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Level: TR Forge Advent Calendar 2010 - Winter Choice back home search
Author(s): Tifa Nazah
total rating:7.69 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Diz 7 8 7 8
DJ Full 7 10 9 6
dmdibl 7 9 9 8
eTux 7 6 6 5
Jose 6 8 8 8
manarch2 7 9 8 7
MichaelP 6 9 8 6
Orbit Dream 7 5 7 6
Phil 10 8 9 8
Ryan 7 9 8 8
Scottie 10 9 9 9
Shandroid 8 8 8 8
TheStig 9 8 7 6
category averages
(13 reviews)
7.54 8.15 7.92 7.15

Reviewer's comments

"The worst here is that you can't save the game and even when it's not easy to die (but possible), the players could keep some savegames to explore all the possible combinations. That way I only played two routes: the apple, finishing with Zip, and the truffle, finishing with Amanda. As usual in this author, it's easy get stucked 'cause the new objects you don't know how to interactue with them. Nice musics and environments, some flybys and a pleasant time to enjoy a Christmas adventure. Recommended." - Jose (04-Sep-2017)

"This is an astonishingly creative level which deserves special praise and has a lot going for it. The wonderful custom objects, the pleasant music (not annoying even when looped) and the rather creative puzzles. It went slightly wrong with the rather obscure placements for some required items (the combined scissors springs to mind) and an apparent bug with the Kurtis ending: an invisible barrier blocked the way so I had to end there. It might have been caused by having the bucket somehow stored in my inventory from an alternative router. Nonetheless, it's worth looking at for its charm and uniqueness." - Ryan (21-Aug-2017)

"After reading the initial reviews I decided to wait for two things to happen before tackling this release: (1) the availability of a walkthrough, which was provided in spades in the form of DJ Full's analytically precise rendition, and (2) the availability of a version in which the player has the ability to save (which was belatedly, and begrudgingly, provided by the builder). I recall reading somewhere the builder's rationale for the no-save feature in the first release, but I didn't find it convincing. Indeed, the concept behind this level - multiple endings depending upon selections the player makes during gameplay - cries out for the ability to save, as otherwise the player is forced to replay the whole shebang in order to reach the point where the previous decision was made. I'm not willing to invest that kind of time in any game, and apparently other players aren't either. As it was, having played every permutation documented in the walkthrough, I spent at least two hours and possibly three milking every tidbit from this charming release, and the best - the extensive torch and pushblock puzzle - was saved for last. I would never have gotten that far without the save feature having been enabled. The ambient music is also quite pleasant, particularly that haunting theme during the segment where you shoot the blue and the pink crystals. The only stumbling block I encountered was the section where you pull some underwater ceiling switches and then some pine branch switches - Lara refused to cut either the unicorn's rope or the fish's net with the scissors, so I missed whatever happened then. (After submitting this review I went back for another try and found the right places for Lara to stand, so now I can say that I've experienced everything this level has to offer.) This is a unique and thoroughly enjoyable raiding experience, and a perfect level for the Advent season. Highly recommended." - Phil (13-Jan-2011)

"Another level for mixed reactions. For a seasonal Advent level, this has a tremendous amount going on in it. For the use of novel and interesting objects this is exceptional, with Lara using a longbow, or riding a flying griffin (having replaced its lost egg), or feeding handfuls of truffles to a pig, or feeding an apple to a reindeer. One of Lara's friends waves to her while hanging from the ladder of a helicopter; another Lara meets after borrowing a police car. But therein lies a problem, because this requires a crowbar to jimmy the door, and the crowbar is buried in dirt and pine needles, with only a stub sticking out--impossible to find without the walk-through. Lara gets to build a fire with bundles of sticks, and to ignite it. But unless players know those sticks can be ignited, they will probably give up before they find the right place for Lara to stand to make this all work. Lara can create scissors to snip a unicorn's tie rope, which isn't too trying. But when playing this cold, it isn't clear that Lara can also cut a fishnet. (As a side note, the chess puzzle is a little odd; I would never have guessed those were supposed to be checkmating moves.) In my own game, Lara got stuck in the woods because I didn't think for her to twist a branch out of the way. I waited for DJ Full's walk-through to come out. It mentions that the new download version of this level allows players to save, and I used that version. When I wasn't able to save, Lara got stuck inside a wall (the walk-through has a warning here), and Lara got stuck on an illegal slope, and she pushed a mirror object once in a room with two beams, only to find it stuck and unable to move farther forward or back. Such problems ended the game when saves weren't allowed. So I have no qualms about recommending using the updated version to play, and keeping the walk-through at hand. Then players can enjoy a unique and at times beautiful experience." - dmdibl (05-Jan-2011)

"I can completely agree to DJ Full's review here. Right from the start I found this to be a special kind of level, with the reindeer and the pig going out of the way. I fully enjoyed the first part of the level, with the pillars you had to jump on and the labyrinth. I found all ways out there, but then it came to the reindeer choice, and, not that that was less interesting, the level got so boring for me, because all you do is searching and searching on for more ways and to get five or more times to that wolf was not that nice. All ideas, like the chess game for example, or the griffin ride, were brilliant, but there were just too many different ways for me. Also, textures weren't that good in many parts, but that's luckily not the point in this level." - manarch2 (05-Jan-2011)

"What can I say about this level? It's:
1. Annoying and satisfying.
2. Repetative (as it was said before) and overall unique.
3. Full of awesome objects surrounded by awful textures.
4. Filled with challenging riddles set among places we can skip at all.
5. Possible for You to go anywhere... and [SPOILER] miss a half of the whole level if You skip one single crazy thing in the beginning. [SPOILER]
6. Packed with finessed cameras and the one that is unnecessary at all.
SUMMARY: A game having more contrasts than endings. A level so controversive even I don't know what to say, and this happens very rarely. My mind is so washed after several weeks of Choosing that I still don't know what I've just seen and done in the Choicelands. One single oxymorone: masterpiece and crap in the same time. I'd like to know how it was achieved. But I'll recommend this game, especially for two reasons:
1. If You examine its riddles, it's very likely You'll never get stuck again in any custom level (unless it's Mystica or another Tifa's work).
2. Winter Choice is one of the most out-of-mainstream, alternative-thinking level I've ever played and it's definitely worth playing. So make the right Choice and do it." - DJ Full (04-Jan-2011)

"As Diz brilliantly put it…I am also a save fetishist. I remember once having a go at the Original Tomb Raider just with save crystals…and I don’t know how anyone ever managed to finish it. Luckily while there’s no nasties that I found which might nibble you during your travels on this adventure, the most striking design decision was to prevent the players from saving. If like me the F5 key on your keyboard is almost worn away due to the number of times you pressed it (in my case pretty much before every leap/jump/climb), then the removal of this facility may cause you to sweat a little. What it does do however is add a sense of additional realism to the game. There’s no reset button in real life, so it does make the experience more realistic. Unfortunately the texturing is rather repetitive in places which spoils the otherwise well-crafted environments. Lighting is also very good. I enjoyed the music selection, but I found a few occasions where two tracks were playing over the top of one-another which was very annoying. The very first track used is my favourite by far. I know there are multiple different endings to this adventure, but in the interests of trying to get the rest of my advent set completed before the new year I limited myself to two play-throughs (mainly due to the lack of a save facility), with an eye to coming back to it to find all the possible endings when I have more time. This idea is certainly innovative and shows the author wanted to give us something a little different. Over and hour of gameplay here, and probably considerably more if you investigate every single possible ending. Stiggy." - TheStig (30-Dec-2010)

"I'm probably not the most diligent player/reviewer when it comes to keeping up with competition/special event levels like these (or pretty much any other levels too, I guess), but I do try and not to miss out on the levels with the more original touches, and the premise for this one was very promising. The basic idea being that different choices will lead to different endings, there being 7 unique endings in total with 6 ways to reach a less desirable ending with a wolf and various TR characters awaiting at the end of the other 6. The gameplay more often than not has an adventure genre flair to it, so at times I felt that some of the puzzles only made sense in retrospect. While this would be passable as far as the logic goes, I thought that the design of the puzzles was far from optimal in some cases, and thus more a hindrance to the flow of the game. To give some examples [here be spoilers], in one of the potential paths you assemble a pair of scissors which you can use either to cut a rope or a net - yet it is not obvious where you should actually apply the scissors, and ultimately only 1 specific angle allows you to complete the puzzle. At other points in the game you can shake an apple tree to get an apple and use a bucket to put out fire, yet these actions can only be performed from certain angles which are either impossible to guess because you're not familiar with the TRLE quirks or simply because you don't know you can interact with that particular object [spoilers end here]. I eventually went for the option that allows you to save in-game, so it might be a little hypocritical to complain about it, but I just wanted to make a point that the game wouldn't have been worse or easier, had this option remained an option. After countless replays, level-builders often underestimate the difficulty of their own games, so additions like these are redundant, because the game would be complicated enough as it is to a player who sees it with fresh eyes. I was also not entirely convinced as to what determines whether you will reach a wolf or a person ending. The author explains that usually the easier path will take you to the wolf - which in itself would be fair enough - but sometimes the choice you have to make is nothing more than going either left or right, so it's hard to evaluate which will lead you to a potentially more interesting ending (especially frustrating if you abide to the 'no-save' rules). As far as the looks go - I thought the lighting was too bland, and the texturing, with some areas utilizing no more than 1 or 2 textures, a bit too spartan. The objects make up for most of the eye candy in this one (as opposed to geometry and texturing). The better aspect of the game definitely is that the curiosity to see all the endings definitely is a motivator to explore, and the pay-offs for completing some of the puzzles are very cool. These don't completely outweigh the faults, but they do a very good job - enough so to make me pursue all the endings and recommend the game despite its shortcomings!" - eTux (29-Dec-2010)

"Tifa is another one of those builders who always come up with something unique and special and she deserves a lot of credit for that. This level here is full of creativity in its concept and storyline. Choose your path and reach one of several possible endings - meeting up with a friend whom you give a present. Where it all failed for me is in the actual execution of the concept though. Thankfully two things came to my rescue and enabled me to get through it all in the first place: 1. Tifa providing a version where you can actually save and 2. Scottie providing a walkthrough at the Levelbase. Without these I would not have finished all 7 endings here and probably would have stopped after reaching the wolf the first time after about 10 minutes. Why? Because gameplay offered here is highly creative too - meaning you need to basically read Tifa's mind if you want to have a fair chance of progressing. It is either very, very obscure (even though certainly well intended and logical ONCE you actually know what you should have done) or when it is not, it turns out to be rather tedious (find 4-6 things here or there, then repeat etc etc). It all gets saved to some extent by the great objects, nice animations, cute ending scenes and the variety of ideas overall (the chess game, the sliding area, the ice hammer to name a few), but for me it still lost much of the charm it could have had, if the flow where a little more intuitive and the overall settings and surroundings were built with a little more care and less in largely open square areas. At the end of the day though, definitely worth a look, especially with a walkthrough nearby." - MichaelP (28-Dec-2010)

"I actually liked the idea of choosing one's own adventure, but I was torn about the inability to save. It did make climbing rock faces and ladders rather dubious, but I understood what Tifa was getting at. I really enjoyed this unique adventure." - Shandroid (27-Dec-2010)

"This review is a joint effort (as is the scoring,which was arrived at democratically),as it took two of us (OrbitDream and VonCory) to reach every possible ending that the builder included in the level. This is a 'teamwork' benefit that most other players won't be able to enjoy,and prevented too much repetition to set in;and is,in our opinion,the greatest setback of this otherwise hugely novel adventure: without the possibility to save,the player must by necessity replay huge sections of this adventure over and over again if they are to visit every possible ending. Coupled with this,there are also several instances of highly elusive object placement and/or activation (almost entirely unique to german custom levels,it seems!):the use of butterflies to open a door,or the activation of a hidden switch inside a tree,or the placement of a collection of branches - all of which(in addition to the obscurity inherent in these various tasks)requiring Lara to be standing in precise physical positions in order for any of it to happen successfully. We can't tell you how many times the gameplay ground to a halt as we took it in turns to wander around in generally futile quests,looking for something that might interact with something else,or cause something to happen somewhere! Nonetheless,the sheer visual and creative imagination of this totally unique builder is often breathtaking and highly entertaining.Unicorns;chess pieces;reflecting mirrors;griffins;wolves;truffles - the list of innovative characters and features is practically endless;while the gameplay invention is always creatively high. Textures tend to be applied in a somewhat functional manner (particularly in the 'maze hub');and disabling the save function is unequivocally a bad idea - nonetheless,you can't help but fully admire the hard work put into this." - Orbit Dream (21-Dec-2010)

"Irony on
This level is for two reasons for me a real torture!
1. I am a save fetishist. I save where and when it only goes. And best I save two times in a row at the same place, just to be sure that I have indeed saved
2. I can never decide whether I should go to the left or to the right. Go I to the left, run I a few metres, turn round and go, however, to the other direction. And if I do not like the other direction, run I again back in the previous direction.
How should I have now with such a level fun?? Nevertheless, this does not go at all!
Irony off
Tifa is known for unusual levels. I remind only at X-Mas Race or Snowboard Minigame. And here we have thus an unusual level again. And as with Snowboard Minigame this level will also split the player's community. There will be player who don't know, what to do with this. And there will be player who will find this level absolutely first-class. I belong to the last category. You must decide in this level whether you go to the left or to the right. Whether you make this or that. And each of your decisions has results, because there are 7 possible level ends. Well, actually, these are 12, because we land 6 times at the wolf. Nevertheless, this is a first-class idea once more. In addition we still hear very good music, may solve great riddles and may have purely and simply a lot of fun. Thus is to level playing a real pleasure." - Scottie (21-Dec-2010)

"I’ll admit, I was fully prepared to hate this level. Indeed, if I hadn’t been reviewing I’d not have touched it with a bargepole such is my dislike of levels that deliberately prevent you from ‘saving’. However the quality of this level did much to mitigate this dislike. The level is very well built, lighting is good and the use of textures is spot on. I couldn’t bring myself to play all the versions as my finger kept twitching towards that F5 button so I was unable to view all the objects but those I did see were beautifully rendered, I especially liked the truffle eating boar and the ice hammer. The unfortunate thing is that I found myself playing the level, not to enjoy it, but just to get to the end, all due the ‘savegames’. I would really like to play a version of this game with the saves enabled just to get all the juice out of it." - Diz (21-Dec-2010)
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