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Level: BtB2013 - Search for the Last Realm of Thor back home search
Author(s): Thierry Stoorne
total rating:8.33 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
Casual Raider 8 7 9 10
Daffy 9 9 10 10
DJ Full 9 10 10 9
EssGee 8 8 9 10
Jay 7 7 8 9
JesseG 8 9 9 9
Jose 7 8 9 10
Josey 6 7 8 8
Magnus 7 7 7 7
manarch2 8 7 8 9
Markus 8 8 8 9
MichaelP 8 8 9 9
Mman 7 9 8 8
Mytly 9 8 9 8
Orbit Dream 8 7 8 7
OverRaider 6 7 8 8
Phil 8 9 9 8
requiemsoul 6 7 8 9
Ryan 8 8 9 9
Soul 8 8 9 8
Treeble 9 9 9 9
category averages
(22 reviews)
7.82 8.05 8.68 8.77

Reviewer's comments

"Another fun and solid entry in BtB2013. IMO,this would be accessible for everyone apart from a few tricky jumps. Nice fight with three huge troll creatures. Recommended." - Ryan (28-Jan-2016)

"This level has Thierry's style everywhere, with the large rooms and heavy use of sloping geometry. most areas look good (and a couple of the large areas great), but there's some inconsistency here and there, and some areas are much simpler. While it has style threaded through it I also felt an overall sense of place is lacking, it has a pseudo-realistic design throughout, and fares better thematically than Nordic Challenge, but it still never quite seems to come together. The gameplay lacks a consistent "rhythm"; you go between areas with decent challenges and then giant areas with one or two simple challenges before you move on, with no real pattern forming, and there's one bit of pointless shimmy backtracking near the start. It also ends before one of the most interesting looking areas (which feels like a reference to Finding Zorba, but that level was more satisfying as a whole). There's nothing especially bad here, but it ends up feeling kind of empty." - Mman (02-Aug-2015)

"Almost too realistic to be completely satisfying and entertaining as a game. You get rather spacious areas to explore with unfortunately a bit too little reward along the way, for example in shape and form of simple pickups. But that is not to say the game does not have its moments, in fact there are plenty of them: two nicely designed wolf pack attacks, two long and interesting timed runs, plenty of multi level platforming action, a fun (although easy) fight with three trolls, a challenging room with alternating platforms and more. I thought some of the flybys were most remarkable (especially the one with the revolving doors) and enjoyed my time here despite the occasional feeling of slow gameplay. (80 min, 4 of 5 secrets found)" - MichaelP (27-Jul-2013)

"This is a pretty level, I particularly liked the lighting, it produced nice effects especially in the hot areas. The texturing also felt very natural. As for gameplay, I liked the challenges it provided. There were some difficult jumps and timed sequences that took me several tries that you had to think about a little before giving it a shot. I must say though that there is way too much shimmying in this level, especially when you have to shimmy during backtracking. Other than that my only complaint is that the level felt somewhat underdeveloped. Maybe that's because there isn't much sign of actually achieving anything until the very end. It doesn't help that the final cutscene shows you the reward of Lara's quest, but doesn't let you explore it at all. But while the sense of satisfaction from completing the level could have been greater, it is still a fun journey in and of itself and I was glad to have played it. 53 minutes." - SSJ6Wolf (16-Jul-2013)

"The beginning of the level is stunning! I spent some time just swimming around and looking at those arches. It's not too difficult level but with some moments with quite nice challenges mostly with jumps. Really, really well done level I enjoyed playing a lot, just being a little too short in puzzles in my opinion." - Casual Raider (09-Jul-2013)

"I just can understand the law score sometimes by some players (????). It's an exellent level who use the cold wad and certainly the only level who use the textures in 256*256. So, just GREAT. Lara start somewhere in a Northern country and discovered very quickly a giant room who remember me the magnificent cistern of TR1. AWSOME. The desing of this place is incredible and I just imagine the nombers of rooms to create it. The gameplay is not really hard but somes time runs are maybe a bit short (but nothing impossible). there are also a perfect use of flipmaps, specially after a big troll who destroy a wall :O ... nice effects. Something good is the very good use of flybys with animations of objects (like the 3 big circles doors and trolls). The musics are also very well use and sometimes follows camera to give effects like movies. Maybe a bit short than the others levels, it's with a perfect viking head and hammer we finish this fabulous game and understand the author has a perfect use the the rooms design. So, I can just congratulate Thierry for this game. Don't miss it, specially for the awsome the eye candy in the end." - BigFoot (13-Jun-2013)

"Technically, a very professional looking level. Strong castle-like environments that are impeccably textured. The locations are vast, making it sometimes hard for the player to get their bearings, because things 'look the same'. It's a little light on with architectural objects but the quality texturing makes the locations look convincing. With patience the builder leads the player well through the game. There is a ripper of a timed run across the tops of one of the cathedral areas that took me a while to master, but it was rewarding when done. One of my favourite areas in the level is the initial underwater boulevarde that the player must descend and swim along to get to the castle - very impressive. Although I found myself pondering my next move on occasion, I was never really stuck, so this indicates that the builder did a good job of keeping me interested and 'in the game'. Well done." - EssGee (10-Jun-2013)

"This author is really an architect. The buildings are excelent and the environment is fantastic very well textured and with all kind of details. The level is based about Lara's habilities to explore, find objects and all kind of gymnastics than think about puzzles. There are some traps too and enemies are well balanced, but I could find only the uzis as extra gun and not enough ammo. For those who like to admire great environments and exploration it's really a very good option." - Jose (31-May-2013)

"Those of You who tend to read my reviews from time to time have surely managed to notice that when I think a game is really special, I usually write in negative manner - what the product doesn't contain rather than what it does. I follow here the same rule well-known among musicians: a great musician knows when to play and a greater one knows when to stop. For silence is always better than noise. This is it, ladies and gentlemen. Here. Some of You possibly remember what I said about true back-to-basics feeling. For those who don't, I'll recall it now:
"Whatever we get in the package, anytime, any year, any edition, it will be, regardless from and not denying ingenuity of the builders, incomparable to what we had in old, good catacombs... because now it's all NG, NG, NG, crossing limits, limits, limits... while the classic combination prompted more towards meditation than to action, more to silence than to loudness, more to simplicity than to effects and more to peace than to fear."
And now my dear readers and raiders, I must confess to You that I was at least partially wrong. Because the author has of course used the NG package... but only in a very small part, so he outsmarted the resources, for them to be a builder's tool, not allowing the builder to be a slave of resources. Current rules of competition forbid such behaviour - all in all You have the wad and are supposed to build without modifications, and here the number of used slots is possibly reduced to equal classic wad capacity - so the question bothers me: is denying 3/4 of the wad a modification or not? It's the same as if that whole part was all thrown out, deleted, eradicated, binned - but the effect is strictly comparable to classic: just platforming, shimmying, timing, avoiding, surpassing, holding breath and shooting, almost totally based on raw shapes of blocks, with only small architecture gently and discreetly applied, without horses, valkyries, weird pickups and static overaccumulation - instead just pure, stone-cold realism that hits You in the face all the time You play. This is the only level of the competition of ten I've played so far, which HAS IT. Speaking of flaws, there is one major and similar to my another favourite, Septentrion: and abrupt ending when the setting starts to be the most epic and calls for exploration. But of these two, Last Realm realizes the main assumption of the competition in the most accurate way, so I think it should win... SO FAR, becasue I'll now continue and see what happens next." - DJ Full (31-May-2013)

"This is my final Back to Basics level in this year’s competition, so I guess whoever built this level drew the shortest straw. After playing seventeen levels in thirteen days on a laptop that really struggles with anything released in the last decade, I was more than ready to get the whole thing over with. So it’s nice that this was a pretty good level. The first half is mainly focused on making your way around large rooms. They’re rather intricately built and the author makes good use of every square inch. It does mean that you can’t get anywhere until you find just the right place to start, but that’s really only an issue once or twice. The second half of the level is more straightforward, which is disappointing in a way, but it’s also kind of nice to get away from climbing around all over the place. It’s well-built and pretty fun, but it also lacks complexity. There are a lot of spikes that need to be triggered before you can get past and key items are usually in a chest near where you need to use them, so it’s not the most exciting of levels. The same goes for the look of the level. It clearly takes some skill to create rooms where so much of the space is used for platforming, but at the same time, there’s very little that stands out. The rooms somehow manage to be both boring and well-made at the same time, and I never really felt an urge to explore them or see what would come next. I don’t know, after writing seventeen reviews so close together, I have a hard time explaining it, but there’s a certain spark missing. Still, I had a pretty good time overall. The level ends rather abruptly after around fifty minutes, but the final flyby felt like a fitting end to Back to Basics 2013." - Magnus (31-May-2013)

"This seems to be a rather underrated gem in this BtB. While the gameplay is not exactly exceptional, it is very enjoyable indeed, with quite a lot of platforming and some very nice timed runs. I especially like: the room with the alternating platforms; the water-lowering puzzle near the beginning; the jumps for the bow; the timed run at the top of the hall near the beginning, and the one over the tops of pillars near the end. The key/artefact hunts can be a bit boring at times, and there are a couple of long shimmying sessions that I could have done without. But on the whole, the gameplay is fun, and flows smoothly.
After the dark hall and tunnels and the multi-wolf attack at the beginning, I expected this level to a reprise of ‘Nidavellir’. While this builder too likes to throw enemies at you in bunches – for example the three trolls later in the level – they are not too hard to deal with if you keep moving and find safe spots to tackle them from.
The lighting in the indoor areas is mostly the dark blue-grey colour that is characteristic of a number of levels in this BtB, though the outdoor areas are slightly brighter. The deadly floor/lava sections are a very bright orange, which forms a rather strange contrast. I like the use of the architectural objects – the most memorable being the row of arches in the underwater tunnels at the beginning. The architecture is quite impressive – so it’s a pity that the lighting doesn’t highlight is more effectively. It’s also a great pity that the most interesting area – the ‘realm of Thor’ itself at the end – is not explorable, and is seen only in the flyby at the end. I was so eager to see it properly that I used the Position Editor to bypass the finish trigger and explored the whole area. It’s fully textured and lit, and really spectacular, so I don’t know why the builder chose not to let players explore it normally – perhaps he/she ran out of time or couldn’t think of any gameplay to put in it?
Overall: An enjoyable level, which could have risen to greater heights if it had better lighting, and incorporated the final section into the gameplay. Recommended." - Mytly (28-May-2013)

"The first thing that we see in this level, it is a beautiful architecture with textures asked to perfection, I did not see any default, lights are metered. The gameplay requires some expertise and some passages are difficult to negotiate for an average player, However, we do not get bored for a minute. Congratulations to the author" - Daffy (14-May-2013)

"I knew it wouldn't be easy to reach the realm of THE god (Thor rules :D) and already expected to meet some of his guards, but given the fact, that the level is part of the BtB-competition I didn't expect it to be this hard. You won't get CIL-difficulty here, but it certainly is the hardest one of all the levels I played so far: Enemies appear in groups of 3-5 and have to be dealt with in narrow spaces, challenging (banana)jumps and deviously hidden switches/mechanisms are part of the actual gameplay and most of the extra-weapons are secrets (which are also hidden quite well). I guess I don't have to say, that I liked it a lot (minus the enemies ;) ) - I mean: I LOVE timedruns and jumping sequences (especially the second half of the level, with all the burning floors!) but I'm sure some players will have quite a hard time here and might have to use one of the 7 savegames dutchy provided. I would have rated gameplay higher, if there wasn't the long shimmy-sequence (only there to stretch gameplay time), and the rather slow start, which was mostly about finding one's bearings in an impressively huge and slightly too dark room. To be fair though the room looked great and strongly reminded me of TR1's cistern, so kudos to whoever built it! (I think I know). The looks in general are quite solid, as there weren't any distorted textures and lighting produced a nice contrast, but of course I also have to nitpick here: I wasn't too keen on the obviously mirrored textures as they looked strongly unnatural even if they were perfectly seamless and I also didn't like the WAY said contrast was achieved: Many times the floor was glaringly bright, while the walls, and especially the ceiling were almost pitch black...a great way to hide switches, but not so much fun searching for them without any flares. Definitely recommended, if one wants to go on an atmospheric trip to Thor's realm (which is shown in the final cutscene - too bad we can't run around there :( )" - Soul (09-May-2013)

"After my last venture with BtB13, I am so damn happy that this level is the way it is. Gameplay is never too taxing and yet there's such a huge sense of scale here. Despite all the huge rooms (and a lot of vertical action), it follows pretty naturaly and in a straightforward fashion that you never feel like you've run out of options. While this might have been the case for some secrets I never found, I was also happy there was no "needle in the haystack" in these wide areas, so everything you need to progress is always directly in your path. This might be too streamlined for the most hardcore veterans among us, but I approve and thank the builder for a good paced raid in a moody Saturday. 65 minutes, 2 secrets. 04/13" - Treeble (05-May-2013)

"It's becoming apparent to me that for two reasons I need to review these Northern Legends levels immediately after playing them: (1) the surroundings are so uniformly bland and lifeless that there are few memorable qualities about them and (2) the levels so far have seemed so similar to me that the details tend to run together in my mind. This fourth installment fits the mold that seems to typify the BtB levels - crisp, creative gameplay in dimly-lit, bland settings that have little to boast by way of eye candy. I'm glad to see, however, that the chicken monster is making something of a comeback in this competition, and you get to deal with three of them at one time in this level. There's a lot to like here, including a couple of well-crafted timed runs. In all I spent about an hour and twenty minutes in net gaming time, assisted by Dutchy's walkthrough." - Phil (05-May-2013)

"The first area is very big and this may discourage a player to search a switch in this jungle of pillars... Except this beginning a little laborious, I enjoyed the level and the final flyby was great. Good architecture, sometimes a bit too dark, but nothing bad (secrets 4/5)." - Markus (04-May-2013)

"Here we have big, dark halls, particularly well constructed, where Lara runs and runs, climbs and climbs, jumps and jumps, shimmies and shimmies, only to open trunks and pass from one place to another very similar to it. In other words, there is little variation of environments and tasks; the net result is an uninteresting gameplay, with few challenges and puzzles." - Josey (22-Apr-2013)

"This level is one of the less interesting of this BtB pack as there are no puzzles here just some easy tasks, level consists only of things like getting and climbing to higher place for lever, some nice jump sequences or key items to find which were mostly found in a treasure chests or dropped by enemies. There are also some memorable moments like the room with platforms and rollingball which was quite a challenge to make it through, also some nice timed runs and some areas required a little exploration. In terms of visuality quite atmospheric areas with nicely textures and lights applied and music fitting the atmosphere and situation as well. All in all not a bad level but it was just too easy for my taste. Took me 1 hour 10 minutes. 6/7/8/8" - OverRaider (20-Apr-2013)

"This fourth level in the competition, whilst possibly in some respects less assured that the first three, still has much to offer. It gets off to a somewhat slow start, with minimum gameplay in huge rooms, but gets progressively more interesting and challenging as it goes on. The highlight for me was probably the morphing tile room (I'm fond of that particular challenge) and there are timed elements and some quite nasty traps to negotiate. The builder has chosen the more austere design elements of the package so this may not be quite as 'pretty' as some other entries, but there's no denying it's very well constructed." - Jay (15-Apr-2013)

"This adventure is essentially a linear platformer,but the design of the various rooms disguises that fact quite well.It's all about performing creative acrobatics to open a door to the next area,and it's rather fun throughout(I especially loved the timed jumps over columns;while the criss-crossing of an alternating platform chamber was a perfect example of getting as much gameplay out of a single idea as possible). Enemy placement was good;the fly-bys (especially showing numerous revolving doors opening) were majestic,and the texturing was accomplished.What spoilt it was the pervading darkness in the first half of the adventure,which made identifying the correct path for progression very difficult.Although things somewhat brightened up later on,the level was still suffused with a general gloom which detracted from the well-crafted architecture.The linearity of the storyline (such as it was) prevented the adventure from becoming particularly gripping,and it was only the variety of the jumping sequences which kept me sufficiently gripped.90 minutes of sliding,shooting and jumping." - Orbit Dream (08-Apr-2013)

"Architecture is quite good, as lights, textures... but gameplay is a bit monotonous and slow. This level isn´t one of my favorites." - requiemsoul (07-Apr-2013)

"Quite often in this level, I had the feeling this game is monotonous in nearly every aspect, but at the same time one can see the work of an experienced builder throughout. [a) The gameplay doesn't seem to involve much more than all possible ways of platforming. Even if this might sound boring the game actually isn't, since the platforming is heavily inspired and exploited very well. Let me give an example - after the initial swimming part you arrive in a rather large hall, with seemingly nothing to do, but each time you think you're stuck you have to carefully observe the room for the next step and sometimes think (and jump) around the corner. The alternating platforms room is good fun too, as well as all the timed runs which were fun to do. There were one or two situations where I think a certain jump was a little too tough for its own good, considering as a BtB level (and not CIL). Despite the fact I had a lot of fun in this level, I really wished there were more puzzles to solve, and one shimmy session was definately too long for my taste. b) The choice and placement of enemies is somewhat same-ish, e.g. with a horde of wolves placed twice in this levels, several duos of warriors, or three hammergods at the same time (even if the cutscene introducing them was quite good). The best placement certainly was the hammergod breaking a wall. c) The atmosphere of at least the first half of the level is somewhat sterile and not overly varied throughout, making the rooms feel quite sameish. It would certainly have benefited from more added "life" to the scenario, and sometimes the rooms could've been a lot less blocky (a good example is the tree which is a bolt upright square with some added branches).] All in all a very decent medium long level (45 minutes). The best thing about this level are both texturing and lighting which are faultlessly applied and the only downside is their rather uniform placement in this level I mentioned already, but you will also enjoy the various jumps you'll have to master. Found five rather easy secrets." - manarch2 (05-Apr-2013)
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