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Level: BtB2014 - Shambhala's Pathfinder back home search
Author(s): Bigfoot
total rating:9.15 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Christian 9 8 9 9
Drakan 9 9 10 10
eRIC 8 9 9 10
EssGee 9 10 9 9
Jay 9 9 9 9
Jose 8 9 10 10
Josey 9 10 10 9
LOTRKingluis 8 8 9 9
m.julien 10 10 10 10
manarch2 8 8 9 9
MichaelP 8 9 9 9
Mman 9 10 9 9
Mytly 9 9 9 9
okuhtfesq 9 10 10 9
OverRaider 8 9 10 9
Phil 10 9 10 9
Relic Hunter 9 10 10 9
requiemsoul 7 8 10 9
Ryan 9 9 9 9
SlyRaider 10 10 10 10
Taras 9 8 9 8
Thiago 9 10 9 9
Treeble 9 9 10 10
category averages
(23 reviews)
8.78 9.13 9.48 9.22

Reviewer's comments

"I particularly love how the author enriches the environment with lots of details, objects and everything. I really liked the gameplay. The only downside in my opinion was the use of the quadbike. The texturing is very accurate and the Cambodian environment is great. I liked. Recommended and congratulations to author." - Thiago (10-Dec-2016)

"The atmosphere is very beautiful. Gameplay is peaceful, a bit backtracking and there are not puzzles. Good map. 70 minutes." - requiemsoul (21-Sep-2016)

"A great way to begin BtB2014 for me. This entry is in 3 parts. The first, Shores of Bolen del Gali, takes us through a beautiful, wet beach, completing a few tasks to reach Shambala's Pathfinder, the main part. If you get 3 secrets you can access a final one. Recommended." - Ryan (01-Feb-2016)

"Impressive this huge level with a fantastic architecture, beautiful environments and a huge dose of exploration. It took me about three hours to finish it. A lot of tasks to do, sometimes you'll have to backtrack to the same places, it can be difficult to find the right path when you start a new area, but when you find the first task the gameplay will be more fluid 'cause the camera hints and important items are not too hidden. I missed some puzzles to make me think and some more enemies here and there. Also there are a lot of plants too brilliant (not well tinted), but the level is interesting and entertaining anyway. Recommended." - Jose (01-Feb-2015)

"Excellent level divided into two parts plus a final appendix. The first part, on the outside, has a gamepley enough and aesthetically has some shortcomings, such as the disappearance of the rocky walls due to the fact that the author didn't calculate well the worldfarview. After resolving the outer part we find ourselves in the lost city, inside, and the level greatly improves, both as gameplay that from a point of view of aesthetics. The atmosphere is pleasant and the music is appropriate even if I don't like when the background music overlaps the interludes. But it isn't the fault of the author, longtime levels adopt this system. Not everyone knows that it would be enough to insert in the script the string "NewSoundEngine = disabled". Recommended." - Taras (13-Oct-2014)

"A very strong start (if you're playing in order). You begin in a non-linear beach area before moving on to a ruin and giant cave area. The map helps it's presentation by making cool use of teleport level jumps to change the level title as you progress. There's a great atmosphere with lots of foliage, interesting geometry and some original ideas like the yellow light streaming in at the ruin area. The lighting is a bit too whitish but on the forum I learned that Bigfoot at least has a good reason for that (they're colour-blind), and there are a couple of other things like the sea cutting off too obviously, but given the limits there's only so much that can be done about that.
Gameplay is strong and makes good use of camera hints to show you the next move in the large areas the level takes place in, it's primarily exploration focused with the toughest part being a small bike-trip. There's a couple of nice puzzles too. A couple of bits of forced damage seemed a bit irksome though, and the start could do with a hint or two to get you going. A great map to start on and one of my favourites in this contest." - Mman (04-Oct-2014)

"Shores of Bolen Del Gali (7 8 8 9) Good level as a starter , taking place in small areas around a beach. Good and clean design , gameplay is rather simple with a bit of backtracking. Shambhala's Pathfinder (8 9 9 10) This level have some of the most lovely places ever built to date in the story of trle. The first areas with gardens where a couple of objects have to be found and placed are so harmonious. Then the fun really begins with the big underground cave with the use of mines and the quad , torch puzzle combined with floating islands. Good use of objects , I only had wish a camera to show where to go with the quad. There again, the setting is really beautiful , original use of textures to create wooden buildings , also the setting evocates somehow the underground places of the early official TR games. The escape is not hard , anyway this game was a true delight especially for the eyes." - eRIC (02-Oct-2014)

"This level has a rather unique structure for a BtB level: it is divided into three parts with three different names, which give the impression that this is a multi-level adventure. The first and last parts take place in the 'real' world, off the coast of Burma, and the middle one takes place in the mystical realm of Shambhala. I think that the middle section could have been a bit more differentiated from the real parts, in terms of visuals and atmosphere. Still, on the whole, the structure works nicely.
The locations are very pretty. The seaside area at the beginning and the big cave near the end would have been spectacular if it weren't for the somewhat ugly wallpapered rock textures. The greyish lighting in the seaside location (the 'real' place) is understandable, given that it's raining. But the yellow lightrays pouring in through the skylights in Shambhala aren't reflected in the ambient lighting of the rooms, which is just as brownish-grey as in the real areas. There is a lot of greenery in both locations, which looks nice and, luckily, doesn't get in the way of Lara's movements. The plants growing on top of crates look a bit unrealistic, though.
The gameplay is fairly enjoyable, though it involves mostly switch- and artefact-hunts. There is rather a lot of back and forth within certain areas - for instance, in the seaside area or in the big cave with the floating islands. A couple of shortcuts that open up after you've already visited places once would have been very helpful (though a few such shortcuts are provided in the Shambhala area with the use of teleports). On the whole, though, the gameplay flows quite well, and I was stuck only a couple of times (when some camera hints were missing). Enemies are very few, and only the two bosses near the end are at all challenging, and that too, not if you have some heavy ammo to spare.
Overall: A pleasant and charming level, and one of my favourites in this year's BtB. Recommended." - Mytly (02-Oct-2014)

"A beautifully crafted level, which feels like three levels in one, due to the internal teleportation. I found it a little hard to get started in the open lagoon area and it felt like there was a lot of back and forth in progressing through this area. Nonetheless, an impressive opening setting. The beauty kicks up a notch when you are teleported into the temple areas, where there is a true sense of fantasy (almost Prince of Persia-like) with it's eerie golden sky lighting. There is more teleportation here which takes a bit of orienting to understand the links but works well. And then the progression to even more fantasy with a huge (yes, really huge) temple cave, complete with floating island paths. There's a very interesting use of island hopping with the quadbike. One suggestion to the author would be to think a little more about static camera placement from the player's perspective, so that it gives a better point of reference. I got caught up with one camera that showed some spikes going down, but couldn't figure where it was, even though it was actually quite nearby. The atmosphere of this level is almost faultless, and objects are used with purpose and are colour and light-matched to the surrounding rooms really well. And there is some very impressive and complex architectural design. Enemies are not over-used, but when they do appear, it feels right. I wasn't fortunate enough to locate any secrets, so I can't really comment on them other than to say they must be quite well hidden. I liked the choices of audio cues used, which matched well to the situation that they were played. Overall a very professional and well thought out level." - EssGee (15-Sep-2014)

"You sort of get two levels for the prize of one here, as for the first half hour you explore around a beautiful beach embedded with high rocks and then for the remaining 45 minutes you are busy inside a temple of sorts. Both settings are wonderfully crafted (despite a few large walls that look a bit wallpaperish) and provide an exciting environment to raid in. I especially liked the many look-through moments in the first part. What I liked a little less is the repeated backtracking in part 1, which pads the game out a bit unnecessarily and the constant thunder got a bit on my nerves as well. Part 2 has more going for it in terms of gameplay, with a few sneaky jumps, nice little floating islands to navigate (inculding with a torch in hand), elevators, a short quad ride and a grande finale with a gong, shivas and a quick escape. All great fun and very entertaining - and overall for sure one of the highlights of this year's BtB." - MichaelP (13-Sep-2014)

"I know nothing about what goes into building a custom level. However, I'm aware that it certainly requires painstaking effort and a game plan that must be carefully mapped out before the work actually begins. For these reasons I'm absolutely astounded that a level of this complexity could be crafted and completed within the time constraints of the BtB competition. It is obviously the creation of an experienced builder, and it deserves to place high in the final standings. The playing area is a sprawling expanse with many and varied tasks, including a tricky quad bike ride over an obstacle course so that the added weight will trigger an elevator to raise Lara to a location she could not otherwise reach. Even with Dutchy's thoroughly documented walkthough I required a bit more than two hours to complete this adventure. The lighting is dark, in keeping with the theme's character, but I could see everything around me with no difficulty. I'm still early in this series, having played and reviewed only four levels thus far, but from what I've seen I believe this will likely turn out to be the most technically proficient competition of them all. Highly recommended." - Phil (04-Sep-2014)

"I thought that "Submersion of Angkor" was the better level of this year and far, up to play this level (the 14th in my list). The level seems to be huge and non-linear. But if you find your way, the next of the level is easy. It can be divided in 3 parts. The first takes place in coastal flooded ruins with some backtracking. In the second, Lara have to find 2 dried lilies in height rooms of the lost temple. Author intelligently used teleportation feature. The last part takes place in an huge cave. I didn't know what to do at the beginning, but after visiting the cavern I found my way. This level isn't too hard, you just have to open your eyes. Texturing is almost perfect and the architecture is just perfect. This masterpiece competes with "submersion of Angkor" for the top of the ranking. Highly recommended!10/10/10/10" - m.julien (01-Sep-2014)

"What a way to start off this year's BtB wave. This level is actually split into three different parts. The arrival took me way too long, I honestly felt a bit cheated at times. While I've enjoyed the overall exploratory nature of the level, I can't say I liked the constant back and forth running as I tried to make sense of what I was supposed to do next. When I eventually found the hidden underwater passage it all started coming together, although a lot of backtracking was still in place. The shore is gorgeous though, so I found myself stopping to admire it every time I passed by. The second part take place "indoors", but don't expect tight and narrow hallways. The environments are huge and the main hub area is beautiful. The quadbike made a brief appearance, but long enough to cause a small aggravation with a series of jumps. Oh yes, the mine field... I don't really remember when was the last time I have seen it (if ever) in a level, so it was a nice addition. After finally retrieving the artifact, you're taken to the third area which was rather short on my playthrough as I managed to reach the end without finding a single secret whatsoever. All in all, I enjoyed this level a lot, but it's still too early to be calling favorites I guess. 110 minutes. 08/14" - Treeble (01-Sep-2014)

"A brilliant level in terms of creativity, clearly shown both in gameplay and utilization of the available objects. In other words, an interesting level, from beginning to end. It is divided in three parts. In the first part, there are some backtracks between previously visited sites, but nothing that could occasion many boredom sighs. In this phase, paying attention to the (numerous) camera hints and exploring conveniently the environment, will be enough to proceed smoothly. As best features, we have the lever/chain/trapdoors' puzzle, the unexpected rising of a platform, the unexpected utility of a well hidden movable block, the illumination, and the beauty of the underwater areas. A very lovely phase, in fact. In the second part (that really comprises two big and quite different places, one very leafy and another very dark and rocky), the map's size can disorient the player, especially if he/she doesn't play attention to the flybys; and in the “beautiful" rooms of this part, a little less vegetation certainly would improve very much the gameplay (by the way, all the competitors that I have met up to now seem to appreciate very much indeed the exuberance of the Cambodian forests). Here I liked very much the incenses' use (perhaps this use have a slightly obscure result, but at least the buddhas and the small flowers that were intriguing Lara are not far away), and the originality in transporters/quadbike 's use, and objects' choice. Nevertheless, this part is somewhat prejudiced by a certain darkness and the fact that important objects (as the incenses and a mine detonator part, for example), are too well hidden. Finally, the third part of the level is a simple return to the first part's environment, in order to provide an ending for the game - an ending not overmuch satisfactory, due to a perfectly unnecessary earthquake. In terms of difficulty, this level does not appeal to athletic or fighting abilities; instead of this, it requires attention to details and camera hints, logic reasoning and a good store of explorer's patience, in order to not leave a single stone (or leaf) unturned. Wonderful job!" - Josey (27-Aug-2014)

"A very nice atmospheric level consisting of two parts where I had more enjoyment in a second part and this part is also the longer one. At the beginning in visual aspects I didn`t like that too much visible end of the world but this was the only issue in atmosphere aspect as the areas are very well constructed, nicely lit and interestingly textured except the wallpapered rocky walls and also wallpapered rocky walls and ceiling in a huge cave-like area. Despite this textures are applied impressively. In gameplay terms there is much to do and mostly enjoyable but I think there could have been some more complex puzzles and also many important items were just hidden in a shatterable boxes or barrels. The jump sequences were really nice and let`s say on a medium difficulty and quodebike tour was very well thought out. There are also fantastic flyby camera sequences which were smooth and always accompanying by fitting soundtrack so that always a pleasure to watch. About secrets I must say that the two required secrets to reveal a third one which reveals the last one is rather a nice secret system idea but in my opinion it could have been more complexly thought out. But the first two are quite well hidden what I liked. A nice level which will keep you busy with its original ideas and for the eyecandy atmosphere. Playtime 1:08 and found 4/4 secrets. 8/9/10/9" - OverRaider (23-Aug-2014)

"My first level BtB 2014, it starts well ! I saw some bugs camera in the great room of the waterfalls, but I haven't other defects to give. The locations are stunning and realistic (animals in water). There are few enemies (snakes are highly resistant) and many puzzles. The secrets are well hidden, and each secret requires the previous secret ! Good job !!" - SlyRaider (22-Aug-2014)

"I got so lulled into a false sense of security by the lack of enemies in the first part of this level that the sudden snake attack really made me jump. We're off to a good start in the Back to Basics with this quite long offering. The settings are lovely and the gameplay is fluid and, whilst not exactly linear, always seems to make perfect sense so it's hard to get stuck for the most part. It's quite long for a B2B, but the time just flies by. Good use of transporters to access new areas and the most inventive quad bike ride I can recall. Great fun." - Jay (20-Aug-2014)

"Very nice and pleasant level that is in 3 parts. The difficulty is lower and everyone can finish it easily. I loved the final part in this huge cave with floating islands. I had a little trouble finding the second part of the detonator. Congratulations!" - Drakan (15-Aug-2014)

"A very interesting entry right here that actually somehow consists of multiple levels that together tell a coherent and exciting adventure. The first part serves like an introduction, getting us familiar with the setting and beginning with gentle exploratory gameplay throughout nicely constructed areas. The submerged temple and the coastline felt very authentic, as well as the surrounding caves and jungle glades. It takes a little while to get started as there will be revisiting areas and backtracking necessary to progress, but once you figure out roughly where everything is the first part flows together pretty nicely, a little on the easy side but without being dull. The second part is the real deal though; the atmosphere becomes very mystical and eye catching with yellow lights streaming through the Shambhalan rafters amid great use of fauna and the Khmer texture set to create a very believable setting. Even nicer is the large valley central in this part that hosts a beautiful waterfall shrine, ceremonial chambers, and even remnants of a previous excursion that tried to uncover Shambhala's secrets. Gameplay here was also executed well with significantly less backtracking involved. The first half of the second part is an interesting search for a pair of incenses and offerings, and it utilizes teleporters in a neat way. The valley portion focuses more on exploration and having keen eyes to gather the necessary items to progress, and also features a mine field, a short but fun quadbike ride, a few encounters with stone soldiers, snakes, and a tiger, and overall enjoyable segments of platforming. I enjoyed how the hunt for the secrets was well integrated in the gameplay, all while still making it optional and not a necessary component to get the full experience of the level to conclude its premise. The conclusion also deserves honorable mention, as finding the final artifact triggers an earthquake and transitions to the final, much shorter part that serves nicely in wrapping up the adventure. This is really a standout entry for me as it has a lot going for it with good gameplay and very good sceneries that kept me engaged. I just feel that those rock/cave walls seemed overly wallpapered, but otherwise the aesthetics are top- notch. I had a lot of fun here, and I'd love to see this level featured in the top three of the contest." - Relic Hunter (15-Aug-2014)

"1st part (8;8;9;8) We start in a coastal Environment from where all places we will visit a lot of times are accessable via underwatercaves. And so let's start with the only a bit negative point of this game. There are several 'forbidden' slopes in this game - an earlier save has to be reloaded when Lara tries to get out of the water at places seh is not meant to do so. This should have been sorted out before release. I don't mind to return several times to places I've visited before - but less could have been more here. The atmosphere in the valley the wscene tkaes places Looks nice, but not that extraordinary. 2nd. part (9;9;10.10) The WOW-effect starts here. We jump via teleporter between different Areas just to find two lightning sticks to - finish the game? No, to get to another stunning area with straight forward gameplay. The excellent lit rooms in the beginning of this part are a pleasure for the eye, gameplay is created very well, many refreshing ideas are spicing up this part. A nice quad bike-ride in the following section with very creative gameplay leads us to the higher parts of this outstandning area. Not only a Level as part of a competition, but a real adventure on it's own" - Christian (12-Aug-2014)

"What a great custom level! Note that this level is split into two parts; while both are good, the second is where the 'wow' factor really sets in. The gameplay is fun throughout, with plenty of exploring, some amazing platforming sequences, and clever puzzles. It also manages to strike a great balance between difficulty and guidance, as aside from one instance (a switch that opens a door inside a hard-to- notice crawlspace in the first section), it is never too difficult to find one's way, despite some unorthodox progression. The enemies are rather sparse but well placed, and there is plenty of ammo, pickups, and flares. Note that the builder's comment about secrets is a little misleading: it says that you must find the first three secrets to get the fourth, and while this is technically true, the third secret is itself at the very end and requires use of the first two secrets. Music, sound, and cameras are utilized well - really no specific comments there. The lighting is quite nice, as it fits the environment while remaining bright enough to see clearly. The texturing is excellent overall, and many areas are quite detailed with lush plants, trees, butterflies, and static objects giving a realistic appearance. One visual problem is the cliff textures, which are applied in a very wallpapered way, most notably on the waterfall cliffs at the very beginning and the giant outdoor area in the second part (where the almost completely flat ceiling compounds the problem); although this may be a fault of the texture pack allowed for the competition, it does take away from the realism and beauty of the architecture and other textures. In all, Shambala's Pathfinder is an extremely fun, engaging, and beautiful level. I spent 1:45 and found all four secrets." - okuhtfesq (08-Aug-2014)

"The strengths of this ambitious level are the eye-catching sceneries, which are quite plentiful actually. The atmosphere is really excellent most of the time, with superb architecture, nice glances in other rooms, very detailed geometry, nice choice of music and quite atmospheric lighting. The textures are - apart of a few forgivable and probably unavoidable cracks - perfectly applied, but the sole thing that annoyed me were the large flat walls that looked pretty much wallpapered, both in the outside area as well as in the large underground cave. Also, the partly not strong enough lighting makes the rooms feel a bit sterile sometimes, but those are the only gripes I had with this otherwise excellent visuals. The gameplay started a bit confusing, with a lot of dead ends at the start, but makes more sense the further you progress. The quest for the two Buddha offerings was quite challenging but not because of hard jumps, but because you had to carefully observe the environment how to get to a certain place, very intriguing. I also like the jumps to and with the torch, the minefield and the extremely fun quadbike tour across the lake. Shortly said, everything still feels a bit minimalistic and I feel the areas aren't used to their potential, although the minimalistic design appealed to me in another way. There are only few enemies, but they are very well placed, the object design is apt to the setting and the secrets are quite hard to find. The secret system is nice, but regarding there are only two "regular" secrets finding two other secrets in succession as a bonus is maybe a bit too much - if you just miss one of the first two secrets, you won't find any other ones. Anyway, there are plenty of nice ideas realised in this 50 minute long level, and it's certainly the best looking game I've played until now from this year's BtB, and with a few more tweaks it could even have been much more beautiful." - manarch2 (08-Aug-2014)

"This game really makes the author look like a very creative person, with the ability to enjoy the players with each courner of the game! The gameplay although sometimes tedious, was kept original with new doors to open and many, MANY lovely jumping! The athmosphere of each level is just astonashing, with great texturing and object placing (along with some nice lightning aswell!). The level falls off a little bit on the sound/audio area due to bad use of music (I disliked it... sadly). Only athmosphere music was good. I missed the hardness of the enemies. Recommended and a possible winner for this contest!" - LOTRKingluis (07-Aug-2014)
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