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Level: Emerald Dreams back home search
Author(s): GMac
total rating:9.25 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
DJ Full 9 9 10 9
Drakan 9 10 10 10
izzynoodles 9 8 9 9
Jay 9 9 10 10
Jose 7 9 10 10
manarch2 7 8 9 9
McRaider 10 10 10 10
Mman 9 10 10 10
Mytly 8 8 9 9
OverRaider 9 9 9 10
Phil 9 10 10 9
Samu 9 9 10 10
category averages
(12 reviews)
8.67 9.08 9.67 9.58

Reviewer's comments

"It's a matter of time until, wandering over the world of custom levels, you stumble upon George's mystic corner and find yourself in need of just that. It's always made of the same elements but always a tad different from the rest, like a separate universe, its epic scope forming isolation like in no other - sometimes a chamber hosts a single item or a cave exists just as a bridge between levels, supervised by an obligatory guide adding to mystery with his predominant silence and later primitive phrasing. In short, it's easy to get overwhelmed but hard to get lost - this time the only spot which I found unfair was picking up two crystals to unlock the third one. The platforming in the lake part is just excellent, its puzzle importance build-up is also flawless, but my favourite design was lowering Ahmet HP to save more bullets for the final fight - I always notice such special care. Prefinale is a little downhill, it feels like replaying Playtime with similar structure and the same tedious jumping sequence included, but the game conclusion redeems and rewards a lot." - DJ Full (09-Feb-2017)

"Dreams (too short to rate) - 5+1+4 minutes: Set in a very similar setting to the hub of Imprisoned Spirits, there is at least a different texture set used in this game that still creates a too sterile and greyish atmosphere. The sounds and the camera flybys are well done and textures are rather flawlessly applied this time at least, the lighting makes more sense than before and is not as psychedelic as in the game's precedessor, although there are a few black shadows that don't make so much sense. Gameplaywise there is only little to do in this hub level, with a few items to collect in the first visit, a very short second visit and a longer, but plainly tedious walk with the guide through a long dark tunnel (could be shorted to a third if you ask me). The one secret is nice but I only needed to shoot the left lion head to open the door (?)...
Emerald Castle (8-8-9-8) - 25 minutes: All in all the best level of the pack, with quite a bit of varied gameplay (even if almost bare of puzzles) - especially with moving platforms, a series of timed runs and good use of exploding boulders. What I didn't like so much were the use of wraiths that just lower Lara's health and there's barely a way to avoid larger health loss (the return to the extinguisher is long and narrow). Maybe the choice of textures didn't work as well as in some other levels but the atmosphere as such is still quite convincing with good quality of objects, sounds and lighting.
Emerald Lake (7-7-9-9) - 20 minutes: The atmosphere created in here is certainly the most convincing, with a huge outside area and many different tower structures in the far that you eventually climb; I also liked the colour scheme in here more than in the previous level. There's not so much effort in enemies this time and the shootable fence is not a very nice detail, as well as I didn't like the quest for five switches at the start (it would be better if that quest was more clear right from the start), but the tasks on the towers are quite decent again, even if touching the edge of tedium at times with long ladders to climb. I still enjoyed the fire ladder and the timed runs and the progression on top of the towers is rather smooth and clever, but there are no puzzles to solve either.
Emerald Eyes (7-8-8-9) - 25 minutes: At the start this level was really not quite enjoyable, with a repetitive and rather huge maze setting and confusing gameplay, but the tasks get clearer towards the end. The huge room with multiple ledges to find the lasersight could've been designed in a more intriguing way, it's fairly dull to get through, but I enjoyed the tasks to get the revolver with a few interesting timed runs. Like the other levels there are no real puzzles to solve (the torch one is too simple and straightforward to call it one) which is a real shame, the only really clever moment was to shoot the machine eyes but it's still rather easy, as well as the boss fight with the Thlymedykes that follows. Textures and lights are professionally, even if a tad too repetitively used and quite strong, they are on par with the previous level while the atmosphere doesn't feel as strong because of the similarity of all rooms.
Summary: While this is an improvement in the visuals with very clean texturing and more reasonable lighting, the gameplay is even a bit less interesting as in the previous game with too much tedium and almost no puzzles to solve in the entire game. The enemy use is also not as inspired with not much diversity, while the secret system is quite rewarding this time. Overall, just as all levels from this builder, a solid and professional but not quite outstanding experience that took me 1:20 hours to finish." - manarch2 (17-Sep-2015)

"This is a really enjoyable level set that gets more tedious as the levels progress. The first level in particular (Dreams) I thought was a wonderful and scenic design, the spiked explosive balls made the second level a welcome challenge especially when playing without using any health packs. Emerald Lake level had some brilliantly challenging obstacles, but it went a little downhill with the last level (Emerald Eyes). The main goal is to find the Revolver and Laser Sight which are at the end of lengthy puzzles/mazes and you would have expected to find an important item instead of a weapon, but granted, the Revolver is needed to progress. Not many enemies at times, but I was pleased with how well hidden all the secrets were. Took about 3 and half hours to complete." - izzynoodles (16-Aug-2015)

"I played The Imprisoned Spirits NG (not the Special Edition, nor the original non-NG versions) several years ago, and enjoyed it, so I was pleased to see a continuation of that series.
Dreams: This is a tiny hub level, in a similar setting as A Time to be Born in TIS-NG, with the main room being a huge cavern over a deadly lake, crossed by wooden bridges leading to the entrances of the other levels. There is just a bit of additional gameplay in this level at the beginning. You come back to this level between each of the others. The guide – who appears in all the levels, but only as a spectator in the rest of the levels – leads Lara to the last level in the interlude between the last two levels.
Emerald Castle: This level is similar in style to the majority of the levels of TIS-NG: a brooding castle-like interior. Fortunately, it does not suffer from the unnecessary bigness of the levels of TIS-NG. The colour scheme is still predominantly grey (as is common to all of GMac’s NG levels), but, in keeping with the ‘emerald’ theme, there’s quite a lot of greenery too. The gameplay involves getting 3 Dragon Keys in three different parts of the level. One of the quests involves a series of timed runs, which could have been fun if there had been some camera clues; without them, the runs turn into a series of trial and error, as you desperately try to figure out where the door you opened is. Throughout the level, there are several very odd explosive spiky balls that look like rollingballs, but explode if you shoot at them. These initially resulted in large health losses for Lara, until I found out that she could shoot them from safety from several rooms away, even through solid walls! Elevator tiles are used well in this and the next level.
Emerald Lake: This is the type of level GMac does best: a surreal outdoor area with huge complex architecture rising up out of heavy fog. As the name of the level indicates, the setting is a greenish deadly lake, with the whole level laid out in front of you from the beginning. The beginning is a bit dull, as you wander all over the level looking for concealed switches. But the fun begins once you open up paths to the upper areas. I particularly liked a trapped ladder climb and a timed run on the top of the structures.
Emerald Eyes: IMO, a better name for this level might be ‘Emerald Maze’, considering the labyrinthine level layout. At the beginning, you have to go back and forth among a number of very similar rooms – at one point, I was so confused that even the walkthrough didn’t seem to be able to help. Later, you encounter a huge 3D maze-like area that’s textured almost entirely in a single grey stone texture. It’s not only visually boring, but also makes it difficult to get your bearings in this complex area, since everything looks alike. The use of a puzzle receptacle that is different from the ones used in the previous levels also makes for some confusion later in this level. There are some good bits in this level too, such as several enjoyable jumping tasks, as well as the double-boss fight at end: first the huge skull enemy (whose eyes give the level its name), then the Thlymedykes themselves (modified demigods).
Overall: As with most of GMac’s levels, this one leaves me with mixed feelings. There’s no doubt he’s a very talented builder, and his levels are almost always enjoyable. But they are also almost always very, very similar in style – the same limited set of textures, very similar lighting, the same set of objects, very similar settings, and so on. I find myself wondering what he could accomplish if only he would broaden his range a bit. What would a GMac level in, say, a sunny city setting be like? How about one in realistic snowy surroundings? In an oriental setting, maybe? I doubt we’ll ever see these, or any other variations. But it might just be something for the builder to consider when planning his next level.
Recommended.
" - Mytly (02-Feb-2015)

"Distinct style from this author. Marvellous environments very well textured and lightened, fantastic architecture like in a professional game, extraordinary atmosphere... Always a pleasure to play his levels. On the other hand I think the last two levels were too no-lineal with a lot of backtracking; in the huge lake I turned fool to look for the hidden buttons to continue playing. Were are the guns? I had problems to shoot some lion tongues only with the pistols. Also to destroy the small eyes of the last boss, I wasted a lot of time. Anyway I can recommend this new jewel of the custon levels. Thanks George!" - Jose (30-Jan-2015)

"I've been nursing this one for several weeks while playing BtB and other lesser levels on the side. Once again George demonstrates that he's one of the best in the business. It's been a while since I played Imprisoned Spirits, but I recognized the hub motif that's also presented here, forming the glue that holds the three levels together. Each is entertaining in its own right, but I felt that the second one (Emerald Lake) is particularly well conceived and executed. My game clock registered nearly three hours by the time I placed the final Dragon Key after having entered the boss area with only five revolver rounds and my pistols (thank God for god mode). Gameplay is such that I had sweaty palms throughout much of the adventure, what with all those spikes and lava pools and curved jumps into tight openings, despite the advance warnings given in Dutchy's walkthrough. I saw nothing unusual or out of place with the ambient sounds, which felt consistently appropriate for the occasion. It seemed to me, however, that George must have grabbed the first two blokes he saw off the street to do the voiceovers (the guide being so bad as to make me cringe). Oh well, I don't play Tomb Raider for the audio, I play for the fun it provides, and this one delivers in spades. High recommendations." - Phil (25-Sep-2014)

"Excellent level until the end. Although it is not a long game as The Imprisoned Spirits, I have spent a couple of hours very entertaining. The atmosphere of the level is excellent and the gameplay is very good and this makes it recommendable.Great work GMac and thanks for the adventure!" - McRaider (13-Sep-2014)

"If you've played any other levels by this builder (and, if not, you really should) then you'll know to expect splendid architecture, lighting, atmosphere and well chosen music. Yes, it's all here in this revisit to an old theme and it feels better than ever. The emerald lake section that will be very familiar from Imprisoned Spirits, seems this time around to be even more haunting. Gameplay is well rounded and satisfying and of a medium difficulty level. Enemies are mostly ahmets with some pesky wraiths and a boss ending with some beautifully re-textured demigods thrown in for good measure. Not to be missed." - Jay (10-Sep-2014)

"I've never played one of its levels and I took great pleasure with these levels of GMAC. They are quite short and my favorite is Emerald Lake. They are all very beautiful visually and quite easy with thoughtful puzzles. I also loved the music. To make absolutely!" - Drakan (09-Sep-2014)

"Very nice level set from GMac where one level serves as a hub level giving access to other three amazing levels one by one. Atmosphere here is also breathtaking and that in all visual aspects and audio aspects as well, but there is something little what I didn`t really like about audio here and that foreground and background audio are playing at a same time and that isn`t really a good choice in my opinion, but well even though the background ambience lowered Db while soundtrack was playing but we can hear background either, and other issue about music is that the ambience is just too silent for my taste, but these are the only issues in atmosphere aspects as the environments are extremely nicely textured and lit, objects are carefuly chosen and placed, enemies are locked inside the cage or lurking from deadly water and all this just for more dramatic atmosphere as they cannot attack you, but of course you encounter some enemies here and all those are placed perfectly. In terms of gameplay there is much to do like exploration, some very nice jump sequences as well as some hidden switches and even though I don`t really like the type of gameplay where I must looking for switches, but in here it was very well thought out as the tasks between them are creative and never boring also various traps to make some more challenge in your way, and by the way the switches are hidden very well. Also there could have been some more puzzles to solve and some more complex tasks but I think this is very nice level set as it is and the whole progression is entertaining. Secrets are rather nicely hidden but there are some perhaps more on the easy side but even though you have to find all 4 to obtain the last one and that making some satisfaction to players. I am definitely looking forward to GMac`s other releases. Playtime 2:02 secrets 5/5. 9/9/9/10" - OverRaider (08-Sep-2014)

"In the beginning of the game you arrive to a huge cave, which works as a hub area for three other levels. These include two dungeon-type levels and a one mysterious lake level containing some high tower structures. While the gameplay may not be the most groundbreaking, it's definitely designed with great care and expertise throughout the game. Most of the gameplay involves item hunting, jumping, timed runs, avoiding traps and other quite action oriented tasks, which was good to my liking. Most of the tasks are also relatively easy, meaning that this game should be suitable for those people who don't like extreme challenges. I got stuck with the gameplay only in Emerald lakes level, which contains few well hidden switches and climbable walls. Because of these I was sometimes running around without knowing where to go and what to do, but after all I was able to find these well hidden things relatively quickly, meaning that this was not a big issue for me. Actually, most of the time it's quite obvious what to do, and I think that couple of tough push block puzzles, switch puzzles or something like that could have been a nice addition to the levels. However, I didn't find these to be necessary for an enjoyable gameplay. What comes to the environment, it is in my opinion very atmospheric and beautiful and I also liked a lot the use of colors. For example, the blue distance fog in Emerald lakes level, green liquid pools and plants spice up the otherwise grey environment very nicely. The environment together with sound tracks, especially those from Myst game, creates a very deep atmosphere, which felt also sometimes kind of mysterious. To summarize, this is a very atmospheric game including professionally designed and fluent gameplay, which allows me to recommend this game highly to everybody." - Samu (05-Sep-2014)

"It seems quite nicely coincidental that the successor to Imprisoned Spirits comes out just after I review that set, so I decided to handle this one the same way.

Dreams This is the hub level, and the main room is very similar to the one in the originals' first hub, unlike the oppressive organic greys in IS however there's now more colour and greenery, and the place has more of an natural feel compared to the surreal alien environments in the original. While you go here multiple times the gameplay remains quite straightforward, and this is just to introduce the main theme and provide a transition between each level.

Emerald Castle: This is an overgrown dungeon type setting that moves onto a large impressive chamber you work your way up part-way through. While less colourful than the previous level there's plenty of green and other colours mixed in, and each area has different moods, objects are also good (although some more new enemies would have been nice). There's a bunch of tasks here, with platforming challenges, a series of timed runs, and some strange spike shooting tasks that are about minimising damage from the explosions. It keeps a good pace and stays clears even if a couple of timed switches could have done with camera hints (although I can see why they aren't there). A couple of bits of minor forced damage are also unfortunate. The secret is nicely done and manages to be very effectively hidden in plain sight as well. A great intro to the main levels of the set.

Emerald Lake: Here you return to the outside theme from the original Imprisoned Spirits, but the increase in greenery and other new objects gives the theme a whole new life, and the geometry here more dense and complex than any of the original exterior maps, the only thing I wasn't so sure is that music use seemed a bit lacking, with most being at the end; one or two more could have added to the atmosphere. The start is a bit of a switch hunt, but at least the open level design means you can usually see switches from elsewhere. After that it picks up with various platforming and exploration/observation tasks and an interesting ladder climb. A nice re-interpretation of the original IS theme and arguably stronger than any of the exterior maps from that.

Emerald Eyes: This is another dungeon-type level, and the closest to the original set in atmosphere, but the greenish water brings in a bit more colour. This uses the laser eyes boss in a creative way by introducing it early and promoting you to explore to find the items you need to fight it, with the main area being a large room with various alcoves to jump to. While not too tricky compared to many modern sets the difficultly spikes a bit here with lots of partially curved jumps to make to small ledges. There's a odd moment where a key is used in a completely different receptacle to before, but beyond that it flows well. It also wraps up with a nice final boss encounter and cutscene.

While this is quite a bit shorter than the original levels I think the individual quality is higher, with denser tasks and less empty areas. Whether it's an intentional shift or not I also appreciate this set moving away from the omnipresent grey that Gmac's modern sets have been beset by (even if I gave Imprisoned Spirits a pass for being one of the originators). There's also some small bits of voice acting to add a little to the story, which is a nice addition. A great set, and a worthy successor to IS, although it doesn't quite get full marks because the smaller size makes the individual issues stick out more." - Mman (21-Aug-2014)
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