Level: The Black Harpy Returns back home search
Author(s): Marcos
total rating:9.25 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
Bene 9 10 10 10
Blue43 9 10 10 9
Christian 9 9 10 9
Diz 9 10 10 9
DJ Full 9 9 10 8
dmdibl 9 9 10 9
eTux 9 9 9 7
Jack& 7 7 9 9
Jay 9 10 9 9
Jorge22 9 10 10 10
Jose 8 10 10 9
manarch2 10 10 10 10
MichaelP 7 10 10 8
Minox 9 9 10 9
Orbit Dream 8 8 10 9
Phil 9 9 10 9
Ryan 9 10 10 9
Scottie 9 10 10 10
Shandroid 9 10 10 10
TheStig 8 10 10 8
category averages
(20 reviews)
8.70 9.45 9.85 9.00

Reviewer's comments

"This level may have a somewhat spooky and dark overtone, but rest assured it does have a happy ending. I always find that you have to think outside the box when playing a Marcos level and expect the unexpected. I was quite stumped early in the level because of those poles with snakes wrapped around them and when I pressed Action, she approached them but didn't do anything when all I had to do was jump towards them! Concerning sceneries, you shouldn't expect bright, sunny levels from Marcos, but he does his spooky environments really nicely and the objects, animations and cutscenes benefit them. The blade traps were a bit too tricky, but this is otherwise a level that should be experienced by everyone." - Ryan (25-Nov-2017)

"Marcos's levels are anything but conventional in a way I enjoy a great deal, but oddly enough there's also something predictable about them - call it style if you will - and it works for both, the things I found agreeable in here and those not so much. There's the unmistakable atmosphere and mythology so trademark to Marcos's levels - even with the inclusion of a father son duo of non-playable characters I hadn't seen before in the author's levels or those of others. They don't interact with Lara at all - and are brought to your awareness only via help of a few cutscenes along the way - but it works surprisingly well. The gameplay has a number of highlights - usually presented via help of well crafted custom animations, my favourites including the skeleton guide clearing the swamp for Lara, the creative way to kill one of the baddies and the skeleton's soul pushing Lara mid-air into a newly opened structure. But at times it's also predictably obscure - I only picked up that I could operate the snake switches by pure happenstance, the key hidden in a snakes mouth within a sizable area to explore felt a bit uninspired for the author's standards, and the occasions where you have to backtrack don't always feel intuitive. The looks are executed well from a purely technical point of view both in clean texture appliance and lighting, but the settings tend to feel a bit monotonous, and textures don't vary that much within individual areas, sometimes even giving the impression of a wallpaper effect. A lot of the room geometry felt like recycled from the "Tomb of Seth" map - particularly the big ritual chamber, but this is more of an observation, than a critique - as I found I actually liked the author's spin on it. Overall - an excellent level from the author, as you'd expect, with creative use of custom content, interesting storyline and lots of fun to be had. Found only one secret." - eTux (16-Mar-2013)

"I think it's fair to say that Macros has a fairly dark imagination. The world created here is no exception. But crucially despite being very 'dark' it never ceases to be fun. Overall I enjoyed it a great deal with the possible exception of the first jump across the blade platforms (which really did have me tearing my hair out, hence the 8 for gameplay). Not too many puzzle elements to worry about, but you'll need to keep your eyes peeled to work out the way ahead. You may also find yourself arriving in locations a little early, and often back-tracking the way you came is the way forward if you find yourself in this position! Visually Black Harpy Returns is very solid (though it could be better at the beginning), with the lighting (while being on the dark side) bright enough to keep you going. There's plenty of little nooks and crannies to explore too (though don't expect too many rewards to checking every possible door). Monsters are unusual, and I quite liked the friendly skeleton giving you a wave too!!! In total it took me just under an hour to complete The Black Harpy Returns. It's a great level and I look forward to seeing more of Marcos' imaginative environments in the future. Highly recommended! Stiggy :)" - TheStig (15-Feb-2012)

"Marcos does creepy environments so well. Lara starts off in said creepy environment in the cutest outfit! Anyway, from then on this level is just so satisfying, even if it could have a bit more meat with all those glorious cutscenes. I was really aghast at seeing those poor captives have to keep jumping the knives and thinking how awful that would be. Well, realistically, they get tired, but Marcos doesn't let the level be a bummer. There were several clever puzzles and a fairly tough run and jump over the death knives. The cutscenes really helped keep the story cohesive and I can even forgive the ending where dad and son hug thisclose a bit too long. Ha! This one is too short but such a great level. It isn't super duper creepy though so the queasy raiders should be a-ok." - Shandroid (12-Jul-2011)

"And the adventure goes on... I rather like the way in which Marcos transforms a mystery game into something not too heavy, not too horrific, even quite fun to play in a way that certain things may make you smile or simply feel curious. The gameplay is suitable for most and still a bit challenging on occasions, the settings are great as is the atmosphere, including sound and lighting, and there are very interesting interactions between the mysterious and not so mysterious characters involved. Even our old friend wi-wi is back for a while. It's a magical world and one that you should definitely try (maybe starting from Marcos's previous works). As we often say: highly recommended!" - Jorge22 (20-May-2011)

"Well, after several hours at the end I could finish it. After finding the 2 keys in the main room is not so confusing. A very good story with a fantastic final. The animations are great! (how does it?). It notices that he have worked a lot of hours in front of the monitor. The gameplay is sometimes a bit confusing with all these new objects and things so hidden, but the tasks are not too difficult. Very good the enemies, great atmosphere, excellent camera and a pretty good texturing. One of the best levels I've played lately. Great job!" - Jose (20-Apr-2011)

"Flat texturing in the beginning is a little bit repulsing, but this is well competed by lots of beautiful animatons here - we can watch the intro with Hades Sect resurrecting the Black Harpy, the evil creature kidnapping Wiwi, and the boy trying to rescue his father. Later on, the young hero keeps fighting, so a player feels Lara is not alone during her mission. Even if the boy doesn't help her directly, he is somewhere around and we can feel his presence. And the skeleton guide saying goodbye is simply the cutest undead person I can recall from TRLE custom levels. Apart from heroic moments, we can watch sad scenes when it seems the mission is failed, and feel some relief when the adventure comes to a final victory in the end. The prologue and the epilogue also have some convincing speech. And, most of all - it seems there will be another sequel. All of those anims are accompanied with great and well-fitting sound, like sword falling, midair pushing, Black Harpy's laugh and many more. The cutscene I found the most epic is a jumping undead knight, with music and animation synchronized perfectly. As an amateur musician, I am seriously impressed, so usage of sound gets max 3 points + 1 extra from me. Apart from those undead creatures appearing in the cutscenes, we can encounter them ingame as well. The jumping knight appears to be a "Guardian Resistant to Bullets", and we need to find a tricky way to annihilate him. The other undeadman is being tortured by a set of stampers, and lots of other skeletons (in 100% dead, unlike the previously mentioned ones) skeletons act like puzzle holes and animatings to make the game full of life... I mean, full of death, but in this case death is extraordinarily alive and kicking. Or rather "alive and cutting with its swords", or yet different "alive and pushing in midair". You need to play it to see what I mean. It seems I've also described puzzles when talking about objects - but actually, there is more to say about them. You remember Hand of Rathmore from The Lost Artifact? It is here. Also, modified Horseman's Gems which now act like Magic Ruby and Skeleton's Soul. Make a mistake placing them and You are dead. Nice addition. But the most creative puzzle usage for me is Harpy Wings and the cage containing some other item (forgot how it is called). Just like in case of Magic Ruby, You can take these items in two or more ways - their placement allows that - but if You plan it wrong, their placement also makes You dead. BTW, You die in hilarious way there :D. So to pick those items up the right way, think like You would do it in real life... or death. Puzzles get 5 points from me - I am completely satisfied. Unfortunately for gameplay, the initial secret hunt is a bit messed up: even if it's definitely a good idea You can choose if You prefer to find those three Golden Snakes in the beginning or not - because in both cases You can concentrate on Your task without unnecessary looking around for non-existing pickups in the remaining part of the game - if You choose the wrong way, You will miss two Golden Snakes and You will wonder what You did wrong, while it's actually a builder's fault. Anyway, I've never seen the "all or nothing" opportunity in case of secrets, so it's either an innovation, or something encountered very rarely - so I'll give 2 points for them. SUMMARY: And, of course, no horror without a giant, terrifying spider. The more games like this one I play, the less afraid of spiders and undead jumping knights I am. If one day a skelly guide knocks on my door, I'm gonna let him in, make him some tea an watch it all being spilled on the floor when he tries to drink it, something like in "Pirates of the Caribbean. This is one of custom levels having the best anims, sound and objects I've witnessed so far. One of my favourite. Incredible climate: spooky, brutal and not suitable for children like the one whose part have survived somewhere inside my brain. Maybe this is why I like it so much. CONDENSED SUMMARY: Magical. Dramatic. Relieving. A must play. Do it. Don't mind the initial texturing." - DJ Full (18-Apr-2011)

"I had actually played Marcos' previous level not too long ago, so was looking forward to his latest a lot - but now I have to say my feelings are a bit mixed. Make no mistake - the long intro cutscene again tells a wonderful (scary) story and throughout the hour long adventure that continually gets supported with additional intermittent scenes and a great finale as well (don't we all love our happy endings?). So the whole framework is top notch, very unique and original, as we have come to expect from this author. A few small gripes came in for me in terms of the gameplay. Loved the secret room at the start, but never even tried to press action on the snakes (needed walkthu). The blade jumps, while not actually too hard to do, still felt a pain because you had to do two runs - one would have been quite enough, I think. And the worst for me was the key hidden in the snake mouth without any hint whatsoever and it needed a fairly good position of Lara to actually grab it. Those gripes aside though, the game is as engaging as his other games with some clever use of the (spooky) guide, the great stamper scene and the truly stunning encounter with the ghost skeleton pushing Lara across to the other side. So, even though I may have liked the Usurped Monastery slightly more than this one, it still is a one of its kind level that must be played to be believed." - MichaelP (08-Apr-2011)

"I'm not a real fan of dark, macabre levels. But the special effects in this one are so stunning that I feel compelled to give it high marks across the board. It's a continuation of "Poor Wiwi" and has a happy ending, although numerous corpses are created to fertilize the ground along the way. There are scads of doors and gates that never open, so I would commend DJ Full's walkthrough to those who would prefer to avoid multiple dead ends as they progress through the level. I didn't enjoy myself quite as much as I did in the builder's previous release, but this is definitely a tour de force that should be experienced by every serious raider. High recommendations." - Phil (08-Apr-2011)

"Well, I am... impressed. Deeply. From start to finish this was a fantastic raid. Perfect gameplay, so unclassic you even could think this is a non-TR game. After the great starting cutscene (laughed so hard about the harpy that takes poor Wiwi) the start contains clever flipmaps to get an item and the first secret, but there are - just like in Marcus's previous - deadly and non-deadly choices, always with a great logic behind them, so that you don't need any "normal" puzzles, as in classic raids. No, this game is never classic; new moves like the snake switches, incredibly hard traps like the blades, the innovative way of killing a skeleton (another wow-effect), the resurrection machine that gives full health and makes Wiwi and the dead father of the unknown guy alive. Brilliant in-game cutscenes support the story. Atmopshere was fantastic. Texturing again too, this time the level never was too dark so I have nothing to complain. Because of really great new enemies, objects and clever placement of secrets (I only found one real and one that did not count, but still great), great sound, great lighting, great everything, I will give four in a line the first time here. This is "the perfect" level. The ending cutscenes were really fantastic and concluded the best level I have ever played. Thanks Marcos, you gave me a really nice hour of pure flawless fun in a great environment." - manarch2 (03-Apr-2011)

"This is one of those levels where you think to yourself,"how the heck did the builder manage to do that?!" whenever a really clever cut-scene appeared;and the visual appearance was constantly fresh and often startling.However,gameplay tended to veer from the downright tricky (the jumps over the bladed columns) through the somewhat cheaty (the Diamond room);the intelligent (the squishing column puzzle)to the fairly obscure (placing strange pickups on particular items). The freshness of the whole scenario kept things bubbling along in fine fashion whenever irritation threatened to set in,though;and the builders personality shone through vividly.This is a superbly constructed level,and a masterpiece within it's genre;but is probably not for all players,especially beginners." - Orbit Dream (03-Apr-2011)

"If I had to describe this level with one word, the only following word would occur to me: WOW! The cut sequences at the level beginning look brilliant so that Marcos has deserved an Oscar. And, besides, they are so funny which I would have tilted before laughter almost from the chair. Above all the spiteful laughter of the Black Harpy is not from this world. That's an entry-times in which the player gets hungry for more. And the players get more. Much more. He gets a typical Marco Mensa-Level. With excellent riddles. And really good cut sequences. And animations which one must have seen. And a hefty pinch of black humor. And very well built rooms. The opponents are no problem, because Lara finds the revolver and the shotgun. The level end could have been pinched almost from a kitschy Hollywood film, because it is so tearful, that even stones start to howl. However, I had the problem which I had to play in the compatibility mode. This had of course negative effects on the control. No notion, why this was in such a way, but my evaluation has not influenced it. Anyway this is a level which one must absolutely have played. And the Bladerun looks more difficult than it actually is. With the right timing you can get by well." - Scottie (01-Apr-2011)

"Rather a long intro to this level, but that's not a criticism as it's very well done and joins this level nicely with the previous one. Think of it as more of a 'Since you were last with us...' intro you occasionally get on TV series although, I must confess, I couldn't remember if the little people were goodies or not 'til one was dropped on the nasty slicing blade pillar. Remember those, you'll come to them soon enough although, if you find the knack, they appear far worse than they actually are. That could be said for the rest of the level, well made, properly lit (gloomy without being too dark), enemies that take a bit of thought, agility, it's all there including some rather squishy audio files that are not for the squeamish. It all looks hard but it's all very 'do-able' with a bit of thought which, I would guess, is not an easy thing for the builder to achieve. This ranks with the 'must play' level." - Diz (30-Mar-2011)

"The opening introduction FMV does an excellent job of reminding us what happened to poor WiWi and the Black Harpy in the preceding installment. This is, above all, a resurrection tale, set in a spooky, dark atmosphere but all resurrections have their dark side and this one is told with a Master's touch. So much to see, it just may not be possible to see all in only one play-through: the guide waving goodbye to Lara; the waterfall of blood; the side tableau of an enemy chomping on a spider victim with Lara voicing her opinion with an "eeewww, disgusting" and even a resurrection of a kind for my Lara, giving her a much needed infusion of health after the blade traps. If one did those traps with patience and persistence, seeking the best way with perfect timing to jump through (there is a vid provided) then one may have had enough medpacks and not even realised that Lara's health could be topped off when near the resurrection machine. As for me, I had no medpacks left when I found the machine had life giving properties for Lara....a perfect touch to the tale.
Many TR levels have a backstory or sometimes, just a setting in which Lara can 'strut her stuff' or showcase a builder's talent or a player's ability but here there is no 'backstory' as such; the game itself is the story: the stage upon which the tale is told, brought to life and unfolding within each room and in each resurrection and video.
Binoculars found at the beginning put a smile on my face. All who played the first download of 'Usurped Monastery' will appreciate that little gift.
Marcos' sense of humor and playfulness is shown again with the little creature popping in and out of holes who whistles to get Lara's attention to show her the way and the previously mentioned guide, waving goodbye to Lara.
If possible, I would rate gameplay a 9.5 - just about perfect but with too many doors or areas I could not reach or find a way to open, especially at the end which may have been a secret I did not find as I had only 1/3.
"Best Played With With Eyes Wide Open' is a forum smilie/icon and is the best way to play this little gem of an Easter-like tale. Marcos just keeps getting better and better." - Bene (30-Mar-2011)

"Another very high level of the author. The level is pretty obscure, but it goes well with the title. There are lots of beautiful movies. This level is not difficult but not easy because you have to discover each time places cleverly hidden of each puzzle (snake head, skull head...). The hardest part may be where Lara has to jump over the blades without to be cut. I highly recommend that level." - Minox (29-Mar-2011)

"well what can i say about this one ? ..........its a short game .... at least not as long as u would aspect ..and builded generaly well ....... is a bit confusing cause u need to place gems and items at places where u dont aspect ..... Skeletons chest ......... dead mans chest .....(the hand like item ) ......and particulary have a very difficult blade traps pillars to cross . and the blades are not set up delayed but once at a time all and the distance between differ so u cannot made a run& jump fluently across them one off them need run jump others just simple jump... and all the blades activated at same time !! so need to hang at a pillar .. wait to activate get up and jump at next ...... is very anoying process trust me and whatever u choose to get through u still will need to use some medipacks ..... wich unfortunately is not provided like should and enemyes is not manny but the type wich lower ur health fast ... and u may run out medipaks and unabble to continue the game ..... i was found this a big bloww in gameplay ...... the graphics are very good and the cameras work good too .... playable game but confusing one ..... and was not between my favorites i must admit ..... but playable and not bad overall .....cheers ....." - Jack& (29-Mar-2011)

"Well, Marcos did it again. This spooky and dark level with interesting story line is probably as good or maybe even better than the Usurped Monastery released by the builder last fall. The story here is a continuation of the Poor Wiwi level, which I played not too long ago - just a bit darker (not just the lighting) and spookier. There are really well made cinematic cut scenes, especially in the beginning and the end and also some nice ones during the game. The game play itself is a bit on the challenging side as there is some precise jumping required. The sequence with the pillars and the deadly blade traps sure needs some good timing and it took me quite a few attempts to master it. Besides that, there are a few other tricky parts and also some of the pickups are placed in a way that they are either hard to get to or are plain overlooked. I stumbled around for a long time and could not find an important key until I got the hint from the stuck level thread. Lara does encounter some interesting characters in this level and while most of the enemies are tough to kill, there aren't too many of them. Some are very helpful and will guide and help the player along the way. The atmosphere is plain perfect for a level of that kind with an outstanding blend of background loops and action music. While the texturing was a little bit on the plain side, some wonderfully placed objects and the flawless lighting made this level still a great visual experience. I was a little surprised when the level ended and it felt a bit short. There were plenty of gates and doors that I found while exploring the large main room and I did expect at least a couple of them to lead to new areas but it appears that there were either only put there for decoration or Marcos just decided to make the ending a little earlier as initially planned. Either way, this level is another masterpiece by a very talented builder. Highly recommended - don't miss it! (55 minutes, 2 secrets found)" - Blue43 (27-Mar-2011)

"Another winner from Marcos. The Black Harpy Returns, and this time around it's no more Mr. Nice Guy. An excellent opening FMV shows the spooky resurrection of the harpy, its revenge on poor Wiwi, and the diabolical tortures inflicted on its victims. The level is filled with the author's distinctive horror vision and characters, from a sword-wielding tormenter immune to bullets, to a helpful skeleton guide, to little creatures that pop out of holes in the ground and whistle for attention, to extras like the side room with a one-eyed alien eviscerating a giant spider. Some off the architecture is not that developed, but then that isn't necessary for the macabre atmosphere. Mostly this is about puzzles that seem intuitively obvious once Lara has found the solutions, though before the light dawns the puzzles can be cryptic. It can be hard to anticipate what Marcos is going to do. Maybe this was because I was impatient to get to the end to find out if Wiwi was going to be all right, but Lara really did spend a long time in the resurrection room looking for one hidden key. Game time should be less than an hour. Players should be able to find all puzzle solutions themselves. This is a real story, with some amazing effects, and finally a satisfying ending. First rate. (I suppose one could say Many Harpy Returns.)" - dmdibl (27-Mar-2011)

"Another masterpiece from this talented and creative author. After a short prelude the game starts with a run over some pillars with knife-traps. Not that easy, but doable. Straight forward gameplay with a lot of new and creative ideas make this game a singular one. Some keys have to be found, an enemie has to be persuaded to be helpful, what isn't that easy either. A well created room with a resurrection-machine is the center of the game. A stunning atmosphere is created here. Some items needed are a bit hard to find, e.g. a key in the head of a snake, but all in all the refreshingly unorthodox puzzles are not hard to solve. The spooky atmosphere convinces absolutely. But the game seems to be uncomplete, it ends after a couple of cutscenes abruptly. For a real adventure it is a bit too short." - Christian (26-Mar-2011)

"From the cinematic opening sequence, it's very apparent that this is going to be another highly individual, ingenious and downright quirky level from this talented builder. There are some truly excellent and innovative objects and animations and the clever use of enemies will require a degree of lateral thinking on the part of the player. The tone is quite dark and occasionally bloodthirsty so this is definitely not one for the kiddies (although, rest assured, it does have a happy ending) and a sequence of jumps across pillars with knife traps probably puts it beyond the skills of the newbie player, but otherwise I highly recommend that you download it right away." - Jay (26-Mar-2011)
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