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Level: BtB2014 - Quest for the Soma back home search
Author(s): Mman
total rating:9.11 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Bigfoot 10 10 10 10
Christian 9 9 9 10
DJ Full 10 10 10 9
Drakan 10 10 9 8
eRIC 8 8 8 8
EssGee 9 9 9 8
Jay 10 9 9 9
Jose 9 10 10 9
Josey 10 9 10 9
m.julien 10 10 10 8
manarch2 9 9 9 8
MichaelP 9 9 9 8
Mytly 10 9 9 8
okuhtfesq 10 10 10 9
OverRaider 10 10 9 8
Phil 10 9 9 8
Relic Hunter 9 10 9 9
requiemsoul 10 10 9 8
Ryan 10 10 9 9
Taras 6 6 7 6
Treeble 10 10 10 9
category averages
(21 reviews)
9.43 9.33 9.19 8.48

Reviewer's comments

"Oh God, oh Mman... it's unbelieveable how clever this one is. One of few in the entire history where I'd say it's worth to pay the price of extra run anytime you get it wrong, because the moment you get it right redeems everything. Architecture is also great but with proper lighting it would be stupendous so I wonder why the author didn't do that. I'll advise you to take time with this one - even a day or two if it takes so - and don't refer to the walkthrough because in case of this level it simply makes no sense. Very, very, very highly recommended." - DJ Full (08-Jul-2019)

"My favourite entry so far. This had some of the best gameplay I have seen yet. Great puzzles with just the right mix of enemies and a nice timed run with the quad bike. Excellent stuff." - Ryan (03-Feb-2016)

"One of the best levels I've ever played till this moment from this BtB. I've got no problems with the flipped water rooms. That area is complex, but not too hard. The gameplay is clever and entertaining, enemies are well balanced and there are enough guns, ammo and medipacks; perhaps I missed some puzzles to think a bit. Musics and cameras are perfect, but perhaps I should place one more camera showing the quadbike when the player drains the outside area; as I said, the quad was there from the very beginning, but after some hours playing I completely forgot it, even when I could see it when reloading a savegame! There are small defects with the textures but nothing important; appearance is good, but I think the game is a bit dark for my taste even when there are plenty of flares to use. Found only two secrets (the one using the key and another one using the UW chain). Excellent game. Highly recommended." - Jose (01-Feb-2015)

"My favorite level of this BtB. The gameplay is very well thought. The design is great and the shortcuts are superb to avoid bactracking ( seems like Dark Souls xDD). The lighting is not his strong point but it's not bad IMO. Higly recommended." - requiemsoul (07-Jan-2015)

"First of all I want congratulate MMAN for the third place of this btb. This amazing level diserve it. The gameplay is awsome with a very nice use of the various puzzle items, switchs, quad sequence and flipmap with the big cistern. The level is not very hard and can be playing by everyone. The secrets are also very well hidden but give a nice help for kill the various enemies of the adventure. I have very enjoying the night effect during the game because it's fun and give an original and nice touch for the level. There are also a very nice use of the audios and sounds atmosphere and a very nice use of the flybys cameras. I very liked the end of the level with the dark room and the artifact and Lara teleported with the quad. To conclude, a very nice level very well build and playable by everyone even for the beginners. Recommended." - Bigfoot (08-Oct-2014)

"I must say that I don't particularly like the dark levels for two reasons. The first is that the dark serves to hide the flaws and the second because you roll your eyes for the duration of the game. This level is then monochromatic, dark blue, in which bright objects are a stark contrast, such as anemones or golden statues. The gamepley is often confused and there are some obvious design flaws, as some textures stretched, or the walls that disappear because the author has not calculated the worldfarview. Also missing the textures of water after flipmap. But I must say that compared to his previous work the author is improving and I'm sure he will do better later." - Taras (08-Oct-2014)

"Lara starts this adventure after sunset. This outstanding game, taking place at several connected indoor-places, shows impressively, that it's possible to create games with a convincing nocturnal atmosphere without making the player stumble through areas of total annoying darkness. Bluish light in stunning huge halls combined with great sound-effects and interesting gameplay with lots of innovative ideas create a high professional game that is an absolute favourite of the this year's competition. Highly recommended!" - Christian (24-Sep-2014)

"A very big map. The dark blue lighting is not so lovely but goes well with the choice of background ambient 'dreamlike' audios , audios which are well chosen according to the different areas or tasks. So if the atmosphere does not really evocates we are in Cambodia, the atmosphere is pleasant and relaxing. None of the tasks are too challenging , good traps and interesting jumps at times in the first part of the game. In the later part , the player enters in a very big area which has to be flooded or drained and adjacent rooms which serve this purpose. Then the Quad has to be used again. The raiding in this big Areas section began very well but at one point I ended to be completely lost , given the size of the areas, and I did not had any clue of what I missed. And despite the fact I noticed how the areas are connected , at no point I had the knowledge to know what I was really doing (except for trying to find a few objects and reaching new areas) and what was the purpose of all this. The feeling of overwhelming turned eventually into boredom and I finished the level with the walkthrough , a thing I hate to do. The author's effort is big , but too ambitious for me." - eRIC (20-Sep-2014)

"Another very good level for BtoB2014. I really liked the way this level was laid out, how it was interconnected and how changes are made within the environment to allow you progress. At first the cistern areas feel quite daunting, but it all feels rather logical and rewarding, and you do feel like you are unravelling a well kept secret temple using the forces of nature. So the gameplay is rather engaging. There's a great timed sequence with the quad bike that's lots of fun. The architecture is quite huge, and fans of TR1 aqueduct-like levels will certainly enjoy this one. And it's capped of with a suitably challenging final battle. Objects are used effectively, and although there is a somewhat sombre use of dark and bluish lighting that is a tad hard on the eyes, there is some interesting light contrasts used to either light corridors or highlight a place that the player should be heading for - very useful in some of the large tower areas. Audio and sounds were very effectively used to compliment the progress through the level. Good stuff." - EssGee (15-Sep-2014)

"Another fabulous adventure that took me about 80 minutes to complete - in the second run through with the help of the walkthrough! The first time around this adventure is quite a brain teaser until you figure out how the large water tower area and the cistern "interact" as you flood and drain them respectively. So in that regard, this may be a level that can only be appreciated for its ingenuity in hindsight, while during the first play it could be quite frustrating as you run around a lot, trying to figure out how to do things in proper order. I thought the story worked quite well with this one and really loved the way the quad needs to be used towards the end - after the very brief encounter with it at the start. Aside from the large puzzle that the level is in its entirety, the intermittent tasks are not too hard and entertaining to accomplish. Very few enemies throughout, but some rather clever and elaborate secrets to find, often requiring a bit of backtracking at later time. I also like the ambient audio choice which often nicely support the subtle atmospheric changes. The only downside for me was indeed that it overall felt a bit too darklish blue, but that did not take much away for me from this unique experience. Definitely a well deserved contender for one of the top spots in this year's competition." - MichaelP (13-Sep-2014)

"This is the longest level so far in the 2014 BtB competition, clocking in for me at a bit under two and a half hours. It also provides some of the most imaginative and complex gameplay that I've encountered in any custom level, and I wouldn't have dared to try tackling it on my own without Dutchy's exhaustive walkthrough. Too bad it's all so damn dark. You explore a number of areas several different times while varying the water level in each one, sometimes draining it altogether. I interrupted play over a weekend, and without the walkthrough I would have been hopelessly lost upon my return. The tasks are engaging without being overly difficult. Oh, and I meant to comment in an earlier review that the animation of these Khmer Empire snakes is less than convincing. They come at you hissing in a sort of side saddle fashion without otherwise moving until they get close to you, then they start acting like real snakes. The eponymous Soma seems to have been thrown in as an afterthought, but the gameplay leading up to it is quite engaging, and the level deserves its high marks." - Phil (08-Sep-2014)

"Well, that's IT, what an excellent level! Beautiful (you'll get used to the bluish dark light, you'll see, that's only for atmosphere and there are a lot of flares), mightily varied in terms of actions, places, challenges and traps, creative, imaginative, very enjoyable: even the Quad sequence is good fun. Moreover, the entire level can be seen as a gigantic puzzle, for navigating by its several locations requires full use of our wits. The gameplay is not an easy job, but don't present impossibly difficult instances; in resume, difficulties were well pondered and dosed. There are few enemies up to the last part of the game, and these are well placed and not of the irritating kind, contributing to the operational fluency. It is a little difficult to devise the location of the secrets, and it involves some backtrack to pick up a few of them, but at least there are indications of their presence. As to the music, is non-stop at places, but not continually so. In resume, this game is a MUST. Congratulations and many thanks!" - Josey (07-Sep-2014)

"The last level of this contest for me, but not the least. It could disrupt my personal ranking... I just was amazed by the gameplay. This level was well built with interconnected tasks. The level begin in cambodia by night where Lara have to find a way to stop a water supply. A second part of the level takes place in two semi flooded rooms well designed (I really liked this part). Mostly cameras were really helpfull to indicate the next tasks. Some little remarks : textures was a little too wallpapered in outside area. The lighting is good but it could have been more varied in some rooms. Finally, good Traps, ingenious puzzles, fun ride with the quadbike, good level design. At the top of this btb competition. Highly recommended ! 10/10/10/8" - m.julien (01-Sep-2014)

"Despite being halfway through, I'm still constantly awed by BtB-Khmer entries. This one in particular can be easily misdjudged by the damp atmosphere it creates, but fortunately it's never dark (I don't think I ever lit a single flare here). The way this level is designed, however, is pure genious and honestly I have no idea how these builders come up with these concepts and develop them to this extent within the somewhat restrictive BtB timeframe. There are two key areas in this level, the firey path is actually very short, but the watery one is an amazing puzzle on its own, shifting the way you explore areas as you flood and drain the room. I'm sure the concept has been done before, but I was still amazed and even more so that, despite its scale, you're never truly lost here. Everything is tightly tied together and always within reach, provided you have good memory (or patience to revisit adjacent areas). The only thing that didn't feel right for me was lightning... it felt flat at times, but like I said, it does work perfectly to develop the dark and damp atmosphere, and coupled with the choice of audio background, it was quite gloomy. 90 minutes, 1 secret. 08/14" - Treeble (01-Sep-2014)

"While the first impressions of this level indeed were rather mediocre with a somewhat rushed outdoor setting, the level gets better and better the further you explore the temple and at the end this turns out to be one of the winners of this contest. There is an extremely nice mix in the gameplay which has everything a good level needs. There's a kind of main puzzle which is about flooding and draining two adjacent water halls around which half of the level takes place and which is very interestingly designed, and the smaller tasks around this don't stand behind - there's an extremely nice usage of boulders in this level, creative use of traps (like the puzzle room where you have to hurry because of the spikes coming from the ceiling and some quite demanding jump sequences. The builder always kept the players in mind so that if you missed a certain item he/she provided some sweet shortcuts so that the backtracking is kept to a minimum - great. There are only few enemies and I already thought that finding all the ammo would be in vain, but the final boss fight more than makes up for it, especially if you found the weapons in the secret rooms, secrets by the way are not extremely hard to find, but often contain good mini tasks like a tough timed run and are pretty rewarding. The atmosphere is another strong element in this level, even the quite uniform and very strong lighting worked with me and although a bit more contrast at times would've been better, I loved the various colours used in here. The cameras and sounds are also professionally used (aside from a somewhat hasty one moving away and to the drained river), I didn't mind the background audio being the same because I liked the track. The textures feel a bit wallpapered outside, but generally are very carefully applied and there are only few misplaced ones, overall the looks are quite good yet could be improved a bit here and there. Overall this 45 minute level certainly ends the BtB competition on a high note for me and easily takes the last spot in my personal Top 3. Thanks to all builders out there for another great competition!" - manarch2 (22-Aug-2014)

"This is one of the longest entries in the competition and quite complex in terms of gameplay. The area covered is huge and exploration at times confusing, but it all meshes together in an expert manner as the level progresses. There are plenty of fascinating tasks to accomplish, in particular an intricate and beautifully devised water draining/filling exercise. Enemies are few and far between until the boss ending, but you should have found plenty of goodies to fill your backpack by that time even if, like me, you miss half the generous secrets. Highly recommended." - Jay (20-Aug-2014)

"Quest for the Soma is a pretty big level with large, well constructed environments that brim with gameplay and things to do all over. From the beginning it wasn't very difficult to orient myself in the right direction and begin solving the level. The gameplay here is varied and involves different tasks, starting with entertaining platforming segments in partially flooded rooms with high platforms and rooms with slopes to jump off of over lava. Once the first few doors are opened more central areas to the level open up, such as the inner temple courtyard which splits off into a fiery section that has shorter, challenging segments of jumping across flame-emitting platforms over a burning floor, and the other way which leads to a duo of cisterns that reveal more pathways as the water levels are manipulated. The cisterns are impressively designed in scale of room and the content packed in them that made exploring them a pleasure. There is also a great sequence with the quadbike; while initially forgotten it gets used again to cross a major section of the temple in an intense and exciting way, and opens the quadbike up for more uses in the level. The finale is also exciting, pitting the player in a battle royale with Shivas and tinmen, and the author is generous to provide ample ammunition and weaponry to dispatch these foes. Also of note is the gameplay behind getting the secrets. I found four out of the six, and each find was a satisfying moment as they required revisiting areas after changes to activate a previously inaccessible switch which added interesting challenges and traps that enhanced the gameplay. That being said, sometimes it can be hard to keep track of all the changes in the level, particularly of the sequences involved in flooding/draining the cisterns as that is necessary to finish the level. This level stands out in atmosphere as to my knowledge is one of the few levels in the competition set at night, and it uses cameras and the soundtrack in an engaging way to keep the player interested. Though I feel that varying up the background audio or using a more subtle track would have improved the atmosphere as the primary audio track started to become a little overbearing. The level's texturing was very solid overall, though there were some cliffs that may benefit from receiving more attention, and the lighting was appropriate and atmospheric throughout. The room's final level containing the Soma that Lara sought also has a charming atmospheric quality to it. This level was definitely great fun, and from the current scoring it's well groomed to be one of the winner's of the competition too." - Relic Hunter (19-Aug-2014)

"The gameplay in Quest for the Soma flows quite smoothly and is never boring, with plenty of clever puzzles and traps, and a genius sequence with the quadbike. The level is quite complex in terms of layout, and the various areas are masterfully woven together, creating a nonlinear but smooth experience. Much appreciated is the tendency of the author to open up 'shortcuts' that allow the player to return to previous areas should they want or need to. I found the final boss fight to be quite cramped and more frustrating than enjoyable, though the enemy placement is fine otherwise. Fortunately, the builder is quite generous in providing ammo, medipaks, and especially flares, helping with the boss fight and increasing the visiblilty of the level, which can be rather dark at times. The music placement is good, and the camera hints are plentiful; although there are a few places that maybe should have camera hints but do not, I never had trouble finding my way. Other than some average looking cliffs, the texturing is well done, although a little bland in some places, such as the courtyard. I spent 1:30 and found 2 secrets in finishing the level, after which I decided to revisit most of the areas and found 3 more secrets; after doing so, I must say that the 5 secrets I found are brilliantly hidden and extremely difficult but fun and satisfying to find. I only wonder where the sixth is! Overall, Quest for the Soma is great fun to play and ingeniously laid out, and I highly recommend it. 10/10/10/9" - okuhtfesq (17-Aug-2014)

"When I started this level I thought it was pretty dark, but I was wrong, I have almost never used flares. This level is huge with very large rooms to flood or dry. I found a bit odd that there is only one square that is not toxic. That said, it is fun to play and not too difficult. Excellent level. Congratulations." - Drakan (15-Aug-2014)

"At the beginning of this level I had a little worried feeling that this level will be nothing special but I was wrong! This level will gradually get more and more impressive as you progress further, areas are very nicely cunstructed and big so that you might have a feeling of complexity at first revealing particular area but as you explore deeper everything will make logical sense (interconnected areas, shortcuts...) that I liked here very much. In terms of gameplay there are wonderful tasks to accomplish and puzzles to solve but what impressed me most in here were absolutely ingenious traps and secret placements. Yes I liked secrets most in this level of all btb2014 and didn`t finish the level until I found them all and must say the feeling of satisfaction is speechless...breathtaking. In terms of atmosphere this is very atmospheric level full of coloured lighting spot details, perhaps little bit dark in some places but it wasn`t a problem for me, also very nice choises of textures and fitting to the environents but sadly there are several squeezed/stretched textures, usually I can forgive texure problem if there are small amount of them or if they are almost unnoticable, but in here it is quite noticable, but even though the atmosphere is very nice where background ambiences were mostly fitting but on the other hand there could have been some different choises in some places, but I liked every epic moment with right choises of soundtracks mostly accompanying with smooth flyby sequence. Overall a very impressive atmospheric level full of creative tasks, puzzles, traps, timed and jump sequences and many memorable epic moments and many more which I liked very much. Took me 1:23 hours and found 6/6 secrets. 10/10/9/8" - OverRaider (14-Aug-2014)

"Right from the beginning, the gameplay in this level flows smoothly, and the next step always seems logical enough. But it really moves from 'good' to 'excellent' when you open up the inner courtyard. The gameplay highlight is the quest for the two Indra's Orbs, which takes place in and around a pair of huge multi-level flooded rooms. The quest is made up of many interconnected tasks which include puzzles, traps, jumps, timed runs, etc. The most thrilling task involves getting the quadbike from the front of the temple (where Lara abandoned it after using it for only a few seconds at the beginning), over some nearly vertical rocks, along a twisting ramp, through a timed door, and jumping along ramps high above the inner courtyard. Not only is it great fun, but it makes you appreciate the amount of thought the builder has put into the level design. The builder also thoughtfully provides shortcuts to get back to wherever you've already been, so that backtracking is kept to a minimum.
Enemies are scarce throughout the level - except in the end, when you have to go up against half a dozen of them at once. Since you have plenty of weapons and ammo by that time, it's not too hard to deal with them. I found only 2 of the 6 secrets, but I hope to get the rest on replay. The use of a new music track in each new area is good, but I do wish the ambient track wasn't the same throughout the level - it gets old after a while.
The looks of this level are not unattractive, but not particularly great either. The lighting is very highly coloured: deep blue in the outdoor areas and some inner locations, dark green in one of the flooded rooms, and red in a few areas with deadly water, with occasional pink highlights. Some areas are a bit too dark for my taste (though flares are generously provided). The final room which is pitch black with a single light ray is rather cool, though.
Overall: Superb gameplay and level design, though the visuals are slightly underwhelming. Recommended." - Mytly (09-Aug-2014)
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