Level: Once Upon A Time back home search
Author(s): Greywolf
total rating:7.81 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
DJ Full 7 8 9 9
dmdibl 7 8 9 8
Gerty 7 7 6 7
Jay 8 7 8 8
JesseG 7 9 8 8
Jorge22 8 7 7 7
Jose 7 7 8 8
manarch2 7 8 9 8
MichaelP 7 8 8 8
misho98 8 8 9 8
Phil 9 8 8 9
Ryan 7 8 8 8
category averages
(12 reviews)
7.42 7.75 8.08 8.00

Reviewer's comments

"This is certainly a quirky raid and quite different too, but the overall concept it displays wasn't really to my liking. Essentially, you get a hub room with seven different routes branching off it and then a final "proper" level, then the finish trigger. Fair enough, but when you finish one of the routes, you get taken straight to the Prison of Easter level, rather than having the opportunity to go back to the hub and explore further. To see everything, you have to reload a save from the hub room and choose your next pathThis is the main problem with this otherwise unique set of levels: too much repetition. I chose to play half of the routes to avoid too much tedium setting in, but I still felt it went on a bit too long (and I couldn't make one particular tricky jump after numerous tries, so I unashamedly used the corner bug just to move along). If you choose to play everything, you can expect to spend around three hours solving a few neat puzzles, timed challenges and a bit of underwater exploration, all in quite pleasant surroundings. For me, it was definitely a good idea, but it outstayed its welcome." - Ryan (24-Oct-2018)

"The setting is another beauty in Greywolf style but unfortunately the puzzles also are, so I had enough after one hour - so many switches, trials, errors, one hint is readable in multiple ways, another riddle seems to require deciphering an unknown alphabet... There's even a pushblock enigma which demands finding a new switch combo between each push. It's something a quantum physics doctor may comprehend but a simple dumb man like me is just unable to enjoy, despite of the great unique factor included. A whole separate trouble is including pushable wall fragments without flares to differ them from the rest of the wall, whyyyy?!? SUMMARY: A guaranteed "Stuck in Beauty", another of many by Grey I just couldn't beat without the walkthru." - DJ Full (05-Apr-2017)

"An attempt at doing something a little differently, but for me it did not quite play out. Why would I only choose one of the seven routes when I play this adventure and ignore the other six that the builder has also put a lot of effort into? Hence, I had to essentially play this level seven times (sort of) and with each time I was Kind of hoping for the end to come sooner rather than later. I think this would have worked much better with the hub level being a true hub that you come back to and then the final Level really being only the final stretch after everything else. So, if you play all the pieces you get easily 2.5 hours of net game time here with a few clever puzzles, quite a bit of pushing things around and swimming through long tunnels, as well as the occasional timed sequence. Door 3 and Door 7 hold the most substantial parts, the latter essentially being the previously released demo. All in all there are I think 14 secret roses to be found, so that is a nice side quest for those interested secrets as well. In summary, a very solid effort but somewhat disjointed as the new concept did not work very well for me." - MichaelP (13-May-2015)

"This level for sure is a novelty although I didn't enjoyed some of it. Rather unfair to have pushable blocks that are very well blended in and you cannot recognize as such without flares and of course there are no flares. Apart from some objects the only thing you find are medipacks and sometimes you do need those. Every room has a different story and they all end up in the Prison of Eastern level. The only enemy here are two wolves but you can avoid those pretty easy, and in the last one is a bull, but one never could kill that one anyway. I felt pity for the dragon, being cooped up in a dark and narrow cave. So this is not the exploring kind, more to avoid traps and do some jumping. Lots of pushing though. So you can do one adventure or you can do them all, it is up to you." - Gerty (06-Dec-2012)

"Very interesting level. I checked what's in it in all the doors and no one is disspaointing. It's cool that any player can choose the path that he/she wants but they are missing a lot because all of the rooms are different. The first door introduced us to a brautifully textured outside area + an original translating puzzle. The second one was kinda weird. Was that the ocean? Anyway, the main puzzle in this area was to raise the dragon statue in the upper floor. It took me a lot of time to do it, but it was very satisfying when I was finished. Also those fish swiming in the area were weird, but everything looked magical thanks to them. The third doors contained two original puzzles. One in pushblocks textured with flowers and the other one with the levers and the note. The timed raising block can be very hard but it was entertaining. The fourth door was the most suprasing, I'll let players to check it out by themselves. The fifth door is maybe my favorite. I enjoyed going behind the pictures and exploring the valleys. The puzzle with the torch was very interesting and really made me think. The sixth door was good but not better than the others. Some pushblock puzzles, walking on a tigh rope, swiming and using the mechanical bug. The idea with the map was pretty good but it was too small. The seventh door was the big from the demo. It was very entertaining, I loved it. Those textures really gave it a magic feelling. It looked like you can flip rooms in order to gain access to other places but sadly it never happened. After this I can finally continue to the second level. Beautifully textured and lightened bug the first part of the gameplay is nothing special. Some underwater levers and mazes. Then the bit with the floathing islands was amazing. You go to meet the bull and then the game ends faster than I thought. Recommended!" - misho98 (11-Aug-2012)

"Indeed a curious release. You begin in a hub level (called Inside the Magic Gem) that's not really a hub level, because when you finish the tasks behind any one of seven doors there, you're not taken back to your starting point but to the concluding level (called The Prison of Easter). In order to experience all of the provided gameplay, you need to keep a savegame handy where you're facing the seven doors and start from scratch each time. For this reason you can't rely on a cumulative clock to determine how much total time you've taken, but I daresay I spent a good four to five hours here, even with the help of manarch2's excellent walkthough. You start and finish with the sense that these levels have been compiled with the Complex Simplicity package, but in between I saw little resemblance to that fine series. You have a Young Lara, which means no weapons, but there are no enemies (except for a few wolves and a bull near the end that you couldn't kill anyway). No flares, but there's plenty of light so you don't need them. I question the builder's decision to set up these levels so that they have to be played piecemeal (if at all, as several of the early reviewers apparently bypassed much of the gameplay), but I allow for the possibility of limitations in the game engine. Anyway, this is a most varied and complex raid that I found quite invigorating. There was only one gamestopping moment for me - a long curving jump out of an alcove that I was never able to master, so I had to resort to manarch2's provided savegame. This one will probably never attain classic status, but I'm surprised that the scores to date aren't higher than they are. Recommended for a refreshing change of pace." - Phil (18-Jul-2012)

"For too long I have not raided after starting the work life, and what a relaxing way back in. I'm not entirely sure why the author decided to make seven segments where you only have to finish one, but it does add a high level of variety between player experiences. I ended up choosing the path that brought me into a 3D Picasso painting that had my head spinning at first. There were some nice puzzles, but I feel they were lacking in feedback, especially the one with the four dragons. At one point I took one of the pieces and brought it to literally every tile on the floor, and still the level did not give me a clue as to when I was on the right track. So it would be nice if there was more thinking and less guesswork involved. I did enjoy the serpent flames puzzle and ended up using Soul's strategy to think the answer through. The levels were very decorative and textured pretty well, except some places, like the Picasso room, were a bit wallpapered (admittedly, it would be hard to pull off that kind of room otherwise). There were some cute cutscenes, particularly the ending. I am a bit surprised at the low ratings, but maybe I happened to take one of the better routes. If any forthcoming players are curious, I took route seven, first door on the left when you enter the chamber. Finished in 55 minutes." - SSJ6Wolf (11-Jul-2012)

"The concept is good but flawed. Create seven small branching levels which will be varied in puzzles and content. Some are only a few minutes (one dumps Lara into a dragon's lair and leaves her there), while others are genuine short levels with difficult jumps, or swimming through a huge cavern containing a massive dragon head. All levels have whimsical features: the initial demo, which is now the seventh door, has an M. C. Escher inspiration. After each of these levels Lara is transported to The Prison of Easter. And that is the first problem. Many players may only try a single one of the seven doors in the magic gem. Players have to know to make a savegame here, then when Lara completes a level, restore the game back to the magic gem to select the next door. And so forth until all seven doors have opened, and only then go to the concluding level. Played this way, everything that Lara accomplishes in a level is lost, such as pickups and secrets found. This removes a certain incentive. And played this way there is a growing similarity between branching levels. In the demo Lara pushed dragons statues to opposite sides of a square. In another level she pushes blocks around to opposite sides of a square to expose hidden flower textures. There is lots of pushing blocks or dragon statues. The demo had a short tightrope walk and it seemed impossible to correct Lara's balance--once she started to fall, there was no way to save her. Now in another level there is a tightrope that is twice as long, with the same maddening inability to correct Lara's balance. In the demo one could avoid pole swings in a fire emitter room just by doing tasks in a different order; now in other levels it helps play if one is prescient (or read the walkthrough by manarch2). Then there is the concluding level. For most players this is the highlight, with a princess locked in a high tower, and floating islands that are rich in trees and greenery. On my computer I found this almost impossible to play as this has a similar horrid drag as another Easter level. Lara struggled to make a simple jump, and here there is a timed run over pillars. I won't criticize the level on this account, as other reviewers didn't mention any problems. But it seemed to me that much whimsy is lost when Lara has to locate a key hidden in flowers throughout a large landscape. There are nice ending flybys. The fairy tale elements make for unifying themes, there are some good graphics. If my computer handled the last level I might have enjoyed it more." - dmdibl (02-Jul-2012)

"What you get here is a huge levelset of more than three hours of net gameplay time that is quite ambitious in its unique concept but somehow fell short because of some odd and (in my opinion) unnecessary choices the builder has made that elseway would have made the game much more interesting. So you arrive in the central hub room with nice 70's and 80's sound usage right from the start -I am not sure if "The Riddle" was deliberately used for this level... There were a total of seven paths to explore - some of them more longer, some not - most of them that eventually lead together in the Prison of Easter level. So if you choose a path you can actually finish this game without having to do all other parts - this is not a very good setup in my opinion, since it takes away all the thrill of this level and also makes it unnecessary to enjoy all gameplay aspects of this level. I am also sure that no-one tries finishing the prison level more than twice. But leaving away all those things - behind the for me rather uneven concept there were a lot of nice things to explore in this levelset - all levels had a basic theme that - instead of the levelstructure - hold the level together and some of the rooms were really eye-candy, as the blueish waterfall area, the outstanding prison level with all its floating islands and warm atmosphere or the large underwater caves. The gameplay seems to be quite puzzle and exploration based for most of the paths, often with really cute ideas like the pitch corridor, the flower puzzle, the translating puzzle that took me a while to figure out, the timed run that involves a rather unique double usage of a pushable and overall good implementation of text messages in the game. Nonetheless there also were a few rather rough mistakes in gameplay design that easily could be avoided, such as overly long and slowly becoming dull block puzzles, some rather buggy puzzles as the sun lever puzzle, not well marked ladders, partly too much backtracking and a few missing (or rather not helpful) camera hints. All in all this levelset stands out mostly for the well working puzzles that often were fun to accomplish and also for diverse settings that still were coherent to themselves, but as I said there could have been much more up with this game. Found 9 of 14 secrets." - manarch2 (24-Jun-2012)

"This quirky little level is split into two parts - Inside the Magic Gem, which I reviewed when it came out as a demo, and Prison of Easter, which I shall concentrate on now. Whilst the demo was released as an Easter level, it was hard to see any connection, but this new part has much more the feel, being light, bright and lovely - rolling, grass covered hills, abundant flowers, inviting lakes and an imposing tower, give a slightly fairytale atmosphere, plus it's young Lara, so no guns and no enemies. There's a few underwater passages to explore, including a maze which isn't nearly as bad as it first appears, and islands in the sky, plus a timed run, but it's readily achievable. All in all, it's a very sweet level (even the wretched bull was quite co-operative for once) and it's not every day Lara gets to rescue Easter in the form of a princess in a tower." - Jay (16-Jun-2012)

"In the readme file you can see that you can choose several different paths, so I think I missed a lot of gameplay 'cause I've only played a copuple of short levels. Perhaps using another combination in the room with five switches you can access to another areas and finish the game through another ways, but finally I freed the princess so I think the game is finished. What I could play, is not very interesting, with some well-known tasks and not surprises, but enjoyable anyway. A nice environment, good musics (I love Mediterranean sundance) good flybies and a well worked video at the end. I don't know why the author doesn't force players to play all the routes." - Jose (15-Jun-2012)

"A short-ish two parts adventure that's nice for relaxing with Young Lara and occasionally listening to some nice songs (Led Zeppelin, the flamenco-like song...) and trying out occasional susprising paths. Nice textures with the odd cracks here and there and in the end a princess is freed from the castle and Lara wakes up to notice it was all a dream... or not. To be fully honest, somewhat average. But pleasant to play, so not at all undeserving." - Jorge22 (15-Jun-2012)
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