Level: Complex Simplicity 2010 - Fortress of Fear back home search
Author(s): illyaine
total rating:9.08 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
Bene 9 9 9 8
Blue43 10 9 10 9
Christian 9 9 9 8
Diz 9 9 10 10
DJ Full 8 9 9 9
dmdibl 10 9 9 10
Gerty 8 9 9 9
Jay 9 9 10 9
Jose 8 8 8 8
l.m. 10 9 10 10
Magnus 8 7 8 8
manarch2 9 9 10 9
MichaelP 9 9 9 9
misho98 9 10 10 9
Mman 10 10 10 10
mugs 10 9 8 6
Mytly 8 9 10 8
Phil 10 9 10 9
Ruben 10 10 10 9
Ryan 9 9 10 9
Sarikman 9 9 9 10
Shandroid 9 9 9 8
TheStig 9 9 10 9
category averages
(23 reviews)
9.09 9.00 9.39 8.83

Reviewer's comments

"Things certainly look different here. In contrast to other levels in the contest, this conveys a more gloomy atmosphere complete with haunting sound files. It is dark but not oppressively dark. Another highlight of the contest." - Ryan (12-Mar-2016)

"To begin with: there are indeed at least two sequences - the prologue swimming and the castle entrance corridor - which require a double run, but the first tightrope doesn't have to be used three times - a single walk will do. The puzzle quests are laid out non-linearly and It's almost sure one will find a keyhole before its corresponding key - very proper to see the target before obtaining the item. Same goes for secrets, usually clearly visible but requiring little mind gaming on how to reach them - and also very useful. One of them involved a count-on-luck pushable which I consider best-to-avoid design, but fortunately enough flares were provided to look for it. Trap sequences are utilized with higher creativity than I usually encounter, though their occurence is kinda random - in one place we have a brilliant timed run summed up with a whole bunch of rollingball-controlled spikes, this is followed with rotating blades, and the next half of hour is totally trapless. Thankfully some unusual enemy combinations are applied in the meantime, e.g. a cooperative assault of a swordsman and an archer (to mind which one should be targeted first), or a very challenging air+ground strike of two crows and a dog - so one way to create danger supplements the other, quite nicely filling the gap between solved pushables. Yes, this time the term "pushable" almost completely substitutes the word "puzzle". I presume the count of pushable objects surpasses the number of enemies, and together with the overload of raisingblocks, they felt even more numerous than pickups. In those places, at least in my case, fun level would easily drop to the value of zero if the brilliant surroundings didn't hold me in - and the author is certainly strong with architecture, always well-finished except few wrongly tinted objects that don't disturb much either. And there are also some neat touches like fireflies around the lamp, foggy rain ambience or the always-working Ireland night soundtrack, coming in to support the scenery with their priceless company. Oh, and there's also a princess... well I completely forgot - those awesome hydras must have distracted me. SUMMARY: It's sometimes hard to explore every corner and spot all elusive things here, but also very easy to allow the catchy mood grant You with energy for one more try. Some things could be done better in this level, but it's likely to reward You. Recommended - and very highly recommended if I cross out the prologue :)" - DJ Full (01-Oct-2014)

"It's been a while since I played a level that I enjoyed so much as this one. Very nice textures, well mixed and a good, dark atmosphere along with fogs and rain. The gameplay is not very frustrating, exept few parts. The puzzles are well hidden and smart, but I think that the author used the same type of puzzles many times. Also, some pushables needed a lot of time till they will be completed. I don't complain about that, but I'd rather see and other kinds of puzzle. Some of the objects are brilliant and well placed. The only thing that was bothering me was the reaction of Lara's head and shoulders with the lights. Sometimes they seem too shiny or too dark. I enjoyed the fights with the knights and the end with the four dragons from TR5, but I can't understand why the vultures needed so many bullets in order to be killed. The background sounds fit nice with the level, but the music doesn't. The music fits for a castle level, but not for a dark, rainy, foggy castle level. That's why I am not rating with a ten the atmosphere. All in all, it is a fantastic level and I strongly recomend it to everyone." - Sarikman (25-May-2012)

"Unlike the other levels from the package, this one has slightly different atmosphere - rainy night. The puzzles were good, but the gameplay featured a lot of backtracking and I was very nervous because of this. Everything was textured perfectly, lighting was too dark at some times. There were camera hints when needed, enemies were placed well. The final bosses were good, kinda boring to just side jump and shoot for 5 minutes, but I accept it. Recommended for fans of dark and long levels. It took me 1h 30 min." - misho98 (20-Mar-2012)

"Here I am again...slowly creeping up levels from last year. The Fortress of Fear represents a slightly darker more foreboding atmosphere compared to the previous two levels from this set I've reviewed. Illayne regularly turns out top quality levels, and this one is no exception! The dark rainy ambience, dense blue fog all add to the atmosphere. The spaces are well constructed and very believable. I did struggle a bit with one of the timed doors, but other than that the gameplay is straight-forward. You'll also be rewarded for exploring, so don't be afraid to look in the corners to see what you might find. I saw just under 2 and a half hours worth of gameplay here. Excellent work and very re-playable too. Highly recommended! Stiggy" - TheStig (29-Mar-2011)

"The Castle here is incredibly atmospheric with great use of rain and fog, along with a layout that results in seeing parapets and similar through the gloom (as well as helping make the location look bigger than it is). The few brighter areas here feel a little weaker in detail, but they are rare enough for it not to matter (as well as mixing things up a little). Texturing near-perfect throughout.
Gameplay involves a hunt for four swords. The real strength of this level is the way the structure rewards a logical approach; on most levels opening a door to four receptacles when I only had one and felt like I had explored most of the level would result in a despaired glance at the walkthrough. Here though I felt compelled to go back and check, and by checking everywhere that didn't feel fully explored I found the rest of them (I did need a walkthrough for one, but even the entrance to the route for that one was pretty much hiding in plain sight). It's not easy at all, and there can be quite a bit of backtracking, but the level is extremely interlinked and gradually opens shortcuts, until very little is hard to access. There are a few scattered flaws (while I didn't have trouble, one or two keys felt a bit too blended in), but they didn't take away from the overall great design for me in this case. This could easily be the favourite for me out of this pack." - Mman (21-Feb-2011)

"The princess has been kidnapped. Is Lara a bad enough dude to rescue the princess? Well, no, actually she's a woman, but this is 2010 and women are allowed to rescue princesses these days if they want to! Cliche storyline aside, this is a pretty good level. It takes place in a rainy fortress, and it looks nice. You can see how the author has had to find workarounds in places to get the objects in the wad to do what he or she wanted them to do, but there are some pretty creative solutions. The rain is a bit buggy in places, but I don't know how much of that is the author's fault. The rain and general darkness fit the level (it's a fortress of fear, after all!), but it does make it a bit hard to take in the areas at times, as you can't see quite as far as I would have wanted. But that's a minor issue. To reach the princess, Lara has to find a number of swords, and that's what's going to keep you occupied for most of this hour-long level. It's a pretty non-linear level with a lot of running back and forth, but it works surprisingly well. This is mostly due to the fact that there's nothing that's particularly hidden (make sure you look around carefully in the first flyby area, though). Switches are in logical places and puzzles can always be solved without leaving the area, allowing you to make your way through the level without getting lost, despite some large areas and a lot of paths between rooms. The puzzles are all pretty easy but fun for the most part, and making your way through the areas gives Lara a chance to show off her moves. The level seems to lose steam after you place the swords, however. The last few rooms are rather pedestrian, and the final boss doesn't really do much (I know the author had to work with what was given in the wad file, but the implementation of the boss fight could have been better). But final stretch aside, this level was a pleasant surprise and I was entertained throughout. Lara may not be a dude, but this level proves that she does, at least, have balls." - Magnus (30-Aug-2010)

"This level seems to be by an experienced builder who knows what he/she is doing. But apparently what he/she is doing is teasing the players by not allowing them to see more than a few feet at a time, and by creating such an intricate and complex castle layout that they rarely know what to do or where to go next. Even after completing the level fully, with all secrets, I never managed to open certain doors in the level, which baffles me as to their purpose. Speaking of the secrets - they do provide a good side quest, but they also distract from the main quest of the level. For example, I spent a huge amount of time trying to do a particularly tricky sequence, only to realise that it was just for a secret.
The atmosphere is amazing, and certainly helps the level live up to its name (even though visibility is sacrificed in favour of darkness, rain and fog). The music is very nicely used, and enhances the atmosphere considerably. The lighting leaves a lot to be desired, though, being at most times too dark, and at other times too bright.
Overall: This level can probably be best appreciated on replay, as the first time around it's too confusing to be much fun. Still, the overall quality of the level is high, and it's worth trying out simply for the great atmosphere." - Mytly (28-Aug-2010)

"The atmosphere is real good in this level. A shame that the flares are not, too bright (and blue) so you really can't see what's around you, like you do with the"old" flares. This level is non-linear and I have been over the castle and it surroundings a tad to many times for my liking. That sometimes had it advantage as I found quite some secrets and you really get a feeling for this place. First time around I played this simultaneous with all the other CS levels, but the second time around was more pleasant. You can see the"logic" the builder thinks he/she has but we as player don't possess that, so some of the order in which things had to be done, are a bit stretched. Both times it had to be my lucky day with that timed run at the start, as I just had it in my fingers, succeeding in the second try. Repeating myself here, I love the WAD and textures." - Gerty (18-Aug-2010)

"In my opinion, one of the best levels in the contest. The gameplay was so immensively complex and the puzzles were a real adventure, hard, but not unsolvable. The new moves like the wall-jumping were placed in this game so perfect. Enemies were not too much but the final battle with the dragons was really nice, the traps, too. The rather dark lightning created such a spooky and thrilling atmosphere but it wasn't so dark that you couldn't see anything. Secrets were not placed in a dark corner in rooms, but they were just another (sometimes very long) part of gameplay as you had to run back half of the level for them after you got a key just used for this secret. I found that very good. Collectively one can say this level is a real masterpiece. Absolutely recommendable. Well done!" - manarch2 (15-Aug-2010)

"There's nothing simple about this complexity. This is one of the most complicated and totally immersive levels I've ever played. I spent a day or so writing walkthroughs for two of the other CS levels, but I was absorbed in trying to figure out the Fortress of Fear for nearly a week. There was also a bit of confusion in that the TR4 was modified after release without any notification (none that I saw, anyway), forcing a different order of gameplay. I suspect that in the process the builder decided to be a bit more forgiving in the timed run, as I had no difficulty with it. You're playing in an unrelenting rain during the night hours, but the pervasive darkness didn't bother me all that much. In fact, it's almost a shock near the end of the level when you reach an area that's brightly lit, and I must say that this somewhat shattered the mood for me. You'll encounter relatively few enemies along the way, but that quartet of dragons at the end seemed almost invulnerable. I finally gave up and manufactured a revolver to get rid of them, but even then it must have taken 200 rounds or more to do the job. I can't imagine how long it must have taken those who played it by the book and used their pistols. It took me a while to figure out how to get the knight over to the green tile, but once you've learned the sequence it's duck soup. The other knight push puzzle near the end was a little more obscure, but the trick there is realizing that the knights must be placed so that they face the pool. Anyway, this is a level that must be experienced rather than described, and it's surely the work of a seasoned veteran. I have four more CS levels to play, but I can't believe that any of them will impress me more than this one did. Highest recommendations." - Phil (18-Jul-2010)

"I really enjoyed this great level even though I got confused a lot. Fortress of Fear really made terrific use of Lara's new moves which gave the level a more modern, next gen feel. I thought the castle was very well done, if there were a few pop ups here and there. I thought the level was very nicely put together, with good puzzles, not very difficult. The sound was good, even though I am not fond of that old Ireland soundtrack, I suppose it fits the title of the level. I never exactly felt any fear, but the final battle was a good thrill." - Shandroid (17-Jul-2010)

"This one is a superbly crafted level with excellent game play, nearly perfect texturing and a great spooky atmosphere. I absolutely loved the design of the fortress and the whole setting with the rain, the gloomy lighting and the perfect soundtrack. I had a really hard time with a timed run and resorted to use a save-game - thanks Tom! A 1/10th of a second more time would have been nice, so that the not so seasoned crowd could have made it too :) There was also quite a bit of back and forward running involved and also some climbing the same areas multiple times, but it never seemed to tedious at any point. I found 3 out of 4 secrets. In general the level was not very difficult to play, except that some items were very well hidden and sometimes it wasn't clear where to go next, but that's why we have the great forum members who like to help out. Thanks to everyone here. I really enjoyed the puzzles in this level, placing the suits of armor on blocks that raise them up and down was just great. The enemies were fairly easy to battle for the most part. All in all an exceptionally well made level that can only be highly recommended. Great job by the builder!" - Blue43 (15-Jul-2010)

"How nice to play a level that was gloomy and atmospheric without being too dark to see. Wonderful lighting coupled with the never-ending rain lent a feel to this level that was almost spooky. Not many enemies but good puzzles and I especially liked the way you could go back to the beginning by simply diving into the water. Non-linear too, which I always like, linear game make me feel I'm being led by the hand. Good solid look to the whole level gave it a professional gloss. Loved it!" - Diz (14-Jul-2010)

""It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents" is the beginning of a sentence from a 19th century novelist, a phrase well - known to many Mystery readers and it is also an apt description of the beginning, middle and almost to the end atmosphere of this level. I do like a gloomy setting and it's appropriate to a 'Fortress of Fear' but the light at the end was welcome as a nice change. Gameplay seems complex; there's a lot of lever pulling and not too many cam shots to show what the lever affected, leaving a player (well... me) running around trying to figure out the next step. I thought the shot showing the outside area after the mirror floor room key was picked up was a bit of misdirection but maybe it went by too fast for me to see it accurately, although I did watch it a few times. The Uzi secret was a highlight with a deceptively 'simple' jump that once accomplished was quite satisfying and fun. There's also a tricky jump to the rocks after the explosion and a drop to a hang lever that had Lara dropping to it while in the middle of another move - nicely done but the emphasis is on exploring and finding high cracks and movables - my favorite kind of gameplay. As others have mentioned, there is a lot of backtracking in the search for four Swords and it's easy to leave an area before all the tasks are completed, making a return necessary. If one can remember where the first Sword was seen and how to get back to it, all is well until what seems like the ending brings a surprise in the form of a Dragon Meet where the Uzis do come in handy. A good entry and one of the highlights of the contest." - Bene (14-Jul-2010)

"As opposed to the other levels in the contest, this one has a dark and sinister mood. The rain and the audio help create an eerie atmosphere and you are welcomed by a few crows. It is another rather long level too, at almost two hours duration, but I am sure on replay it would be much shorter, because it is quite non-linear and I had to go back to places several times because I forgot to complete one of the necessary tasks. On the one hand this is impressively designed, on the other hand it can get quite frustrating for the player, if you just do not find the one thing you have missed and essentially end up exploring the entire huge level several times. There are actually helpful cameras that make it a little easier, but you still need a very keen eye for the often used cracks to climb/jump up a wall and the well hidden push blocks. I really enjoyed exploring up there on the battlements, the four secrets are a fun addition and you have to work for them, and the whole knight push/raise puzzle is very well conceived. You also get to use the torch in one area and a short and fairly tight timed run to master. Make sure you find both swords in the starting area and the other two later on. Once you use those the adventure comes to and end with another knight push exercise and a fierce battle with four dragons (although it was rather tedious and not difficult at all to kill them). Great adventure, a little more on the challenging side and another highlight of the contest." - MichaelP (13-Jul-2010)

"One of the highlights in CS 2010 and the best of gameplay so far in a beautifully designed dark and spooky castle including a very tight timed run at the beginning. Coming back to the lake once more but this time with the crowbar in Laras inventory completed my search for the 4 swords to open the door to the dragon's lair. The final showdown proved a quite easy task for Lara can take the snakes out one by one. A first class TRLE adventure." - Ruben (11-Jul-2010)

"outstanding adventure! It could have been a bit less running to and fro, a few more camera-hints would have been helpful, but absolute creative gameplay! For swords have to be found spread allover the wide areas. There is absolutely no order in which you have to solve these quite complexe puzzles. The fight against four dragons at the end of the game is quite fun. The dark atmosphere is adequate and realistic. Very creative work, highly recommended to everyone!" - Christian (07-Jul-2010)

"Brilliant, but with reservations. Professional design, but dark, with a haze that limits visibility, and a constant downpour drenching poor Lara. After Lara crosses an initial water area using pole swings and tightrope walk, she enters an amazingly detailed castle where there is a whole series of clever tasks. The timed run is a little too tight. Lara explores, using her new moves to the fullest, to reach unlikely places and the parapets of the castle. This means using binoculars to look for high switches and wall cracks. The dark haze is so bad that when Lara is above the entry courtyard, she can't see across it, even with binoculars. Nonetheless, it is possible to do everything, and to find all secrets. There is a companion area where Lara scales walls to locate the first of four swords after a puzzle with a suit of armor. Game play is intense and players can be totally caught up in it. One can almost forget the rain, though curiously it is raining inside with the suit of armor, right through the stone ceiling. There is a second sword and an Uzi secret, in what for me was the climax of the level. Lara backtracks to the beginning for two more swords, but by comparison this seems ordinary. After placing four swords, Lara pushes around armor in what feels like made work. At the end there are four dragons that are tedious to shoot. (We have learned from other levels that one dragon is plenty.) Players have just experienced the most absorbing game play in a marvelous castle, but due to a less stellar ending and some author decisions, it is hard not to feel that my high scores are a little strained. Still, a fascinating concept and a must play." - dmdibl (07-Jul-2010)

"Another good level, but gameplay was not very good for me 'cause it was too no-lineal; I forgot a key in the second large outside area and I was running around like fool through all the entire level to find it. Architecture was very good, ambience was great too, but excessive darkness for me to like. There are some interesting tasks to do and some good puzzles too. No much enemies to shoot and, where are the extra weapons to deal with the enemies? I've found three of four secrets and I couldn't see any other weapon than the pistols so; at the end I had to kill all four dragons shooting a very long time. Sounds and cameras are good, and I liked the textures too. Not a masterpiece but a good level very playable, with a lot of work behind. Thank you for your time; I've enjoyed it." - Jose (06-Jul-2010)

"This gets off to an energetic start, with Lara running for her life. The atmosphere of this level is terrifically creepy - no fairytale castle this, but a vast gothic pile with a brooding, rainy night-time setting and those unsettling Black Isle sound files. The quest this time is to find four swords and you'll need to be prepared to do quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, especially if you're as unobservant as I am. Quite a good mix of action and puzzles - not many enemies but the four dragons at the end provide a good excuse to jump around with guns blazing. You may or may not have found an uzi by this time, but it's more fun with pistols anyway." - Jay (06-Jul-2010)

"This game was terrific. My only complaint was the lighting. I am no longer a fan of these dark levels - it just serves no purpose in my opinion. You can still convey rainy, foggy nights without resorting to blanket charcoal grey. Lara is in pursuit of the "keys (switches) to the keep" and obtaining the 4 swords. Her quest will take her to two equally important parts of the castle (count on a few trips back and forth) where your next move will require some thought. Enemies are not a major concern here, although the ending had me puzzling for a long time, but that was my own stupidity. Well done !!" - Mugs (05-Jul-2010)

"a level of the scary category. Lara has to rescue a princess, who is prison in a hidden tower of this Fortress of Fear. The Level is well builded with excellent atmosphere areas. Lara has to find 4 swords, and no single sword will be find easily. The player can find here nice gameplay elements, admixed with a very scary ambience. It is raining, and not to bright in this level. After you have found the 4 swords, you will get a surprise :-)" - l.m. (03-Jul-2010)
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