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Level: Pictures in the Dark back home search
Author(s): B. Howaito
total rating:7.40 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Czar 7 6 6 7
Daffy 8 7 9 8
DJ Full 7 6 8 7
dmdibl 8 7 8 8
eRIC 6 7 7 7
Gerty 7 7 8 8
herothing 8 8 8 9
Jack& 7 7 7 7
Jay 8 7 9 9
Jose 7 7 7 8
MichaelP 7 7 9 8
Minox 7 7 8 7
Orbit Dream 8 7 9 9
Phil 7 7 7 8
Scottie 9 7 9 8
Shandroid 6 6 6 6
TheStig 7 6 7 6
vienna 8 7 8 8
category averages
(18 reviews)
7.33 6.83 7.78 7.67

Reviewer's comments

"Nice level from year 2009. Atmosphere and lighting are great and I liked also nextgeneration-expansion so graphics are good. Puzzles are in good level and music and cameras also. This is great level for players who have time 45 minutes. I had health 10% when level was final." - vienna (16-Mar-2017)

"One of my favourite creators finally implemented stunning atmosphere and brought total isolation, and he did it so classic and pretty that for me, the game mostly resembles Assyrian Secrets. At last, a day has come when I am able to give this guy a decent score for atmosphere, because the settings are indeed stunning. Huge caverns, a pillar mirror room, spooky outside areas, greatly shaped halls, all covered in almost touchable sand. It's still not a ten, though, because music of Mike should be used with more care, not just being thrown in a spike challenge where it doesn't belong. Moreover, it's not enough of it. When I launched this game, I really thought it will appear here and there, giving a spriritual, light ambience pulling me inside. In fact I only liked Benjamin's crazy idea to apply electric guitars when progressing through the catacomb corridor, while gunwomen emerge (and thus, figure as "pictures in the dark"). It's another successful attempt of the author when used song sticks in my mind and doesn't leave for a single day since I first heard it ingame. And except the corridor fight, there are some other enemies appearance of which looks awesome - the introducing scarabs creeping into the gloomy night.
There are in fact two secret locations marked as one, but one inside another, and the sound is set in the inner one, what isn't a good idea - because after picking up the items I went back to the outer secret location, thinking it's the main gameplay thread zone, and spend too much time on searching for nothing.
Lighting good, and sometimes very good in places where author had more clear vision and took more time to fix them. This says what happens if Howaito does what everyone ask him for - TAKES TIME. Texturing also good, and - just like in case of lighting - very good in places of greater devotion, with nicely produced cracks in the walls, and visible, organic layers of sand.
The walkthru says about the possibility of getting stuck, what is a mistake - because after swimming through the pool and solving the pushable, when the floor disappears, You can survive the pitfall even without using a medi, and then continue to Ornate Handle without reloading.
Ornate Handle suggests the catacomb wad, and indeed we can get the effigy to combine, a blue gem is there, also pharos items appear and those pickups are placed throughout the level, so it happens we see a hole for quite long, before we make an effort to finally stick a key in it. And, when You grab the final artifact at last, beware of the wraaaaith...
SUMMARY: +1 extra point for atmosphere, because, even though I have no reason to reward usage of sound being a part of the category that much, I am sure the intensity of isolation achieved with catacomb setting needs to be put on the pedestal and highlighted. Recommended, anytime." - DJ Full (16-Jul-2012)

"The first part of this level consists of Lara running over the starkly lit blandness of desert sands we've all seen so many times, whilst being pursued by the obviously hungry and by now well known legion of feet-loving beetles. As I throw Lara into a deep dive to the bottom of the gaping hole in these gaudily lit sands I am not too hopeful for this level, and having climbed out of the water the cave I find Lara in looks equally uninspiring. Had I broken Lara's neck in that dive, I wouldn't have complained because it's looking likely that the cultured lass our Lara is will die of banality before long anyway. Nevertheless, I push on. After a short trip around a couple of simple corners, up another sand bank and down a dark hole things begin to look a bit more interesting. Moving through a door and down some stairs we come into an environment that whilst of well known texture already displays some interesting architecture, with avenues of investigation that hint at further delights and I am much more hopeful of something enjoyable. Within a short time it is apparent that this little level has an intricacy to it and a layout that, in due course, proves to be interesting all the way through. To some degree there is standard fare in this level in terms of common lever to pull, button to push, items to collect and place routine, but these things never seemed dull to me because the environments were so interesting that I always found myself curious for what was to follow. With lots of rooms and passages in all directions, each with appealing formation I found the whole experience adventuresome. There is one area that can be accessed before due time, where Lara can monkey swing across/through a sand bank, but this is a minor glitch. I found one secret for sure, which sounded twice, once upon entry and once upon exit, but it was a subtle little space pleasing to find nonetheless. Close by is a hoard of weapons which I'm not sure were also meant to be some kind of secret for the amount of pick up's there, but nothing sounded to indicate that. The only enemies in this level after the beetles at the beginning were other Lara's which was only very slightly odd. The Lara's much later were odder for their headless condition. With all the weapons and ammo already picked up these were more than easy to blast out of existence without any hindrance from them. This is a reasonable enough level that though standard in part has enough interest about it to make it worth the while. Nothing too difficult is to be found here, so if you're looking for a level that won't cause brain damage by wall meets head and will give you some pleasure for about an hour, give this one a whirl." - Czar (27-Jun-2009)

"Pictures in the Dark was not too bad of a level, although it didn't really stick out for me as very memorable. First of all, I came across some strange problems with the water, but later I realized that the problem I encountered probably had to do with the part of the level where Lara jumps up into the water. What happened was that in the beginning, I had Lara hang off the ledge to get rid of the beetles, but after I saved and reloaded, that giant hole filled up with water and I couldn't swim into the actual water that was below. This was no big deal, as I just started a new game. I did find a hole of water that was just water on top, but empty right under it, which traps Lara. The main problem with the level was large rooms with not much to do, especially one room that had a secret at the bottom but nothing else. The level felt a bit haphazard at times. I wasn't a big fan of the guitar music, as it didn't fit the level at all. If the level was set in Mexico or Spain then the guitar music would have been perfect. I also didn't care for the Lara head enemies that sounded like men. I couldn't kill those mutants fast enough. There were some good traps and many areas were fun to play, but all in all the level wasn't quite up to earning higher marks from me." - Shandroid (18-Jun-2009)

"You really cannot go wrong with a solidly built Catacombs level and this is one of those here. I am sure it would have done quite well had it been completed for the BtB competition that it was intended for, but it is also fun to play on its own right now. I really enjoyed the beginning of it where the desolate and dreamy atmosphere created really takes you in. Nice effect through the combination of the beetles and the guitar sounds. Gameplay did get a little too pedestrian for me then, as I always took the wrong turn first and then had to backtrack a bit to get it right, but it is not a difficult level and you will pace through it rather quickly. Some good use of colours throughout and I really thought that the texturing worked out very well. Only a few unnecessary dark corners spoilt the overall impression. Talking about spoilers, I thought the addition of the Lara enemies did really not fit in with the overall setting of the level and should have been left out or replaced by something else, but they only appear towards the end anyway. Good and fun level to play for the 45+ minutes it lasts and looking forward to see more from this builder in the future." - MichaelP (15-Jun-2009)

"Don’t ask what I did as I can’t tell you. All I know that I have been over this vast complex numerous times to find the so needed items as the Pharos Knot and Pillar, the Effegi and the handle and at last the Horsemans Gem. This’ll teach me to play with open eyes LOL. Overall I thought that this complex looked very great. There are some nice traps and nothing is really hard or difficult. All in all I did had a good time and I found so many weapons that the enemies I encountered towards the end are easily killed. Best was the beginning with the flyby and then encountering all those beetles. Found some untextured bits and here and there and textures did need some attention. Nice one" - Gerty (12-Jun-2009)

"Another catacomb level; catacomb ruins, catacomb objects, catacomb textures... Not bad this one, but I missed some puzzles. There are some areas where you can go only to pick up goodies, but not necessary to continue playing. Some flipped rooms, a pool of water in midair, some traps, enemies are good, but the musics are not very appropriate; some fixed cameras; I only found one secret. Playable. This author is getting better with the time. Continue so." - Jose (10-Jun-2009)

"I'm usually a sucker for a catacombs level, and this one didn't disappoint in the scenery department. However, the gameplay is fairly pedestrian, with the main challenges consisting of completing a task in some faroff place so you can return to where you were earlier and proceed. I don't recall having encountered a single enemy in the first half of this hour-long level, and those you find in the second half consist of modified ninjas that either have a Lara head or no head at all (and they come at you in droves). Their animation was unusual as well, as they didn't begin to move until you were practically right on top of them. There was also something I'd never seen before in a custom level, an overhead body of water that you can access from below by jumping up into it, but once there you can't break the surface tension and return. This feature may actually allow you to bypass part of the level, but I played it by the book (i.e., Harry's advance walkthrough) and didn't attempt any shortcuts. I wouldn't expect this one to win any awards, but it's a pleasant enough raid and I'd recommend it to beginning players." - Phil (08-Jun-2009)

"A fun little interlude. About an hour's worth of game-play for me in total. There's definitely signs of real promise here, especially the lighting in places and the thought that has been put into the architecture. Crucially the game-play is challenging enough to keep you interested. It's certainly a departure from the norm and the structure of the level is original given the standard TR4 textures and objects used. One odd thing I did notice was the head-less guards. I'm not sure if this was just as a result of my graphics card, the headed tended to 'pop' on and off the guards depending what stage the animation was at. All in all though, and I'd give an overall rating of 7/10" - TheStig (07-Jun-2009)

"Rather nice level with funny musics, rather long (42mn) but easy. Damage some badly positioned textures, as well as pieces(rooms) too much squared. I congratulate the author and encourage him." - Minox (07-Jun-2009)

"A level with a good duration , built mainly with the Catacombs resources and the addition of some other elements like “Lara” as enemies , or an underwater lever. Also some effect has been created by the way of the special exe. I had a couple of random crashes, I suspect it was caused by this special exe too. This is a fluent level , not complicated , with good camera views. I maybe missed some more puzzles and/or actions ; as the wraith never did explode at the bird statue , that provided at least a bit of reasonable adrenaline to reach the end which was near. The setting is solidly made , I particularly like the two short outside areas at the beginning and at the end , the texturing could have enhanced by a better segmentation of the walls and blocks to avoid disjointed textures at times or deformed textures on slanted blocks. The highlight of the level for me was at the middle of it with all the area with the water room above and the transparent floor that is “flip-mapped”." - eRIC (06-Jun-2009)

"Despite the title, the ambient lighting and overall game play is pretty decent, and most will find this a pleasant interlude. The architecture can be well done, as at the beginning, though by the end one remembers too many boxy corridors and rooms, maybe with columns thrown in for decoration. The author must see humorous touches in Lara jumping up into an overhead pool or, after sparse pickups, entering a room with a glut of pickups, one after another--and even more pickups found through a hidden crawlspace. I encountered one curiosity. Lara can jump to a monkeyswing, and go forward right through a mound of earth, even when the space narrows to a tiny crack, and come out in the room on the other side. I know this wasn't possible in regular Tomb Raider, and am not sure if it has something to do with NG. Since almost no one will try to do this, it really isn't an issue. (Later the mound of earth will disappear, when Lara is supposed to use the monkeyswing.) One can happily play this, but then when it's over there's a feeling of let down, that the level almost succeeds but ends up being too simplistic. It will be interesting to see what the author does next." - dmdibl (05-Jun-2009)

"Level does not lack originality and notably in the choice of colours, sometimes lively but without beings too annoying for eyes. On the whole the aesthetics is rather achieved with a nice landscape by the end. The alternation between caves, buildings and expanse of water gives a good variation to game. The gameplay who began well enough at the beginning of game, contrary to the fact that we have habit to find, becomes rather simplistic over the end but ok, why not to finish quiet after everything. It is a good level to be played, accessible by all. The author seems to me promising for future." - Daffy (04-Jun-2009)

"well i cannot say how was Howaito previous games cos i was not played them but i can speack about this one a few words ....... this is a cave catacomb game .. not long ......... not difficult pretty strightforward with nothing special on it no time runs / no dificult jumps or special trapps ........ a whraith chase / some boulders to avoid .... some guys to kill .... some items to find 2 paroth 's /1 statue efigy/ 1 gem for the last part ... ammo alot .... guns alot / flares alot / medipacks enuff so realy nothing exciting .ending was dissapointing too ... u swim across a water canal and the game ends ......... allmoust forget ........ i was find very amusing to met the last enemy wich was Lara herself identicaly ... like a hollogram..... i dont wanted to kill her ... but was needed cos lowered my life down very fast ;) lol ........ u might try it iff u want ......cheers .." - Jack& (04-Jun-2009)

"I think B Howaito has been practising quite a bit with the level editor since he last released a level. This is a very solid, nice looking catacomb environment, with lovely colourful lighting and some interesting sound files (some of them created by the builder himself). It’s a straightforward, easy level to play, with some weird headless enemies thrown into the mix (well, Lara is dreaming after all), and it whiles away slightly over an hour in a most pleasant fashion, with good use made of trigger tiles, water effects and, at one point, sand. I couldn’t see any mention of secrets in the readme and I only found one, but the chime sounded three times in all and I was amused to see it registering as 134 secrets in the stats screen. Hmm. If you like catacomb levels, give this one a try – you could do a lot worse." - Jay (03-Jun-2009)

"I dont think i was expecting that, this was much better than your Larson Adventure series and i think this could be the start of something special. I thought the lighting was great, it was very colourful and set the scene perfectly. Textures were generally good but not too amazing. I thought the sound was very average and you need to incorperate more of it in different way's like new runnign sounds etc. The gameplay was good, far better than your previous as i already said and i'll be looking forward to your next game :D Overall - 8.75/10" - herothing (03-Jun-2009)

"BHowaito is a good example of how a level builder about the years can develop positively. With this level he has made towards Forest Tick Tock a clear jump forwards. Lara must find in this catacomb level the Portal Guardian, Pharos Knot, Pharos Pillar and the Horsemen-Gem. Moreover, she must shift columns, drain a water basin and find various levers. Particular floorsquares open doors. After about one hour Lara has found the way outward and stands before a castle including a moat. Then this is also the level end. Opponents were at the beginning a swarm of little beetles, a mind and Lara Croft in different clothes. You have properly read, the opponents looked everybody like our Lara. However, one finds enough weapons, ammunition and medipacks. There are enough flares for the few dark places. BHowaito wanted to build, actually, this level for BtB09. It is a pity, that he has not finished it on time, because this would have been certainly one of the highlights. The textures were really good. There gave none who were stretched or warped. However, at the beginning and at the end the sky textures were absent. Though the level played quite obviously at night, but there the level builder would have had to insert, nevertheless, a sky. The lighting also felt well, indeed, it was too bright in the outskirt areas. The sound also felt well. It was very nice which the opponents were announced with a special sound, one could immediately appear to them. Also important events were announced with a sound. The riddles were slightly solvable without problems. Result: Really good level which one should absolutely play" - Scottie (02-Jun-2009)

"In my review of this same author's 'Yestermorrow',I wrote that it was "something Richard Lawther might have built on a bad day". Well,'Pictures in the Dark' is not too far away from something he might have built back in his heyday,as it's quite beautiful to look at;has a few innovative elements;and contains moments that make you laugh out loud. Although built around the Catacomb Wad,enough customisations have been made to give it a fresh appearance. The locations are surprisingly varied (outdoor areas;caves;tunnels;surreal water rooms);and the addition of an army of headless Lara's, colourful lighting and a Mike Oldfield music score ensured that I became quite endeared toward the whole adventure. Although generally linear,it sprawls a little in the central section;and I'm not absolutely sure I did all the challenges in the way the author intended.However,it's never difficult to work out where to go or what to do next,and you're ultimately rewarded with some genuinely funny moments. It's not a masterpiece by any means,but it's fun to play and great to look at;and is quite definately B.Howaito's finest level to date." - Orbit Dream (02-Jun-2009)
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