"Note: This review was written after playing all the parts of the series currently available.
Although this 1st part of "Search for the Golden Elephant" is almost 9 years old, it is still included in the good TRLE.net levels. And that's only the beginning, as it is the first signs of a series of levels whose quality will continue to increase over time. In this 1st part, we can already notice that Lara_Fox_Croft imposes his style by modifying the ATH (colored and reduced health and sprint bars, ammo display, etc.), the weapons and his willingness to help the player in certain puzzles through cameras, Lara's eyes, etc. Let's move on to ratings! Gameplay & Puzzles: This level is meant as a hub, it's always worked well in the Tomb Raider games. The beginning and the end of the level are almost in the same place and all the rooms are connected to the central ruins. It's up to the player to manage to reach the different areas and thus progress. However, there is a particular choice concerning weapons: Uzis are unlimited and less powerful than 9mm. Quite surprising. 8/10. • Enemies, Objects & Secrets: The dosage is rather well managed between exploration and action. We'll appreciate that the objects dropped by the enemies are consistent with their weapons! It's a pity that a key bug is present or that you can be killed by the guardian by putting the 2nd key in its lock. Secrets on the other hand are not hard to find. 8/10. • Atmosphere, Sound & Cameras: We regret the absence of an ambient sound during the exploration. There is some action music though. The addition of dialogues is a very good idea, but the French sound is almost inaudible, fortunately there are subtitles! The text is a bit long to go through though. 7/10. • Lighting & Textures: The underground labyrinths are brightened up by interesting light effects (although blue is not very perceptible for a color-blind person :p) whose red makes a nice contrast with the snowy surface. Nothing particular to say about the textures, the whole is overall clean and the reflection effect is well found. 9/10. • To conclude, this level announces a good beginning of adventure and the idea of the hub will persist until the end of the 2nd part. I sincerely hope that Lara_Fox_Croft will release a full version (with remastering of the first 2 parts) when he will have finished part 3." - SlyRaider (15-May-2020)
"Not having yet played the demo version of
this level, I can't really mention what
has been changed and what hasn't, but I
can say that this was a fun little
adventure, but also flawed. The gameplay
is pretty enjoyable, but I was a bit put
off by the framerate drop in the outside
areas and the roundabout nature of some of
the tasks (particularly the ascension of
the main building) which slowed the pace
down a bit too much for my liking. Having
said that, the block puzzles are well
thought out and not too tedious, enemy
attacks are bracing if a little too easy
thanks to both their reduced AI and your
powerful weaponry, and the boss battle was
a nice ending to the level. The textures
are generally fine if a bit dull and
stretched in places and the lighting and
distance fog is utilised nicely. I wasn't
overwhelmed, but I had a good enough time
here for the 51 minutes I spent." - Ryan (07-Jun-2018)
"Much better with the mazes spiced up, climbing parts quickened and tasking expanded, but still with audio issues though now of different kind: after the first theme utilizes some nice violin skills, the ambience gets muted and never reappears again. Fighting is much more satisfying than it was in the demo, with a particularly neat ability to grab a bunch of various items with a single pickup. Still the game is really short and entirely agility-oriented so it doesn't feel like a complete part of storyline. Much more definition would be required for that." - DJ Full (09-Jun-2016)
"I think I could just copy and paste my review for the demo version of this that I played back in October 2011. This version features some slighty extended gameplay but not a massive amount to elevate it over the original. This remains a pretty solid release but there's still a few issues to contend with (namely the overly white blazing fog). Lighting and texturing are very much the same as the demo (pretty good over-all but the fog washes out some of the lighting). The route through is pretty straight-forward. One thing that I'm not sure if it was a bug or not was that the UZI's I picked up had unlimited amo! So I played the rest of the game using these. Medi-packs and ammo are more than generous. Overall I got just over an hour for Valdek Ruins. I hope this is the start of a series as that could prove promising. If you have played the demo already and enjoyed it you may enjoy this re-visit. Stiggy." - TheStig (19-Aug-2012)
"All I remember from the demo was that the game was lagging big time and very foggy. So is this level. Luckily there aren't too many hard timed runs or else I would be in big trouble. It is a bit bigger than the demo version but for me it felt like I played the demo all over. For the rest there is plenty of ammo to be found although I still am very, very weary of no unlimited ammo for Lara's trusted guns. Oh well, Lots of monkey swinging, jumping and the best is still that giant head. Although I do hate that figure it does spice things up." - Gerty (08-May-2012)
"Back in the reviewer's saddle for me, and this is a level whose demo I've played before. A decent 50-minute raid in some stone ruins in the snow. The textures are quite warped in some parts, especially on the irregularly shaped walls, taking away from the convincing-ness. The author seemed to overlook which tracks are repeated and which are not, so when you reach a certain cellar with lava and swingpoles, a short audio track is played over and over again. That was kind of annoying. Some of the other audio was well chosen though. The ice guardian is challenging when placing the final key, but it is doable. Other than that you have some enemies (easy to defeat with your powerful guns), pushblock puzzles, and very simple mazes. It is a pretty average work overall. Some creativity is shown, but I would urge the author to stay away from the mazes if possible, as that could become a nasty habit." - SSJ6Wolf (06-Sep-2011)
"Look back at my review for the demo, I can see I had high hopes for an extended version, but with all due respect this seems more like a demo version 2, with one fun little lave room jumping area added and nothing much else that seems notably different from the original experience. Hence, my unaltered scores in comparison to the demo. I still kind of like the level, but could certainly have done without playing it twice now and can only repeat that I would encourage the builder to stop his demo release habits and get himself a few decent beta testers instead. Just ask around in the usual forums and I am sure several people will be more than happy to support you." - MichaelP (27-Aug-2011)
"Although not vastly different from the Demo (at least,not as much as you would expect)this remains an enjoyable and well-
constructed level.There may be slowdown in parts throughout
the game,but progress is smooth and always of interest,due
to the great variety of tasks on offer - none of which are
too difficult to accomplish. Enemies are easily despatched
(the limited ammo feature is largely unnecessary),with only
the final Boss causing aggravation (*hint* wait for it to
fire in another direction,then insert the key).Objects are
well placed,while cameras and sounds are used most
effectively (I also soundly applaud the scrolling text
feature),while lighting is generally effective if a little
too bright at times. Textures could do with polishing here
and there (the opening Fly-by regrettably showcases several
stretched textures in full close-up),but are generally
placed with care.The best elements are the jumping and pole-
swinging tasks,which really help to give the adventure zing.
Regardless of whether you've played the earlier version,this
is still an absorbing 70 minute level." - Orbit Dream (25-Aug-2011)
"After I had played the demo, I had hoped imploringly, that
the level builder takes out this unacceptable (I wanted to
use, actually, another word, but then the Review would not
have been published certainly) fog. But unfortunately the
fog is still there and so I had played in the first attempt
only a few seconds. Actually I wanted to never touch the
level again, but I'm just curious, so I tried it again.
Well, my opinion about this level has still not changed.
This permanent fog is bugging me. And the bugs annoy me. And
it annoys me, that's almost all white. And the music annoys
me anyway. Well, the whole level is bugging me. The level is
absolutely not my cup of tea. Of course he is well built.
And of course the textures, apart from the nearly uniform
colours, look well. And a few interesting puzzles are also
included. But though I'll play this level in no case once
again." - Scottie (23-Aug-2011)
"Mainly this is quite close to the previously released demo version, though there are differences, and changes in game play for players thinking they can zip through this. The winter atmosphere is effective. Lara enters a world of dense white fog, a snowy landscape of barren trees that are sparse and bleak. It is almost as if Lara is in a black-and-white world, and the opening fly-by is well done. One of the first things players notice is that in the demo version Lara hit an invisible wall surrounding the main building, but now there is an appropriate and realistic fence. Texturing seems improved, with little things added to enhance environment and play. Maybe I'm forgetful, but things that felt new were a helpful ladder to the upper level (needing a trapdoor to open), and three secrets. In the demo, players used a revolver and laser sight to destroy a skeleton-headed ice monster and his deadly blue bolts. This time around Lara has only the revolver, which doesn't aim at the creature, so shooting is useless, and this makes using a key in keyhole exposed to the blue bolts a tricky task. I read on the forum about a major glitch with two adjacent keyholes: Lara has to use the Old Key as soon as she finds it, since it will no longer work once she picks up the second key. With that warning, I had Lara avoid problems. Aside from this I thought this version showed improvements. At the end there is an addition of a whole new large lava room with sliding and pole swings. The author plans a multilevel release in the future, where presumably the keyhole bug will be corrected." - dmdibl (22-Aug-2011)
"This is the full version of the demo level that was released six month ago and I did like it just as I liked the demo back then. The one disappointing thing about it is, that except for a few add-on rooms, it isn't really different than the demo release at all and ends at the same spot, which gave me the feeling that I still played a demo. We can hope that this series will continue with part 2 very soon. This level does have some nice looks and atmosphere and the cold frozen tundra environment with those ruins looks very convincing. Lighting is very nice and although the texturing is far from being perfect, this level does have a nice and solid look and feel to it and some of the flybys and camera work really impressive. I did like the game play a lot and always appreciated the hints that let the player know what's next. All in all it is straightforward with some nice jumping, sliding, rope and pole swinging sequences - nothing hard or challenging, but lots of fun. There are also a few simple push block exercises and a little bit of combat in between. I liked the soldier enemies, but I am not sure about those flying griffins as they looked a little bit out of place. The only challenging part was the boss head, which gave Lara a hard time using the last key. Overall I would say this is a nice level with good entertainment factor and I would definitely recommend it. Hoping for a continuation of the series... (1h 10min, 3/3 secrets found)" - Blue43 (22-Aug-2011)
"As I said in the review for the demo, there are realistic
hopes to see a final version of the levels by this builder,
unlike most of the other demos. And here it is.
Unfortunately, there only were minor changes to the level,
which still was more or less the same as the demo, enhanced
with a lava cave and with some changed setup (some more
block puzzles) that didn't always was good, as the puzzle
with the two fish statues you couldn't solve with both
blocks - the first block had to trigger both tiles so that
you can go on. Also, there were more nasty bugs in this
level, like you had to use the Old Key when you get it,
afterwards it isn't possible to use it and you're stuck. Too
bad. The unused receptacles from the demo weren't used but
vanished; some objects had a more sophisticated usage (the
fences in front of the Old Key), the climb up to the Golden
Key receptacle wasn't that long anymore second time you have
to climb up; you didn't have to kill the monster with the
revolver anymore but you need to use some stealth elements
(quite annoying at times), and there is a hunt for three
fairly easy to find secrets. Really liked the way the text
messages were scrolled up in the game, but I hoped there
would be more new things in this full version. Let's see
what the author creates in the next level of the series,
which he already has announced in the readme." - manarch2 (21-Aug-2011)
"It seems that this author had not beta testers and release a demo so players around the world write some comments about the level, 'cause the final version has no much modifications and only the big lava room was added. But reviewers are not beta testers, you can check it by viewing the missed texture in an outside ledge in one of the corners of the first building. Also I think the author could take more effort applying textures in many surfaces of the level. Anyway I liked this final version; an entertaining level with a good atmosphere, nice wintry areas and variety of tasks. Limited but enough ammo, 'cause strangely the enemies were very easy to kill with very few shots; also for the triggers to deactivate the spikes and the trapdoor above were not necessary the two fish statues, but only one. There is a bug I suffered with the two keyholes; once you get the Old Key you must use it immediately, 'cause if you wait to get the second key, once both are in your inventory, for some reason the Old Key doesn't work. Near the end it's very tricky to use the Russian Key, exposed to the lethal blue rays of the monster, but fortunately, if you think a bit and time your movements correctly, it can be done with no much problem, but very tight, of course. Looking forward for the next levels of this adventure. Good work." - Jose (21-Aug-2011)
"My comments on the demo remain pertinent as there really hasn't been a great deal of change in this, the finished product. I have in fact deducted a point from the gameplay for the undeniably serious bug whereby it becomes impossible to use one of the two keys towards the end of the level and unless you have a convenient savegame from earlier on when the key did work, you will just have to start the whole thing again from scratch. Surely, proper beta testing would have highlighted this flaw. Otherwise, I enjoyed the gameplay as before, especially the newly added middle section consisting of some fun sliding climbing and bouncing around a large lava filled room. I was also impressed afresh with the overall look of the game, particularly the very atmospheric misty outside areas. I had expected this to be longer, but it is still a work in progress so I shall just have to be patient and anticipate the (hopefully bug free) next instalment." - Jay (21-Aug-2011)
"This is a Full version of a Demo debut, and as a debut, this level is actually quite good and well developed. There are flaws, of course, but considering the fact that the builder is a beginner, these flaws are not so terrible, apart from the notorious bug with the Old Key. One tip: Use the Old Key as soon as you get it, before you venture to find the second key. Trust me on this.
GAMEPLAY & PUZZLES are well developed, and the game runs smoothly. In every climbing sequence you'll know where to go, in every pushing sequence you'll know what to do, timed runs are more than easy to finish, enemies are very easily killed, and Lara has a new arsenal helping her along the way. Traps are also not so hard, if you time your jumps/runs correctly, and the only problematic jump is actually a jump through the raised gate. The only thing that worked for me in this situation, was diagonal backflipping through the gate. Considering the fact that there are maybe 10 situations where Lara has to jump through the raised gate, this becomes a flaw and very annoying. But overall gameplay and puzzle element is more than excellent for a debut.
ENEMIES, OBJECTS & SECRETS: Enemies are easy to kill, thanks to a nice choice of Lara's new weapon. I particularly liked Shotgun transformed into AK47, as well as Double Uzis (too bad there was so little ammo for Uzis to be found in the level). Objects are used nicely, to be obstacles or decorations, with a nice ballance, and secrets are more than easy to find. I liked how the secrets were incorporated in the gameplay, so that finding them does not break the smoothness of the gameplay.
ATMOSPHERE, SOUND & CAMERAS: This is also very well done here, to help players orientate and find their way around the level. Camera hints are there, flybys are rich and the music tracks are nicely chosen.
LIGHTING & TEXTURES: Lighting is correctly applied, so there is a difference between tunnels with lava, outside area and chambers under the ground, although sometimes the lighting was too bright. Textures, however, are not so nicely applied, with stretched parts or dull texturing of the main building, but overall texturing was decent.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is quite a nice way to spend one hour, since the gameplay is interesting. Apart of too many switches and the notorious bug mentioned by other players as well, the level is a true debut master piece. Maybe you'll get frustrated at the end when you have to use the second key under the attack of the Ice Guardian, but still, it is worthy of playing and spending some time with it. This builder has a great talent, and I am very eager to see the sequel. Highly recommendable!" - Nina Croft (21-Aug-2011)
"I have scored this the same as I scored the demo version, I had to as there is so little difference, a few tweaks here, a lava room there, but not much. It's my understanding that a demo is a 'taster' of a much larger, more complete level or even set of levels. Here it's not, this is about 10 minutes longer than the demo and the only improvement I can see is that the builder has got rid of that irritating intro that said exactly the same as the 'Read Me'. For those that haven't played the demo: this level is set in and around an atmospheric ruined castle in the winter, baddies are a couple of dogs with their tails on fire (?), quite a lot of (russian?) baddies and a strange monster head. Lots of climbing up the battlements, all simple straight-forward stuff. Some easy agility in a lava room and a bit of block pushing. The gameplay is also fairly simple, just watch out for the bug with the two keys. I really liked the demo (apart from the aforementioned intro) and loved the scenic setting and I was looking forward to the full version. I'm afraid this was a disappointment." - Diz (21-Aug-2011)
"This is the full version of the demo, which I played. Something is new and the most is the same. The atmosphere and the sound is better (not so foggy and not a song, that allways play). But I can't understand, what the person is speaking (he was creaky).
Gameplay and Puzzles was good. You have to jump, climb, use swing rope and you have to sliding. You have to find keys.
A bad bug make me unhappy. Use the old key before you go to find the russian key. Or you have a dead end.
The enemies was not so hard, but the enemie on the ground make a lot of trouble.
Timeruns - I can finish all good.
The camera gives good instructions, that was I missing in the demo.
The textures was sometimes stretched or compressed. But that was not so bad for me." - Eelkemama (21-Aug-2011)