies levels) and it really works rather well, especially in terms of atmosphere and overall environment. It's a pretty involving 70 minute level set in and around an enormous mansion, in a sort of black and white style. I do take my hat off for the way the builder was able to construct this without letting the player get terminally stuck. The cutscenes, the music choices, the lighting and the stunning textures all contribute to make this a must-see in the visual department. The gameplay isn't boring and has its moments, but I definitely would have preferred less block pushing (this is probably the leading contender for the most in a single level) and possibly less backtracking, plus a couple more medipacks, although plenty were provided. This didn't detract from my great time with this level however, so go and try it out for a different experience and a visual feast, mixed with a few sneaky elements in the gameplay department." - Ryan (28-Feb-2018)

"I chose the hard version, and indeed the first timed run is one of the hardest I've ever encountered - tip: don't use any of the blocks here at all -, especially with the save crystals. Latter are reasonably placed in almost every room and thus quite bearable, yet one in the main hall would've been good because you always have to run into a side room to save. Other than the timed runs, there is a lot of work for you to be done here - mostly in the form of pushblocks. Most puzzles are indeed too tedious because it's rather obvious what to do and still you have to move the blocks which can be quite pedestrian. There is also quite a bit of not that interesting progression, with many items to be found especially towards the end, I think everything could've been presented a bit more "crisp". Interesting use is made of enemies with a few nice scenes like the chloroform, spikes that kill guards and no weapons at first so that you have to run away from them, I found some enemies to be a bit heavy to shoot (when I had the pistols) and health kits are few and far but that might be only because of the hard version. The black and white atmosphere is very well done with a few glimpses of colour here and there, good use of sounds and special effects. Textures are cleanly applied and work rather well just as the lighting, which could only need a bit of contrast here and there but overall is quite effective. This is at 50 minutes a quite long single level and actually more creative in the tasks than the builder's otherwise majestic Jade Empire but it's not quite presented always that well. Found two secrets." - manarch2 (18-Aug-2015)

"A totally different approach to levelbuilding - everything is black and white except the main pickup, lasers, and checkpoints. Normally I don't like the latter but their frequency is so great here that I never complained. I liked all the effort it took to obtain the pistols, though before I got them I was never sure if I shouldn't have them already. Of course I eventually realized all those pre-weapon ambushes had an alternate solution but before I got it I lost enough health to start wondering if I'm really doing the right thing and often searched through the whole house until I eventually got into the crossfire, still convinced I'm not following the author's intention what I actually was doing. Some additional clue making it clear would be needed here. Also the game could have less pushables, I'm already fed up with the manor owners notoriously storing loads of crates in their estates. All the rest of the game is pretty nice, providing a lot of all-direction exploration, challenging timed runs, unexpected return of the chloroform puzzle and a nice touch in form of two crystal roses - not often it happens I enjoy looking at a pickup that much. The content is occasionally spiced up with polished floor reflections, ghost effects and a decent runtime of local action music so the level gains a combined feeling combined of a surreal manor thriller. SUMMARY: This is rather an adventure than a horror, so we can focus on the task without being much disturbed and I guess even the most sensitive players can attempt this level. Unusual and recommended despite of the pushblock count." - DJ Full (16-Aug-2015)

"It's an okay level. The black and white atmosphere was nice, and the textures were good. Some of the enemies were in good spots. What really ruined the game were the multiple push block puzzles. Seriously, I basically ran into one like every 5 minutes. They were so tedious and weren't to clever. That is one serious complaint. Now that the download is not available, I can't play the game again. I am a bit happy and sad about that, since I would play it again for the atmosphere. Another level where I had mixed emotions, but I still remember having a good time playing this level." - MegaGamer (12-Apr-2014)

"Our interesting that such a level that the first levels set in black and white, the graphics are excellent despite being in black and white was very scared at this level to give those ghosts are so scared, I hope it stays that way one of you tornare best creators of levels!" - Jessica Croft (24-Dec-2010)

"This level deserves high scores for its originality and freshness. There are a few I've played that have similar characteristics, notably Debbie Overstreet's black and white levels for Lara at the Movies, but this one's in a category all its own. You play most of the level without any weapons, so the few enemies you encounter until then must be endured or avoided. The spooky background music is particularly effective. I played the easy version, which I found sufficiently challenging. All of the action takes place within a very large mansion, and it's complicated enough to get you confused in a hurry if you're not assisted with Harry's typically thorough walkthrough. Although Harry was able to describe all the action in slightly more than four pages of text, it took me about 80 minutes to get all the way through. It's never boring even for a minute, so play it for a new raiding experience if you haven't already. Strongly recommended." - Phil (10-Mar-2009)

"This was a highly original and enjoyable level! The black and white graphics were very nice, with the occasional touch of color for lasers, save crystals, diamond, etc. Storyline was great, even though I couldn't follow the dialog. Anyway, let's talk about gameplay. If you plan to play this level, I hope you like pushable blocks. I counted five very complicated pushable block puzzles, but might have missed a few. They were very original and well thought-out, but sometimes could be rather annoying. Other than that, there was a nice laser timed run and another good puzzle with lasers. The gameplay was very non-linear, allowing for exploration of the mansion in basically any order you wished. Most of the puzzles however had to do with pushable blocks, though you did get to chloroform a guard which was fun. I took off two points for the limited gameplay. Enemies were limited, though there was an occasional guard, fish, or rat. It was fun trying to avoid the guards when no guns were available in the beginning. The pistols, usually taken for granted in TR, become an object of great desire in this level, and are tough to get. I loved the use of the red save crystals, even though the save/load memory cards were still available. Medipacks were available as needed. The keys were a bit confusing as there are many hallways and doors. Some of the doors were up a block in the middle of a wall which was weird. Some parts of the house seemed very realistic, while others make you wonder about the owners. I found two secrets, which were pretty easy to find. The atmosphere was great, I enjoyed the grayscale environment and the ominous house. Some good scares occasionally! The background sound was great, with the occasional cd track thrown in there. I also liked the cameras, which occasionally offered a nice vantage point of Lara doing something. And again, lighting and textures were enjoyable with the black/white look. Lighting was never too dark and the textures were very beautiful, appropriate for the setting. All in all, a fun environment to spend an hour or two running around in. This is a different adventure for Lara. I would play this level again some day. I would recommend it." - Chronicles5 (05-Jun-2008)

"This level really drew me in and held me (much as the house is supposed to hold Lara captive), and I'm not sure why. It has all the elements I would normally hate, such as the black-and-white display, which makes it hard to see, or the interminable push-block puzzles. But I really did become lost in the "black villa." Playing Tomb Raider requires us to have a firm mental map of our surroundings, but in this house I found myself disoriented, with Lara dropping down a shaft into a familiar corridor, which wasn't at all where I expected her to land. There is a one-time-only timed run at the lasers, which I didn't get, but it turned out not to matter as the tortuous passages of the house eventually let Lara bypass the lasers. And there were those annoying mice nibbling at Lara's toes, the vicious fish, and the guards that were shooting at her even though she was unarmed. There are spike traps to take care of the guards. When Lara finally got the pistols, I had her go around and shoot the fish and the remaining guards. One guard dropped an artifact. So back to the beginning, and shoot that daydreaming guard there. Big mistake. The confusion about this guard was why I subtracted points under "enemies" in the ratings. It turned out that Lara is supposed to chloroform this guard, and get the key from him for the second piece of an artifact. Shooting this guard means that Lara never gets the key, and can't finish the last five minutes of the level. Somehow it all adds up to a truly atmospheric level, the feeling that Lara really is trapped in some sort of demonic house. Experience it for yourself." - dmdibl (06-Feb-2008)

"I really liked this black and white atmospheric level. It was quite lovely with well-chosen Resident Evil music and great rock tunes that signal timed runs to get your heart pumping. With all the great aspects of the game, there are a few not too great aspects. This level is a great example of why I hate open-ended levels. If you get switch-happy on one particular switch, and don't save prior, you can't redo that timed run. Its not fatal, but not too nice either. I also completely hated all the block pushing. Although the blocks were the kind you can stand on, still didn't warm me up to them. They certainly didn't ruin my experience, though. The odd roll variation was ok at times but utterly awful during battles. I use the roll and the roll flip all the time so this was a bummer. Nonetheless, this level was very entertaining and well done." - Shandroid (02-Feb-2008)

"I have to admit that this game is something out of the ordinary with its unique black and white setting which makes it special. I am all for colours though, I like the colourful, cheerful atmosphere so even though I recognize this idea as innovative (although the first one that made such a level was Debbie in"Lara at the Movies" project), I didn't enjoy it much. The problem wasn't the atmosphere or the setting but the gameplay. The builder has much more potential and I am sure many will agree with me so playing a level from him that was basically about finding keys and puzzle objects was a bit of a disappointment. It's not as bad as it sounds don't get me wrong, but when you expect much from a builder seeing something that doesn't meet your expectations is always disappointing. The camera work is good and the idea with the enemies that can be killed in a 'new way' is good too. Lately it seems like more and more builders want the players to run a little and get into the level's spirit before giving them guns to fight the occasional enemies. That's a good idea but in some levels exaggerations"kill" the gameplay, not here though. I found one red rose and know where the other is but didn't find a way to get it. I guess I can go back at some point and search more. I have one big complaint, us non German speaking players can't understand a word in such levels where no English audio files are included. If for some reason a builder can't be bothered to make the scenes pleasant and understandable for us too, then at least support a text with the dialogues in English. THAT much you CAN do. Give this a try it will definitely be something you don't play often." - Kristina (26-Jan-2008)

"For originality Christoph does earn top marks. Glad that I took the"easy" gameplay, as this was hard enough. Not hard in a way that timed runs were frustrating, but hard in finding the best way to proceed as Lara has no guns and there are enemies around. For me, that mend that I had to reload too much for my liking as A - that was not the way to go because B - dwindling medipack and I hate that. I know he is rather fond of using TREP but I still am not sure about some of the moves the builders think we like. OK I admit the roll forwards out of a crawlspace is good, however don't tamper with the roll move as that one has so many good uses. Also she looked like she was levitating and it just doesn't look real, also when shooting (I had to do that move over and over again LOL) her arms are way to slow for the movement to follow so you do see something quite unnatural. I rather liked this house but it isn't one of my favourite gameplay, Teflon brain, so loosing my bearings was up the charts. I liked the idea how to get rid of the guards but by then I was down to a small medipack and the fun was partially gone. One question though, what up with all the pulling/pushing of boxes?" - Gerty (08-Jan-2008)

"Here is a very good level with a lot of new features, black and white environment, good puzzles, a couple of not much difficult timed runs, complicated situations with no guns and enemies besieging you, nasty rats pesting you all the time and a gloomy ambience with specters around. I missed a lot some flares or the binoculars although there are not very dark areas. Gameplay is too much no-lineal and sure that you have to return to the same places several times. The best for me were the architecture, the textures and the crate puzzles. Good work." - Jose (19-Dec-2007)

"I am amazed on how great christopher makes his levels. Jade Empire was amazing, and this is no different. The visuals are astounding, beautiful, georgous. A great hard version of the game was realesed as well, i loved both of them, and they were both really great. The sounds were great, but there could have been a few more, even though some of the sounds were great. I loved the new roll animation, it looks really cool, likle shes flying in the air for about 2 seconds, but overall, and ostounding game." - Vaughnage (09-Dec-2007)

"What a fascinating level this is. It's a mansion level but not like any mansion level you've every seen before. For one thing, it's done in highly atmospheric black and white and has a delightfully eerie feel and for another it's most entertaining. (All right, there are other mansion levels that fulfil the latter criterion, but let's be brutally honest, they're few and far between). The premise is simple - find a lost diamond and leave the house. Easy, eh? No. Finding the diamond couldn't be easier, but finding your way back out again is something else entirely. The place is huge and confusing and great fun to explore. I highly recommend this one." - Jay (03-Dec-2007)

"Very strange, mysterious level. I like the back and white idea as long as it done in the right settings and this one certainly was, an old mansion. You goal is to search for keys and objects so you will be able to escape. I think the push block puzzles were somewhat overdone and the new moves really didn't add anything to the gameplay. I loved the idea of spiking the guards(would have liked to see some color at that point, Sin City comes to mind). The most annoying aspect of this level were the mice! I will admit after I attained the pistols I went back and shot those horrible fish. Check this one out you will enjoy it." - guss18 (03-Dec-2007)

"I really want to give Christoph the highly deserved credit for a very original intro sequence. The overall atmosphere and the plenty of objects used throughout this Villa all set in black & white make this a truly unique adventure. The ghost appearances are rather funny, I thought, and the two red rose secrets are surprisingly easy to find. Gameplay does have its moments in the hour you will spend to find the exit and the spiking of the guards and the not often used chloroform are well set in scene. However, I did not at all enjoy the fact that a lot of your time you end up pushing boxes around. I even counted on my second play through this and there is a total of 75 (!) pushes or pulls to do here - really a bit much, especially give that most of the puzzles are not really very tricky or clever - only tedious to execute. Also, I simply never like the Home Level element of running through a house hoping to eventually stumble across the right thing to do at the right time. And if you do things in the wrong order this level can become much harder than it actually needs to be, as you get the pistols as your only weapon rather late in the game. Also, I found the final artifact seemed very much added as an afterthought when the level could have had a well rounded finish without that piece already. The timed runs in the normal version are all rather easy to manage while I will admit I never made the first one in the hard version despite moving the boxes in what I thought would be a logical order. All in all, a unique and original level that you should not miss - just make sure you always keep your orientation in the house or you will never get out." - MichaelP (03-Dec-2007)

"I played the hard version and certainly liked it. Black and white textures and objects fit perfectly in setting and give a nice mysterious feeling for the level. Author has also utilized well some features of trep like climbaple pushblocks and horizontal mirror effect. The savegame crystals were also an interesting and alternative way for saving. Among the plus sides there are also some negative sides in this game. In my opinion there were too many pushblock puzzles in this level which makes the gameplay slightly monotonous. The other minus side is the timed lazer trap which you're able to deactivate only once. However, this was an enjoyable and unique level which is definitely worth playing." - Samu (02-Dec-2007)

"Christoph's levels seem to have a theme of some sort, perhaps it's an era of various coloured keys, or hidden jumpswitches, this time, it's pushie puzzles. Almost every room involves a pushable block puzzle. But not every block is a pushable, yet they are textured the same. You have to either try every single block or look carefully for little white lines that give them away. When I first started this level, I stumbled across the first pushie puzzle, and I thought it was, although tedious, quite clever. However after achieving this timed run into another room, and you see yet another pushie puzzle, it makes me feel stupid instead. The reverse move looks like Lara's levitating for a second, and the backflip looks oddly like mine. While this level is mainly a black and white one, the keys you pick up are just black and white version of the keys you found in for example, Jade Empire. A simple renaming of the generic keys would also help giving directions of where to use them. As they almost all look the same. You also start the level without guns, and even if you do get some at last, you still don't stand a chance against the guards. (to kill him through the spikes is quite clever, however) Overall this level started with a nice idea, however the novelty kind of worn off from there. Still it's a nice level to look at, but I wouldn't want to play this again." - GeckoKid (01-Dec-2007)

"I never cease to be amazed by the variety of games being built these days. This game is unique in it's application of the black and white "lens". I'm not all that fond of it, to tell the truth. I think it can really dull the senses and, for me, it lends a bit of "sameness" to the landscape that can be boring. On the other hand, it made it more difficult for me to pick up on the subtle changes in the objects/rooms and that made the game more challenging. What I believe is the biggest drawback of this game is the ever-present use of boxes to be pushed. I thought it was overdone. I was also distracted by the useless SaveGame beacons. What's that for ?? The music and sounds were excellent. Anyway, Lara's mission is to locate some keys so that she can ultimately escape from the Black Villa. Along the way, you will meet some enemies in the form of rats and guards. Ghosties will beg for your attention now and then and those damned carps are loose again too ! This game has more "brain-play" than gameplay so if that's your "bag", this game's bound to please." - Mugs (01-Dec-2007)

"A very spooky level , full of puzzles that needed a lot of retracing , but certainly one of the better kind. I believe Christoph is still working very hard to enhance his skills in gameplay and I am almost sure this young talented builder has not reached his limits yet ! As all of Christophs games this one is just eye-candy as usual offering beautifully designed textures ! I liked the idea of the SAS being killed by spikes although it was not quite obvious ! This game is just a one-piece wonder and I do recommend it to all TRLE Lovers" - Ruben (01-Dec-2007)

"One of the most interesting levels I've played, a tad short but very sweet. Black Villa is a game in black and white (not the first, I'm thinking about the Lara at the Movies' Hitchcock) that uses TREP rather well. Lara must escape a mysterious mansion that's crowded with most annoying mice and a lot of very agressive guards and she only gets her pistols after a tough ordeal. Meanwhile, she must solve the mysteries of this house (including two secret red roses) that comes packed with great and imaginative ideas for a game. I liked the way Lara had to lure and kill the guards with the spikes. I also liked the music.And I liked the new moves even though the crouch/jump move isn't necessary. Quite a perfect game with great atmosphere and nice action and puzzles, it pretty much deserves all its tens." - Jorge22 (30-Nov-2007)

"Beautifful black and white level with some colored elements and parts. I played hard version and its very hard at some moments on other not too much, good for me:) Textures are very nice and little difficult to know what to play or what is next move. Found two red roses - secrets. Its interesting why pistols are not in secret too, like third:) Because found way for pistoles on almost end of level :) hard for see was to jump in first aquarium for key and medipack :) But when i go little closer right side saw. Atmosphere, cameras and little "boring" horror music and sounds are for clear 5(or 10) Biggest prize of all level. Excellent terrible dark level with scarry elements and you dont know what you need expect in second corner. Cameras are very good and make good atmosphere even you swim or walking or run or money swing in big areas. Highly recomended for good play!" - Ivan (30-Nov-2007)
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