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Level: BtB2011 - Ghostbuster Volume 1: Let there be Water back home search
Author(s): Soul
total rating:8.97 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
AdamR 7 9 9 8
afzalmiah 9 9 10 10
Akcy 8 9 8 6
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
Blue43 9 9 10 10
Diz 10 9 9 9
DJ Full 9 9 9 8
dmdibl 9 9 10 9
EssGee 8 9 10 8
eTux 9 9 9 7
Jay 9 9 10 10
Jerrod 7 7 8 9
JesseG 10 9 9 8
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 6 8 10 9
Josey 7 10 9 7
Magnus 6 7 8 7
manarch2 10 10 10 9
masha 10 10 10 10
MichaelP 8 9 10 9
Minaru 10 10 9 10
Mman 9 10 10 10
Mytly 9 9 9 9
Nina Croft 8 10 10 9
Phil 8 9 8 8
Raymond 10 10 10 10
Relic Hunter 8 9 10 10
requiemsoul 9 10 8 9
Ruben 8 9 10 9
Ryan 9 9 10 9
Scottie 10 10 10 10
Sethian 5 5 8 6
Shandroid 9 10 10 10
TheStig 7 9 9 10
category averages
(34 reviews)
8.53 9.09 9.38 8.88

Reviewer's comments

"Wow, this certainly kept me on my toes. This level throws challenging task after challenging task to you. Although some parts were frustrating, I managed to finish it and I am glad because this turned out to be an excellent level. The conveyor belts were nice too. I am glad I stuck this one out." - Ryan (24-Mar-2016)

"I really really wanted to like Ghost Buster Volume 1. From the off you can see that the environments are beautifully crafted, the lighting is excellent and the opening scene is all nicely put together too. There's some really nice original set pieces (like the explosion which transports you to a fantastic Lava canyon), and visually there's a really complete and slick look to the whole level. Unfortunately for me this just doesn't come across in the gameplay which left me cold and frustrated. At times it's pretty difficult to see where you need to head next and I frequently found myself referring back to the walkthrough to get myself through. It doesn't really flow as well as I would like and the section towards the end with the timed spike jumps, flames, swinging chains and blades was a bit maddening. All in all I netted 1 hour 30 minutes from Ghostbusters Vol 1. If you're the sort of raider who likes your challenges on the harder side then this is for you, but I suspect this will be inaccessible to some players without the use of the walkthrough or save-games for those frustrating pixel perfect jumps. Stiggy" - TheStig (05-Nov-2012)

"Ghostbusters. Apparently they fought too much wraiths and there are none left at work except Lara, here welcomed to a world of heavenly windmachine, hellish cave, purgatorish pushable and Earthly physics. Do You think something doesn't fit? Then You need to play and learn what steampunk is. It took me over half a year to finally pick that level - so it's a bit twin story with Etalocˇhcilihc - and I finally played because of one buggy wraith which doesn't want to die in the water and which I offered to examine. The level starts with a nice flipmap and Lara falling down through the rocks she's just blown up. This is the first of many usages of pressure in this game, and the other ones are even better. Entered the city, You have to solve a steam conductor and fill a water tank. Gotten into caves, pressure of rollingball works to unlock a path, and finally pressure of all 4 main streams opens the door to the final fight.
Cameras are provided everytime when necessary. Watch them carefully, they're not just for looks and it's possible You will see more if You reload and watch them again. Also, there's an introducing and outroducing cutscene, what results in lots of flybys as for a BTB level.
Despite of sufficient number of hints, solving puzzles isn't that obvious and mostly You'll need to make some steps for Lara's own to see many clues by Yourself. Wraiths will of course disturb, but never prevent You from reaching the goal. There are only two other enemies, and while the crow has a really good reason to appear (to steal a key), I am not actually sure what that dragon mutant is doing in the cave. This is one of only two things which don't fit for me (the other one will be described in a moment) - but anyway hearing the sound after the monster dies is one of the best music usages I can recall (other sounds of the game are also fitting well), and passing through the rest of the cave to finally press a switch requires doing a fire swing. Those two things, together with a table pushable, canceling walkability through a frozen waterfall, and the already mentioned steam conductor are my best moments throughout the game. Some might treat most of those as "minor effects", but these are actually elements which indicate consistency, creativity and a great attention to detail the most. And there is of course the conveyor belt agility test, which definitely required many attention while being created. And a creative windmachine jump made with the same flipeffect. For all people who find the remaining belts in the end annyoing, I can only say "jump and You can master them, so they stop to be".
Both the city and the caves are nicely textured, without cracks and fine alignment. The texturing is more organic than the one from Moonlight Legacies, and similar to Lost in the Canyons, with huge amount of sand and dirt, hiding a city deep in somewhere underground, that it feels like buried. A classic raid is brought, but the main question is: Why does Lara explore ruins if in the story she's invited to a city full of life? Moreover all is set in rather gloomy, reddish light, like if the city has already died and there was no-one to fight the ghost (well... maybe THIS is exactly the hidden meaning, that Lara is already late when she reaches the town...) It's the same problem I have with Moonlight Legacies, but in the opposite way (in Kosmos's work, we visit a town that is deserted in the storyline, and filled with mercenaries ingame, LOL), I really don't understand both of the builders, and I'm gonna copy/paste this sentence into both reviews. Back to Soul's game, and his lighting analysis: there is something in that red aura what looks pretty at first contact, tiring at second and ignored at third. This might be caused by two things - one that Soul is generally a "dark builder", and two that Steampunk climate involving heavy industry is probably related to pollution and destruction of green thingies. (Notice levels of this class are mainly set at night, and happy colors remain almost unused. I have no idea why this happens so often if steampunk is considered to be ALTERNATIVE history, and thus could have been of heavy industry doing no harm.) The above two are reasons why, especially in case of Soul, I would like to see something involving bright sunlight, flowers and animals - because the challenge would be DOUBLE for this particular builder, to BOTH handle the wad by inverting the stereotype it suffers from, and build exactly the opposite what he currently does.
As I got used to the lighting, I didn't feel down while playing. I rather felt tired at first, as I attempted the big pushable at deep night, and then relieved when I launched it in the morning and everything started to become more and more clear - except those minutes I spent in two survivable pits :)
SUMMARY: A solid piece of complexity cake - I actually cannot count how many rollingballs have been used within that single level. When I later opened the project, I was surprised the map only covers about 1/6 of the available space. Many new things in a narrow space, form a thick density of invention - so the goal steampunk climate is achieved well. I myself will probably have to split my own project in two, as I couldn't fit in the limits of the comp - and here, we have an example of getting everything what necessary in a single level, plus water and fire behaving like they should, all within a decent time of play, ranging from one hour to several days, depending on how much Your brain differs from Soul's. Of course there are steampunk levels which are prettier, comfier and more relieving, so if You are not into a heavy-duty job, leave Ghostbuster for a day You are ready to bring it on - but definitely don't skip it, as it's really worth to see those rollingballs fall, and witness technical contraptions work. Already waiting for Vol.2, because that railway track in the end looks welcoming." - DJ Full (15-Jul-2012)

"Reading the reviews of this level, I expexted i would play one really great level. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. The gameplay is a lot frustrating. We start in some mines. Lara has many paths to choose and you have no idea from where to start. Then you find a pushable blocks puzzle. In the beginning, it seems interesting and funny, but it ends up confusing. I can't see any fun in moving so many blocks in a such small place so many times. I know that puzzles are made to use your mind, but this one has gone too far. I started playing this level few months ago and I left it because of that puzzle. I think it wasn't such a good choice. The other puzzles were easier but the feeling of frustration follows you all over the game. Lara has to perform many crazy jumps which are not easy to understand how to make them. The author should give more clues. Another part I disliked was the jump on some flaming sectors. I mean, how would I understan that a fire on the air is actually a ledge and not a trap? The parts I really liked were the fight with the dragon, the jumps in order to reach a balcony and set the torch on fire, the boiler room and the idea of freezing the water. All the other parts were not what I really wanted to play. The textures are nice and well placed. The lighting is pretty nice, but sometimes is disturbing. All the effects makes it impossible to see what is around you without using flares. Very annoying. Also, the author overdidi it by using the red shades, especially in the city. It wasn't looking so good and Lara was not affected a lot. The atmosphere is excellent, but I am not giving a ten because of the wrong choices of music tracks. The music doesn't really fit in this level, so it ruins the nice atmosphere many times. I suggest this level to everyone who has many patience and likes this feeling of frustration. The author is talented and I am sure he can do a much better work." - AdamR (25-May-2012)

"The level start with a flyby showing a ninga prisonner, and the goal is to deliver this ninga. I really like the story and the start with the explosion is very well. The gameplay is very good and I really enjoying the flipmaps, specially with the big cave with the dragon and the big dragon head. Then, lara arrive in a small town with a very interresting steampunk machine. There are not really enemies, exept some ghosts. The secrets are easy to find and the textures are vey beautiful. I specially like hte lighting in the little town. So, it's a very beautiful steampunk level, maybe a bit hard for the beginners. Very recommended. Exellent Job." - BigFoot (27-Nov-2011)

"Textures: I was put off by the foliage textures that it looked like Lara could walk though, but would instead be solid walls. This felt very weird to me. There was nice variation shown in the texture selection and the lighting helps create a nice warm, sunset feeling.
Atmosphere/Cameras: Some camera shots get stuck (infinitely timed fixed cameras?) and force the player to reload to see Lara again. On the plus side, the cutscenes are excellent and they actually build the story for you right up until the end. The architecture is also well crafted.
Objects: The environment is well ornamented. The wind machine is awesome and pushes Lara so that she does a large jump across the area. I just wish I knew I could take this shortcut before taking the long path! The conveyer belt secret was very well done, I appreciated this bit of creativity.
Gameplay: There are many clever puzzles to solve, including one in a boiler room in which you control the flow of steam, and a complex pushblock puzzle in a cave that took me a while to solve. Not to mention the challenging jumps, trap sequences, and the climatic conveyer belt sequence at the end. Perfect.
Overall: I absolutely loved playing this level and would highly recommend it to all other players. Finished in 1:15:55." - SSJ6Wolf (14-Nov-2011)

"Wow, this one took me quite a while! It consists of two rather different main areas: a cave area below and a city area above, I wonder which the most complex in finding out what to do, what you've done, where you have to go. The settings and the atmosphere look just great if not the greatest ever seen (but this is the BtB competition and can't take years in building), the sounds are appropriate and there are rather amusing moments, such as the workout area that leads to a secret key. Other moments were a bit too obscure, namely te box puzzle at the beginning of the cave area for some reason. Other areas, namely the fire ghost area are quite interesting too. And I can't seem too remember many moments that are just too demanding: maybe the very end if you don't know exactly what to do. Then the trapped ninja finally escapes and, yes, not even a thank you note, my, what are we coming to? All in all, this is highly recommended, hence my congratulatory ratings." - Jorge22 (04-Nov-2011)

"As usual with all levels from this author, it's not the kind of levels I like. Many tasks are very, very difficult, to reload savegames again and again and tried it a lot of times. Another times you get totally stucked without knowing what to do until help from another players, or something or the inspiration appears in your mind. This constructor is truly diabolical. I think when players finish the level sure they recognize the author. Yes, the atmosphere is fantastic and also it has very good special effects. The crates puzzle near the beginning was the best for me. At the end it certainly will have good reviews overall, but not so good for me. As many players say: "this gameplay is totally insane!". But a very good work anyway." - Jose (16-Oct-2011)

"It's nice to see some humor in the level's story, but it's a bit misleading as this level turns out to be a lot more challenging than you'd think. Most of the challenge lies in figuring out what you're supposed to do (the story explains that you need to fill four water tanks, but that's pretty vague), so it's another one of those levels that I ended up stumbling my way through. There's also a pretty challenging block puzzle, which, again, is made even more challenging because it's not clear what your ultimate goal is, leading to several solutions that seem correct until you realize that there's more to the puzzle than you first thought. There's also a lava cave where you have to figure out how to make your way around and it's really hard to see where you need to go. And just in general a lot of times where I was left scratching my head because I didn't spot a small crack somewhere or because I didn't realize there was more to a room than was first apparent. All that said, there are some genuinely good moments here too. The wind machine and the way you get the key for it are both very clever. The block puzzle is also clever, and had it only been clearer what you needed to do, it would have been a great puzzle. Suddenly getting transported to some sort of fire dimension was unexpected and worked well in the level. The story also shines through at various points in the level, which is always a nice touch. The level looks good for the most part, though the tiny caves with slopes everywhere are a nightmare to navigate. You're going to spend about half the level in caves, so it gets a bit annoying. The other half, which takes place above ground is a lot more visually stimulating and I thought it was more fun to play. Overall, I found this fifty-minute level a bit too frustrating, but your mileage may vary and if you have a high tolerance for frustrating gameplay, the level may be worth playing for the fun story and the good moments." - Magnus (15-Oct-2011)

"I really enjoyed this level. I think it's one of the best in the competition. Each area was very entertaining and I loved the gameplay. Sometimes it does get confusing like many levels but that walkthrough helps. I loved the lava rooms! Absolutly magnificent! The texturing and lighting was brilliantly flawless! The enemies were not too hard but challenging. The atmosphere of the whole level was very good and finding the weapons and objects were fun. The puzzles were not too hard but challenging enough to make you think a bit. This also counts for where to go as sometimes it is hard to know where to go. Very entertaining level and I can't wait for a part 2 (if there would be one!). Highly recommended." - afzalmiah (15-Oct-2011)

"This is a beautifully constructed level that left me in two minds. On one hand architecture and geometry are of the highest standard. Puzzles and traps and mostly logical and challenging. I particularly enjoyed the pipes puzzle and the conveyor belt area. The atmosphere created in the rather red-lit city area and the lava area is good. The cavern area for me was too dull, and hampered my exploration. The exploration of the lava area is at times frustrating, with some precise jumps and an obscurely non-logical path after the dragon battle that had me wasting 30 minutes trying to make impossible jumps in the wrong direction. Seriously, as a player we are conditioned to avoid certain dangerous elements, because it will kill Lara. To me it is a cheap trick to play on the player to expect them to have faith in blindly jumping towards a fireball. A strange design decision in my view. Similarly, blind banana jumps that require a crystal ball to know that there is a safe ledge beyond a line of view is hardly giving the player an even break. This is clearly an adventurous level design, but some things work in strange ways. Actions that happen around the capture of the ghosts seem a bit disjointed. After solving an area, one walks around aimlessly for a while trying to work out what to do next and then kind of stumbles on a flyby showing the resulting action sequences. Finally, I read in the forums that there is a wind machine that is a secret (which sadly I missed getting to see). It seems odd to me that in a competition level, something special like this which would have a certain WOW factor would not be in the main gameplay. That could be worth an extra point in gameplay. So for me, this level showed strokes of brilliance and ingenuity, but fell short in its execution, by either being too adventurous or too hard. Recommended for expert players." - EssGee (14-Oct-2011)

"Clearly the work of an experienced builder, confusing architecture, hard to spot the next step, some very creative solutions, but sometimes a bit too creative. Excellent camerawork, some real storytelling there. The one where a crow picks up a key is an especially nice touch. One of the best pushy crate puzzle ever, absolutely loved it. The ladder that climbable on both sides, the pipe puzzle with the smoke hints, great moments. Unfortunately they got paired up by about as many not so great ones. The ungrabbable crevice in the lava room got me confused, then turned out it wasn't even needed. Standing on those invisible fire platforms goes against all TR mindset, at first I took a different route of course, jumped on the rocks and swingpole to the entrance just to find it closed, only when I loaded back and tried to use the swingpole to get to the island in the middle I found out by accident that Lara can stand on those unharmed, resulted in much swearing. The first secret verges to the unfair, the one with the key didn't make much sense, was it really just for a scenic route to a place where I had to go anyway through the lever puzzle? The wind machine looked cool though. The conveyor belt section at the end didn't work perfectly well due to its setup, Lara got halted at corners where the belt changed direction, it's an engine glitch and I don't think anything can be done about it, but exploiting it made the task easier than intended. The worst aspect of the level is lighting, or lack thereof, the ambient light level is low enough plus the overdone colorful lighting scheme, I'm sure is nice artistically and looks great on screenshots, wasn't exactly helpful ingame, to put it very mildly. A little less would have been so much more. The low visibility combined with the claustrophobic architecture turned out to be the source of much frustration, I found myself stumble on small slopes and halt under low ceilings way too often. The town area was much better, the orange lighting while still far from ideal but at least provided acceptable visibility, along with the open area it was like a breath of fresh air. Down the big cave where much precision is needed the red lighting hardly eased the darkness, my jumps were almost leaps of faith and Lara ended up in the lava more times than I'm comfortable with. Bottomline, where precision is a requirement allow me to properly see what I'm doing. Turning off volfx and increasing my gamma setting helped, just gave everything a shade of gray, when I'm forced to such measures that's clear sign that something fundamentally wrong with the lighting. I'm sorry but this issue made large portions of the level frustrating to me, and despite the numerous good moments I have to say I was glad when it was over." - Akcy (12-Oct-2011)

"After Moonlight Legacies I didn't think it was possible for there to be another level to send me over the edge in aggravation like that one. This level doesn't fully compete with Moonlight, but it certainly comes close. The aggravation is not due to overtly confusing and huge areas like in the previously mentioned level, but instead in some of the trap gauntlets, annoying banana jumps, and a puzzle that has arisen from the depths of Hell itself. The puzzle in question is namely a pushable puzzle of the worst kind. It is a pushable puzzle that will take you about an hour to complete; it's that much of a brain-twister. On the one hand it is quite clever and something I've never seen before, but on the other it's utterly cruel, awful, and the most boring hold up one could possibly have in a level that was trekking along quite decently. There is also a very obscure switch puzzle with a hint that is hard to spot (and a last switch that is hard to spot and nearly impossible to get to), and an even more obscure cog-wheel-switch puzzle. The trap gauntlet at the end is a little bit too much, and the conveyor belt run is not of this world. After the timed runs across these conveyor belts in Sedona and a few other levels, I didn't think it could get more insane. This level however takes us to a new stage of insanity as we get to watch just how silly Lara being trapped on these conveyor belts going round and round in circles really looks... and then trying to run against them just to get to two jump switches. Too much, too much. The level's main strength is in its camera setups: the opening cutscene is great in introducing us to the story (the stumbling double-sworded Ninja finally found a proper home, not being used as an enemy but as a cutscene prop, stumbling around terrified in her prison cell), and the ending is sort of nice (?) as well, even though it's a bit of a letdown, especially after being trapped on that conveyor belt circlet. The greatest effect is probably the explosion that causes us to enter the massive lava room, and the cutscene that triggers the giant dragon we must battle is crafted very well. Having said all this though, besides the opening and the ending, the author does very little to help tell us the story as we are playing it: locations seem to make no sense at all and I was left quite clueless as to what this had to do with the story mentioned as an intro to the level. Atmosphere in the level is pretty decent; however I did think that the music choice was pretty terrible and too over-the-top. Texturing is fine, however lighting is far too dull you almost always need a flare to see anything - it's not that it's dark... it really isn't dark... but it isn't bright either... it's a strange sort of flat mixture and far too red, especially in the"city" section of the level. I was happy when it was finally over." - Sethian (11-Oct-2011)

"A very special adventure, but I mean that in a good and in a bad way. The overall concept is fabulous - with essentially two main strings of action to release and kill a ghost each, so that in the end the ppor ninja lady is set free. Sounds simple, but is anything but. And for whatever reason I ended up doing everything sort of the wrong way round. Had a very slow start until after a bit of exploration I finally decided to do the very clever block push puzzle. Then missed the jump to the crack in the wall and gave up on that part. Instead went to the city next and again missed one fairly simple action and tried for a long time to jump over those floating platforms the wrong way round (without success of course). In other words - this can be a really frustrating game, simply because you can essentially travel through the entire level and search high and low without finding the next suitable action to progress. When you do though, it is wonderfully designed and has a great variety of tasks to accomplish. Some challenging, but never really unfair or too hard - until of course that great explosion happens that magically takes you to the lava cave. An amazing scene, followed my a rather less amazing choice of gameplay by the author. I am all for sneaky and clever jumps, but I fail to see the point of including a few of those pixel precision ones. I know I will eventually manage them, but they never give me any sense of accomplishment at all and just ruin the flow of the game. The dragon appearing here is more for (great) effect as it is easily killed from a safe spot and then it all culminates into a trap gauntlet at the end that is generally fun and interesting to master, again with the exception of one rather pixel precise double jump. And those two jump switches at the end also took a bit of practice to get to. So again, it really has its frustrating moments and can go rather slow at times when you run around like a headless chicken, but in hindsight it is a superbly accomplished level with great and original ideas and the whole setting really draws you in - definitely a top notch entry in this year's competition. [1:47, 1/4 secrets]" - MichaelP (09-Oct-2011)

"This level is obviously built by an expert builder who knows very well how to create some effects, such as the introductory explosion inside the cave. The overall architecture of the level is absolutely stunning, but it is not so when it comes to the gameplay. I know that experienced builders usually make their levels hard to play, and I support it when there is a certain balance to it. However, these builders should also know that after a few pixel and millisecond precise jumps, they become so tedious and frustrating, that the player cannot have fun playing the level any more. Yes, everything is brought to perfection here, but the gameplay made me scream from time to time, after dying a hundred of times trying to perform a jump or something. Too bad, since the level is built superbly well, and puzzles are really original and genial, but still, my hands hurt me for two days after finishing this very hard and merciless level. Top three definitely, provided that the players do not run away scared from this level before even finishing it." - Nina Croft (08-Oct-2011)

"This level is easily one of the most challenging of the Steampunk levels, but certainly well worth the time and effort. To be completely honest, I would have had a tough time finishing the level without the walkthrough, as there were very tough jumping sequences and puzzles. I am not fond of very dark levels, but this wasn't super dark, and had a nice red tint which matched perfectly with the strange reddish sky. I loved that Lara needed to dispatch of two ghosts, a fire and an ice ghost in order to free the ninja. I also found it refreshing that the ninja was the good guy in this level, after fighting so many bad ninjas previously. Gameplay was very challenging but also highly unique in several areas which I found nifty. The super fan was so cool, even though finding it made it a lot harder for me to finish in that area, since I didn't think I had to pull the five switches (wrong!). There was also the bane of my existence regarding non-linear levels-the agonizing of which way to go first! I checked the walkie on this because I always fear that if I don't go one way before the other I will somehow screw up royally. This was not the case here, but how would I know? Each ghost area had its challenges, but the fire one took the cake. I can handle the hard jumps but what was the meaning of the ungrabbable crevice??? If it was an error in the level design, then why didn't the beta testers catch it? My only guess is that they DID catch it and the author said that it was a red herring and the player is meant to make a ridiculously hard banana jump from a triangle rock, around a protruding rock, to a flat rock you can't even see! RIGHT. If the author meant for this agony to be inflicted upon us, then shame on him/her because even after many tries I just couldn't do it and I had to use the savegame in the walkie performed by Dutchy or some other phenomenally skillful raider. If it weren't for this, I would have had to scrap this wonderful level over such an easily fixed thing. This was the only problem for me in this area, but in the other area, I got tripped up with the secret fan. Silly me, I thought that since I found the secret fan way to the pool that I wouldn't need to pull the five switches. Ha! So here's me frantically pulling the switches so I can get up to the pools. Why make the fan method a secret? Anyway, it was too confusing. A secret passage should be a true alternate, not what this was, which was an alternate path, but the original path needed to be accessed as well to proceed. Ok, enough of that. I thought the pipe puzzle was extremely awesome! I got kind of confused though, because upon messing up the first time, I exploded, then the second time I messed up, I saw a cool cutscene, and then I exploded (I was thinking...wow, he/she even made a long cutscene for a wrong selection, huh), then after apparently making the right choice, I saw the same long cutscene, but got the ice ghost this time. Pretty odd, but I went with it! ;) I loved the gauntlet area. I always look upon gauntlets and get stressed, then when I actually go for it, most of the time it isn't all that difficult, and this happened here. It was actually pretty fun! You can't beat that. Every other aspect of the level was just awesome. Truly inventive and hidden secrets, atmospheric lighting and interesting sounds, expert texturing and cool camera work (the flight into the dragon's mouth was a jaw dropper!). This was not a level for beginners and would be perfect if that stupid crevice were fixed! Besides that major annoyance, the level was supremely awesome, but I am wondering...does the title hint that there will be a volume 2?" - Shandroid (26-Sep-2011)

"Earlier, some 3 levels ago, I said that the gravity puzzle from Madness is not a Shame will probably remain unsurpassed in terms of creativity in this competition. How nice an occasion it is to be wrong sometimes! I wouldn't say the more ingenious aspects of Ghostbuster surpass the aforementioned level, that's a tough call to make. But with brilliant use of a treadmill as an electricity generator, and a wind machine for some wonderful gameplay effects, it at least gives it a run for its money. Though on occasion the game is a bit confusing, you don't have to venture too far into it to see that it has 'quality' stamped all over it. Ghosts that transform Lara's surroundings in a huge lava lake just to prevent her from reaching a switch, some really creative moments in the level's secrets like the aforementioned treadmill and wind-machine, the ghost chases, a timed box puzzle, creative fly-bys and the final gauntlet to release the ungrateful prisoner amount to some of the most memorable moments not only in the level, but in the entire competition this year. I absolutely loved the creativity of the game, but at times the author's devices just weren't intuitively obvious (for example flames depicting an escape route for Lara after killing the dragon - I appreciated the novelty of the idea, but I would think most players have been conditioned to avoid fire rather than deduct it to be a magical pathway to Lara's freedom?), and at others it felt a bit inconsistent in that the ideas were just a few tweaks off of being right. A case in point being - as said, I loved the alternative path constructed by finding some of the later secrets in the game, but it really should've had the full advantages an alternative path gives by definition - namely that it is self-sufficient and doesn't require me to complete the 'intended' way later on too. I thought that the texture hints for 5 levers were a bit far-fetched (though they kind of did work in retrospect) and I didn't quite get the logic behind the valve and steam puzzle and ended up solving it by trial and error, though that might be a failure on my side to pick up on the clues rather than the game's in providing them. Despite my comparatively lower rating - I thought the looks were well done technically, lighting and textures alike, with interesting uses of objects not seen in such combinations in other levels of the competition. That said, most areas were quite utilitarian, thus none quite caused me to be in awe of their visual qualities, and I found the orange/red-ish lighting hue of the ambient lighting to be a tad exaggerated. I fully realize my criticism may be reduced to a matter of taste, but for better or worse that has always factored in the enjoyment of games too - and this time the looks, while well done, just weren't my favourite aspect of the level. A rather minor quibble though, considering all the wonderfully inspired moments you encounter if you do start it up, so don't let my biases hold anyone up!" - eTux (26-Sep-2011)

"Oh,well... here we can find very good and very bad things: a clever block puzzle, a lovely run by candlesticks with a torch, a nasty room fool of slippery red rocks (why was it impossible for Lara to grab a crevice, and if it is the case, why the crevice?) a city very well constructed, but badly illuminated by a red sun, and... is it a fashion, to make Lara run by conveyor belts taking the wrong direction?? I know that I loved to do it in department stores when I was a child, but... NOW?? In resume, a very intelligent and well done level, but decidedly no fun... more's the pity." - Josey (21-Sep-2011)

"Another tough level in this competition with very exploratory game play, some neat puzzles and a couple of sometimes challenging action sequences. There is lots of pixel perfect jumping required in the lava lake and mining area and some of it can get a bit frustrating at times. Because one has to save and reload often, the game play appears a bit tedious rather than fluent. It is definitely not a level for inexperienced players. I really liked the layout and architecture, the nicely done flybys and the well-designed courtyard/village area with the amazing wind machine and other unusual feature like the power generating treadmill. I had to completely replay the first part of the level since I went back for the revolver after lifting the cage to access the lava area but when I returned the cage was down and the pull chain to lift it again did not work anymore. The texturing and lighting in this level was top notch and everything has a professional look and feel to it. Great level and therefore highly recommended, just not for new players or easily frustrated ones... (1h 20min, 3 secrets found)" - Blue43 (18-Sep-2011)

"After seeing the start cutscene, I knew I would love this level. And indeed I did. Very unusual concepts in this level, instead of running around constant action. All in all there were two different paths, the water and the fire path, and you had to destroy a wraith each in the two areas. The challenge in the fire path mostly was climbing the rock ledges and finding a safe way and eventually kill the dragon and then extinguish the ghost in a small pool, but it also contained a quite complicated block puzzle that took its time. The way progression is made is simply fantastic, you simply have to find the secret with the boulder, it's really worth, even if the cave area looked a bit dark and some textures were not perfect here. There were many difficult pole jumps and one annoying jump around a corner that was a bit unnecessary as you only had to do this because of the non-working crevice above you - but somehow the following jumps reminded me of some Japanese customs. The second area with the air wraith was more like solving tricky puzzles, the flyby at the start was really ingenious (a raven picking up a key and throwing it into the water) and so was the whole area. From the home trainer to the air steam that lets Lara have a longer jump to the five lever puzzle (even if unnecessary, I did this for fun) and the at first confusing valve puzzle, I needed help from the forum here to solve this, everything felt fascinatingly refreshing and was immensely fun. And the way of letting the wraith vanish also was very innovative. The end was very hard, with some perfect to time jumps and then a run against the conveyor belts, but I found this quite managable and at the end I felt this level was highly accomplished. In my opinion, the best Back to Basics level this year." - manarch2 (17-Sep-2011)

"After I have played now almost all BtB2011-Levels, I can say with certainty that this level one of the best in this season is. Already the level beginning is a real appetizer. The blasting operation of the cave cover and the appear of Lara has absolutely succeeded. Even better is the fact, that Lara must exert herself really physically if she wants to reach a Secret. I was at least amused, when I saw that Lara really got a sweat on the treadmill, but was given as a reward a key. There are those small things which delight the heart of a player. Another highlight is the big explosion and the lava cave. Very beautiful was also the final room, where you had to turn off the treadmills, so you can release the prisoner. There are also the many interesting tasks and the, with the help from the wind mills, very wide jump, which one have to time exatly if he should succeed. And of course I must still mention the successful flybys.
To make it short: This level is an all-round carefree package with which the inclined player gets more than 2 hours of pure play enjoyment." - Scottie (13-Sep-2011)

"This level got off to a bad start for me. Before you do anything you have the opportunity to go for a secret (and the only weapon you'll find in the game, although you don't really need it because there are so few enemies in the level). The only problem is, the secret is beyond a crawlspace that you can detect only with considerable effort, even when you know exactly where it is. And then, it's vitually impossible to reach it because of the geography of the area beneath it. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, I accessed the area illegally and resorted liberally to similar extracurricular tactics for the remainder of the game. This is definitely not my kind of level, not only because of the excessive darkness throughout but because I have little patience for negotiating perilous jumps over lava just to reach a switch I must pull. Still, I have to admit that there are some nice touches here that mark this as the work product of a seasoned builder. The windmill effect was well conceived and executed, although I fell well short of the swingpole each time I tried to make the jump and finally resorted to a plane ticket. Sorry, Mr. Builder (or Ms., as the case may be), but that's just the way I'm wired. And I have to give the builder credit - he or she has made it difficult to progress even with cheating aids. That conveyor belt at the end was nothing short of sadistic. I finally conquered it by poising Lara in midair facing the jumpswitches, dropping her down to the belt and then using the sprint key to position her for a jump. Even at that it took me a number of tries. I finally made it to the finish trigger after nearly one and three quarter hours, with the assistance of Dutchy's walkthrough and the aforementioned cheats, and I was never more glad to be through playing a level. If you're a expert raider, this is the one for you. Otherwise, handle with care." - Phil (12-Sep-2011)

"This level starts in caves and then moves onto a sort of town area and a lava lake. The visuals are excellent and atmospheric throughout, with interesting lighting and lots of detail, including some non-standard use of objects to add to the theme and gameplay.
This level is on the challenging side, with some very tricky jumps and platform sequences. There are original aspects like the use of flames in the lava lake and an interesting secret involving a conveyor belt (one other secret is also quite creative). It feels lacking a little extra for me to give it a ten but I can't think of any particular flaws beyond that the lava lake could have maybe done with a little more varied gameplay beyond platforming and a fight. As I beta-tested this level I've seen it improve, and the finished level is one of the best in the contest." - Mman (11-Sep-2011)

"The progress is slow in this level and the gameplay consist mostly to search a small piece of land for the feets of Lara, unfortunately they are too big most of the time. Without a walkthrough, very hard to find the way to kill the icy-wraith and a flyby more explicit would be welcome in my view. The way to gain the "secret key" is original but seems randomness. I found also several packs of ammo, but no weapon, times are tough. Near the end, you'll need to jump on a pixel for rebound on another pixel, press the jump key for an unpredictable result can be fun, but for my part I found the interest limited." - Jerrod (08-Sep-2011)

"It is my absolutely favorit of this contest. Excellent gameplay - many different areas, very atmospheric - with excellent texturing and lighting, very intelligent riddles - with humour and absolutely mastery of levelbuilding. I love this level! Very much inspiration and imagination. The MUST-Level for all the player and builder." - masha (08-Sep-2011)

"This is not a level for the faint-hearted. The gameplay is good, very good, but will definitely test all but the best players. Not that other players will be unable to do it but there'll be lots of head scratching and cries of anguish before it's complete. That said, there's also a great sense of satisfaction in completing some of the puzzles and agility routes. The player starts in caverns and there is a choice of going up or down first. It doesn't matter which as both have to be done. Up takes you to a small square, bounce around the rooftops, complete some tasks, release a wraith. All easy to say, less easy to do. Or, go down into the bowels of the earth, blow it up and turn everything to lava. Find your way around, kill a dragon and get back. Simple? No, not at all, but very enjoyable. After you've done both there's a fun- run over some spikes and then a conveyor belt puzzle to get your fingers flying. Just over two hours of gameplay but a lot of re-loading, trying to find my way. Not many baddies but well placed. Great use of textures and, for the most part, really good and atmospheric lighting. The gameplay is challenging but always do-able. A 'must play' indeed." - Diz (06-Sep-2011)

"There's a lot going on in this level, much of it based on finding the correct route through rocky and/or lava-filled areas, although there is also a pretty little village area to explore. There are some neat puzzles and particularly nice use of certain enemies (wraiths and the dragon). It's really well made and good to look at, with effective contrast between the various areas and some spectacular flipmap effects. The conveyor belt and jump switch sequence at the end of the game is most inventive and a bit of a beast. Excellent game, but not one for the inexperienced player." - Jay (06-Sep-2011)

"One of the better levels in the contest, though uneven. For me, the good stuff was in the aboveground portion, where Lara gets to try out a treadmill exercise machine, her energetic sprinting producing an electric discharge. On the roof is a wind machine, a contraption with cylinders and propellers, and if Lara gets in front of it she will be propelled in a boosted flying leap. The flyby for this portion of the level shows a crow eyeing a key in a basket, and we know that crows like shiny things, and will sometimes steal them. Sure enough, the crow makes off, and the key ends up at the bottom of a hard-to-reach elevated tank. The boiler-valve puzzle is original. But some of this is hard to figure out. A wraith is released, and if Lara runs into a nearby pool it drives the wraith berserk, so it will zap the life out of her. At least that's what happened twice in my game. But if Lara runs up to that elevated tank, the wraith is neutralized, liquid turns to ice. Players had to make a connection that was lost on me. As for the starting cave sequence, I found it so dark that it was hard to think straight, so play sometimes felt counterintuitive. Lara kept trying to get by a block on a chain by jumping into leaves. Later Lara jumps out through that leaf patch, but she can't jump into it, which is awfully convenient for the builder. But it is worth it to muddle through the cave and lava pool. The scenic parts in the aboveground city make an original attempt to show a vision of a possible steampunk landscape, and the fanciful elements probably succeed better than any other level. Where this has a light touch and humor this works superbly. Two hours." - dmdibl (06-Sep-2011)

"The final part of this level may scare away more than one player xD. But that strategy requires more precision. It contains the best items from the BTB 2011. Fantastic puzzles!" - requiemsoul (05-Sep-2011)

"Beautiful architecture in the city part ,slipping and sliding in the caves area. Unnecessary pixel precise tasks in the final part spoil the fun in this game .A good game , but with a warning label." - Ruben (05-Sep-2011)

"This is a favourite of mine in the contest of this year. It's convincing in all aspects. It consists of four very atmospheric, beautiful basic areas: the main cave area, which connects the other three: a city yard embedded in hills, a huge lava cave and the final trip to rescue the famous Ninja Zudotakikato Takatojinkato. It's a shorter level in this contest of rather quite long levels, but nevertheless you really get everything good about TR, but in a bit harder way. So a little warning: If you don't like difficult jumps for instance, which you`ll find in the lava cave, you won't enjoy it as much as me. In the city area you`ll get two well craftet switch puzzle and a torch puzzle. I especially loved here the very original windmachine secret. In the main cave area you have to solve also a very well done pushable puzzle. And what is still missed, you`ll get in the end: some tough trap sequences. Because I can't fault also anything about lighting and texturing, this one is one of two levels, which gets all 10's from me in this contest." - Raymond (02-Sep-2011)

"I like the basic premise of this level and how it is neatly translated into the level design. There are plenty of wow moments, like when the mine area transforms into a lava cavern. Most of the gameplay is really great - there are some interesting switch puzzles in the city area, and a large number of tough but fun traps towards the end. On the other hand, some of the jumps in the lava area are not fun, as they seem to be based on luck rather than skill. The crate puzzle in the mine area is far too long, and if you mess up even one step, you may have to start from scratch. The method for getting the secret key for the wind machine is rather obscure (I got it only with some prodding by the builder). Enemies are mainly only the two wraiths and a dragon, which is just as well, as I didn't find any weapons in the entire level. Though the visuals are undoubtedly good, the unrelenting orangeness of the lighting in the city area and lava areas is a bit too much - by the end of these areas, I was beginning to feel I had orange-coloured glasses on! Objects are often very innovatively used - for example, I loved the way a two-click high pushable is used to enable Lara to get into a two-click high crawlspace; or the ladder that is climbable from both sides - both such simple things, yet so rarely seen in custom levels. Then there are the wrought iron arches that are used to create floating blocks, and the really cool wind machine (which is essentially useless, but still very impressive indeed!). The geometry is very good as well, especially the dragon-head-shaped formation in the lava area. Overall: In spite of a few minor flaws, this is mostly a great level and a very impressive entry in this year's BtB. Recommended." - Mytly (02-Sep-2011)

"I haven't played all the BTB 2011 Steampunk levels, but I'm pretty sure this one will be one of the winners. The creativity was amazing; I was stunned when I got the secret key to activate the wind machine. The environment was really well decorated and the contrast between the garden and the cave was remarkably good. All the puzzles were marvelous and each one was different and unique. At the very beginning of the level, when you get to the top and you have to crawl across the little hole in the wall but you cannot simply reach it and you have to use the table to make it, I laughed a lot because I always thought it was somehow ridiculous that Lara could do so many things but was not able to go through it (I completely love your solution. The fire spirit was fairly tricky, I thought it was not reasonalbe that you had to make it dissapear crossing that particular place of the river, because otherwise it killed you. In the underground area I still don't know how I was supposed to reach the lever at the top. I managed to swing to it using the grates, but I'm sure the must be other way. Unfortunately I missed part of the game because of this fact. However I got to the burning place. I was pretty frustrated sometimes because it was hard to see the way, so many slopes and not many places to land safely, but once you know where you have to go, it was easy (moreless). However, there are quite a lot of tricky jumps all over the level. The end of the level was glorious, it almost seemed a ''game'' to me. In spite of that, the final cutscene was rather odd." - Minaru (29-Aug-2011)

"I get the feeling I picked the most difficult of this year's entry to start off Back to Basics, though this really is a well-constructed entry sure to be one of the top contenders. I liked that the story provided with the level is presented throughout the level itself through the use of the wraiths and how they interact with the level's environment. Speaking of which, the environment is expertly crafted with organic caves and an authentic looking town at sunset. The lighting and fog touches help a lot in making this a very pretty level. Finally for the gameplay. I'll admit I was lost quite a bit in here, and there were confusing parts. The initial push-block puzzle to get the cage out takes some time to figure out, and while a thought-engaging puzzle, it slowed the level down for me some. Once out in the large lava area is a guessing-game of sorts to figure out which way the slopes are angled to reach a higher level of the area. Solving the dragon fight is a lot more obvious than I thought it would be, though that's not the level's fault, rather it was me not thinking outside the box more. Though with these trials out of the way, the level features nice exploration, a boiler-room puzzle, a surreal flooding sequence, and it finishes up with devious spike traps, smashing pistons, and crazy conveyor belts. Overall I enjoyed this, and if there's a Volume 2 in the works I'm looking forward to it." - Relic Hunter (28-Aug-2011)
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