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Level: TR Forge Advent Calendar 2012 - Curse of Winter 2 (Demo) back home search
Author(s): Soul
total rating:9.22 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Akcy 10 10 9 10
Christian 9 9 10 10
DJ Full 10 10 9 9
dmdibl 9 9 10 9
eTux 9 8 8 9
Jay 9 10 9 9
Jose 9 8 10 9
manarch2 9 10 9 8
McRaider 8 8 9 10
MichaelP 7 8 10 10
Minaru 9 10 10 10
Mman 9 10 9 10
Mytly 9 10 9 10
Phil 8 9 10 10
Ryan 9 9 9 10
young Lara Croft 8 9 10 9
category averages
(16 reviews)
8.81 9.19 9.38 9.50

Reviewer's comments

"This is one stunningly crafted and challenging demo. I was able to get through the hard versions of the challenges after a few tries, although it may take less experienced raiders more. Lighting and texturing are faultless. The bright, snowy courtyard areas contrast well with the dim caverns. I liked the idea of breaking a pool that has frozen over (a side effect of the curse) and melting a block using a flame trap. I eagerly look forward to the finished product." - Ryan (05-Oct-2016)

"I must say this level is only for expert riders (only the hard way where you don't use the explosives). It is full of impossible jumps and slides (some of them literally almost imposible). I really had a hard time specially in one of the jumps where you depended more on luck than on your own hability. In addition, some places are pretty well hidden and they seem out of range, even with the walkthrough that I needed some times was difficult to understand which slope was the correct one. I had to watch the video on youtube to find my way through. I managed to find both frozen roses and keep all three explosives. It was good for a change, a real challenge. I noticed some bugs on the game (not really important), but the one that made my life easier was that you can actually reach the upper part of the game (where you are not supossed to be, because things are not even finished) if you jump from the floor where the first frozen rose is. I was able to go to the frozen lake jumping from that point on. Regarding the aesthetics, the landscapes were amazing. I was quite impressed by the frozen jungle , with its white purity and tranquility. I apreciate not having to kill anything unnecessary. To conclude it was a fantaztic adventure I would recommend to those seeking for a true challenge." - Minaru (02-Sep-2013)

"This is a must play for two reasons: One the absolutely stunning environment that has been created here and two the novel concept of allowing for alternative paths through the level to gain more points. An original idea, the only thing that spoiled it a bit for me was that I had expected the easy way through to be really easy, when it has a few jumps to master that will take even seasoned raiders quite a few attempts. And of course, it is a tad bit on the short side and makes you want to play in it so much more. Loved the details with the frozen animals and the concept of melting the block. So all in all, here is one of those few demos that we really would all want to see expanded on one of these days..." - MichaelP (28-Jul-2013)

"This level has the interesting concept of providing an easy way and a hard way, with the hard way requiring you to find ways around walls that are just blown up on the easy one. The theme is very original, with a frozen jungle (very different in itself) and multiple excellently used objects that are entirely new (and provide various hints as well) that are all pulled off convincingly. The only issue I had is that the relatively short length gave me the feeling the theme wasn't explored as much as it could be (which I decided to take away from the atmosphere score), however that will presumably be rectified in the finished version.
As I mentioned the overall length is quite short, and if you just take the easy route you could probably get through in 10-20 minutes the first time if you get through the puzzles fast enough. The hard route (especially if you add in the secrets) will make that double or more. The alternative routes are tough but there are always multiple clues as to the overall route to take, and I was able to work them out myself with some experimentation. On the other hand in my exploration I did come across the end of the world multiple times, even with pretty simple moves; in most levels I'd overlook that if it required some effort, however, as this level specifically adds an experts challenge (and is made by an expert player) being able to do something seemingly unintended sticks out (although exploring the various ruins and details on the outskirts of the map is actually pretty cool). As a demo this already shows loads of potential, and the full map/pack should be a new classic." - Mman (03-Jun-2013)

"Soul always trying to surprise the players with new tasks and new features. This time I've enjoyed this demo; really good with some tricky movements but doable gameplay anyway. I didn't need the walkthrough, but once finished I took a look and saw that I lost a good part of the gameplay. The environment is great, and there are some special touches players will like. Good architecture, perhaps I missed some enemies here and there, good use of the camera targets, flybies, cameras and sounds in general; also a good work with the textures. Looking forward for the final version. Please don't spoil the gameplay with too hard tasks; this is a very good line. Well done!" - Jose (28-Apr-2013)

"I gather levels like these have therapeutic value to self- proclaimed experts, either by making them more humble, having them renounce their expert's badge, or feeling all smug for mastering its challenges, depending on how expert these hypothetical experts' expertise is. I admit I did go for the hard routes and eventually managed to master them all (thus my scores and comments reflect that experience, unless noted otherwise), though I did so over a course of a number of days (while the actual net gaming was just about in the 35 to 40 minute range), stopping mid-way through the attempts to master some jumps to give my poor overwrought nerves a break. There's no denying that at their best the unconventional moves and grooves are wildly creative and consciousness-expanding, but at other times you conquer the hardships out of sheer perseverance and luck, which isn't very fulfilling, and certainly doesn't feel earned. One would have to be quite a presumptuous person indeed to feel that she's earned her luck, rotten or good for that matter, but I digress. "Curse of Winter 2" felt like a bit of both to me - though I didn't want to 'punish' the level for me possibly having missed out on a method, where I thought there was none - so I didn't really reflect this in my ratings. The only real gripe I have with the gameplay here is one I've had with other 'Japanese' levels before - that is, the ability to identify these challenging set-ups as such. It's a world of a difference in experience knowing what must be done, then trying to figure out how to do it - and treating every nook and cranny in a reasonably sizable area with suspicion, because you know there must be one of those impossible tasks lying around, and as a result - everything, even things that are meant to be, look like potential challenges. To be fair, this level actually fares rather well in comparison to the 'classical' expert's levels, but, especially in the organic outdoors areas (and particularly - the route to bypassing the 2nd ice wall) it occasionally is hard to differentiate between a mere geometric curiosity and the intended path to take, which I personally discovered after consulting the walkthrough. That put aside - there's very little to scoff at in the level: the fly-bys are fun to watch, the shock-frozen India constructed in loving detail (I love how this is a tribute to another custom level author's game - there's too little of this around, if anyone asks me) with wildlife forever petrified in whatever pose they were in before the impact, frozen foliage collapsing underneath Lara if she pushes her luck, and not to mention the intriguing ending. Do give the girl some more clothing next time round - I was freezing just watching her. Found 2 secrets, and avoided using all 3 explosives." - eTux (28-Feb-2013)

"This is probably the most visually appealing custom level I've ever played. The graphics, the lighting, the environs, all are presented with what I can only call professional competence. With the help of Manarch2's walkthrough I even managed the gymnastics necessary to avoid use of the first explosive wall. However, after numerous attempts to avoid the second wall, I gave up and then blew the damn thing to smithereens. Sometimes I question whether Soul should be renamed Seoul or something equally Oriental, as he seems to delight in putting difficult jumping sequences in his levels. To me, if something can't be done with reasonable persistence even when a walkthrough is telling you exactly what you need to do, something is lacking in the gameplay department, hence my score in that category. That minor gripe aside, I had a grand time in this nearly one-hour adventure, primarily because of the spectacular surroundings, and I certainly hope that the eventual full release is not just a figment of the builder's imagination. High recommendations." - Phil (19-Jan-2013)

"This is a demo and I would have liked to see the full game.Good exterior architecture, lights and textures.Gameplay is medium and can be finished in a few minutes, good job.." - McRaider (31-Dec-2012)

"The landscape is very well designed, not only is beautiful but challenging too, very hard to find the way to progress, well done. I especially liked that with the calendar points we are encouraged to find the harder path, nowdays when the general tendency is going towards easier games, even among custom level builders, a challenge like that is very much appreciated. The level is well lit and the color scheme fits together perfectly, a real eye-candy. I only missed some added music. Not particularly Xmassy, but a nice enemy-free winter level, and if this was the demo I can't wait the full thing, highly recommended." - Akcy (28-Dec-2012)

"Just a taster of things to come and very tasty it is too. The whole idea of the jungle cursed to eternal winter is interesting and makes for a rather unique setting, with frozen animals everywhere and some fascinating objects to interact with. Obviously, given the short length, a demo is always difficult to score as far as gameplay is concerned, but this is just so good that even in demo version I had to score it 9 - almost certainly the final version will be getting a 10 and I just can't wait to play it." - Jay (27-Dec-2012)

"This is a demo, so that explains why the screen goes black at the end for ominous final words, and the real reveal probably comes with the finished level. What players get is an attractive frozen Indian landscape, including frozen animals that deserve closer attention. There are really two ways to play this. My first time through was fairly straightforward exploration, where Lara finds explosives in order to break ice walls. Near the end dissolve an ice boulder over a fire, and make a few tricky jumps. Not bad, and the scenery is impressive. However, players will get a lot more out of this level, as I did on my second play, if they go looking for secrets. Players get higher points with this unique scoring system if they find explosives, but don't use them, instead find alternate routes around those ice wall blockades. In my case that meant getting up to a temple at the start, but this must have been an unintended route as there are many places untextured: holes in the floor, or backs of slopes. There are end of world views, but this route does work. I have to admit that I still haven't finished alternate tough jumps to collect maximum points. This is pretty much a level where players have a choice how much they want to get out of it. A must play." - dmdibl (27-Dec-2012)

"It's a demo. And it's a very, very promising one. India is frozen. The player can take an easier way by blowing three barriers into the air (always the easier one...) or find out more complex pathes to avoid this barriers. Needless to say that the player earns more points by choosing the 2nd way. Gameplay is quite creative; a frozen monkey may help you to use a frozen snake as a pole; A frozen cage has to be melt to become climbable. I'm absolutely shure, the full release will be another great game from this author. I can't await it and was a bit disappointed by it's abrupt ending." - Christian (26-Dec-2012)

"A gallery of frozen motion scenes from animal life (and death) opens in front of Your eyes as Lara proceeds through a suddenly frozen jungle. Seeing those snakes, monkeys and a tiger disturbed by a fatal curse without a warning is both hilarious and scary, what in combination produces magical. Considering this was made for Advent Calendar, one must know it's the first time in this contest when You DON'T have to rush for points - of course excluding Nonogram, notabene made by the same author, but that's a different case. I mean the usual advent raiding has its daily challenge finally merged with Xmas peace. The method for that might seem simple: bombs+secrets=points - but somehow no-one else have thought to replace a speedrun with pure observation and thinking. And it's really hard: You will WORK YOUR HEAD OUT to make Your way through. Jumps test Lara's abilities to maximum, so believe You can make something OR YOU WILL FAIL, mwahahah... I know there will be people to complain about places of 50+ attempts, but 1) those are parts of a harder, optional route and 2) I tried it, made it, all struggle has been rewarded and I've lost my will to whin before it even appeared. And in the end, a warning - if You play this right after Ghostbuster, You might get blind - OUCH! MY EYES! The author took an advice to not fear brightness, and he executed it surprisingly well. SUMMARY: Deep inside my heart I believe Soul will someday create a level that will non-discussably blow everyone away. He's rapidly getting closer to levelbuiding skill necessary for that, and soon the only thing he'll need to make it will be time." - DJ Full (25-Dec-2012)

"When I finished this demo, I was like 'what?...' I was surprised by the ending in a good way. I will be looking forward to the whole adventure when it will be released, I'm thinking that Soul knows what he's doing and I trust his skills, so I am on a lookout for the rest of the game. I have to say I liked the atmosphere and tone of the level. The gameplay was nice although a little bland a repetitive, but I'm sure there will be more to it in the future. The textures were nice and the level looked cursed and touched by frost so it was believable. The downside of it was that everything felt a little too flat, I thought that the stone and green wall textures were everywhere, I wanted diversity. There was one genius thing I thought worth mentioning and that's the snake swing." - young Lara Croft (25-Dec-2012)

"I think "CIL meets Reflection of Eternity" would quite fit as a sum-up of this level. A level from Soul cannot be anything else than hugely innovative, this being no exception. I simply loved the difference his games have from other levels, as he has a very own style of progression and plenty of technical knowledge and this combination is the difference between gameplaywise good and excellent levels. This one in particular lets the player decide three times between an easy and a hard route, the easy one being about using some dynamite you can find on your way, in the hard path however you need to find ways to not use the explosives on three walls, but find another way. Those hard ways include some jumps that can and will test the skill and endurance of even expert players to a maximum (thus the CIL part of the title). Having played TR since more than a decade, I would rather call me an expert player, and I really enjoyed finding the paths and performing the jumps; less skilled players will have a good time in this level too since the "easy" paths don't always include "only" using the explosives to destroy the wall, but also a very nice block puzzle that is well concieved, and the tasks that need to be done without any harder or easier path are still quite enjoyable as well, especially the most creative usage of a boulder. Apart from the good gameplay and excellent object usage, the appearance of this level is more than pleasing, with a very nice theme that was outstandingly put into the setting - the snow textures were really nice, as well as all those frozen flora and even fauna (all of the latter being actually cute hints for Lara). If I had one critisism here than it would be that the areas looked a bit simile to me but only texturewise, as some rocks are textured with effectively one texture. In general, the level would've benefited from a little more contrast; lighting was a little on the bland side althouth competently done (and the inside areas looked great in both texturing and lighting) and more music would have suited this level well, as most of it is pretty calm and some more dramatic sound would have been great. Since this is listed as a demo, I will also moan a little more than I usually would. There are several parts where you can face the end of the world easily, and also to non-textured walls that even aren't at the map's edge. This is not a large issue since the intended way won't lead you here, but you can find several non-intended ways to progress. Also you can spot the end the world here and there even if you are on the normal path, e.g. the area under the river, and up some of the rocks. Apart from that, I think the atmosphere is pretty fantastic and those thoughts I listed above are just existent because I hope the full version will just blow everything away (so I'm totally with DJ Full in that regard). Summarizingly I can say that not only the Levelbase, not only TR Forge did save the best for last, but it's lastly me who did exactly that, and the ever so slightly lower score has the reasons above mentioned without disturbing my opinion this is the most fun and creative single level I've played in a while, it's just that it is extremely short with 15 netgame minutes (but of course several hours if you train for all those hard path jumps). I found both secrets that were hidden in the style of the level, but in comparison rather easy. Highly recommended and I am alredy very curious for the full version." - manarch2 (25-Dec-2012)

"I'm a big fan of Soul's levels, and I think this one might be my favourite yet. Though it's 'only' a demo, there's plenty of great gameplay packed into this half-hour level. The idea of using explosives to open up new areas is nice enough in itself, but even nicer is the idea that you don't need to use them, i.e. you can find alternative routes to bypass the icy barriers. I must admit, I've found only one of the three alternative routes so far, but I'm still trying to find the other two. Apart from this, there's lots of climbing and exploring, including several tricky jumps, as well as a few cool puzzles, such as breaking the ice of a frozen lake and thawing a pushable block.
The objects are well used - teme9's trees are always a joy to see, even when they're covered in frost. There are no enemies - apparently the 'Curse of Winter' descended quite suddenly, as the poor animals are all frozen in mid-action. Instead of posing a danger to Lara, they help her by pointing out the way to proceed.
Lookswise, the level is gorgeous. The shades of white, icy blue and pale green make a lovely combination, and capture the chilly atmosphere perfectly. The lighting is a little on the bright side, but not too much so. The geometry of the natural areas is beautifully organic, and the ruined man-made structures are pleasantly complex. I just wish we could explore the little temple seen high up near the beginning.
If there are any flaws, it's that the organic terrain is a little too hard to traverse at times: quite often, it's impossible to tell where to go without jumping wildly and blindly in all directions, and hoping Lara finds a footing somewhere. A bit more music would have helped with the atmosphere. The end is pretty abrupt, though intriguing, and definitely left me eagerly anticipating the full version.
Overall: Highly recommended, though do try to maximize your 'Adventcalendar points' if you want to experience all that this level has to offer." - Mytly (24-Dec-2012)
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