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Level: Primeval Catacombs back home search
Author(s): Colin Benson
total rating:8.06 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
DJ Full 5 9 8 8
dmdibl 9 9 9 8
eRIC 7 7 6 8
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 6 8 9 8
manarch2 5 7 8 6
Phil 8 9 9 8
Relic Hunter 9 8 10 8
Ryan 7 8 8 8
category averages
(9 reviews)
7.33 8.33 8.56 8.00

Reviewer's comments

"This is a classic example of where less should quite probably have been more. It's certainly an enjoyable and lengthy game, but it a feeling of repetition begins to set in with the majority of the tasks. They may be varied, but a lot of them are also very longwinded, particularly the maze areas and the platforming puzzles, and it starts becoming wearying long before the finish trigger (which I crossed after seven hours of in game time), resulting in me getting a less positive impression of the whole thing than I should have done, and I was actually rather glad to have finished this first installment of a twin-level series. The lighting is also too gloomy in places, but you do get a bit of relief in the larger, brighter rooms which tend to have more tasks to accomplish. On the upside, the atmosphere wasn't half bad, texturing was perfectly competent and the music and flybys were nicely constructed. I suppose I could recommend it for those in the mood, but you'll undoubtedly need patience (and likely the walkthrough)." - Ryan (03-May-2019)

"WHAT in psiko's name has happened here. There are two possible explanations for this. The author is either bipolar, alternately caring about the player and not, or has at least 200 IQ but deliberately uses them to create evil in the purest form our engine allows. I legit noticed numerous moments with 10/10 atmosphere but 0/10 gameplay. It also happened the other way around, dark repetitive rooms but with inventive puzzles. Sometimes I encountered unique design but repeated in robotic fashion, and many corridor layouts in shape of a tree, pitchfork after pitchfork, and ideas recycled over and over, sequences, patterns and recycling of ideas just like if the person behind this level wasn't a human. I alternated between blessing and cursing this epic, wonderful, amazing and dreadful world I explored for over 70 kilometers, constantly asking myself why. I still have some secrets to find but I don't know if I want to..." - DJ Full (31-Oct-2018)

"I finished the builder's other mega release more than half a year ago, and it was definately a better choice to leave much time between playing those two levels, and also playing in (very) small doses, because all the problems Primordial Catacombs had are existent here as well - way too large and oversized levels, darkness, monotony in any regard. For a more detailed explanation see my notes for that level, because this one feels largely the same. It might be very subjectively, but I found some challenges in this game to be slightly more interesting - there seem to be a few more puzzles and challenging tasks -, and the lighting is handled a tad more player-friendly, while the atmosphere is still often breathtaking in several large-scale rooms, and only suffers from repetitiveness. Despite some good things, my only desire in here was to finish it as quickly as possible, and thus I skipped the search for the crystals and the secrets (it's perfectly possible to finish without the additional reserves) and finally did in 4:30 hours. Only recommended if you're in a pathetic mood and want to boost up pretty low review counts of long (and) forgotten games (and/or your own, by the way)." - manarch2 (01-Jan-2014)

"There is little explanation why my net gaming time for Primeval Catacombs (and only for the 4 first levels) is superior to Primordial Catacombs , as these games seem equivalent in terms of task quantities. There does not seem to be more backtracking or redoing there, well maybe I just tried to find more rewards this time [ 32 Fire 27 Earth 17 Air 27 Water crystals ]. Aside from the 5th level (which I have not replayed being the same in both games), the other levels are completely different in room design, tasks and puzzles, while the textures , atmosphere , enemies (I hate these dogs) and the gaming style are the same. Here also are majestic rooms and darker more intricate areas to navigate, a few traps and very original puzzles , in the midst of patient exploration. The second half of the first level is my favorite part of the set with a good timed door followed by an excellent original Infinata Eyes puzzle, then you get an enjoyable room to ascend with fire emitters , and even more fun a great descent in a pit using ledges and breakable tiles. I quite liked the concept of the 4 connecting rooms around a central area to retrieve 4 radiant gems in the 2nd level and the puzzle with pushing statues where you have to observe and think, or the very well made Magic room in the 3rd level. The whole 4th level where you raid two gigantic rooms with several levels of platforms introduced by a lovely flyby, with their adjacent rooms , is memorable, and not only because it was time consuming. In between you get big lava rooms , some mazes including one multidimensional glass maze, a few more timed tasks and other original puzzles , with more monotonous moments. Aside from the monotony , one small additional thing that does not work well (this was the case too in Primordial) is wraiths or little beetles hidden in shootable vases, there are not a lot of them but when it happens this is boring because the player just reloads a savegame to not having to deal with that. Another thing is that in a few places, you don't always know what you are after, you don't know how many key items you need to find. I decided to rate this level set like the first I played , the marks are maybe low when considering the immense and good work that went into the levels. If all the inventive puzzles and fun actions were isolated and put into a more compact game , I would certainly have rated higher. Can't say which one of the 2 games to recommend more , it may be just me but imo Primeval is a bit harder as there are a couple of challenging timed doors , and I don't recall timed doors or runs that gave me any trouble in Primordial. The technical quality in both games is high , some missing sfx sounds (in particular sound for the breakable tiles is a must !) is the only technical fault noticed." - eRIC (10-May-2013)

"After spent several hours to finish the first level I decided to use the walkthrough to finish the adventure (thank you D&G). There are good puzzles, tasks are not very hard, but there's a lot of exploration through very huge rooms and many times the backtracking is inevitable. The glass labyrinth was really a torture, and the excessive darkness in many areas slowed the gameplay a lot. Also I coudn't find a reason to pick up all those crystals. The best for me was the good use of the cameras always helping the player, and the well applied (but monotonous) textures. At the end I missed a big boss and that blood behind the closed door... Lara's blood or perhaps from the enemies? If you like the intensive exploration through the same places, this could be a good aventure for you." - Jose (25-Mar-2013)

"Here's another high-quality megaset that has been under-reviewed and -- as a logical inference -- underplayed as well. That's too bad, for there's a lot to enjoy here in the eight hours that it took for me to navigate all five levels. On the other hand, there's little to distinguish it from the builder's other megaset, Primordial Catacombs, which still has but one review (mine) since it was released several months ago. I suspect that the builder could have gotten much more mileage out of his hard work by releasing it here and there, one level at a time. I've always been partial to levels built with the catacombs wad, but even a good thing can be overdone. If you've already played Primordial, you know what to expect in Primeval -- complex and sprawling areas, both indoors and outdoors, with some mind-bending tasks to occupy your time and energy. There's really nothing here to tax one's playing skills, but it must have taken Dutchy eons to map out the gameplay and distill it down to an intelligible narrative in writing the walkthrough for both collections. I take off my hat to him, at the risk of exposing my baldness. If you play in small doses, the way I did, you'll have a good time and enjoy the well-lighted areas that usually follow the dark caves and mazes. Recommended." - Phil (03-Mar-2013)

"This is a serious professional effort to produce lengthy catacombs levels. The author seems at his best creating large-scale rooms; these can be spectacular. I remember that at the beginning some of these areas were rather dark, but as the game progresses the huge areas are usually the best lit sections, often with darker twisty side passages where the real action occurs. I wished that more of the play had been placed in the scenic, well-decorated, expansive areas, but too often these function as hubs. By level three or so it was the dark, maze-like side corridors or swimming tunnels that got to me. Throughout those Lara constantly held a flare in her hand (I gave her hundreds of extra flares; in an update the author has added flares to the levels). I am primarily marking down for excessively dark lighting in such sections. The trouble with any review is that it depends which level or which parts one is talking about. Play started out well with a number of varied tasks. In the first two levels there was climbing up a large shaft while trying to avoid fire emitters, and soon after a descent which involved long drops and break tiles, so that the way down required thought. To me those task were quite interesting. There was good swimming, and hunting for levers and ways to open doors. Yet also in the first level there was a long stretch with Lara jumping from one safe tile to another in two fire-trapped rooms, and that got old quickly. Sometimes the author doesn't know when enough is enough. A further example of good stuff is that at the beginning there is the added challenge of finding how to to deal with darkness, or how to contend with pesky skeletons. As in a previous release the author uses a reward system where if players find secret sapphires, then a gate can be unlocked to a roomful of goodies. Often there are about five secret sapphires (some well concealed) in a level, and the reward area will have eight locked gates, so players have to pick and choose pickups. At first choices are easy, as Lara got crucial binoculars (finally a way to look through large dark areas), and next a grenade gun to deal with bunches of skeletons. Finding sapphires is thus a real highlight throughout, but it is most effective when Lara is still eager for the best pickups. After binoculars and grenade gun, Lara probably wants to acquire revolver and laser sight, then maybe a crossbow. If players have done a good job collecting secrets, then Lara is well stocked by the end of level two, and then finding more sapphires becomes far less urgent, although it is a good idea to maintain a supply of explosive ammo. Similarly, I felt a waning interest in those dark maze-like areas in later levels; now they just seemed to protract playing time. The short last level is indeed repetitive, with the same idea beaten to death. I could compare these levels to a hefty Stephen King novel (both take about as long to get through). King can be a highly effective and powerful writer, but he doesn't seem to know how to cut out his own literary bloat in those sections that drag. Similarly in these levels, sometimes less would have been more. There is lots more that could be said--I haven't even talked about the riddles in the written wall puzzles--but I suspect that players will react differently to these levels, that favorite sections will be according to individual tastes. Play these yourself. Definitely recommended." - dmdibl (06-Dec-2012)

"Lara, the intrepid archaelogist who survived an Egyptian tomb, has passed - rest her glorious soul. But oh, what a huge ordeal she had to go through before finally meeting her mysterious murder! Five of the most intricate levels I've ever played, long, very long levels, all in the classical Tomb Raider style. The meaning of it all, undeserved finale aside, is I had no idea one could put together such a masterpiece of atmospheres (the wonderful lighting included in a few places together with the ultrarealistic total darkness coupled with a huge lack of flares in others), traps, mazes, puzzles, enemies (a go-go, namely in the fifth level and I was afraid I might not be able to finish) and all sorts of brilliant ideas scattered all over using basically classic Tomb Raider textures. This is so huge I can't even remember most of it anymore. But despite the high patience and proficiency degree demanded by this series, one thing I know for sure: it would probably be unfair not to rate this rather detailed, workful and inventive set with less than a perfect ten. Not that I didn't have to ponder a bit before rating it that high. But frankly, if the game may not be suited to each and everyone, I believe conceiving it and putting it into place as it is isn't for everyone either. I also enjoyed the hunt for the crystals (30 fire crystals, 26 earth crystals, 17 air crystals and 26 water crystals in the end) and the way the getting of the secrets worked. Very much so. Well done." - Jorge22 (07-Nov-2012)

"This is certainly a nice surprise! There really isn't much expected these days from levels that use the standard TR assets, and an entire level series set in catacomb environments might seem dull to some. However, Colin created some fantastic levels packed with classic raiding entertainment to keep me glued for the 7 hour duration of my stay in the Primeval Catacombs, along with an amusing meta- game of collecting the elemental crystals scattered throughout the adventure. Surely the total would be much longer if there was a way to link this series with the one released alongside it, the Primordial Catacombs. Part I - I'll admit that I wasn't too thrilled right off the bat starting this adventure. With an obscure push-puzzle at the start and standard hallways at the start, I was hopeful things got better later on, and they indeed got much better! Emerging from the beginning hallways to the large cavern with its central temple structure was certainly awesome, and then the level began opening up with entertaining gameplay. This part includes crossing large burning-floor rooms, dart- dodging, evading rolling boulders and burners on a quest to find four scrolls, some timed runs, and a few gauntlets of collapsible tiles. I also enjoyed the unique eye-room puzzle. The environments were nicely structured, giving the player well-built caves, as well as temple halls and corridors to run around in and explored. For the most part the lighting is done well and gives a nice atmosphere to go with the background music, though there are several pitch-black chambers and corridors. Normally this isn't such a big problem as the gameplay in those was simple, but the author was very scarce with placing flares in the level, especially with just four flares a pack. It made going through some of those very dark caves a little more frustrating than it needed to be. Most of the pick-up stashes are placed in closed chambers that can be opened with the well-hidden Secret Sapphires, so players that can find them will have an easier time in those dark places. As much as I enjoy timed runs, there was one in this part that was very, very tight and took nearly pixel-perfect movement to get through for me. Many other players seemed to have the same complaint about that timed run, and I think that maybe just one or two more seconds on that door would have made a positive difference. I enjoyed the variety in enemies, making each encounter with a pack of hell dogs, flying bugs, skeletons, and big scorpions a welcome change-of-pace. Part 2 - This part was quite a bit longer than the first part, and offered more puzzle elements than the first level. The level begins with a task to collect four gems that are obstructed by a series of doors that open and close with different levers, all while under attack by skeletons. Later it opens up to some wraith-chasing, a colloseum match with a pack of hell dogs, a head-spinning glass maze, and several pushing puzzles. There are also hidden switches around that open up doors to the secrets, some of which are guarded by extra puzzles. One of those involved using letter tiles to fill in some words, which I thought was a nice idea. There was more of exploring dark caves, though the lighting was a little brighter this time around and made the experience less frustrating. On the other hand, some of the enemy placement was a bit frustrating. In one of the dark caves there are multiple alcoves, and one had a novelty elemental crystal, and the other three had enemies in them, including a nasty fire wraith. It seemed a little unfair to punish the player for choosing wrong in a place where there's no hint to a right choice. One of the pushing puzzles suffered the same flaw - a trial-and-error puzzle where pushing an object into the wrong slot of four options resulted in dealing with skeletons. I found these flaws relatively minor since the level is overall fun to play. Good atmosphere and environments, cameras are always supplied when needed to finish the level, and there were also some challenging, but fair timed runs near the end that I enjoyed. Part 3 - I enjoyed this level the most. The level opens up with a trap-slide and a shoot-out with some enemies, along with a deadly boulder trap. It then opens up to a central hallway with columns supporting large platforms over a lava pit. Each hallway has side rooms that hold different gameplay tasks, like timed runs, switch puzzles, and some environmental exploration. The initial quest requires the player to find a key and two stone discs to open up the rest of the level, and then it moves to a quest to find four pillar objects to open up the exit. The greatest positive of this level was how smoothly it flowed from one area to another, and each area provided different gameplay. I encountered some pressured exploration with scarabs on my heels, lava rooms, a double- timed run, and a spike hallway that stood out most for me. I also enjoyed the segment of using a boulder to topple down a stone column. The environments continue to look excellent, and despite the few dark areas in the level, I found the sapphires easier to find and had enough flares that I didn't see many issues. Part 4 - The action now moves to exploring the secrets of two very large, impressively-built halls that are connected to various side rooms containing puzzle items. I really enjoyed the platforming in this part, and like the preceding levels there's a variety of tasks and exploration to do. This part involves searching for four eggs to open up the exit, and on the way there are keys and a two-part object to find. This part had a lot of swimming in it, and also a slightly tedious underwater maze, along with some rather dark rooms and crawlspace tunnels. The author also had a small tunnel with a strobe-light effect that was a little irritating on the eyes. On the other hand it had some good wraith-chasing, logic puzzles, and fun with slashing doors. There were several switch hunts in nice environments, and I liked the boulder ramps with the scorpions. It was very satisfying that they all lined up for me to get crushed by one boulder. Part 5 - As a finale I felt a little disappointed. There's still some decent platforming, but most of the gameplay here was a shooting festival. I start out with an egg, and among a room with many places to open a door with that one egg, I'll either get the next egg to move on to the next set of doors or I get a pack of enemies with another egg to try my luck at another door. The first several minutes of the level play out this way and I felt the author could have come up with something more fun. Later on the same concept occurred in the form of a switch hunt instead. However the environments still look top-notch and continue to exude the classic TR4 feeling. I liked the author's secret room, and I was also quite surprised by the unexpected ending. Overall, the improvement from the author's previous levels is apparent and gave my week some entertaining hours of quality raiding, all using mostly Catacombs textures too! That definitely shows that great levels can still be made with classic looks. If you're looking for something with a classic- feel and filled with quality raiding, I can definitely give this a recommendation." - Relic Hunter (03-Nov-2012)
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