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Level: BtB2013 - The Oath of the Icy Tower back home search
Author(s): jawi
total rating:8.67 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Andzia9 8 8 8 8
cho7 10 9 9 9
DJ Full 10 10 10 9
EssGee 9 9 9 10
Jay 8 8 9 9
JesseG 9 10 10 10
Jose 6 8 9 9
Josey 8 8 9 7
m.julien 9 8 10 10
Magnus 7 7 7 8
manarch2 7 7 10 8
Markus 7 8 9 8
MichaelP 9 8 9 10
Mman 9 9 10 9
Mytly 8 6 9 9
OverRaider 9 9 8 9
Phil 9 8 9 8
requiemsoul 8 9 9 9
Ryan 9 8 10 9
Soul 8 7 9 10
Treeble 9 8 10 10
category averages
(21 reviews)
8.38 8.19 9.14 8.95

Reviewer's comments

"A great entry to Btb2013. It involves making your way up a beautiful but imposing tower completing many tasks along the way. The enemies were slightly overwhelming. A recommended adventure." - Ryan (30-Jan-2016)

"My reviews for this BTB have been a little brief because I admit the levels have kind of blended together for me; some of them are very high quality (Septentrion and Ultimate Challenge in particular, which also transcended this issue somewhat), but they all felt lacking a certain something for me. I almost wondered if there was something about about the base theme that didn't resonate with me, but this level has the "It" I've felt the levels have been missing that makes me realise otherwise. A lot of the earlier levels have been going for relatively grounded realistic themes or entirely abstract stuff with no real feel of an overall structure. The epic tower climb in a huge cave here is the first that's felt like a true "Northern Legend" to me; it's a believable setting you can see unravel as you progress and feels like a developing story, but it's not held back by trying to be grounded either. The tower is so huge that it leads to some draw distance bugs, but I feel the overall impression is good enough for it to not be a major issue, and finally getting to see the sky at the end all added to the overall impact. The ambient light level could be a bit higher throughout, but the gloomy atmosphere generally works, and the important stuff is lit up. Objects and cameras are used well to accentuate the scale of the setting. I did find a few misaligned textures right on the main path a little odd to be overlooked, but texturing is mostly great.

This level is quite linear and moves between intense combat and difficult platforming (perhaps tougher than Septentrion at times, with some tricky curve jumps, breaktile sequences and a rope that requires the special swing). I thought too much equipment might be getting handed out the start, but even with the tons of ammo provided I ran out towards the end. The final battle felt a little unnecessary but the combat worked for me overall; as a whole this almost feels like the climax to a bigger series turned into a single map, and that focus is all part of what makes me like it so much. I also liked the little homage to a memorable room in Tomb Raider 2 at one point. Some reviews mention this level seeming long (and I was ready for another colossus like Leprechauns Hideout), but I found it about average at around 1 hour 20 minutes, and it felt just right. "Objectively" this probably isn't the best level I've played in this BTB, but it's my favourite by far unless one of the leftovers blows me away, sort of like "The Escape" in BTB London, but this is a much more solid level than that one at least." - Mman (15-Oct-2015)

"From the slide into an atmospheric cave at the very beginning you know this will be a great adventure. Even though it has overall maybe too many too dark places, the way this quest unfolds on the player is quite unique and the variety of tasks is quite impressive. Yes, some of the time sequences and jumps may take a few tries to master, but the seasoned raider should at the end not have any major issues here. Enemies are quite heavily used and in fact even a bit overused in places as it becomes repetitive, like several times killing two hammergods or the 4 witches near the end. But as this is all nicely mixed with acrobatics tasks and little puzzles the entertainment factor stays high throughout. And then all of that is crafted into a really beautiful environment. Clearly one of the top levels of the competition for me. (92 min, 3 of 4 secrets)." - MichaelP (27-Jul-2013)

"The minute I saw the cutscene of the tower, I fell in love. Perfect lighting and texturing gets a 10 from me. I am partial to levels that have a centralized structure such as a tower, because it gives you a goal: you immediately want to get to the top, and that is what you spend this level doing. It certainly isn't a walk in the part, as you have many timed sequences and tunnels filled with traps, nicely balanaced with some freelance exploring. My only gameplay critique is the pushable puzzles, which weren't really puzzles - in each case it was always obvious what needed to be done, so they felt more like time-fillers than anything else. The combat was very engaging, and unique - I never expected trying to shoot ice queens from the middle of thin-air. Certainly a top contender in this challenge (actually the challenge just ended, but I will keep myself in suspense of the results until these reviews are sent). 1 hour, 27 minutes." - SSJ6Wolf (16-Jul-2013)

"It's a bit odd that this level follows Septentrion in the BtB listing. The two have much in common. They share elaborate and challenging gameplay, they both took me about two hours to play, and both are much too dark in keeping with the dominant characteristic of this year's competition. In fact, I'm surprised there's such a disparity in the average scores, as I felt that Icy Tower exhibits every bit as much builder talent as does Septentrion. But what do I know, I just play these things. I did get somewhat weary of breaktile gauntlets, but there's a lot to like here, and if there had only been enough light for me to see what I was doing, I would have liked it even more. Definitely in the top tier of this year's crop." - Phil (30-Jun-2013)

"I've not played this level during the competition, but screenshots looking really good so I decided to pass the last 2 hours in this intense adventure. The beginning seems too dark and not very attractive but when Lara gets in the huge main cavern ... I have only one word : WONDERFUL! The main strength is the architecture of the tower... really really good job! Mysterious atmosphere of this level is an asset but there are also some bad points: Flames emmitters were triggered in front of the player, some too hidden jump switchs, some bad transitions between rooms, external walls were too flats in the tower ascent, burning torch can be stuck in the room with the pulley, problems of distance view when Lara looks up... Like Mytly I would have liked less ennemies and more complex puzzles. Soundtracks fit well with the atmosphere. I also liked a sequence with trapdoors in the darkness directly inspired to TR2. Some hard sequences with falling block or timed trapdoor where some occasional players could be stuck. Anyway this is an highly recommended level, I wasn't bored for a second - 2 secrets found - 9/8/10/10" - m.julien (16-Jun-2013)

"The isolation of the opening cave is a stark contrast to the massive cavern that houses the Icy Tower. And some tower it is! Very impressive architecture, lighting and texturing are excellent. There were several areas where I just stopped to look around and soak up the atmosphere. The only downside is that it seems like the tower just goes on and on, and just when you think you have reached the top there is another level to go. But all in all, I really enjoyed my time conquering the tower." - EssGee (10-Jun-2013)

"Since the beginnings of the world, people build towers. There are many stories written concerning those. Some civilizations wanted to show their awesomeness, another just needed to defend from such proud bastards, but the result were always the same, regardless from how opposite the intentions might have been: Wanna build something epic? Let's build a tower and show them. Oh yes, a tower! Great idea! And they built. Today world is full of towers, great ones and fail ones, and ruined of both types. No wonder there are also towers in our custom level world and up to this day, there are 23 levels built which include the word "tower" in the title, not to mention those towers hidden inside multilevel projects: Tower of Babel, To The Starship, Steel Tower of Four Elements and many, many, many... So why did I mention those three particular? Because what has been erected in this project can be easily compared. It is by far the most epic structure I've seen after playing 11 levels of the competition batch. So overwhelming while You stand at it's base in the beginning looking upwards at it, that it's hard to believe You'll be on the top just after those four hours (real-time count). I must say I didn't mind what might await me, for I have six more levels to play, so I shouldn't mind a single one, and I just climbed... until, at about 140 minutes after the beginning, defeating the Valkyrie and making what seemed to be the final ascent, it appeared I've unlocked the whole new hub floor, with a complex four-directional puzzle and I still have about 90 minutes ahead of me. Terrific! And con los terroristas in addition. It was like climbing a real mountain: if You did it, You know that feeling when the top seems to be very close, and suddenly it appears it's just another rock on Your way to the yet distant summit. I can just stand in awe before struggle the author must have had in order to handle so many huge rooms in order to get this effect. I suppose ticking "Draw doors" crashed the builder's editor more times than I died in the ready level. In the end, I finally reached the sunlight and brought the mission to a solid finale within a titanic boss battle. The only thing I didn't like all the time was a sad contrast between ultimately complex tower and ultimately simplistic cave it occupies. Why so boxy if everything else is pure marvel? SUMMARY: Another personal winner of mine. And what really satisfies me, each of my favourites is incomparable to the other ones. I think whoever wins the competition, it will be unfair for the remaining." - DJ Full (31-May-2013)

"There was a good idea for the gameplay to explore the surroundings of the tower to get the keys and then go up climbing from floor to floor to get up to the top of the tower where a bunch of hard enemies are waiting before you can touch the golden axe. I loved the architecture and the great atmosphere (but too dark for my taste); even with numerous enemies on my way. The problem here are the excessively hard tasks like the very tight timed runs or the very hard jumps in the final part of the game. For many players it'll not be funny try and reload hundreds of times. Only for expert players." - Jose (31-May-2013)

"I haven't read any of the reviews for this level, but I can only assume that the review page is filled with jokes about how"winter is coming", so I'll spare you my attempt. Though I was tempted to write,"where are my dragons?!", but I was sort of relieved not to have to deal with the locusts again. The level has plenty of enemies as it is, and it's action that it does best. There are some fun timed runs and plenty of enemies. There's a ton of ammunition and medipacks - in one room, I picked up an Uzi, two Uzi magazines, four packs of shotgun ammunition, two small medipacks and one large medipack - but you're going to need them (well, maybe not all of the medipacks - there are definitely too many of those) because of the large amount of enemies. They're usually used well, though, even if I found the finale a bit too heavy on enemies. When it's not focusing on action, the gameplay is a bit overly simple, unfortunately. There are a lot of times when you enter a room, pull a switch to reach another switch and then exit the room. The level is far more fun when there's a timed run or some traps thrown into the mix, which fortunately, half the time there is. The Icy Tower and its surrounding areas mostly look nice, though I was a bit disappointed that you spent surprisingly little time in the main tower, spending a third of the level trying to find a way into the tower, and then mostly performing tasks in various side rooms connected to the tower once you finally entered it. But that really doesn't matter much, and doesn't really detract from the experience. There are some times when some of the more organic areas, like caves, don't quite reach the high standard set by the rest of the level. At one point, you have to jump around on some cliffs on the rock walls surrounding the tower, and the walls are completely flat with square/flat platforms awkwardly sticking out of them. But those moments are rare, and for the most part, the level looks really good. It may not be A Song of Ice and Fire, but it's still an entertaining seventy-minute level." - Magnus (31-May-2013)

"I found this level a little dark at first. But the gameplay is wonderful, good ideas, but the rise of the tower is difficult. Many enemies and a beautiful final. Congratulations!" - cho7 (29-May-2013)

"This edition of the BtB keeps surprising me with every new level. This one starts rather slow in a beautifully crafted cave area, but once you open the gates to the tower you're in for a very thrilling ride. Gunplay represents a rather significant ammount of gameplay here and I think it could have been toned down slightly, but the platform sequences more than make up for it. There were two bits that seemed impossible (one of the timed sliding plates near the top of the tower and the rope swing through the flame emitter) but with patience and persistence I made it through. There were a lot of items to pick up, too, and the puzzle pieces would usually be dropped by nearby enemies so as a whole the level kept a steady pace as you made your way to the top of the tower. Oh, and also thought I should mention this: those narrow trap hallways got me reloading quite a bit, hard to figure what traps were just around the corner. 95 minutes, 1 secret. 05/13" - Treeble (25-May-2013)

"This one has to be played with flares and binoculars the whole time, because a great darkness covers everything. It is also advisable to have the walkthrough in hand, for such cases where flares and binoculars are not enough to see a switch, or the door opened by the switch, or the next collapsible platform that Lara has to reach. And I, for one, don't see where's the fun of fighting a Troll without seeing him, or why an author should bother to construct nice places when the intention is to hide them in the dark. On the credit side (for those who like it hard), there is a lot of adrenaline, represented by quite a big number of timed runs, some of them very difficult to manage, jumps by collapsible platforms and deathly slides. Also on the credit side (for everybody) there are better lighted and quite enjoyable sequences: the search for the four Seals, for example. (One of Seals' rooms reminded me of the dark and sinister Yetis' room that I saw in TR2 - a game that I simply love. Nice tribute, this.) As to the enemies, there are enough of them, but they are not very tough - with the notable exception of a Valkyrie on horseback; for me, she was very, very difficult to fight, considering that after being put in the ground she managed for three times to go back to her horse, and stay there for quite a long, long time. In resume, this level just missed being wonderful." - Josey (29-Apr-2013)

"Quite long, but very interesting and beautiful custom. We have many tasks to get to the roof of tower. Besides there are many difficult timed runs. Atmosphere was very mysterious." - Andzia9 (28-Apr-2013)

"There are some good times, there are also some boring tasks... but overall the gameplay is too repetitive (timed platforms/ennemies). Sorry for the author, but I was happy when I finished this level (secrets 2/4)." - Markus (20-Apr-2013)

"The timed platform jump early in the level was such fun I was only too pleased to do it a second time for a secret. There are some good agility tests all the way through and plenty of enemies to battle, which makes it one of the more challenging entries, although plenty of medipacks and weapons are provided. I found some of the areas a bit too dark, especially in the earlier parts, but upon reaching the imposing tower that ceased to be the case and I really enjoyed making my way up the structure and the enjoyable action in the four outside rooms. Be advised, the extreme boss ending plus some extremely tight timed runs make this a level for very experienced players only, unless you can enlist help from someone with better abilities than your own. I'm lucky enough to have a first rate raider in the family and got my husband to do a couple of the trickier runs for me." - Jay (15-Apr-2013)

"Another highlight of this year's BtB. The central tower is the atmospheric highlight until now in my opinion, and in general the sinister atmosphere was extremely well concieved, with each room being close to perfect. My only gripe were the cave walls which were too flat for my taste, but I could not really reduce any possible points for that alone, since the rest of the level is so highly atmospheric. Textures were not flawlessly placed but aesthetically, I found nothing to fault - I loved them all over the place. Else than that, this level could have been even better if the builder cared much more for three things - the long-winded and thus rather pedestrian platforming parts, the overdose of enemies and the seriously dark lighting, of which the latter is heavily spoiling both progression and the ambience of several rooms. I think enough has been said about those by my fellow reviewers (and I fully agree to them), so I keep myself short in that regard. There are some parts though I really liked - like the trapdoors near the start (though going back there a second time for a secret was rather annoying) and the lava room with a couple of interesting jumps to be done, but they felt rather few in comparison to the length of this level, which contained so many missed opportunities for being a masterpiece that it almost felt ridiculous. Found four secrets in 1:15 hours." - manarch2 (07-Apr-2013)

"Huge and challenging and "POP style" level. Solid and beautiful atmosphere. Congratulations." - requiemsoul (07-Apr-2013)

"If someone told me after 20 minutes of gameplay, that I'd rate this level with an average below 9, I'd have questioned their sanity, but indeed this certain someone would have been right, as you can see... "The Oath of the Icy Tower" starts as #1-material: The game doesn't only look fantastic (one could take a screenshot in every single area and it would turn out great) but also has convincing pseudo-complex gameplay and features some very nice ideas (melting the ice was especially great). After some time Lara faces her first real enemy (a viking in hammerman-slot) and it's an enjoyable fight: dramatic music plays, the room the fight takes place in looks fantastic (what a great idea to place teme9's roots ABOVE a tree o.O) and afterwards one get "rewarded" with a viking's head. Due to this "epic" execution it seemed to me, that I just passed a unique part of this level...but I was terribly wrong: As nice as this journey starts it later turns into a shooter with some uninspired platforming and very easy puzzles thrown in. The 4 challenge-rooms before the final fight were a nice addition and made me rate the gameplay a bit higher again, but the whole middle-part was completely unnecessary and I think it will break the game's neck. Recommended due to the incredible beginning and the overall fantastic looks." - Soul (03-Apr-2013)

"You`ll start in a small cave but after some tasks you`ll arrive in a big cave with a well builded tower in a middle. Your target is top of it. Before that you must accomplish some tasks (I liked the way how I got to the lever by rope and some nice jumps). After recieving required items a door to tower opens and the true fun is just getting started... There are also many tasks to accomplish before you get on top of the tower and slowly but surely you`ll get higher and higher... Enemies are very well placed and always funny to fight them. Hm some tight timed runs are also required, I mean too tight. Well I liked a challenge in this level and I enjoyed it. Took me 1 hour and 40 minutes found 2/4 secrets. Nice Raid!!! 9/9/8/9" - OverRaider (03-Apr-2013)

"As a huge 'Game of Thrones' fan, I chose this level as my first BtB2013 level, on reading its story. I clocked in nearly 2 hours - I hope that's not an indication of the general length of all the BtB2013 levels.
The gameplay is strongly platforming/traps/timed runs based. There's a lot of enjoyable climbing to be done - the centrepiece is an enormous tower, after all. I particularly liked the timed triple-trapdoor jump at the beginning, and 3 of the 4 tasks for the 4 seals. But there is a lack of puzzles: there are only a couple of very simple puzzles in the whole level - apart from the usual switch-opens-door variety, that is. There are also a huge number of enemies - I think the builder used all the enemies in the wad, most of them many times over. The final double-boss fight (or to be more precise, sextuple-boss fight) is the very definition of overkill. All along the way, you also meet hammer gods practically around every corner. They are not so hard to kill, since the builder provides the shotgun and uzis early on, and plenty of ammo for both, but they do take off huge chunks of Lara's health before dying. I am not sure whether I somehow missed the revolver/crossbow and lasersight, or they are not provided in the level - but if it's the latter, it's a major oversight on the builder's part, as in two places, you have to shoot a ball high up to continue, and in both cases, I managed it with the shotgun - but if I hadn't had enough shotgun ammo, I would have been completely stuck.
The main setting, a huge tower inside a huger cavern, is very impressive - or it would be, if it weren't for the view-distance limitations, which cause very ugly texture flickering in the distant parts of any scene. The blue lighting throughout the level can be slightly monotonous, but on the whole it's very pretty. Some areas are extremely dark though, including several pitch-black rooms. The texturing is occasionally a little sloppy, and I do wish the builder had used some more logical textures for climbable/monkeyswing surfaces. But overall, the visuals are the highlight of this level.
Cameras are placed a little awkwardly at times - for instance, one camera is placed right behind a timed door that closes. Sometimes the fixed cameras can be a bit annoying, especially in one case when the pairing with acute darkness means that you have to manoeuvre Lara almost completely blind. But at least there are plenty of camera hints. Music is used quite well.
Overall: Some more puzzles and a lot less enemies would have made this level much more enjoyable and well-balanced. Recommended for the eye-candy." - Mytly (02-Apr-2013)
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