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Level: TR Forge Advent Calendar 2008 - Snowqueen back home search
Author(s): Codo Horus
total rating:9.13 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Andzia9 9 9 9 10
Blue43 9 9 9 9
Czar 9 8 7 8
DJ Full 9 8 8 9
dmdibl 9 9 10 10
EssGee 8 10 10 9
eTux 8 8 10 10
Gerty 8 9 10 9
jawi 10 9 8 10
Jay 9 10 10 10
Jerry 8 9 9 8
Jorge22 7 8 8 9
Jose 10 10 9 10
manarch2 8 9 8 9
MichaelP 8 9 10 9
Moonpooka 10 10 10 10
Phil 9 9 10 9
Ryan 9 10 10 10
Scottie 9 10 9 10
Shandroid 9 10 10 10
category averages
(20 reviews)
8.75 9.15 9.20 9.40

Reviewer's comments

"This icy world is constructed of different resources than we are used to. Intense usage of blues on walls and frozen ponds, heavy snow and a night moonshine horizon compose a landscape which is bright but still ominous, well fitting the evil queen behind it all. I had some troubles searching for secrets because you cannot quite tell which slope is supposed to be accessible by the bike, but at least I managed to reach the palace roof and have a nice view. I got further confused by numerous rooms located behind transparent walls just for their looks, not sure why for they are enclosed and wouldn't allow hitting the world's end anyway. They could also contain something because the palace quest is relatively short and simple: though of course we have here that pushable, a quite non-linear pickup hunt and few timed runs, the bulk feels rather like an assault mission to defeat evil in a quick strike, or a plumber's task to fix the bath tub in return for the crystal, than an expectable series of puzzles slowly unlocking the place. I think you can go through without even using a half of savegame slots, so the point of relaxing raid is well achieved. In the end we can free the unicorn which gallops outside in joy, so the finale is quite rewarding, but I wish the creature had some colors contrasting with the surrounding evil, or affected the location to make it warmer. The level is missing a lot of such expectable magic: I only heard inside myself some epic music which could be added for the conclusion, as well as the outro flyby. Same can be said about the missing intro cutscene - we're just thrown into this world without any transition to slowly adapt, what should definitely occur if the realm we're about to explore differs from the world which normally surrounds us. Also the characters could be more developed, for instance I would add some sharp, quirky dialogue between Lara and the queen, something like:
"- You there, my pipes fixed?
- Yep.
- Right, take that gem and leave me alone... btw your bike is frozen.
- What the..."

...and the fight could begin in that moment, with a whole new purpose given. The guide could also have an additional job, in such case to unfreeze the bike with her torch. Still, even despite the lack of such content, the place has some special touches which introduce us to locations or events - I particularly liked the bike track and the inviting tune of the pillar hall. I found one shortcut: it's not necessary to do the trapdoor run, but I did it afterwards anyway. SUMMARY: It could be a calendar task to guess who built which part of this level, because the bulk is seamless. It's a nice, quick, relaxing winter adventure despite of its dark mood overlay (also pumped up by a brilliant readme). Nonetheless it's one of these levels which could be revised one day, because the palace is huge and offers space for much, much more." - DJ Full (11-Jan-2016)

"What an excellent Advent level by Codo and Nadine. Atmosphere, lighting, textures and gameplay all spot on. I just loved it." - Ryan (29-Dec-2015)

"Another Advent level that reached the HoF, although, this time I have some reservations about it. The environments are stunning, no doubt, but I think the atmosphere is missing something. A real background music is inexistent and there are only a handful of tracks actually used in this level; there is not much camera work (not many hints on what has changed and not a single flyby, although at least presenting the castle would have been the perfect occasion) and few rooms looked pretty barren and uninspired. Of course, there were "highlights" like the fixed camera showing Lara driving down the snowy hill at the start or the garden areas of the castle, but even those are often plain on second look. Oddly, the texturing is pretty perfect with only some occasional rougher areas but only good textures and objects don't yet make a good atmosphere, sorry. I found gameplay to be rather fun, the snowmobile ride was a great start and after some initial timed runs you can explore the castle; four artifacts have to be found to get access to the snowqueen, and I think the puzzles are mostly well done, but some were not so nice: The health-consuming water setup is used a little too often and the pipe puzzle, even if great in idea and final effect, has an obscure solution, since one connection isn't needed to finish it. I liked how the snowqueen did not die after shooting her - just like the story told, you mustn't kill her since she is winter herself. Nine secrets are a nice addition although mostly very easy to find. So bottomline this was a professional adventure lasting 30 minutes and I'd recommend it strongly if not for the IMHO partly uninspired areas without charm. But it certainly ended on a high note with the unicorn being freed and no snow falling anymore - this adds an extra point to the seemingly accursed third category." - manarch2 (31-Dec-2012)

"Here we have an about 1-hour advent level that has all the features of a good regular raid, except there is some advent feel to it, because of decoration and location. The game play was fairly straightforward and fast paced with a few puzzles in between. I enjoyed the pipe puzzle as it was very logical and easy to figure out just by looking at it without having to try this and that until something finally works. There are a few timed runs and except for one, they are all very easy to do. The long one took a few attempts but wasn't frustrating either. I found all nine secrets, which were more or less easy to find, and one of them it was a little hard to get to. Lara was confronted by a variety of enemies like small and bigger spiders, unfriendly fairies and locusts dressed as snowflakes. The atmosphere was nice and fit the environment well - less music and more ambient loop, which I thought, was a good choice. The texturing and lighting looked very nice and professional. This is definitely a beautiful and interesting advent/winter level that should be not missed by anyone. Recommend highly, not just around Christmas season!" - Blue43 (20-Dec-2010)

"This level is once again the proof, that Codo and Horus belong to the best level bulders. And now no, I do not speak about the fact which there are opponents in this level. Indeed, this is a level for the Advent calendar, but just not for the level base, but for TRForge. And now sometimes honestly, there are really not so many opponents. A few spiders, a few amazones in the Horsemen slot and the queen of the amazones in the Demigod slot. So everything no problem. However, there are a few little things which have disturbed me: I felt the wind noises as a little bit too quietly. In addition, one could hear the wind noises also within the buildings. One could have formed the scenery outside a little more nicely. And it was not so good which the health became immediately weaker in the water. There it would have been more sensible in my opinion to use the blue frost beam. I have not found more negative points. The level is built very well and liquidly to play. The opponents are no problem and the time runs are not too heavy, cause one has enough time. All together a level which one must absolutely play." - Scottie (05-Jan-2010)

"This is not peaceful christmasy level. We can explore dark and cold castle. However places are beautiful. Falling snow, frosted trees. Fabulous atmosphere and scenery. This custom is quite easy to play." - Andzia9 (08-Dec-2009)

"And so I continue my tradition of playing Advent calendar levels during summer. Because that's what you do when 2 well known builders join efforts to create a level, advent calendar level or otherwise. The snowy settings at the start of the game are well done, as is the palace itself. Little neat touches like floating snowflake platforms, the stunningly decorated palace and its inside gardens, and statues breathing cold wind that pursues Lara are just few of the many details that ought to put this level on your to-play list, but rest assured, there are more. Gameplay is varied enough with a Snowmobile ride, a number of timed runs, swimming sessions in freezing water (brr!) and a neat little pushable pipe puzzle. The few criticisms I have also revolve around the gameplay - while the timed runs were all nice and manageable, I thought the emphasis on them was bigger than I would've preferred. The hunt for the secrets was fun, and whilst I only found 6 it still would've felt nicer had they been a bit more generous than the single rose they provided, though in some cases, like the timed run with the trapdoors, the completion of the task in itself was rewarding enough. Since the snowmobile could be taken with you practically everywhere in the palace - none of the few enemies ever really provided any challenge, the Snow Queen herself included. Maybe the authoresses didn't consider the option, or maybe they left it in for anyone clever enough to figure this out to use, but I couldn't get rid of the nagging feeling I was doing something that had not been originally intended to be done. But it doesn't ruin the fun you can have in this level in the least, so all that put aside - I can do nothing but recommend this level to anyone who loves a nice atmospheric, if a bit colder setting!" - eTux (05-Aug-2009)

"As everybody should be aware of by now, is that vehicles and I are not on good terms so I was rather pleased to master the beginning and even find quite a lot of places I shouldn't be traveling, as I found some end of the world issues. That aside this is a rather nifty Advent level and I didn't mind at all the shooting that took place. Getting the four artifacts, as that is your main goal, isn't as straight forward, because there are some puzzles to solve in between. Also some timed runs to master and luckily not the one of the frustrating type. Haven't found all the secrets roses but managed to set the Unicorn free," - Gerty (21-Apr-2009)

"I believe I've now played and reviewed all of the 2008 Advent levels, which now come to us from two sources. There was some grumbling about a seemingly arrogant reference to enemies in the builders' readme, but I wasn't offended by their presence here. After all, there's no hard and fast rule that Advent levels have to be restricted to falling snow, light music and warm fuzzies. You start with a fairly short jaunt in the snowmobile, and it took me a few tries to make the required u-turn across the chasm. The major objective is to locate four artifacts so you can do battle with a guardian witch-angel and then release the caged unicorn. Along the way you're given access to a generous nine secrets, all ably documented in Jose's walkthrough. There are a few timed maneuvers, none of which are maddeningly tight. The ambiance is consistently dark because of the nighttime environment, but I had plenty of light to see my way around. You get about an hour's worth of gameplay out of this charming level, which I can heartily recommend." - Phil (12-Mar-2009)

"Really fantastic this adventure. A ride with the snowmobile through outside areas to finally explore the marvellous palace to liberate the unicorn. There was a button to raise a platform I didn't need to use, but the design continues to be excellent. The very best for me were the well applied and magnificent textures, as usual in this authors, and the perfection in the objects. The half-lineal gameplay is really good with no impossible tasks and always a way to proceed and continue playing; unfortunately I was not able to discover all the icy roses. I liked a lot the female characters and the nice environment too. A level you can't miss. Great!" - Jose (14-Feb-2009)

"Reading the strange intro in the readme file I wonder why it is necessary to snub players like this just to let them know that there are some enemies in this advent calendar level. Despite this rudeness the level was fun to play. It is nicely textured, albeit a bit darkish and a bit too much ‚blue' maybe. There are only a few enemies, some spiders and fairies which were nice. There is nothing new offered in gameplay, but it is mostly fluent with a pushing pipe block puzzle which was not too long and not too complicated to solve, and some not too hard timed runs except the one for the secret, and I cursed those icicles that seemed to be placed just to hinder Lara's run. After fighting the snowqueen and freeing the unicorn the level ends." - Jerry (07-Jan-2009)

"Set in a beautiful snowbound mountain retreat, Lara must explore the halls and corridors of this lavish hideaway in order to set a special beasty free. But all is not well in Fairyland. There are fairies that will help you and others that seem to have gotten out of their fairybeds on the wrong side, particularly the Snowqueen herself. So Lara is forced to 'clip their wings' so to speak. All good fun and of the quality we have come to expect from Codo and Horus. The snowy atmosphere is very convincing and there have been some neat tricks used to enhance that feeling. Some impressive architectural design is featured in the larger hall areas. The pipes puzzle was clever, but the solution was not obvious, and thus requires some trial and error to solve. There is some confusion with a door and lever that don't seem to be working in harmony, and I did find a shortcut up through the grill above the timed trapdoor puzzle. Perhaps some funny toggle opacity??? Some more attention could have been paid to the outdoor snow areas in terms of restricting the snowmobile, as one can easily end up on the back side of snowy hills taking in end of the world views. I found 5 roses. Certainly a very good looking level with some fun timed runs to do. Perhaps a little heavier going than the average Xmas raid but most enjoyable, nonetheless." - EssGee (06-Jan-2009)

"This is definitely not a Christmas level and I'm not saying it because it has a few easy fights thrown in. It does have a lot of snow and a snowqueen, so why not call it a winter level? The thing is Christmas already loses some of its meaning as the years go by, so what's the point in de-mythifying it even further? Apart from that, this well designed level includes several nice moments, such as a bike run across the mountains for starters, a few good timed runs, an interesting puzzle and four easily enough findable secret roses - which is great. What you don't ever get is one single present, one single Christmas tree, one single Christmas song, nothing Christmassy at all unless you wish to count the several crystal angels you find along the way. Hoping for something more into the spirit the next time..." - Jorge22 (01-Jan-2009)

"A wonderful snowy level in which Lara gets to battle Winter in the person of the Snow Queen. Lara's object is to find and free an imprisoned unicorn, which the Snow Queen holds hostage. Excellent design work throughout, and great character additions with fairies, unicorn, and the regal presence of the Snow Queen herself. Starts with a snowmobile ride; most players will be searching for nine secrets roses, so this means frequent dismounts and trampling through bushes, examining crevices, and hunting through trees. There are a number of sneaky roses before Lara even reaches the Winter Palace. The palace features lovely texturing and architecture, in the subdued lighting of the season. (The low light level didn't bother me during play, but when I took various screenshots the resulting pictures seemed too dark to reveal much detail.) The timed runs take some practice before Lara makes it through the doors, but aren't so hard as to be frustrating. We get a pushblock puzzle with connecting pipes. There was one large room with pillars and upper level platforms, where Lara could climb a ladder, then do a running jump to an archway, followed by snowflake hopping to a winged artifact. Since Lara can just do a running jump to this archway, there was an entirely extraneous timed run involving a switch and a raising trapdoor in front of that archway. After this there are scenes where Lara encounters sweet looking fairies armed with nasty swords, and Lara guns them down. The author's readme says we should grow up, and be adults, and not complain about this. But why are some fairies helping Lara (as with the torchbearer), while other minions of the Snow Queen attack? Lara gets pretty tired from swimming in freezing water, where she takes damage, and doing back-and-forth jumping while firing at the Snow Queen. But at the end Lara frees the unicorn, and the harmony of the seasons is restored. A delightful level and not to be missed." - dmdibl (26-Dec-2008)

"When I first looked at this level to download on the TR Forge Advent Calendar, I thought it would be a beautiful level and it really was. Despite the snarky comments in the readme about the level not being peaceful and other delightful comments, I wasn't not going to play it due to it not being a traditional Christmas level. The level proved to be expertly made, with a gorgeous icy blue tint throughout. The puzzles were fairly well-made with a very cool timed run. Objects were perfect with great fairies, a beautiful, but deadly snowqueen, and many others. One problem I had was a definite glitch with the pipes puzzle. The puzzle was suddenly solved prior to the pipes matching up, which I thought was strange. I was also bothered by a constant rumbling underground like a boulder was rolling under my feet. This could have been from the boulder that rolled down in front of the snowmobile, but I thought it seemed strange that I could still feel it so far away. Despite these negative aspects, which really weren't that bad at all, this level was just about perfect, peaceful or not." - Shandroid (26-Dec-2008)

"Antoher piece of good work from Horus. This level made with Codo is really fantastic! Gameplay is very good. Difficult puzzles and timed runs make from this custom excellent game. Textures and lighting create magical atmosphere. Interesting storyline introduces us to wonderful adventure. Unfrotunately there isn't any background music in the palace and it's a pity. It was fun for me to explore this space. I think "Snowqueen" has very unique atmosphere and it's very good Christmas level. Congratulations to Codo & Horus!" - jawi (26-Dec-2008)

"It's hard to separate myself from the introduction to this level that appears on the original download page and in the readme which accompanies the download itself. So rude a message it is, in fact, that it coloured my entire experience of the level. I so want to suggest to whoever wrote it, with all sarcasm, to read 'How to win friends and influence people'. Sure, a review shouldn't be about a readme, but when a player is given such terse instruction, it's hard to ignore it. I would suggest to the builders that they take care of this sooner, rather than later. Moreover, whilst it appears that the reason for the sharp and all together abrupt text is designed to avoid certain negative criticisms appearing in subsequent reviews, I would also suggest to the builders that you can't control the free will and personal opinions of those who play your levels so that they only say positives. Furthermore, this little tactic has only made for bad feeling which ultimately rather spoils the enjoyment of what is actually a good little level. That said, onto the game then. It is always enjoyable with any custom level to have some vehicle to play with, and this level contains just that. Beginning immediately then, Lara mounts a nice, yellow skidoo and drives off through snowy caverns, that, it has to be said is quite some achievement for internal surfaces to be covered with snow. The terrain is slightly difficult with one particular jump resulting in disaster for Lara a number of times before being able to successfully make it over the drop to safety. There are a couple of medium sized spiders along the way, which are easily squashed with the skidoo, so constitute no hindrance at all. The baby spiders that appear are quite cute, but again, don't pose any real threat. After riding over more difficult terrain, terrain which does look nice, Lara must dismount the skidoo to take a short trip down into a fissure in order to retrieve the key that will give us access to what is presumably the palace of the eponymous snowqueen herself. Once inside this building the player must navigate a series of initial rooms, which are either plain and 'boxy', with little to do other than flick a switch and shoot a couple of pots. Or are more architectural and quite reminiscent of Lost City of Tinnos, but still with little to do other than flick a couple of switches and kill a couple of spiders. Spiders which wander in circles and don't seem to be aware of Lara's presence. After this, things get a little more interesting in the quest to retrieve four 'celaeno' artefacts, which in themselves are very nicely designed and made. We have a plain enough, bright room which is made interesting for the simple touch of the floating platforms being large snow flakes, and the ceiling hung with what appear to be some kind of christmas decorations. The next area is a little more interesting in design, with the addition of a more formidable enemy in the shape of some kind of fairy with a sword, modelled after the armoured guards in TR4. I say 'more formidable' purely in comparison to the spiders, for this fairy is actually very easy to defeat. Afterward we encounter some ice water which is detrimental to Lara's health, and this is nice to see in a winter custom level for a change. Moving into the opposite section of the palace brings a very much more original puzzle in the form of push blocks that have pipe sections mounted on them. Here we must reconfigure the route of the pipes that carry water, in order to flood another area, allowing us to retrieve another artefact. This particular puzzle really wins marks for originality. After releasing another fairy, this time a friendly one who lights torches and opens our way into another area, we encounter another puzzle which I found to be quite enjoyable. Sure, it involves a timed run, raised platforms and items to pick up, which are all pretty standard fare for custom levels. But it is the construction of this set up which makes it so interesting. With timed runs like this, I always so enjoy seeing the exact pattern of the builders thinking with the placement of each obstacle, designed as they are to impede the players and demand more of them. Very good indeed! One downside is a very awkward ladder to climb to get to the area with the switch that sets things in motion, and the player must position Lara in a slightly angled fashion, so that with a jump she will grab it. If you're going for a secret here too, you'll have to do this twice. Once all four artefacts are retrieved we progress onto what must have been the 'final' battle with the snowqueen herself. This was, as it turned out, something of a disappointment and just slightly odd. Whilst the modelling is absolutely great, the snowqueen looks fantastic (as do the fairies, incidentally), she is built on the demigod model, and so the usual method works a treat, and very quickly too, in this case. The odd thing about this is that, when defeated, the snowqueen doesn't fall. She simply stops, as though she were some mechanical contrivance whose spring has simply wound down. So the player may not immediately realise that she is defeated and may not even notice the crystal she has apparently dropped. With this final item in hand then, we go to release a unicorn from its imprisonment, come back up the slope which lead to its prison in the first place, and the level is ended. Texturing throughout this level was plain in some places, reasonable enough in others, and simply lovely in a few spots inside the palace. Lighting was reasonable enough for what it was generally, but perhaps could have been a little brighter inside the palace itself as this was the better part of things and where most of the action is focused. There were a few areas I could see through windows which I didn't gain access to, and would have liked, but this didn't really detract from the general enjoyment of the level as a whole. Secrets are easy to find and gameplay was about 45 minutes." - Czar (25-Dec-2008)

"Well, what can you expect when two very experienced builders who have given us so many masterpieces already get together to build an advent level? Exactly - something special! This will probably give you about an hour of great entertainment and it flows quite nicely, starting with a snowmobile ride, some exploration in a snowy valley and then a series of tasks inside to collect the four artefacts. These include some timed tasks which are not too hard, a push object puzzle that is easier than it looks and a bit of climbing and jumping as well. The side quest for the 9 ice roses is great fun too, so make sure you do get all of them. There are a few cool enemies here (spiders, fairies) but they are indeed few and it is also rather dark overall (in line with the story), but both these points should not spoil any of your enjoyment. Not to be missed!" - MichaelP (24-Dec-2008)

"A beautiful level I must say. Lara needs to release the unicorn trapped in the castle of the snow queen. You will first take a snow mobile ride through some dark caves to the castle, and then you need to explore the snowy hills and caves to find the castle key. Once inside the castle there are a number of rooms to explore to find a bunch of keys, four celaeno artefacts and the final gem. There is a pipe puzzle to do; but I think it went wrong for me, not sure but my pipes were not aligned and the pool still flooded. There's also a nice trip over some snow flake tiles. Some timed runs will also keep you busy. The characters were stunning and I loved the fairy enemies; it was a shame we had to kill them but they were rather hormonal and attacked Lara so no choice there really. There is a guide fairy as well and she was really cute, but my fav character has to be the snow queen; although she is not too happy to see Lara she was still a fabulous addition. Other enemies include snow storms, (this made use of the locust enemy) spiders (wow they were so real looking) and snow beetles. The freezing water will also tax Lara's health. Not sure why but at the end I picked up another bunch of keys which I could then use on the same door which was already open, so maybe this was something to do with one of my missing secrets? Anyhow, a gorgeous snow filled level with lots of fabulous rooms and pretty additions. This is a must to play." - Moonpooka (23-Dec-2008)

"The first thing I noticed about this level was the beautiful lighting; it makes everything look quite magical, which is entirely appropriate for the storyline. The whole thing is in fact visually ravishing and there are some wonderful custom objects/textures. Nor is the gameplay neglected, with a good variety of tasks to accomplish, including an excellent take on the old moveable block puzzle - most inventive. The Snow Queen herself is very imposing and freeing the captive unicorn gave me a definite 'feel good' factor. From the readme you will gather that there is shooting in this level, but don't let that frighten the kiddies - it's hardly a bloodbath. In fact, as far as fairytales go it's pretty peaceful. I loved it." - Jay (23-Dec-2008)
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