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Level: TR Forge Advent Calendar 2010 - Deep Down Below back home search
Author(s): Codo
total rating:9.17 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
afzalmiah 9 10 10 10
Ceamonks890 8 9 9 9
Diz 8 10 10 9
DJ Full 8 10 10 9
dmdibl 8 8 10 9
eTux 8 9 10 9
Gerty 8 9 10 10
Jay 8 8 10 10
JesseG 8 10 10 9
Jorge22 8 9 9 9
Jose 8 9 9 10
manarch2 8 10 10 10
MichaelP 6 9 10 9
Mytly 7 10 10 9
Paulina Haminara 9 9 10 10
Phil 8 10 10 9
rtrger 9 10 10 10
Ryan 8 9 10 10
Scottie 9 9 10 9
Shandroid 9 10 10 10
TheStig 9 10 9 10
young Lara Croft 7 8 9 10
category averages
(22 reviews)
8.09 9.32 9.77 9.50

Reviewer's comments

"This is one of those high quality levels that you'll honestly either love or hate. The beauty of this this underwater city with wonderful texturing and pleasing attention to detail, along with the mermaid protagonist is second to none and will make you want to swim around and take in the many sights. Which leads me onto the gameplay side of things. It's very exploration based and involves Cordelia navigating this vast setting in search for up to 29 gifts and 3 pearl secrets. Whether or not you explore everything is entirely up to you as there is no end trigger; you can end the level when you've explored to your heart's content. I played this with the walkthrough close at hand to explore every inch of this, otherwise it would have become tedious scouring the ocean floor for some of the small presents scattered around. But despite my griping, this is still a must see level for the beauty and its novel concept." - Ryan (21-Feb-2018)

"So Santa Claus has run into a bit of a conundrum as gifts meant for all the good little children in the world, have gotten lost beneath the ocean's depths of Antarctica thanks to a brutal storm(not helped at all by sea life hoarding some presents for themselves). Thankfully, a kind mermaid named Cordelia offers her assistance towards Santa and proceeds to dive back down into the depths, in order to retrieve what would be incredibly soggy or damaged goods(if this weren't a video game.) But as cheesy as the entire premise sounds, it's all done in the spirit of the Xmas holiday. So I suppose I can't really fault the builder for that. Gameplay is refreshingly laid-back as you explore the ocean depths for said gifts, collecting three special pearls for yourself along the way & solving puzzles that can be more unnecessarily vague than they really should. And since you aren't playing as Lara here, there's no need to return to the surface for air or fear for enemy encounters. So you can just swim around & take in the relaxing ambiance whilst exploring this beautifully-convincing coral reef environment. Overall, a genuinely good time for anyone who's the explorative type that stands out with a gameplay approach, not really attempted too often. Highly recommended!" - Ceamonks890 (26-Jul-2017)

"I really like how the atmosphere has been created in ocean under water during night time. When Lara was moving as a mermaid was really enjoyable. I hope there will be more levels when Lara is starring as a Mermaid.♡" - Paulina Haminara (28-Dec-2015)

"Beautiful level! It's a wonderful idea , controlling a mermaid through the deep ocean! Lighting and textures immerse the player into a fairytale setting." - young Lara Croft (23-Dec-2012)

"I knew from the readme that this would not quite be my kind of fun level and it wasn't. I am just not the explorer type and the prospect of scrounging a vast underwater setting for a series of little gifts really does not appeal to me - but that is of course a matter of taste. I also have to admit that the added lever puzzles went right over my head (assuming there were indeed clues) and turned out to be solved by a mix of trial and error and checking the walkthrough. Those gripes aside, the idea, the design of the place, the objects and the whole atmosphere created is absolutely stunning and very unique, so I did indeed enjoy the swimming around and looking at the various areas quite a bit and the little details are simply too many to describe any of them in this review. Not to be missed for its originality, even if you only swim through in a circle once to take it all in." - MichaelP (22-Apr-2011)

"This was a really fun and original level. You control a mermaid who is serching for santa's missing gifts. The whoole level is underwater but she was a mermaid so she could breath underwater. I didn't find that many presents but the sea had amazing lighting, no missplaced textures, no missplaced objects and so much more! The sea is hude and you have to do a LOT of exploring to be able to find all the presents. The five secrets are pearls which are even harder to find than the presents. Pretty hard but very fun and everyone should give it a go." - afzalmiah (05-Mar-2011)

"Since a WT already was written for this level, I quit gaming, maybe because it was too big for the moment, but with the perfect guidance of DJ Full's walkthrough I retried this game. First, I can say the builder has done a immense work on creating all these custom animals, objects and the main character, a mermaid. There were very interesting levers that did not need a wall anymore, but could be somewhere in the room, very good use in a tricky puzzle for the first secret. Many objects were completely new like the gems receptacles that can be activated with swimming over it and pressing Action, I also must mark the plants, in the cave there just were too much of them and Cordelia gets stuck more than once. The puzzles were all very interesting but most of them had no real logic; how could anyone know how to solve the current puzzle or the multi-lever puzzle without looking at the walkthrough? Well, nice ideas, as I said, but few more hints would have been helpful. Texturing was top too, as well as sound choice, but you can see at some points this level had some boarders, like the black walls at some places or the start-finish room that did not look that well. After only 15 minutes of net game time, but with over 80 minutes of "real" gametime, this was a very good and innovative adventure, which could have had more logic, I don't lower the L&T rating, see it as an extra point for great uniqueness." - manarch2 (26-Feb-2011)

"I confess I got a wee bit sea-sick after a (relatively long) while and got back to Santa with a few gifts and crystals but not all I could get (a Christmas in tune with the recessive atmosphere, I guess). A gem I had in my inventory even disappeared somehow and I can't tell how - and no, I didn't get back to a previous savegame. Still, I'd like to say I found the sea depths according to Codo quite interesting, fish, ship, the buildings, all creatures, everything included, and the music quite well chosen for the purpose. Some of the puzzles looked a bit cryptic to my tired mind (for example, I didn't understand why the signs in the room with a drawn fish didn't seem to match the signs in the cave - I know, I know, there's a walkthrough available). Finally, I'd like to add that unlike what I think has been said by other reviewers (I'm speaking from what I remember) it's not the first time that Lara's able to breathe underwater and don't ask me to place it but I also think I've also played Lara as a mermaid once... Maybe I'm wrong but I do have that impression... All in all though, this was an original, rather well designed level and quite nice to play for a while. I think you should try it too." - Jorge22 (28-Jan-2011)

"In some ways this is a difficult level to review, but in other ways it's a slam dunk. First of all, in giving us a water-breathing mermaid as a protagonist I believe it's unique in the annals of custom levels. There's no real background music that I recall, but rather an eerie and persistent sound effect that never really became annoying to me. At first I felt rather lost swimming around aimlessly and coming across a random Christmas present here and there, but then I consulted DJ Full's walkthrough and got a better sense of what's going on here. For example, I probably never would have figured out that the sea shells had some purpose other than looking pretty. I especially enjoyed that room where you have to pull switches to raise and lower colored rods in a lower room. But even with DJ's map (printed out in black and white, which probably explains it) I couldn't figure out what ceiling switches to pull in the large sunken cave, so that's the only part of the level that I really missed out on. The surroundings are stunning, the lighting is quite sufficient, and I kept expecting that giant green dragon to spew flames at me as I swam by. I assume that whenever you've explored as much as you want, you simply swim back up to Santa to end the level, and that's also a unique touch as far as I can remember. Recommended not so much for the gameplay but for the completely new kind of raiding experience you'll find here." - Phil (08-Jan-2011)

"This is the first level I've seen where you play as a mermaid, and it is rather well done. I spent a little over an hour collecting dozens of gifts as well as the three pearls. This world looks quite gorgeous. The one negative aspect is that because of the nature of this completely underwater level, the gameplay gets somewhat monotonous after a while. There is also no definite end to the level, but in this case players should find that, overall, the exploration is its own reward." - SSJ6Wolf (01-Jan-2011)

"This level certainly ranks as one of the most creative and atmospheric levels ever. The builder has created a vast and very beautiful underwater world that it bursting with detail: lots of different underwater plants; schools of fish swimming around; beautiful translucent jellyfish; many complex structures, both natural and man-made (sorry, I mean mermaid-made); and those additional fascinating touches like a sunken ship, dinosaur bones, and sea-serpents. And of course, not to mention the heroine herself, Cordelia the mermaid, who is really cute. The music suits the setting perfectly.
On the flip side, the gameplay is more than a little frustrating, as it is completely non-linear and open-ended. You can collect as many or as few presents as you want - you can even hit the finish trigger a second after the level begins! - but if you want to experience the whole of it, it's best to try to get every present, as well as the three secret pearls. But since there is no path to take, you are essentially reduced to swimming slowly all over the level several times over, looking into every nook and corner for those elusive presents. I finally gave up on the last two, after swimming through the level about twenty to thirty times. The puzzles are reserved mainly for the secrets - a rather strange choice on the builder's part, I think. The logic behind the puzzles is somewhat obscure: I finished one purely by luck, as I still don't understand what was to be done; and another complex puzzle had an element of trial and error.
Overall: This level can best be considered a piece of art to be admired passively - in which case, it is excellent - rather than a game to be played - in which case, it is a bit disappointing. But either way, it's well worth trying out." - Mytly (01-Jan-2011)

"Any way I think through that level, I couldn't any flaw but one: The gameplay, which becames a bit flat after a time. Otherwise, everything was perfect: The objects, the atmosphere, the texturing...magnificent! A unique level, and I really appreciate the if someone makes an innovative game to play. Hats of to Codo!" - rtrger (27-Dec-2010)

"It's not my taste a level you can finish when you want (I love challenges), but everybody have to recognize the great work this author have done with this level. Atypical level where Lara has been converted in a mermaid and she must explore the seabed to look for a lot of presents to Santa. Excelent design with an incredible architecture and fantastic objects, very good puzzles... What more can I say? Ultra-recommended for all those who like exploration. Good work!" - Jose (18-Dec-2010)

"It seems to be ages since I played a level completely underwater so I looked forward to this one with some glee. Nor was I disappointed. An enormous area, made larger by the vertical aspect, was beautifully made and deserved fully exploring. This was made easier by the denizens of the deep not including the mermaid on their menu although they did add an interesting aspect to the visuals, especially those trying to rush past the 'dragon' (?). The idea of the level is to find 30 presents. They are well hidden, some fiendishly so. I have to admit to not finding them all and giving up in the end although I was enjoying the area so much I certainly spent longer than I would on a less well made level. The one criticism I have, and this is most certainly a personal one, is that I am not sure I like the idea of an open ended game, good though this was. I think I prefer the usual 'play the game, achieve the goals and end the game' format. I'm not sure, the jury's still out on that one. One thing I am sure of is that when the boundaries are pushed by builders of this standard we're all in for a treat." - Diz (17-Dec-2010)

"I have to tip my hat for the game that Codo made. It is enchanting and just plain eye candy. The floor plan must be huge and I love all the object you find here in this underwater world. That said, it took me more than a week to gather the so needed three pearls and only found 26 gifts. So I am sorry to say that a couple of people won't get their presents this year, I did try though. Only downside was the collision I encountered at certain points. The levers in the room with the lowering of the spikes did give me a headache, as it was pretty hard to position the mermaid, so she would pull. Still swimming in this underwater world to see if I can catch the other gifts but don't hold your breath LOL" - Gerty (16-Dec-2010)

"Definitely a level like never before. Unique atmosphere, achieved mostly with introducing marine creatures and filling the ambience with marvellous sound fitting each situation perfectly. Objects not only include shells, starfishes and herrings - there is some mankind-made trash dropped to the bottom as well, from the renaissance period ship remnants to the 20-century oil barrels. Even some textures present 2D bottles or tins, a little bit resembling pickups Cordelia is after when watched from the above (but this is good IMO - a player commits a mistake, swims closer to such rubbish and has a chance to behold human's influence on oceans, which is not only devastating them, but also takes up some precious seconds of the playtime :)). All these things - alive or dead (sometimes literally, as there is an ex-dragon skeleton and some corals we can rip off), are surrounded by wonderful biotope - geothermal springs, mountains, caves, pits, currents, a continental slope, an abysal edge... simply, one feels like truly deep down below. There are not so many perfect titles for levels, but this is one of them. Apart from the true nature and man-made things, a fantasy element is included ingame - an underwater house that Cordelia breaks into looks so like one of Antonio Gaudi's projects, that I thought Codo is from Spain! I was surprised to find out she's not. Well done, girl! Secrets are whole separate locations, and I love that. A player gets some more than alcoves or crawlspaces filled with goodies. Here, to get a secret, one needs to explore, sometimes a lot. Why only 8 points for the gameplay? There is a switch bug in the 4 statues room - one needs to pull only 1 of them. I don't know if usage of this bug is allowed in TRForge Contest, so, before I do the speedrun, I'll wait for Tifa's reply clarifying this problem. Also, the main flaw of the game is the pulsing lighting - it is tiring after some time, and a player doesn't want to use dozens of flares to prevent it. SUMMARY: As it was already said, this game can cause vertigo. However, if it makes you go seasick, don't throw it away, but just look at some distant point in the real world. That should be enough to fix the problem and allow you to play this unique level to the very end. Strongly recommended one." - DJ Full (16-Dec-2010)

"There are very few levels where Lara spends the majority of her time undersea, and fewer still where she never has to come up for air. Codo has done a splendid job introducing us to a very realistic undersea world of not Lara, but a mermaid named Cordelia. Her task is to collect 30 presents that Santa has accidentally dropped into the sea. Some of these presents are just lying around, but some are hidden so well that I couldn't even find them. I only found 26 presents, but I found 3 pearls. This lovely, unique level is so spectacular to look at, I think I spent much longer playing this level just so I could swim around with Cordelia. The music was also perfect and really added to the experience. Being a Christmas level, there are no enemies, so your time is spent exploring and solving complicated puzzles. This level is simply not to be missed." - Shandroid (12-Dec-2010)

"Such is the life between term paper and essay deadlines that I haven't touched a proper level and completed it in quite a while now. So it goes to this level's credit that I spontaneously decided to make time for it. I don't recall a mermaid inspired level being done before, and while the novelty in itself made me curious enough to give it a go, knowing who authored the game in question assured me this would by no means be a half-hearted approach to the theme. And the first few minutes of the game certainly make you lust for more. Everything, starting from Cordelia the mermaid, the marine life, and the lovingly and impeccably constructed underwater world itself make this an explorer's dream come true and a feast for the eyes (well, maybe those eyes, whose technical equipment can handle this without serious lagging). The specific tasks involved in the hunt for 29 (of which I managed to find only 26) presents and 3 pearls show off some great underwater gameplay moments, but on the whole the game is more impressive for the looks, rather than the tasks involved. If I'd have to name any downsides to my experience, then I felt that the switch puzzle for one of pearls, where you have to look up the hints regarding which switches ought to be activated throughout the whole level, was a little too much for me. Having a definitive end rather than being allowed to leave whenever you feel like it would've made it more congruent in my eyes. But even with that taken into consideration - this still gets my highest recommendations for the immense creativity and care that must have went into putting this together. An excellent rendition of the theme, that without a doubt will also work outside the context of the Advent calendar." - eTux (06-Dec-2010)

"Something different for Advent. Cordelia the mermaid makes her debut, as she is asked by Santa to gather up Christmas gifts that have scattered across the ocean floor. Though considering how well some of the gifts are hidden, in crevices and caves, and behind puzzle doors, one suspects a greedy fish or two. The best part here is the imaginative and intricate design, with Cordelia swimming among jellyfish, some brightly red, and eels, and a host of fish. None of these will harm a mermaid, so the level is without enemies, and of course Cordelia can stay underwater indefinitely. The setting is huge and evocative of ocean depths. Maybe too huge, as the game has a lengthy delay in loading. Swim over what looks like T-rex bones (really the remains of a dragon), or a sunken pirate ship, or explore dwellings in caverns or a genuine undersea house. The house has bookshelves with waterlogged books. Switches are now shells that the mermaid flips, and underwater levers seem to grow up on stalks. The environment makes for 3D play, as Cordelia swims to the top of a peak to retrieve a gift, then swoops down to a cave on the ocean floor to explore. There is a nice touch with textures for discarded soda cans or plastic bottles, to fool one from above. Personally, I had a couple of problems. Almost immediately, Cordelia found herself among a host of ceiling switches, without any idea what to do. The lighting moves in waves of reflection, very dark, with bands of light sweeping cave walls. It didn't take more than fifteen minutes for me to start feeling nauseated. In the end I kept playing this level, but it took three days before I felt it had been done justice. Eventually one finds fish-tile clues, with symbols for the ceiling switches (live fish means good, dead fish means bad). In addition to gifts for Santa, there are gold pearls and secrets to find. But as with the start, when Cordelia was clueless among ceiling switches, it often feels that one is at a loss. The author has clever ideas, and with the sheer investment of time players will stumble on solutions, but this is not the most satisfying way to proceed. One can stop playing this level whenever one chooses. In sum, a highly accomplished and professional level with an artistic and fanciful undersea environment. Depending on personal taste, may be among the Advent highlights for many." - dmdibl (06-Dec-2010)

"This level is purely and simply wonderful. The underwater world looks fantastic and the music fits very well. However, I must confess that this level is not my level. This maybe comes along because this level is so uneventful. One swims around, finds many presents (if one finds them then), admired the many ideas and the great creation and find with a lot of luck a Secret. But anyhow I miss something. I miss buildings. And I miss the desert sands. And I miss opponents. And I miss... oh, actually I cannot describe at all what I miss. But I miss something. But despite all that the level is really beautiful, no question." - Scottie (04-Dec-2010)

"Deep Down 8/8/10/10 This is definitely something different in an Advent level. Instead of Lara, running around in the snow, you get to play as a (beautifully detailed) mermaid and all the action takes place underwater, in a spectacularly gorgeous environment. The object is to find presents that have fallen off Santa's sleigh, plus 'bonus' items (pearls), and I freely confess I couldn't find them all. Obviously, the emphasis is firmly on exploration, although there are some excellent puzzles to achieve too. There isn't a set end trigger as such, so you can spend as much (or indeed as little) time as you wish on your quest, but I'm betting you'll want to visit every nook and cranny, if only to admire the scenery." - Jay (04-Dec-2010)

"Gorgeous Christmas themed level. Loved the Mermaid character as an idea. Detailed and expansive enough to bring your system to it's knees too. Relaxing, charming and beautifully made. Immaculate texturing, lighting, sound and atmosphere. Loved it! Stiggy" - TheStig (04-Dec-2010)
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