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Level: BtB2013 - Nordic Challenge back home search
Author(s): Drakan
total rating:8.83 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
Casual Raider 10 9 10 9
Christian 9 9 10 9
Daffy 9 9 10 10
DJ Full 6 8 8 7
EssGee 8 8 8 8
Gerty 8 8 9 8
Jay 9 9 9 9
JesseG 9 9 9 10
Jose 8 10 10 9
Josey 10 10 9 9
Magnus 8 7 7 8
manarch2 9 8 9 9
Markus 9 8 9 9
MichaelP 8 10 9 9
Mman 9 8 8 8
Mytly 9 8 9 8
OverRaider 9 9 9 9
Phil 9 10 10 8
requiemsoul 9 9 9 9
Ryan 9 9 9 8
Soul 7 8 8 8
Treeble 10 10 9 10
category averages
(23 reviews)
8.74 8.83 9.00 8.74

Reviewer's comments

"I have to say that the whole enviroment was utterly charming to look at, although a bit too gloomy for my tatse. This Nordic challenge was indeed a challenge and you know what that means, you might need to reload more than once to get the task done. I know that the builder has to work with the object given and it is indeed up to the builder where and how to use them. In here I didn't like the collision that some objects had and that can occur when used under water like doors and those sliding knives. Keep a save at strategic places as it can be a bit confusing at times, as I stood for a door without a key more than once. Secrets were well hidden but if you are like me and look in every nook and cranny, you'll find them." - Gerty (17-Nov-2016)

"Be warned, right from the start this level takes no prisoners. This level of the contest throws challenge after challenge to you and you need to think quickly sometimes. Great for a brisk workout. A little dark but well worth playing." - Ryan (27-Jan-2016)

"This level feels lacking in overall coherence; most of the individual areas are good looking and creative, but it never transcends feeling like a bunch of entirely abstract rooms that only exist for gameplay; I could have probably accepted that, but then towards the end it suddenly enters a town type area that seems to be going for realism in comparison, and I don't think there's enough of a transition, such that I feel I would have noticed it less if it had been like a bizarre fever dream the whole way through. The coloured lighting is a bit over-saturated at times, and various object colours aren't tweaked to fully match the environment. Despite the issues though there are individual areas I liked the atmosphere of a lot and it's always competently designed.
The abstraction does at least mean a focus on strong gameplay, and there are multiple interesting and difficult areas, including some creative object use (like a multi-crusher). The pacing is also varied and the pacing shifts quite a bit. Unfortunately the visual shift to more realism also felt like the point the level was running out of ideas, and, while one or two areas there were nice, the rest felt the designer was trying to throw in as many WAD objects as possible. A good level overall, but (at least as it is) I feel it would be stronger if it ended a bit after the iris door rather than going on for another ~20 minutes." - Mman (01-Aug-2015)

"This is a very aptly titled level as it does indeed take no prisoners. Right from the start you are presented with a series of not easily mastered tasks if you are not a halfway seasoned raider. There are many, many slide jumps that do not have to be pixel perfect but still rather precise and not always obvious. There are also series of breaktile jumps that may take some practice to eventually master and a great stomper room with some more tight jumps to manage. And all of the above was only the first 20 minutes or so. LOL. After an initial more functional and sequential set of rooms, the level does open up a bit, but that is when I thought it got a little more confusing, as I ended up doing things in wrong order and often stood in front of a key lock without the required key in my inventory. The overall setting is on the dark blue side and solidly done, but did not quite have the wow effect that some other levels accomplish. Also, I really did not like the design where you target shoot a shatter object to trigger a rather unrelated opening of a door. Where the level does stand out though for me is the great use of the wide variety of enemies, the nice addition of 5 secrets and of course and ending that is nicely set in scene. Highly recommended, but may be a tough one for the less experienced raiders among us. (115 min, 5 secrets)." - MichaelP (27-Jul-2013)

"This is another top contender in my book, so far. Nice effects are used to create some emersing environments. There are plenty of interesting traps and a good amount of combat as well. I particularly liked the jumping sequences. A fair amount of puzzles are here too, some are cleverly structured but others I just solved with some guesswork. Some of the "targets" you had to shoot to progress were a bit too hidden and non-sensical for my taste. In this level you explore a wide variety of locales such as a church, a village, and some lava-filled chambers that have both rain and snow falling into them - an interesting effect. With these places come a variety of enemies and obstacles, and I must say it feels like the whole WAD was put to good use. I really enjoyed this level and whatever happens, I hope this author will keep up the good work. 1 hour, 28 minutes." - SSJ6Wolf (16-Jul-2013)

"The title of level really gives away its contents - it really is challenge! The traps and timed runs are really time consuming and for someone who seeks something really challenging - this is level for you! For me it was a bit too hard at times but stubborn as I am it took me longer time but somehow I managed to finish this level. Textures are really good, objects like barriers are exactly on right places. The atmosphere was really catchy especially that creepy Guardian guy lurking from time to time. Was certain I will have to fight him at the end of level! :)" - Casual Raider (09-Jul-2013)

"Second level who use the cold wad, it's also a perfect example of the many use of this wads. So Lara start somewhere (I suppose) in one of the Northern Countrys. Like the title say, it's a level with challenges and sometimes very well done brain teaser. I really enjoying the rooms with the squichy blocs. There are also a very good use of the "cold" enemies like troll, vikings, wolfs and other things. I think my favorite moment with enemies is when the "white lady" appear after kill the 4 vikings ... very nice moment. I also noticed the game use the cold wads but the author never use the ice and snow textures, that is one of the reason I really enjoying the level. Drakan use even snow and rain and give a unique atmosphere to this level. Great choise. The lighting is not really dark and there are a good use of textures, specially in the end when Lara discovered a little shipyard near the coast ... my favorite place of the game. We can also noticed a red sun in the sky ^^. So to conclude a third beautiful level in this btb competition and very recommanded. Congratulation Drakan." - BigFoot (13-Jun-2013)

"A level with a strong emphasis on gameplay tasks - lots of challenges to overcome. A couple of things could have been done better that involved shooting barely visible objects to trigger another event. Not that I mind the idea of targeting things but there needs to be a little more logic in what is being done. Then I would have been more convinced. The level is pretty heavy on blue tinting, which is fine for conveying a night time type of mood, but this could probably have been carried out to better effect with the use of sun bulbs and more natural lighting conditions. For me, the atmosphere lacked realism, but the traps and challenges were well designed." - EssGee (10-Jun-2013)

"Like the title says, this is a challenging level, full of tight tasks where Lara's habilities will be tested often and also with a huge dose of exploration. A lot of items to find, a lot of dangers and many times you'll have to stop and think... You'll be stucked often. The worst was the last very hard timed run to get the grail. Experienced players wil enjoy this work. Some secrets are easy to find, and the amount and distribution of the enemies along the level is perfect. All the rooms are coloured with a bluish light, and the ambience is really great with some special effects. The movement along the chain near the end was a good detail (please, theach me how to setup that!). Not a level for beginners, but I think one of the candidates to the first places." - Jose (31-May-2013)

"LOL at that thumper. Best trap ever. I doubt if even those guys of The Lost Dominion will contrapt any better. Simple and brilliant, even after I've beaten it, I stared for it for a while, unable to turn my sight away from it. Like an enormous, creepy, evil heart of a long-forgotten, prehistoric beast. Unfortunately, that's in the beginning of the game, and everything that follows is less and less original. Then in the end we have a beautiful ending with the guide, and I really appreciate someone cared to close the plot properly... but the rest is not enough, unfortunately. One can't just throw anything between beginning and ending, because if the linking material isn't crafted with some purpose, such rope is going to break and it unfortunately occurs here - the thumper and the final flyby feel separated, just like if they were parts of two completely different levels. For particular tasks of the feeling: of course separately they form their own unities and flow properly, but the relation between them is gone, because progressing to every next one is done without any transition: slopes BOOM thumper BOOM lava BOOM pushables BOOM turning bridge (this one is nice section) BOOM barn(??? what does it do here???) BAM finale. It all feels random and disorganised. In the end, I even found myself completely forgotten someone is supposed to train me in this level. I think it would be very helpful if the "coach" appeared more than once, so we could see him preparing something for us. Also because it's unlikely for no-one to be keeping an eye on a freshly prepared assault course. SUMMARY: A set of random traps, not connected to each other. Nice beginning and ending, and a great thumper that has to be remembered forever. Nonetheless if You're after a complete storyline, leave this one for another day. Or night." - DJ Full (31-May-2013)

"Eight levels into Back to Basics 2013, the levels have finally peaked story-wise, because there's no way any of the remaining levels are going to be able to match the scale and sheer epicness of this story. If you haven't read it, it basically goes like this:"Lara is having some renovations made in her training room and so she visits her friend to go through his assault course in the meantime." I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Would Lara be able to finish her friend's assault course? It sure would be awkward if she couldn't, and if there's one thing Brits can't stand, it's awkwardness! Anyway, as phoned-in as the story is, the level is actually pretty good. It's an hour-long adventure that mostly focuses on traps and some simple puzzles. It's very linear - too linear at points - but the gameplay is fun and reasonably varied, so it's not a huge issue. It won't challenge any seasoned raiders, but it's never so easy that it gets boring. You'll pull off most tasks on your first/second/third try, but you'll feel satisfied when you do so, and it's admirable that the author has found a good balance between making the level simple to the point of boredom and hard to the point of frustration. I'm not sure if the level is supposed to take place in someone's home or if it's a separate assault course, but either way it really doesn't fit the story at all, unless Lara's dear friend wants her dead so badly that he hired Thor himself to kill her for him. But if you can overlook the ridiculousness of the whole thing, it's a good-looking level with some impressive areas - the area on the load screen looks particularly nice. The lighting is a bit on the dark side, though, making some switches and keyholes hard to spot, but fortunately the level is so linear that you'll still find them pretty easily. This may not be a very good assault course all things considered, but it's a pretty great level." - Magnus (31-May-2013)

"Lot of problems in this level for a player who is not an expert on the keyboard. the gameplay comes together very well and Lara does not lack occupation. The atmosphere is level with original color tones a bit unusual but gives a very good record. One that out of the ordinary anyway. Congratulations to the author." - Daffy (14-May-2013)

"I hate to be the first to give "Nordic Challenge" an average score below 8 (I didn't check the reviews before coming up with my 7.75), but this level was a mixed bag for me. I once wrote in a review "Take away the last 30 minutes of the game and it's actually quite enjoyable!" - and that's exactly how I feel about this one as well - I would swap "enjoyable" with "awesome" though, as that's exactly what the BEGINNING was. After a pretty nice puzzle, which reminded me of TR4's Catacombs, Lara entered the first trap-chamber/challenge-room (whatever you call it) and from then on it just got better and better. Guiding Lara through the nice tasks the builder provided (my favourite would be the squishy-circle) wasn't only incredibly fun, but also rewarding (neither too easy nor too hard) and the fantastic use of music was the icing on the cake. I wouldn't call it perfect, as there were some obvious flaws, such as a dead-end in the lava-room, the unfittingly placed (and sometimes wrongly lit) objects and the fact that there was no hint for one of the pushable puzzles but my huge enjoyment made me treat them as "minor annoyances". It all changed, when Lara entered the "dungeons" though, as gameplay felt more and more lackluster and the game also got worse in terms of the other categories (why was there no music, when Lara entered the nicely looking village?!). Apparently the author tried to tick the "exploration"-box, but in my opinion he failed and thus "destroyed" a game with loads of potential. Searching for tons of keys and fighting randomly placed enemies isn't really my definition of fun, especially if I'm limited to the exact way the builder wants me to take and thus have to check the walkthrough multiple times. (I'm talking about you, teleport-effect ;) ) Recommended for the fantastic beginning." - Soul (09-May-2013)

"To be perfectly honest, there were quite a few moments in this level when I thought I should just ditch it and move to the next one, but that wouldn't help me getting through all BtB levels this year so I persevered and thanks to all the tips posted on the forum I managed to finish it. There's no denying this level is crammed with gameplay, beyond every corner it seems to keep growing and growing. It actually took me an entire week, playing a few sections every night, to finally reach the end here. The beginning felt a bit flat, but after reaching the first outdoors area it sort of picked up for me. There are a few tricky jumps and perhaps too many keys towards the end, but all in all it's definitely a level worthy of its name. 90 minutes, 3 secrets. 04/13" - Treeble (05-May-2013)

"The fact that I'm finishing only my third level a month into the competition bears mute testimony to my enthusiasm for what I've thus far experienced. To be sure, this nearly two-hour adventure bears all of the marks of a master craftsman, but I played a little bit here and a little bit there over a period of nearly two weeks while having more fun playing and writing walkthroughs for other levels rated in the 5 to 6 range. Sad to say, I believe this is because I'm getting weary of doing everything that needs to be done in one drab, colorless Northern Legends area and then moving on to do something else in the next drab, colorless area. It's too early for me to conclude that a pattern is being established in these levels, but I long for a crackling quest in a brightly-lit setting. Maybe one or two of the remaining levels will provide that, but I won't get my hopes up. Now that my rant is out of the way, I realize the unfairness of picking on this particular level to vent my spleen, because it's really well put together. That last segment in the Viking harbor was particularly atmospheric, and it almost made me forget the dreariness of what had gone before, but it's too bad that everything had to be shrouded in darkness yet again. One neat touch that I don't recall having seen before was the horizontal chain that Lara used to access otherwise out-of-reach balconies. Dutchy's walkthrough was indispensable in keeping me moving forward and taking the edge off the many challenges promised by the title. A masterpiece for those who enjoy dark, foreboding levels." - Phil (30-Apr-2013)

"My Lara was tired the first time that I played this level and I gave some unjustified low ratings. Playing a second time in better conditions and I must admit that's a great level, entertaining gameplay and a nice work with the lights (secrets 5/5)." - Markus (29-Apr-2013)

"When this level says 'challenge', it certainly means it. The majority of this level is a very enjoyable mixture of traps and jumping challenges. There are some amazing trap sequences: the circular moving logs ones is particularly memorable, as is the boulder and crumbling platforms room. Most of the time the gameplay flows very well too, so there's an exhilarating sense of zooming through the level, mastering one challenge after another. But as much as I enjoyed the gameplay, it's not quite perfect. For one thing, it slows down considerably towards the end, especially the final 'harbour' area, which would have worked much better if the builder had not felt the need to stuff in some unnecessary fetch quests and a whole bunch of enemies. There is also rather a little too much of having to shoot distant and barely visible pots/sacks that look merely decorative.
The lighting in this level is far too intensely blue in most areas. While it does contrast nicely with the red/pink lava in various places, it looks odd more often than not, and is overused. The objects are sometimes poorly lit. Texturing is competent enough, though I did not like the indiscriminate use of climbable wall textures on all sorts of non-climbable surfaces. The secrets are fairly easy to find - weirdly enough, a wolf drops the key for the last one. I found the mixture of snow and rain in the outdoor areas a little strange initially, but it kind of works and gives the level a unique atmosphere.
Overall: A mostly enjoyable level, even if it runs out of steam a bit towards the end. Recommended." - Mytly (29-Apr-2013)

"Quite interesting level with various tasks to do and some puzzles to solve and very enjoyable progression. Nothing is difficult neither easy. I think this was a first time I saw a snowy-rain weather in a custom level, nice idea! Level is creatively builded with nice choise of music and background sound, textures lighting great, all this is creating a beautiful atmosphere! I spent 1 hour and 30 minutes here and found all 5/5 secrets which were not so hard to find but still nicely hidden. One of the really enjoyable level of BtB2013 and I can recommend it for sure. 9/9/9/9" - OverRaider (20-Apr-2013)

"Nice variation on the Catacombs sinking floor puzzle at the start of this level, followed by some quality sliding and bouncing. The agility tests in this level are amazingly good, albeit not for the inexperienced player. The gameplay is fast, furious and highly inventive, with a very much appreciated lack of backtracking. Enemies can come in packs at times, i.e. wolves (one of whom most generously left the 'secret number five' key) and Vikings with their (regrettably) horned helmets. Yes, I know, I know. Anyway, historically inaccurate helmets aside, I absolutely loved it and I bet you will too. PS. Now that some clever person has invented the utterly wonderful overhead chain animation, I don't EVER want to see another tightrope. Brilliant." - Jay (15-Apr-2013)

"An epic one out of the 2013-btb-series. Th fluent gameplay, spiced up with some challenging sequences, shows creativity from the very beginning to the last moments of a game that really can be called an adventure concerning a stunning atmosphere created. Nearly perfect!" - Christian (14-Apr-2013)

"My, what a GREAT game! If the title says "challenge", it certainly means "challenge"; I found it the more "raideristic" of the BtB2013 games that I played up to now, and had a lot of fun playing it! I loved the ramp jumps in the water room, the moving trunks room, the music (that turns non-stop and boring only at the last part of the game), the challenging, unexpected actions (see that almost impossible jump round a pillar, and that other one, in the barred spiked ball room, where Lara has to jump to a ramp to land in a ledge that seems too far - pure genius, that!), the overall preference for use of brains instead of fight ability. There is a little darkness occasioned by the greenish or bluish light that permeates the rooms; a question of taste, perhaps. I only missed a few camera hints here and there, notably at the end; in fact, when Lara picked up the cross a little door opened nearby, upstairs; as I didn't see it, I put Lara in the ground and spent a lot of time trying to go back by the same path that she came - a path which was closed now. As to the rest, was pure glory, congratulations and thank you!" - Josey (13-Apr-2013)

"Long level with a efective environment and gameplay. Fun traps and jumps. Recommended" - requiemsoul (07-Apr-2013)

"This is until now my personal all-round favourite. The gameplay is very creative, with very good usage of breakable tiles, raising blocks and many, many clever jumps (not overly difficult but - say - challenging) one has to do, but also an almost overcare for players, as you won't miss a single item - after picking up each of them the next door opens and thus there won't be any required backtracking, a good amount of nice puzzles (although some of the pushable puzzles are almost too easy) and some really hard fights. The five wolves sleeping on the same square and awaking one after the other were a little odd but funny in a way. The blueish atmosphere was very well done and made this game unique, but a smaller variety would've been great - there are only a handful of rooms who don't use the same colour scheme, so that the blue feels overwhealming after a certain point. The single real issue in this game is that the wraiths that appeared halfway through the level actually never vanished and even if I could make them harmless by shooting at them, they became enerving hanger-ons until the very end. It took me 1:05 hours net gametime to finish this level, found all five secrets and liked how the end cutscene provided a hint for the last secret in case one didn't find it. A very special and extremely fun level in this contest and not to be missed!" - manarch2 (06-Apr-2013)
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