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Level: Tomb Raider Stigmas (Beta) - City of Lost Sands back home search
Author(s): Adriel
total rating:7.13 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Czar 7 7 6 7
Daffy 7 7 8 8
DJ Full 5 7 7 10
dmdibl 6 7 9 8
eRIC 5 5 6 5
Gerty 5 6 7 5
herothing 7 8 7 8
Jay 8 9 9 8
Jose 5 6 7 6
MichaelP 6 8 8 6
Phil 8 8 8 7
Ryan 7 8 8 7
Scottie 9 8 9 8
category averages
(13 reviews)
6.54 7.23 7.62 7.15

Reviewer's comments

"This is a debut from a builder who has gone on to greater things (and levels) since but I still found this effort, while flawed, to be very playable and at times enjoyable. The main downsides that spoil the level a bit are the flare bug that's present throughout the entire level, the encroaching darkness which is tiresome to navigate as a result (the binoculars do work, however), the at times tedious backtracking and the possible buggy nature of the gameplay like the need to pick up two items in the correct order and the breakaway floor sequence that can only be used so many times, which I suppose explains the beta moniker. However, this level does have some good points which I actually really liked: the Egyptian textures and general connection of the architecture, a few of the traps and pushblock puzzles, the nice use of audio and flybys, the well placed enemy attacks (the demigods evened the odds out a bit as a couple got stuck) and the hiding places of the three secrets. My final thoughts is that why I do think the aforementioned irritations could have been avoided, I can still recommend it if you have the walkthrough to hand." - Ryan (12-Feb-2018)

"Here's the debut level of a fine builder that I missed the first time around. It's a good-looking, intricate and often frustrating effort that took me nearly three hours to play. The positives are the lush Egyptian surroundings and the inventive, complex gameplay. The negatives are the darkness, compounded by the flare bug that dogs the player for the entire level, and the constant backtracking over previously plowed ground. There's also a potentially fatal bug mentioned by Harry Laudie in his typically well-written walkthrough. The two artifacts that allow you to complete the level must be obtained in a certain order or you won't be able to finish. The walkthrough also steered me in the proper direction after I finished each task, minimizing the frustration I would otherwise have experienced with all that required backtracking. Without these drawbacks I'm sure this level would have scored considerably higher. It was released as a beta version, so if the builder hasn't given up on it and moved on to other things, it would make sense for him to release a corrected version. As it is now, I can recommend it provided you have the walkthrough close at hand." - Phil (11-Aug-2015)

"As a round number of 400 reviews is getting closer and closer, on this occasion I decided to draw all of those postponed, forgotten, problematic and dangerous reviews I once failed. Here's one of them. Believe me or not, but I started it two years ago, only to have no clue how to treat this unfortunate game many told buggy and I myself got extremely frustrated by. Left it be for all those months, now I played it again and instantly knew what to do - so either I really learnt how to score, or I simply stopped to care. Both things surprise me, the first one because it's hard to believe it, and the latter one because I'm recently TRYING to care as much as never before. Here's what had been stuck in my head for those long two years, just like I was stuck in the game. And let's start with the explanation why I actually got stuck. It's because one need to pick up two crucial snake keys in the order reversed from intended. If one follows the planned route and picks up the first item, the second one irreversibly dissappears. So no wonder I've been running in circles, doing literally EVERYTHING in order to fill that empty pedestal I faced. I have plainly NO CLUE how the others have been able to recognize the problem lies exactly in the opposite thing. Just like I have no clue how it was even possible to create this bug. Or wait... I had no clue two years ago, but now I think it might be a .dll mismatch. Possibly, an NG effect was to occur after picking up the second snake, and IF - I say "IF", because I don't know it for sure - the .dll's been updated after completing this trigger setup, the flipeffect ID might have been pointed to something else, now to order the engine to e.g. "disappear a moveable". Hats off my fellow players that You somehow worked out the solution, otherwise I would never get out of here! And, truly, it's a shame a single trigger ruins the fun just because the author risked to release an unfinished game due to being in a hurry to match a competition deadline. Let me be straight now: WHY??? What sense does it make as long as a buggy level has no chance to win a competition, plus it also loses something more important than any reward - player satisfaction? And here, the disaster is even more dreadful, because we witness an adventure being killed which, if only its author could drop the will of winning a competition, might have had a chance for a place in the Hall of Fame. How I wish for time to be reversed and fixed! But it is possibly to never occur, for us to forever have another "hidden potential" category level, in addition filled with the flare bug, inaccessible zones, enabled dozy, multiple "load" entries, invisible reflection mirror room with misplaced burning tile on the floor, and, to sum it up all, overwhelming pity instead of a masterpiece we were almost sure to get. Really, without these issues, easily fixable yet dooming if left, the game is brilliant, with no cracks, no stretched nor misrotated textures, all built with HD tiles, sandy fog bulbs, varying fights, fitting architecture, matching sound, realistic daylight and complex puzzles, with only camera sequences tending to be "lazy", what decreases players' patience (do we really need a turtle-speed flyby only to watch a flipped pool with water?). SUMMARY: Oh my God... Oh my God, what a pity... There are few things in levebuilding that hurt more than a fine yet unfinished game. Fortunately it's still playable and entertaining if only one is aware about bugs... but that requires reading notes of other players before attempting the game, what denies its standaloneness and throws a stigma of beta version on the whole product. I really, really hope it's completed someday, because I'd really like to see what's behind that transparent glass windows and those doors guarded by horizontal flame emitters." - DJ Full (01-Apr-2013)

"I still remember a lot of discussion about how buggy this level supposedly was when it was released, but it without much trouble it can really be played easily from start to finish and offers almost 90 minutes of a very solid raiding experience, including 3 secrets, a couple of nice battles with scoprions, raptors, demigods and harpies, an encounter with a bull, several nice flipmaps, flybys and good use of audio, use of the torch, block pushing and more. It has next generation looks, leaning on to a Karnak style level and it could have been a truly great level, if the prevalent issues had been sorted out before releasing it to the public: namely the flare bug (the author acknowledges that he could not fix that, but then at least put some light into those pitch black corners and many dark crawlspaces!) and the possible stuck moments with the trapdoor you can only raise once, the breakable tiles that you need to pass twice and the right sequence of picking up the snakes. Gameplay also revolves a bit much around finding the next button or switch to open the next door, but the whole architecture is quite elborate and impressive and very nicely connected. Worth a play, if you have the walkthrough nearby and have the patience to throw flares to get some light." - MichaelP (14-Oct-2010)

"The other reviewers have made accurate observations about this level so I can add little more. It is well made, and it manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Unlike other reviewers, I would not recommend this level for play until the author fixes its beta status. A flare bug in a level that has many dark or black places is a challenge, but having to constantly throw down flares or struggle with the binoculars destroys any semblance of the reality that should be here. Game play starts well, and a player is impressed at the construction and texturing: this is a high quality Egyptian level. After Lara finds the golden Vraeus, and a couple doors requiring a torch, Lara goes on to an area where flame emitters abound. The entryway to large double doors is lined with flame emitters, and since those doors never even open, the effect is gratuitous. Lara has to jump by flame emitters. I suspect a lack of triggers to turn off all those flames. There are doors, and transparent walls so one can see rooms beyond, but despite searching through this level several times, Lara never found a way to open those doors. Probably this is due to the beta status. Lara progress onward, and reaches a large area that proves to be the end. I should have read the forum; instead, Lara searched for an hour for a high crawlspace. Lara enters, and in an upper level mirror room gets a snake thing (in this level it is called "load," but I forget its Tomb Raider name). If Lara picks this up a bug kicks in, the companion snake thing disappears, and the game can't be finished. There is a second, lower route to a scarab medallion, and this has the poorest construction in the level, with paper thin walls and end of the world views. Lara has to shimmy over about thirty flame tiles. The dramatic effect here is close to zero, so there is no reason for even one flame tile. And I should have mentioned that in the mirror room the floor surface is almost completely active flames. The author's excuse, in apologizing for the flare bug, is that it just happened at the last minute. I'll bet. A good designer only needs about three flame tiles to suggest that a floor is deadly. Lara had to replay the entire ending because of the bug with the snake thing--the mirror room has to be done after Lara has gotten the other snake thing. She places the artifacts, a door opens, and she pulls a block onto a trigger tile for a concluding flyby. There is a decided break in this level between the realistic opening and the overindulgent conclusion, so maybe the simplest solution for the author would be to break all this into two separate levels." - dmdibl (12-Dec-2009)

"I suppose as a beta this level should be forgiven for its shortcomings, the first of which appears in the form of the flare bug. But being that there are a number of very dark areas in this game, the entire level long bug becomes more than a minor inconvenience. The readme, whilst calling this a 'last minute bug' advises lighting a flare and then dropping it, which many players already know, but that really solves nothing for the light cast is naturally confined to the immediate few squares surrounding the dropped flare and doesn't help at all for moving further on in the given dark area. Some areas require a good look around with the light that accompanies the binoculars in order to see where to go, and I'm only glad that I didn't get the other associated bug of crashes when using the binoculars light. Worse follows later in the form of the non-appearance of an essential pick up, one of two snake items. This second bug occurs if the player picks up another snake item located in a mirror room first. Having said that, in the scheme of things it's right at the end of the game and the bug would only prevent the opening of a door for a push block, which, when placed triggers the opening of another door which itself ends the level, so nothing is really lost. Setting these two negatives aside then, what does this debut level offer? First and foremost the texturing is of a nice quality, taken as they appear to be from TR Anniversary's Egypt levels, so it all looks rather nice. Aside from the numerous dark areas, there are some generally nice lighting touches throughout the level with some really nice subtle shades here and there. Early on in the game things are quite simple with nothing being too extensive and primarily taking place in quite confined areas. Enemies consist mainly of small scorpions and at least one crocodile. There may have been more but I really can't remember. In any case they are no trouble. As we progress through the game things gradually become grander in terms of size and complexity, though the word 'complexity' is slightly misleading for nothing is actually that complex, it seems rather that the builder was getting better at design as they progressed and maybe even a little more ambitious. Enemies become a little tougher in the form of some harpies and several demi-gods, paired as they are, so the usual crouch trick doesn't work for those. A number of the puzzles involve some slightly tiring push blocks, but I found these to be just on the limit of irksome. For the most part the focus seems to be on levers and buttons for various doors, which is ok generally. One or two sections involve the use of a torch (which sadly doesn't illuminate the dark areas either) and the lighting of bowls here and there which was a little more interesting and enjoyable than levers and push blocks. Some good use of shimmy cracks were made throughout, such subtleties which can often hide the way to go rather better than any other method, I think. One or two areas did at least have the genesis of atmosphere with the lighting, but sadly this was somewhat over-shadowed by the excess darkness in a flare bug level. Just a bit of tweaking here and there and things can look great, I'm sure. Later in the game there is a nice reprise of the timed burning pillars in water a la TR1 Midas' Palace and I particularly enjoyed doing the curving, running jumps over those before the flames came back on. Close by is the aforementioned mirror room which is a little misleading for the reflected safe squares aren't entirely correct. Still, it's such an easy space to get across that this is a minor fault. Over all then, if you can get over the bugs this debut level offers some fun game play at a reasonable pace in what is actually quite a large map and though by no means a perfect level it looks like the builder has some good potential for future levels. I'll definitely look forward to more and better from this builder." - Czar (23-Jul-2009)

"I think many players are bored to play betas or demos. I think that enough people is willing to test a level before it can be posted; or was the author in a hurry? The only thing I like were the textures and some good ideas, but there were very serious bugs to do good comments this time. Even without the flare bug, there are too many extremely dark rooms; I think there must be some dark rooms in levels with tombs like this, but not dozens, and not with a darkness so black. There is a lot of backtracking in this game too, and players don't like to go over long distances to get an item and return to the same places to can use it and return again to the previous far places to continue playing. The bug of the empty pedestal near the end is not admissible in any way. I've seen several levels in the list when loading this one, but if the author is not be able to solve the bugs and change a little the gameplay and the lights, I think very few people will play the whole adventure." - Jose (21-Jul-2009)

"You're joking right? A beta and with that the flare bug and in the readme a word about he cannot fix it and all you find is flares? Two things I don't like, first, a beta version, there are different ways to check if everything is running and second, what is worse than carrying a flare around? Yup, throwing a flare. The binoculars funny enough do work. Wondering now if anti triggering the fire used in this level would solve the problem. But at least he could have made the"oh so" dark spots, a bit brighter then. Even if you could schlep the torch with you, it didn't help. Found a very nasty stuck moment and paper-thin walls. Textures could use some fine-tuning and I even spotted almost at the end textures missing. There is one place with a bit of luck you can reach the end of the world. The game has some very nice moments but overall a good testing would have made it even better. Still have the feeling that I missed some areas, as some doors are still closed." - Gerty (19-Jul-2009)

"Here is a level which gave me quite a lot of worries, not that there are a lot of difficult passages but to find its way and what it is necessary to make is not always obvious. Many doors are useless but it is nevertheless necessary to go back to prove him. The bug of torches disposes nothing but the author having told, I do not take into account it here. With quite a lot of tenacity on the whole a level while entertaining to play who asks for quite a lot of research and good eyes. By the end the collection of 2 \" snake thingies \" can pose problem if they are not picked up in order (see the forum). The decoration of group is achieved enough and places are nice to look. The author has some corrections to be brought in this level beta so that after token, he becomes very good. The future of this constructor is wide open, its next productions with impatience are waited." - Daffy (16-Jul-2009)

"The readme must be explored before playing this game, there is the flare bug which is a big issue since the builder has not taken into account that there are many dark places in the level. There are so many flaws to the level, that it why it is in BETA stage but it is still unacceptable at this level, there were many pointless doors that had no use. A puzzles that i came across was some push blocks with the flame emmitters. The level has a fairly decent length but there are so many little things that can easily be walked past, such as the canopic jars. Enemies are set out well, there arent too many and they are quite far apart in appropriate places but i'm not too sure i like the raptors that much. Overall a good start for a BETA but i would like to see a lot of change for the real thing. Grade = B-" - herothing (16-Jul-2009)

"Before you play this level, you should peruse to you first the Readme. There stands cause which there is the flarebug in this level. My first thought was:" Well, then there are probably a few dark places which are not, however, match-winning which one can run past and where probably only some Goodies or Secrets are hidden". Unfortunately, with this thought I was completely quite wrong. Since there was more of these dark places than I thought. Either then it was so dark that one could recognise just something else, or it was completely black. Now such a darkness must not be bad. And even with the flarebug it could be still well playable. However, the problem is which one must find in this darkness crawl spaces. Or the right direction in a small labyrinth. Then, however, this is not amusing at all. Besides, there is the same problem with the torch. But, at least, one could use the binoculars with the low-light amplifier. So one must use either the binoculars, or light a flare and throw it on the ground. Another problem are the medium-sized red raptors. Actually this is only a very small problem, because there are only four of these opponents. But sometimes honestly: What have such opponents doing in an Egypt level? They are complete absent on the place. So much to the disagreeable part. Now there comes a thick praise! The level is built very well. One does not run just through run-of-the-mill ruins. No, these ruins are formed and textured very accurate. They are so bright and aerial which I had to think more than once of The Ancient Knowledge by Danilo Rocha. Very interesting and well-conceived were the riddles what one was sometimes hindered from this darkness in. A mirror room with burning floor was very nice. Less had succeeded a room, where you must shimmy to the other side. There was some textures mistake. Another strange problem was which one could lift one of two same artefacts only from a pedestal if one has left the other same artefact first and used two other artefacts first. If one made it different, this pedestal was empty and it did not go on. Opponents were the already mentioned red raptors, a few Demigods and a few harpies. One met in the whole level not all too many opponents. However, at a place these were a little bit more. There one had to fight against four Demigods and five harpies at the same time. Playing time was a little bit more than two hours. To sum up, one must say which this level feels very well in spite of the addressed problems and has given a lot of pleasure. And because it concerns merely the beta version, the problems are still repaired absolutely. And then hopefully the red raptors are not present any more." - Scottie (13-Jul-2009)

"I know what you're thinking - beta debut level - it's going to be like a demo, i.e. ten minutes of something truly dreadful based on the Tut1 wad. Wrong, wrong, completely wrong. This is a long (slightly over two hours), well made and really quite entertaining level. The only real down side is the damn flare bug, for which the builder has apologised profusely in the readme. That irritation aside, there is much to enjoy here. The emphasis is firmly on exploration and there's a lot to explore Crawlspaces can be easily missed due to the aforementioned lack of proper flares, so just keep lighting them and throwing them on the floor. Enemies are few and far between, but seem to have been effectively used. This would be an extremely good game indeed if the odd bugs and glitches could be sorted out. Also, it ended just as a door had been opened so it really seemed to be begging for a continuation. I would very much like to see more levels from this builder." - Jay (13-Jul-2009)

"It seems that the author has built this level for some contest and had not enough time to get rid of the main flaw of it : the flares bug (the author may have triggered all fire emitters at the beginning of the level) which is quite annoying as there are several pitch black areas and corners. Happily enough , the binoculars are working without making the game crashes , and the great majority of the places are not made of that darkness. That does not excuse him for the pitch black ones. The level is a beta version, that is maybe the reason why there were several doors that remained closed. There is a dose of confusion in the level although not a very complex one. The beginning is just a series of rooms to go through, quickly followed by areas where several times a torch has to be used, then later on, 2 or 3 pushable blocks puzzles and some challenge with fire emitters. The level seemed quite long, and there are a few things that can easily be missed, it would have been better if the whole thing had been more 'compact'. I like how you have to shimmy around some structures in the courtyard where canopic jars are to be placed, and the climbing of the slope with steps , like in the great Pyramid TR4 level. Textures are high defined, there is also a few standard ones from Karnak and old objects for the decor. The enemies fit in the scenery except for the raptors. Despite the fact the author has tried to come up with a few impressive areas , the looks , especially the texturing , are quite average. Try it if you have at least 2 hours." - eRIC (13-Jul-2009)
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