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Level: TR Forge Advent Calendar 2010 - Curse of Winter back home search
Author(s): Codo Horus Luke Piper Soul Tifa Nazah uranos1
total rating:7.86 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
DJ Full 5 6 6 7
dmdibl 7 8 9 8
Gerty 6 8 9 8
Jose 5 9 9 10
manarch2 10 9 9 9
MichaelP 7 8 9 8
Minox 8 8 9 8
Phil 8 8 8 8
Ryan 6 8 9 8
Scottie 8 9 8 9
TheStig 5 7 8 7
category averages
(11 reviews)
6.82 8.00 8.45 8.18

Reviewer's comments

"Oh my, this is tough for me to fairly score. Unfortunately my feelings after playing this level are primarily frustration and relief rather than enjoyment and accomplishment, which is never a good sign. The first part of this double level was enjoyable enough. A nice little icebreaker in sunny Egypt and exploring round a sphinx. Nothing out of this world, but everything was progressing smoothly aside from an oddly tricky jump to the side of the sphinx and a boulder that was frustrating to avoid. Ah, but it all goes belly up in the second section. The boulder jump at the beginning is easy enough to avoid, but then comes an unnecessarily frustrating jump sequence (a rather unbalanced gameplay choice). The few hardcore raiders that get this far then get to face an unforgettable timed exercise, but not in a good way. I tried and failed it using the harder method but in the end I resorted to the easier shortcut method but even then I found it difficult to get through (but possible). It eases up a bit afterwards with some gymnastics, traps and exploration of enjoyably moderate difficulty in search of a few Ankhs. But again it ends with an inspired but badly executed mirror puzzle. Since I was in a bit of a petulant mood after the previous unfair difficulty spikes and since there was no clear way for me to save a bit of time on pushing statues around, I decided to quit at that point (I didn't apparently miss much - just a short lever pulling exercise and a horse sighting). Maybe I should have waited and cooled down a bit before reviewing this, but I'm sure my repeated attempts at the difficult sequences were not due to inability (I've raided for 11 years or thereabouts). The darkness was also a little overdone, but texturing was actually quite solid and atmosphere was well caught. Unfortunately the gameplay was just too frustrating." - Ryan (21-Feb-2018)

"I have to say when I started this up I was mighty pleased to see the huge Sphinx in the snow. Then I had to figure out what I had to do. That was fun as well. First complete stop for me was the jump to the side of the Sphinx, as I just couldn’t make it. Still can’t make it, but luckily my nephew could. For the rest it was play a bit and stop, try again, stop. After a number of tries, quit the game, tried again next day. No luck and I can go on and on. For me, I liked the concept but it is a very difficult game-play for an average player to keep at it, hell after playing about 2000 levels I still found it very difficult. Again with the puzzle in the end, great idea but I hated it when I finally finished it. Overall a great idea for a level but it didn’t pan out (at least for me it didn’t), a pity though." - Gerty (10-Jan-2018)

"Starting this game, I hoped I'm into something really magical. Honestly, the description made me think it will be epic. When I saw the outside location, with some nice sound playing in the background, I felt quite convinced I am right. Then, I saw a stone hanging in midair. "A single mistake" - I thought. Found the crowbar, fought the griffon (really nice thing) and entered the inside temple. Finding the fastest way through the spiky prologue, still in the 1st level, took me some time - I wanted to check every single corner, because I thought the jumpswitch may lead to a secret. After those minutes when I replayed the whole place, it appeared the only thing the jumpswitch raises is a completely useless trapdoor, and one can proceed to the 2nd level without using the lever at all. "Second single mistake" - I calmed down and went further. After passing Soul's "Evil Part" (the timed boulder run and quite easy lava location... or was I just lucky with those switches?), where the game became fun again, I grabbed the Violet Ankh... and the fun was over. Using the item granted me access to the inner temple. Recently, I've played "An Adventure" by hmkayfloh and Paze, saw something similar there and that place wasn't wonderfully created at all. Here, things got yet more boring: repetative shimmying - for the first time in a purpose to activate a trapdoor, for the second time to stand on it; search for a switch hidden only-God-knows-where, in the dark; a series of four timed runs - nothing difficult, but the problem lies somewhere else - IMO, two of them would be enough (the same situation occurs later, in case of three underwater triggers for one door - why to place so many?); a misleading wall crevice and a corridor, inaccessible at all; four boulders on the same slope? one of them delayed so one can save in the middle of danger, convinced the trap is deactivated???... O, WCIRNOCI!!! ("wcirnoci" - a medieval Polish word expressing all possible aggressive emotions - an equivalent of present and commonly used American word "f***"). But none of the above is the worst issue: it is lighting, causing one of the biggest gameplay difficulties in the whole game - if one lights a flare before grabbing a crevice in purpose to place Lara above the jumpswitch, she won't have enough time to drop a flare and grab the lever before she falls. The result? One is forced to search for those jumpswitches in complete darkness, after prescanning the whole temple with binoculars (and some players are unaware of dropping animation priority, what will force them to backtrack once again). Wrong. Definitely wrong, especially because there is a large opening in the roof that should let more light in the temple. Also later, we can encounter a lighting problem: how can those palms survive inside a gloomy temple without getting any sunlight to live? And, if we say about palms, how can they grow on thick ice, which btw is a burning floor? Later on, things are constructed in a typical way: from the moment I saw a ladder leading up from the place I've just descended into, I knew another backtrack will be performed - it was only a matter of time. Indeed, after throwing two switches in two side rooms (one room being a mirrored copy of another, also with identical enemies included in both of them), I jumped over burning floor only to throw another switch and realize I need to return through the place, reversing the whole jump sequence, as there is no alternative way back, and the "safe" tiles are another misleading dead end. After I finally climbed back on the top of the ladder, I had to light eight (!) torches in the same room. Again, I see no point in such way of creation. Also, there was a dummy door, so I got confused one more time. (Many days later I heard that torch puzzle was created only to draw a player's attention from the right route - o.O) Very clever and nice grenades placement, and, of course, another Indy's skeleton, were the only things that made me feel better in this area, but a useless rope hanging above Lara's head confused me again. (Later, Soul explained me this is a rope Indy used to descend into the temple. Maybe it is, but it still makes one search for some (non-existing) way up.) Examined Indy's place (nearly at the end of the game), I had no idea the worst is yet to come. After entering and searching through the electricone puzzle area, I downloaded the correct egypt.tr4, which - as Tifa said - gets rid of the turnable statues bug. Of course it worked. But I wondered what about those statues, sometimes seeming to stop working when moved to certain points, or that one which Lara tries to grab, but she is unable to, notabene performing the same kind of animation which occurs in many other levels everytime when she can't reach a misplaced block or slot. Builders said this anim is an "intended hint, occuring when a statue is moved to its right place." OK, TRForge team: You know about every single weird anim that is supposed to happen. But players do not. Theoretically, alternative way of thinking is good. But no classic raider will figure this particular case out - especially because all statues are identical and no-one wants to think some of them are "right" and some of them are "wrong". If You decided to apply such a revolution ingame, You SHOULD have provided a kind of warning - maybe not a straight hint, but at least a clue, somehow making a player's brain switch to Your way of thinking. Masters of trle would do exactly like that. Without such warning, I was so convinced I stumbled upon a bug that I lost my motivation to finish the puzzle. I am sure many raiders will follow. Thankfully, the level appeared to be finishable without solving this final puzzle at all (see the "Stuck in a custom level" forum to see how to do it), what made me accidentally hit finish trigger (at last - I was glad it was over). Later on, when I decided to lead the rays again, it appeared the whole riddle zone is unfinished, so the pushables can be moved to where they are not supposed to be placed at all. This is ultimately confusing and finally proves the whole game (excluding the very nice outside intro, sound and - what I must admit after I finally saw the ending - cameras) was made in haste, only because the builders didn't want to be late with releasing it as a final TRForge AC surprise. And they succeeded - they surprised me indeed... in negative way. After the highly playable outside beginning, the adventure gets "only" good in the spike prologue, then it becomes average, and - finally - a player has a strange feeling the gameplay level depends directly on absolute height - I mean, the lower one gets, the lower one feels - downhill it goes, disappointment it causes, sometimes annoying it is, sometimes simply boring, with a finale grande being painful to anyone unaware of statues' weird behaviour. There, in the end, relief one can feel after solving the electricone doesn't compete all frustration experienced inside the temple. And one doesn't even have a chance to fight Seth. A boss mentioned in the readme and not included ingame? You got to be kidding. SUMMARY: The game, however still rated quite high above average, shouldn't be called an Advent level at all - because Advent levels are either relaxing (like "Nonogram"), or magical (like "Winter Choice")... or - in case of marvels - both (like "Mystica"). "Curse of Winter" was constructed by the same people who released mentioned pearls several days earlier. That's why I feel the opposite way than during the rest of the Advent - because I KNOW these guys CAN build levels... WTF??? (read: "what the flare") has happened?! Work of seven is somewhere in here, and a lot of potential can be felt, however it seems to be sleeping. Wake it up! I can understand You guys had no time for betatesting, because Your goal was to release the project before 24th of Dec. But I can assure every single member of TRForge team: even if this game was out on the 31th of 12, or even 45th of 17, no-one would mind You're late as much as all those players mind struggling with this unfinished temple. Now, when the contest is over, fix lighting and all the bugs for raiders not to be annoyed... and for me to be able to rewrite this review in truly Christmas mood - what I really wanted to do when I began to play - but what I was simply unable to do after I progressed through the game beholding all its mistakes. CONDENSED SUMMARY: An original attempt. Sometimes authors' creativity exceeds players' brain capacity. It causes lots of frustration, but also makes me assume the finished version - if only "tamed" by the builders - may get way better ratings than its present form, lasting for from several hours (not in stats, but in reality) to several weeks of playtime (depending on brain type), including bad lighting (binoculars help here), backtracking, repetative puzzles and getting stuck in intended things looking like bugs. For hardcore mind-teaser lovers who don't care about mentioned flaws, the game will be quite entertaining. The rest can wait for the alpha release." - DJ Full (17-Jan-2011)

"Another non-Christmas 'Advent' level. Although this one had its share of complexity, I didn't have as much fun here as I did with most of the other Advent levels. I suspect that, given the long list of contributors, it may simply be a matter of there having been too many cooks in the kitchen. Or maybe it was the lack of peacefulness and serenity that we've come to expect in the Advent levels. Anyway, after reading the reviews and the litany of mea culpas in the stuck thread, I activated the flycheat before even embarking on this adventure. I did so to avoid the 'beat the boulder' timed run in the second level that I was convinced would be impossible for me to conquer. I am now persuaded, however, that I did the builders (and particularly the builder of this section) a terrible disservice by completing and reviewing the level without even having attempted this timed run, hence this amended review. I went back this evening and tried the 'easy' version, aided by the posted video. The key move is at the very beginning, where you have to throw the switch, jump back with a roll and run to the precise spot where Lara can jump up and grab the hole in the cave ceiling. That in itself took a number of tries. As you pull up you save in a different slot, but even from there it's no piece of cake. After a dozen or so additional efforts, I finally made it across the snow to the shaft and survived the long fall, saving again as I jumped over the blade trap to the slope. At that point you still have to get past a flame blower gauntlet and navigate your way across a lava pool, so this section makes up a significant portion of the level's gameplay. I must say that after it was all over I had this mixed feeling of relief, elation and accomplishment, all of which I had missed the first time around by eschewing the timed run. As it turned out, I had no need for the flycheat anywhere else in the game, so I made an error in judgment by allowing myself to be so intimidated by the reviews that I activated it right off the bat. I won't do that again any time soon. I might also add my observation at this point that I seem to have developed a reputation in the raiding community as someone who will resort to the flycheat at the drop of a hat. There's even a frenzied production going on at one of the other sites right now to develop a tool for thwarting this tactic, and I may be one of the reasons this is taking place. Actually, I use the flycheat quite rarely these days, and on those few occasions when I do find it necessary to employ it, I've felt this need to be remarkable enough that I should mention it in my reviews. But due to the furor caused by my initial review of this level, and due to a builder's remark that he would just as soon not know that this was taking place if one of his own levels was involved, I've decided that, should I ever be obliged to resort to the flycheat in the future (assuming I'm able to do so), none of you will ever know about it. And I will continue my practice of reviewing any such level, as I will have played it to conclusion and will therefore be fully qualified to express an opinion about it. Now, back to the level under discussion. The opening segment under the bright skies of Cairo, brief as it was, served as a worthy tuneup for what was to follow. At least it was outdoors, where there was plenty of light, and I was impressed with the immensity of the sphinx. (Just for fun, when I got all the way to the top, I did a swan dive to see if the long fall would make Lara crunch any louder.) Several of my pet peeves, however, showed up in the second segment - unmarked spike traps and excessive darkness, to mention the ones that stand out most in my mind. On the other hand, I enjoyed that tight timed run where you had to pull levers and run back and forth to rising blocks. Near the end, I decided to bypass the pushpiece puzzle by the simple expedient of moving a single piece to open the exit door, as revealed by DJ Full in the stuck thread. Again, having read the reviews, I was in no mood for tedium at this stage of the game. This raises an interesting question: Did I cheat by availing myself of this shortcut? Reasonable minds will differ on this point, so I'll just leave it at that. As others have noted, there are many positive things to say about this level, and by going back and playing the part I had skipped, I must say that my overall impressions of it were enhanced." - Phil (12-Jan-2011)

"It's a double level! The first is pretty cool, a little research to arrive at the top of the sphinx and get inside to go to the second level ... And then it's a level with lots of challenges ahead of us, race against time, and difficult jumps and to finish a very difficult puzzle, I solved but I do not know how (lol), and to finish the level, 4 levers down and suddenly the desert appears with the horse that awaits Lara." - Minox (09-Jan-2011)

"Quiz question: Where is the mistake?
The Advent time is quiet, contemplative and freely from stress. Christmas is quiet, contemplative and freely from stress. This talk of the presents is quiet, contemplative and freely from stress. The level behind the last little door in the Advent calendar TRForge is quiet, contemplative and freely from stress.
Well where is the mistake? Already found? Right!! The level behind the last little door in the Advent calendar TRForge is by no means quiet, contemplative and freely from stress. Here you can get a severe drubbing. However, the opponent in the first level is still rather harmless there. Though he is quite tough, but you must only stay in motion, than this is no problem. So really around goes it with the jump combinations. And of course with the time runs. Particularly the time run in the second level which leaves to two ways for the choice is just about the limit. There is an easy way and a hard way. Indeed, "easy" is in this case a relative term, because one is already very much in time-pressed. The other way, well, the other way is really difficult. If you see the video from the builder who has built this time run, you will know what I mean.
A negative point is the room where one had to redirect the electricity with the help of statues. An explicatory map was supplied later after the release. And a bug was mended later after the release. And a wall is completely absent, at least at the moment still. Now such a thing must not really be. However, on the whole it has given damn a lot of fun. Indeed, the builders could have formed the outside area a little more nicely." - Scottie (02-Jan-2011)

"Very tough to score this one... it could have been quite the masterpiece. The ideas and creativity that went into its design are most impressive, but then it all fails a bit in its execution - at least for me (and judging by the fact that it has so few reviews more than a week after its release, apparently for many others as well). It starts a bit slow in Part I, as you run around the huge Sphinx only to pick up a few items, but then the way you are getting up there and inside is quite fun - were it not for the quite unnecessarily tricky jump to the side of it, which I would see as a poor choice in terms of balanced gameplay. Many players will stop the game already right there. Once you make it into Part II after about 20 minutes, the troubles really start though. The welcoming slide and escape quickly from a boulder is quite ok and probably manageable for most, the subsequent jump sequence though, will again filter out most of the regular players and is quite reminiscent of the good old Japanese style levels (or could have been built by Raymond ;) and where it really stops for the vast majority is probably the timed run that follows. I tried the hard way 5 times and then decided it is not worth the trouble and managed to get through the (comparably) easy way within about a dozen attempts, but I am sure the not so seasoned raider will indeed rather curse this winter (level) and quit if he or she made it that far. But of course, you ain't seen nothin yet (as they say). From here gameplay remains challenging, but quite doable with a few interesting caves to explore and tasks to manage. Including more timed efforts and a avoiding a few more traps. Darkness sets in more and more though, which I am not sure was needed and it does appear more and more that indeed the level was built sequentially by the builders involved, giving it the rather typical linearity that these community type projects have (although this is not really a bad thing in my opinion). Well, and then almost an hour into the game we reach this intriguing final puzzle - the lightning area. And as said at the beginning, I simply loved the concept of it and admire the attempt at designing and building it. And I went into the effort of trying to solve it with high energy and enthusiasm. And I did heed all the advice given about not touching the torch and not turning any statue until all others are pushed to their place. And then I pushed... a lot of pushing indeed for about 20 minutes of net gaming time alone (which is nothing but painful tedium, as you have of course already figured out on paper which statue to push where, so each second of these 20 minutes you are only waiting for it to be over. And then I went and turned the first statue - and Lara went up in flames... only then I discovered the bugfixed version, donwloaded it, installed it, reloaded my save from the beginning of the lightning area before switching off the power and thankfully was clever enough this time to check whether the turning of a statue works, but it did not. I guess not only the use of the torch causes the bug, but already the grenade gun shooting to break the wall is enough (?). Anyway, so I had to go back to an earlier save, replay about 15 minutes of the level to get to the lightning area, re-push every statue to its proper place for 15-20 minutes again, do the necessary turning and finally, finally get to the end... As you can imagine any sense of accomplishment, fun or reward was killed by frustration and tedium by then... Now - after sleeping over it, I can write this review and appreciate what the intent behind Curse of Winter may have been and congratulate the builders for the effort, which I enjoyed in parts and could have enjoyed so much more if not for the rather ingenious, but screwed up lighting puzzle. I scored this easily 1-2 points higher than I felt about it yesterday, because I think it deserves it and those who are lucky enough to play the fixed version from the start and have a walkthrough nearby may even enjoy it more and score it higher..." - MichaelP (02-Jan-2011)

"Curse of Winter (8-8-7-7) This level was a short introduction, with some very clever tasks with the boulder and a great fight with the boss bird. The textures didn't look good outside however, as they just felt a bit streched. Inside the sphinx the atmosphere and textures looked much better. As this is only the intro I won't count it too much in the final ratings. After 15 minutes you get to
Curse of Winter (Part II) (10-9-9-10) was longer and much better in textures. This level is for sure nothing for beginners, right at the start you have to escape a boulder, perform immensely hard jumping and directly afterwards an insane hard timed run with either an easier version in a snowy area or a slopy area. The boulder as a timed indicator was nice here. The final puzzle, may it be as buggy as I learned it, was very clever and innovative and only the idea was simply fantastic. The last room, running through a mirror, was a nice finale. Overall a great levelset, just absolutely nothing for people who don't like hard challenges." - manarch2 (02-Jan-2011)

"This one was definitely was a mixed experience for me. Unfortunately it was a mixture of frustration and annoyance to be honest. I hate timed runs, jumps that are right on the edge of the abilities of the control system, and nasty spikes, falls, and rolling boulders in the dark. Unfortunately this level has all of those in abundance and certainly does not make for a relaxing tomb raiding experience. I cant really score this as an advent level because it doesnt really fit the theme for me either. That's not to say that this release isn't without merit by any means. The indoor lighting is pretty good, and most of the environments are well constructed. Indeed each difficult element in isolation on another release wouldnt have been a problem, but the amount of miss-direction that goes on here really does render it pretty much un-playable to all but the most experienced tomb-raiders. I was finally forced to resort to a save-game off the forums, which I seldom have to do and is a mark of just how difficult this is. Ultimately the small number of reviews is a giveaway to how inaccessible this is for most people. The gameplay difficulty and puzzle bugs leave me unable to recommend Conceptually a great idea, but falls short on execution. One note though...the end room with a portal that you pass through...very very clever idea! :)" - TheStig (02-Jan-2011)

"What an apt title, particularly if one finishes these levels on a cold January morning. From such esteemed authors one expects a masterpiece. What one gets...well, there is an old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth." Checking a dictionary of idiomatic usage, it explains, "Too many [expert] people on a project can ruin it." There are really no "wow" moments in which Lara discovers a stunning view. The opening level has a giant sphinx which is rather crude, and simple play, though the griffin attack is good. The beginning of level two was the highlight for me, but only because I had watched Soul's videos showing how a challenging series of jumps are done. I hate it when Lara leaps mindlessly, and ends up with her face buried in a climbing wall, unable to survey a room or to determine what comes next. But by watching Soul's videos one can appreciate the beginning jumps. Next are a series of carefully choreographed leaps in which Lara just misses being crushed by boulders three times in a row, with a precisely timed exit down a ramp with boulder in pursuit. The author's creative design of this sequence was the best thing in the levels, but without the videos to watch this section might well have proved an exercise in frustration. After this, play seems to pick up in the following rooms, but soon Lara enters an overly dark area whose cubical construction is hardly inspiring. Lara goes up a ramp and triggers a crushing ball. Savvy players figure there will be another crushing ball--then it dawns on them there might be a third. Lara ducks and these bounce harmlessly over her head. Lara runs up to a ladder and a fourth ball crushes her. This can be taken as humorous; I just figured that someone had a lot of balls. Last is the low point of the level, a push-statue puzzle to guide an energy beam to correct terminals. I won't claim that this is the most annoying puzzle of the decade. But I would certainly nominate it for that honor, and in a vote it stands a chance of winning. There is a breakable wall for the grenade gun, but Lara can simply walk through the wall. The author's seem to think this is a challenging puzzle, but it is not. It is trivial, and can be worked out in a minute or two. What takes days is the bungled execution. After a half hour dragging statues, Lara caught fire when she at last went to turn a statue. I replayed from an earlier save game, checking to make sure Lara could turn statues. More dragging statues into place. The "right" statue is one, and only one, of identical statues. Then the turnable statues reset themselves in game, but because of a bug in the TR engine they actually haven't reset themselves, so if Lara "corrects" them she instead messes up the alignment. This happened to me twice. The first time it was impossible to restore the statues and this whole area had to be replayed from an earlier save game. The second time Lara positioned the northern statues. Then she worked on the southern statues. On a final check the northern statues had reverted to original positions--though this was an illusion, and this time Lara knew not to touch them. There are multiple possible solutions to the puzzle but only one is correct, so Lara needs to be a mind reader to work this out. Lara doesn't even get to ride the horse at the end. Considering the expectations with which one begins, these levels prove something of a disappointment." - dmdibl (02-Jan-2011)

"First level was very playable, with no many difficult tasks. Second level was great too, even with all those difficult tasks, but the very hard timed run and the final puzzle overcomplicated with all those bugs and having to reload hundreds of times, ruined the gameplay and a very good effort from several of the best builders I know. Sorry." - Jose (01-Jan-2011)
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