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Level: Harmony Around a Red Star (Prologue) - The Hidden Lair back home search
Author(s): Bigfoot
total rating:9.23 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Daffy 10 10 10 10
DJ Full 8 8 10 9
dmdibl 9 9 10 10
Drakan 10 10 10 10
eRIC 8 8 9 9
eTux 7 8 10 8
Jay 9 9 10 10
Jorge22 10 9 9 9
Jose 9 9 10 10
Josey 8 7 9 7
Kosmos 10 10 10 10
manarch2 9 9 9 9
Mister-B 10 10 10 10
Phil 9 9 10 9
category averages
(14 reviews)
9.00 8.93 9.71 9.29

Reviewer's comments

"Finally got my hands tidally locked with Sylvain's flagship and had identical remarks as for The Bloody Sun: it's technically perfect except wrong magentas, but familiar assets can't fulfill a topic crying for new elements - I began encouraged by upcoming expert bonus, then often felt like in Steampunk Peru. With this handled, the final game will surpass all Bigfoot works so he shall return here to play full-scale harmony - and here I can help." - DJ Full (15-Mar-2017)

"My usual complaints with levels that attempt to be other- wordly is that they don't go far enough in exploring the concepts they dabble with, so they end up being pretty mundane Tomb Raider levels with maybe all but an unorthodox choice of textures. This level, while combining fairly familiar influences (the Peru & Steampunk BtB wads, a house setting, caves) in an inventive manner, actually manages to do very well in what the scientifiction & fantasy circles would call "world building". You only get a few fly-bys, a few pictures, a globe puzzle ala TR4's "The Lost Library," and of course Masurao himself to go on to intuit the what this particular world is about, but it is effective in its terseness and leaves you with a desire to explore more of it. Despite the wonderful richness of background information about the world, I was never really sure what the level was supposed to be about or feel like in the more traditional interpretation of the atmosphere category (is Masurao breaking into someone's den? Is this his equivalent of Lara's home?), and some texture choices conflicted a bit with the overall high detail level the rest of the settings provide here - namely the walk-through curtains, and the flat battlements in the outside areas which made it feel like playing within a diorama. But ultimately the intriguing new world to explore triumphs whatever minor quips one might have about the finer details. Yet I found my impressions of gameplay to be the inverse of those I had for the level's aesthetics. I rather enjoyed the "details" - i.e. some of the tasks in their own right - the timed runs, the hunt for secrets, the challenges of the bonus level, use of traps - but found the overall structure of the level to be too mazelike, haphazard and ultimately boiling down to just hunting down the next one of a series of switches. Case in point being finding the decorative element you have to hunt down after finding the pistols, which I would not have guessed was way back in the mirror room (which I thought I was done with at this point, so the backtracking felt a bit self-serving) judging by the camera hint. If you don't set out to hunt for the secrets, it actually should be doable without much outside help, and is fun to play in its own right - I just would've appreciated a more focused approach instead of being sent all over the rather labyrinthine habitat. While the following didn't affect my ratings - I feel the author missed an opportunity to set Masurao somehow apart from Lara as a playable character. Had he done so, this also might have aligned well with the so far excellent world-building attempts of the author - via introducing some unique gameplay characteristics (to name some possible examples: for something more radical - different gravity strength, for more subtle touches - making Masurao a more able swimmer, giving some additional moves, or making him less capable in jumping, the list could go on). Not having this certainly wasn't a game breaker - but the possible scenarios could've been pretty exciting, if done well. Even so - I rather enjoyed my 80 minutes spent here, and am looking forward to wherever the follow up will take us to. Recommended for sci-fi fans." - eTux (25-Mar-2013)

"I started this game weeks ago , and after a while not making much progress in this environement that had a maze-like feeling , put it aside. The walkthrough helped me to get restarted at last, then I got accustomed somehow to the thorough exploration that has to be done here in this intricate little world. The level is quite good , obviously a lot of care has been put into it , with some good puzzles and a couple of actions that are not very taxing on the agility skills but provides a bit of fun. Texturing is faultess , lighting pleasant , architecture not grandiose but quite well done , flys-bys well rounded a bit on the showy side. The secrets is really a plus in this level. If I had some criticism it would be there is too many objects for the décor of the rooms , and the many curtains were annoying. Well done level anyway , lacking a bit of punch and of surprises, but offering a couple of hours of quiet raiding." - eRIC (22-Sep-2012)

"Another beautiful level of Bigfoot. After on its first level btbsteampunk which was already very good, it has done still very well for his second. It is a non-linear level, you can start several tasks at once but in the end you still missing a key to continue. One must well look. You must find two relics to finish the level but you must found before 3 eggs for the second relic. There are 3 secrets at find to access to the short bonus level, but it is very technical to reach the final boss. Congratulations SYlvain and soon for the next." - Drakan (21-Sep-2012)

"This builder has burst upon the scene like Venus from the half shell, although that may be a poor analogy in view of the fact that his levels released to date have a distinctive Martian flair. I waited for the walkthrough before tackling this one, and that was a wise decision. The complexity of this adventure is such that I would never dream of starting it unassisted. There are a few timed runs in the main portion that taxed my limited abilities, but I was able to conquer them all with perseverance. I went for all the secrets, as documented in Dutchy's walkthrough, to qualify for the bonus level. That about did me in, but with the help of Dutchy's posted savegames and his very helpful videos, I managed to get through to the end. It was a rewarding raid indeed, one that most players will find quite challenging. High recommendations." - Phil (23-Aug-2012)

"Right, it may be a prologue but certainly not a small one, plus it's pretty ingenious and inventive, that is what stands out the most. Nice decor, no visible flaws, great puzzles and challenges (the one with the torch after the teleportation might be a bit too tough). I don't particularly like this Lara incarnation but one gets used to it quicklyand it's all good. Nothing seems to be lacking here. Pretty good really." - Jorge22 (18-Jul-2012)

"Perhaps it's not fair to review this level, because I didn't find 2 secrets, and couldn't play the bonus level; so, my knowledge is not complete. Nevertheless, the game rating was so high that I felt compelled to add my review, because other builders have done better levels not so highly rewarded. Don't mistake me: it's a very good game, and I take my hat to the builder, and add my sincere thanks to him. But the game is dark and confusing (all those blue curtains!), with quite a lot of backtracking. The puzzles were simple, and as to the tasks, the only real difficulty I found was a series of jumps by ramps starting with a spike ledge. (A little later, when the spikes were abolished, I had no jump difficulty.) Sound & Cameras were a strong point, and the watery places were very lovely. I wish I could say the same as to the furniture and "sky/ceiling" textures; those certainly could be bettered. Also, I don't agree with Jose as to the lack of enemies, because I found this very nice, for a change; enemies are not mandatory in a game, and here they certainly weren't necessary to spice the things, for they were already spiced. All in all, a recommended game. I only wish that could be Lara instead of that monster, but taste is taste... and I certainly await the continuation." - Josey (14-Jul-2012)

"I rather like playing as the Masurao character – love the tail; it looks so cute when he crawls. The other-world atmosphere is subtly and cleverly done and really most effective. Gameplay involves a great deal of exploration as there’s a lot of ground to cover and remembering your route to different areas can be problematic. There are many interesting and occasionally fairly challenging tasks to accomplish, including some fun timed runs (not too tight), well thought out torch work and a nicely reworked planets puzzle. There are no enemies, but I found the challenge of working out where to go and what to do next quite absorbing enough without anything ambushing me from the shadows. I only found two of the three secrets so was unable to access the bonus level, but from reading the description of said level, it may be just as well as it appears to be aimed squarely at expert raiders. Super level and I can’t wait for the next part." - Jay (14-Jul-2012)

"Even if my scores don't show a progression in the quality of the builder's work, I think after his debut with the BtB participation he has learned a lot and comes up with a even more enjoyable and highly atmopsheric game. Still, it seems to me the scores are a tad too high for this level. What you get here is a extensive and involved adventure combining mansion, castle and cave settings very well. I loved the great architecture in this level with all those peeks through windows to previously explored or yet-to-come areas; even if the settings are diverse this never feels unrealistic as the builder obviously carefully combined those areas with nice transition elements like the balcony surrounded by two pools or the railway going down into the cave. There still were a lot of BtB objects implemented in this level which works rather well and together with the new objects, the splendid texturing and great audio they formed a quite well level. In my opinion some of the rather old style elements (especially the plethora of armchairs and the half-transparent walkthrough curtains) didn't fit so much to the high resulution BtB objects and created a strange hodgepodge in the interior rooms, but who cares much. Also, a few enemies wouldn't have been so bad (there is not a single one in the whole level). What I really did not like was the thin texturing at the top of the outside rooms - this obviously looked like the end of the map which can be avoided easily by expanding the roof by a few squares. The gameplay may be confusing at first if you don't watch the starting flyby carefully and miss out on a very obscurely hidden key, not to forget being exposed to a quite huge map directly from the start, but as soon as you found a way into this level it actually flows rather smoothly with a lot of clever decisions that made this game really be worth every second. Only to name a few - the great usage of the torch through multiple areas interlinked by transporters (we are on a different planet, so ...) or the freshly designed planet puzzle; add to these a lot of fun classic elements as the mirror room and quite demanding timed runs and pushblock sequences with a little twist. There were a lot of camera hints generously placed by the builder and I did not often got stuck in this level, maybe the camera shot after finding the pistols could be a little more clear as I ran around helplessly trying to find that shootable item. The three secrets were extremely well hidden (if you ask me, they are some of the best hidden secrets I have encountered, as getting them requires a lot of careful observation and logic thinking. But well, playing a Taras level can improve secret hunting a lot ;), and indeed I found all of them - getting access to a ultra-short bonus level at the end lasting only five minutes and as stated by the builder the course is indeed very hard as it mostly is about tricky jumping from one breakable, spiked or sinking tile to the next, also with a quite over-hard curve jump and a slightly annoying boss fight - I wished the builder at least provided one harder weapon for it - but as this is a bonus level and the builder did warn us players, I found this to be a welcome addition. All in all this is a brilliant warm-up for the upcoming series and we can only hope Sylvain finishes it soon. As said before, this level is really good (and would fit perfectly in the full version howsoever it will be if it was included in it) but as a standalone game it really misses the "certain something" for me to rate it with top marks. Finished in 1:35 hours." - manarch2 (06-Jul-2012)

"I had the pleasure to test this magnificent level built by Sylvain, The nonlinear gameplay requires a lot of research and also to have a good memory, for my part I confess myself to be often lost. There are quite a few originals Shoot 'em up and they are very well placed in terms of the game, the scenery and atmosphere of the level is just perfect and worthy of a builder who has extensive experience of the editor. This is only the second level of the author and, I'm really impressed and appreciative. Congratulations and thank you Sylvain for this great job!" - Daffy (05-Jul-2012)

"Essentially a very good house level on the planet Harmon'y, which circles a red dwarf star, and featuring the red and tailed Masurao who we know from other levels. This level is notable for creating a sense of an alien environment, and it's hard to know how the author did that. There is muted lighting, and pushing planet objects around, and star textures, and the main alien protagonist to convince us we are on Harmon'y, but really there are a lot of ordinary objects like couches and lamps, and familiar element puzzles and keys. Yet it all works. The house layout is at first confusing, making for disorientation, but play picks up as tasks and goals become increasingly clear. I enjoyed this a lot. As with many house levels, missing a single clue or key, even when they are more or less evident, can lead to hours of revisiting areas and searching. Yes, I did miss a mirror clue, but potential problems are kept to a minimum. The initial flyby even shows where a couple of keys are. The various timed runs are just about right for all sorts of players, and puzzles are designed to make players feel smart for figuring them out. I could have used a few less draperies or curtains, as it's hard to see for several seconds after Masurao goes through them, and one always suspects that there is a trap waiting just beyond. There could generally have been more openness, as rooms are crowded and even an outside area may have screening trees. The secrets are quite good, especially the third and final one. For finding all secrets there is a bonus level, which really should have been called a challenge level. I was expecting an attractive short level, maybe an alien machine, or something more about Harmon'y culture or history, but play is all about sinking tiles--not my favorite--in what looks like molten gold, and tricking players into thinking they are landing on a safe tile when they aren't. After a lot grumbling you finally confront an enemy, the first ever to appear, but since Masurao has only pistols I assumed this was a demigod and could be disposed off with the usual method. For reward there is a Sacred Gem. Some players will delight in these challenges, but I was glad that none of this invaded the main level. Despite accolades for the bonus level, I frankly think many players would be happier skipping it. In all aspects this is a thoroughly professional work, with good puzzles, and outstanding design and environment." - dmdibl (05-Jul-2012)

"About the gameplay I have to say that Masurao have access to a lot of areas once you start the level, but often he have not the necessary items in his backpack so you reach dead ends easily and it involves a lot of backtracking. On the other hand I have to say that there are good and interesting puzzles and tasks are not so hard at all, except in the bonus level which is very hard, not for beginners. I don't know why the author didn't think about placing some enemies here and there to make the level more complete and give some more action. The secrets are not hard to find and gave a nice touch to the whole game. There's a good atmosphere, convincing architecture, good use of the cameras, well applied textures and an environment according to the story. Really a level worth to play. Good work!" - Jose (04-Jul-2012)

"This is an excellent prologue, which forms part of a futuristic set. We are immersed in the house of an inhabitant of the planet Harmony, in a very well thought old-fashioned design. Textures are carefully chosen and well placed. Lightings are perfect. Rooms of the house are connected with skill, so we get lost easily at the beginning. But even if there is backtracking, it's a real pleasure to walk throught this place. Some rooms are built under the water surface, others overlook the outdoor rooms. Then we discover gardens, rather dark and cradled by the mysterious light of the Red Star. I liked the planetarium, which gives us an astronomy course about Harmony. Some timeruns spice up the gameplay, although the main difficulty of this one rather lies in the fact of not missing some details (items or secret passages). Fortunately flybies and cameras are here to give us clues. If collecting the three secrets, having access to a lovely bonus level, rather technical but which consitutes an excellent extension to this level. I look forward to see more of this adventure. Very original. Great work !" - Kosmos (04-Jul-2012)

"This is another classic in the making. Unfortunately this is only the first installment and I can't wait for more. Absolutely everything is perfect in this level. There is also everything a raider could hope for in a level Keys, switches, jumps timed runs etc. Total time taked about 2 hours." - Mister-B (03-Jul-2012)
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