Level: BtB2015 - Arcadian Dream back home search
Author(s): Chronicles5
total rating:9.18 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
Adrian 10 10 10 10
Bene 10 10 10 10
Christian 10 9 10 9
DJ Full 8 9 9 8
Drakan 9 9 10 10
EssGee 7 9 9 10
janachorider 9 9 9 9
Jay 9 9 9 9
Jose 5 9 8 10
Josey 8 8 10 10
Magnus 5 8 9 9
manarch2 8 8 9 9
MichaelP 9 8 10 9
Mman 9 10 10 9
Mytly 8 9 10 10
Phil 10 10 10 10
Relic Hunter 9 9 9 10
requiemsoul 9 9 9 9
Ryan 9 9 10 10
Tolle87 10 10 10 10
Treeble 9 10 10 10
category averages
(21 reviews)
8.57 9.10 9.52 9.52

Reviewer's comments

"Impressive. Everybody can see Mike is a very good architect. The design is fantastic with an incredible architecture, perfect use of objects to decorate and create nice environments and a extraordinary tecturization. The enemies are well placed, and even when I never found the uzis, there's enough ammo for the extra weapons, and enough medipacks too. But be a good architect doesn't involve be a good builder. The level is very very huge with hundreds of tasks, and even when I found clever puzzles, it's too much no lineal for me to like having access to very large areas and a lot of backtracking. After half an hour running around and around finding always dead ends the player realizes that it wont be easy to advance and find the right path; evenmore there are many hidden things you can miss, like the cascade you can cross and get often stucked. There is a good work with cameras and flybys, but sometimes they point to places the player never visited, creating more confusion. Definitely, a very good level, but only to play watching the walkthrough." - Jose (10-Oct-2017)

"Trust me to pick a completely non-linear level after not having played a level for about eighteen months. I have to confess I was totally out of my depth playing wise and was only able to negotiate to the end with extensive use of the walkthrough. Arcadian Dream is a great looking level, cleverly and beautifully constructed with a set of hard earned secrets. The gameplay is challenging but the path one must travel is convoluted to say the least, and for mine this is a big issue which is reflected in my down-scoring of this category. It's hard to immerse yourself in a level when you feel like you are lost and disoriented. Gameplay issues aside, it's a testament to Chronicles5 that he managed to build such a huge,complex and good-looking map in the limited BtB competition period. Well done." - EssGee (29-Dec-2016)

"This is a town setting with a temple complex below it (which makes up most of the level). Overall the level is great looking, with impressive sights everywhere, and good lighting and texturing (including some quite unique stuff). There are some more dull and flat areas but they're the minority, and the highs are among the best of the contest so far. There's a lot of good object use to flesh out the visuals too.
This is a huge map, to the point I almost wonder how it fits into the engine limitations, but I guess the answer is that it makes clever use of space. It's also very complex and non-linear; for the most part that's fine, but there's almost inevitably one or two things you miss and end up stuck at some point. On the other hand, the structure makes backtracking quite minimal despite the size (assuming you don't get lost) and it's possible to reach most areas quickly from any other area, which helps keep frustration low. It also ends up a little weirdly paced, as the non- linearity means you'll likely find what seems to be the climatic item first (with a long trap sequence and boss fight), but then you're likely just getting started in exploring the rest of the map; and I feel locking that segment off until the end would have worked better. By extension the final pseudo-maze (because it's mostly linear) full of enemies is the one part that felt a little unnecessary.
I also ran into a few bugs, like a shimmy that just wouldn't work properly for me so I had to bug up an alternative way (I haven't heard anyone else have this issue though so I'll give it a bit of a pass) and a pushable object can break when pushed on certain tiles (though those tiles are avoidable which means it's not that bad an issue). An area with multiple water levels also has water surfaces visible underwater; I know this is somewhat of an engine problem, but I feel not texturing the water surfaces would have worked out better than the current look. In the end the strengths and excellent ways of opening the level up beat out those flaws for me though. Cordoba in Reign of Chaos is actually the level that comes to mind as a comparison for this level, in terms of being huge and springing new areas on you every time it feels like it's about to end. It's very likely to be one of my favourite levels in this set." - Mman (16-Mar-2016)

"This is an immensely complex and non- linear level, but worth every minute. To access the secrets in this level, different keys are required. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it all joins up neatly at the end. Great puzzles such as the scale puzzles and beautiful atmosphere. Be prepared to spend some time on this one though." - Ryan (02-Mar-2016)

"The main reason why I decided to download and play Arcadian Dream was the look of 5 screenshots which I really liked.Were my expectations fullfilled?Pure and simple, in my humble opinion, this level is a visual/technical masterpiece!It looks magnificent in every part, from city-type main area to the ancient temples that lay beneath.Textures and objects are great, but what really caught my eye was the lighting which is absolutely wonderful.You almost can feel the heat in fire zones, while you can also enjoy the beautiful orange-blue contrast in water temple.I also love the way certain places are connected.You will enter many rooms several times from different places and I can only imagine how much time the builder spent planning the design. However, if you thought you were going to the eye-candy picnic, you are in for a surprise.This level is hard!Not in a pixel-perfect jumping way, but more with it's complexity.First of all, it's easy to get lost because you have so many areas to explore and so many places to go.Whole level is like one huge puzzle which is divided to several more puzzles.Basically, your goal is to enter the main room of the elemental temple and make your way to three themed rooms to pick three elemental tablets.The amount of mind-exercising tasks you have to do is huge.For every part, you first have to experiment with things to see how everything works and than to think what to do and how to proceed further.There is a water-based temple where you have several different ways of flooding rooms, than there is adrenaline-type trip to get fire elemental and there is my personal favourite - green elemental area with brilliant inter-connected puzzles.I tend to build similar rooms and I know how much effort is needed to make everything work smoothly.Apart from main temple, there are many, MANY places, locked doors, keys, intersections and little puzzles that make this level so complex.I looked the walkthrough only once, because I did one thing unintended by the builder so the things became a little buggy, but I got stuck several times and it took me about 3 hours to finish.It's simply not possible to mention all little details that took my attention, so I can only conclude by saying that, for my taste, this might be the the best-planned and most lovely organised custom level I've ever played.Hats off to this builder's mind for creating this mind-bending masterpiece!" - Tolle87 (22-Jan-2016)

"A solid city level with lots of corners and crevices to explore. You feel like a free roamer but also can start many tasks before completing other ones - so if you check and predict everything you will have some fun, but if you overlook anything you may feel the whips of Furies on your back - a very risky design, especially while the game is one giant puzzle requiring hours of thinking without a breath, opposite to the reason why I play. When such thing occurs I seek creativity and here I found it in the Earth catwalk, Medusa kill and unusual hint for scales. Still the remaining part are setups utilized since Titans roamed the Earth and in the end not leading anywhere they should: there's no promised land of Pan, everything ends after the apple pickup and feels like To Atlantis without Atlantis. SUMMARY: A great one for riddle lovers but I don't understand how a walk in the city can surpass adventures which drag you into ancient realm and don't let go until the end." - DJ Full (31-Dec-2015)

"This was the second BtB 2015 level I attempted to play, but after wandering around the village area and an underground temple for about half an hour without making any progress whatsoever, I decided to wait for the walkthrough to tackle this level. I’m glad I did – this level gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘non-linear’. You have to wander back and forth across the map so many times that I lost count. Admittedly, the gameplay does get more focused once you open up the hub room of the elemental temple around halfway through the level, but even then, I needed regular consultations with the walkthrough, as I tended to arrive in various places without the necessary items to continue. Some puzzles are just far too clever for their own good – the pushable puzzle in the earth element section, for instance. The hedge maze at the end is a bit dull (as mazes tend to be). Dragging a vase around the floor of the elemental temple hub room to open the various offshoot areas is pretty tedious. On a positive note: The fire element section is just great, with its gauntlet of jumps and traps that keep you on your toes. The tasks in the water element area are good too, though three water scales puzzles in a row seemed a bit redundant to me. There are some good platforming sequences and a few moderately challenging timed runs.
Enemies are fairly well used, and in general not hard to tackle, since you get the magnum early and plenty of ammo is available. The medusa in the fire element area is particularly memorable. The secrets are found in special rooms and courtyards scattered across the level, for which you have to find keys. Each room holds a ton of ammo and weapons, so if you find even a couple of these, you’ll have plenty of firepower.
The atmosphere and visual beauty are the highlights of this level. ‘Arcadian Dream’ is a good name for it, given its serene sunset village setting. The exploration-based gameplay adds to the feeling that Lara is there just for a ‘quiet and respectful raid’, as the story claims. The visual highlights are the outdoor town area, the water and earth element sections, and a number of the smaller underground rooms and corridors. Pretty much the only flaw I could find in the looks is the rather odd persistence of water textures in rooms even when they are fully flooded.
Overall: A frustratingly non-linear level, but the looks and atmosphere make up for it. Recommended." - Mytly (31-Dec-2015)

"I’ve had dreams like this before – they usually end with me waking up in a cold sweat. What a torturous experience this turned out to be. It’s a non-linear level, and it looks great. There’s this really pretty outside area, and a bunch of temples and underground areas (they’re a bit maze-like, but they look nice), and everything’s expertly lit and textured. What’s really impressive is how interconnected everything is, so you’ll see areas through grates that you’ll get to much later – anyway, it’s really well-built. But – because of course there’s a but – it’s absolute hell to play. It’s filled with doors. Doors within doors within doors. It’s like the Tomb Raider equivalent of a matryoshka doll. Five of these doors require keys and just lead to secrets, so you can safely ignore those, at least – of course, I was halfway through the level and three keys in before I figured that out. And here I thought I was making progress! Making progress is difficult in this level, since it does its best to catch you out. For example, there are three scales that need to be filled with the correct amount of water to reach a switch. Two of the scales are reached in very much the same way, while the third one requires a lot more work to reach, which is just really confusing. Here’s another example. There’s a vase that can be moved to four different tiles. One of them raises the water in a room and allows you to reach the two scales I just mentioned. Moving it to another tile allows you to reach the third scale, but I think that first requires you to find two keys in two other areas, as well as spot a semi-hidden switch. And then you can finally reach one out of three stone tablets. Moving the vase to one of the remaining tiles allows you to reach one out of three cogs after you’ve solved a puzzle. Another solution to the same puzzle opens up a door to another stone tablet. Doors within doors. So that’s one key item in one area, and two in the other. Moving the pot to the last tile, naturally, only leads to a secret. If this sounds confusing, it’s not just because I’m not explaining it well – it’s just as confusing when you’re playing the level. Two tiles are part of solving a puzzle in the same area; in another area you may think you’ve done everything, but there’s actually something else to do there; and the last tile just gives you access to a secret, leaving you wondering if you’ve missed something. The whole level is like that. Okay, sure – maybe you’re supposed to realize that there’s more to that one puzzle because there’s still a locked door nearby, but the rest of the level doesn’t follow that logic. There’s no reason not to think that the switch is somewhere else, as is often the case. And then you’ll pull a switch and open up a door that you’ve forgotten all about (and it may be in an area you don’t think you have any reason to return to), because there are doors within doors and it’s impossible to keep them all straight. And just when you think you’re making progress, it turns out you only have one out of three cogs or two out of three stone tablets, and it’s back to trying to find that. One. Thing. You missed. Which may be a hidden crawlspace or something halfway through an area that led to something else. Because nothing’s more fun than the frustration that comes from having no earthly idea what you’re supposed to do. My net gaming time was 90 minutes, but my actual time spent in this level that looks like a flower and stings like a bee was closer to three years. Or at least that’s what it felt like. It was probably more like six hours, due to my stubborn refusal to break my no-walkthrough streak for this year’s competition. Needless to say, I had an awful time with this level. What saves it from getting a big fat zero for gameplay is that the gameplay is actually pretty good when you actually get to it. But getting to it is like pulling teeth. Based on past Back to Basics, I expect this will be one of the frontrunners for this year’s competition. So there’s probably a market for this kind of obtuse gameplay. Personally, I’m just glad this nightmare is over." - Magnus (30-Dec-2015)

"A non-linear level, with a complicated map full of rooms, passages, shortcuts, byways, streets, buildings and such. What an imagination! Lara lost her way many, many times. Apart from the eternal questions of “where am I?” and “where did I see that door/lever/keyhole?” actions are simple enough in the first part of the game; even the timed runs are generously timed (a very good thing, in my opinion). There are a lot of backtracks, a lot of objects to find, some of them for secrets, and the main difficulty is of orientation, as I have already observed. Surely there are also some unfair characteristics, such as that dark waterfall through where no one would suppose that Lara had to jump, or the placing of some secret keys. But with the arrival at the Elemental Room, everything changes, and the game becomes very interesting, the best part being that lovely slide through lava rooms; and for those who love difficulties, the Medusa’s room must be satisfying, although entering the alcove that holds a button, and the alcove that holds a secret key, could only be done with running jumps from the nearest side ledges, without grab and passing through the decoration frames, because Lara couldn’t grab the openings due to these frames. I found also a little bug that helped Lara to arrive at a high ledge: after having a lot of fun and trouble to rise three blocks, Lara went out of a pool near the first of these blocks, climbed the block and went down to pick up an item, tried to climb back the block, and then saw that she was unexpectedly at the high ledge where she intended to arrive. I don’t know how it was done, but saved Lara a timed run. There was also a room (the Earth one) that was a real puzzle, at least for me: failing to understand the real issue, I found that part too complicated and full of comings and goings. As to the rest, the environment is beautiful, the enemies are alright, there are more than enough camera hints (the problem is to remember places), light is good, and it is a recommended game for all." - Josey (26-Nov-2015)

"There was something so familiar in the opening glimpse of this town and surrounding areas that I knew this was going to be an exceptional Raid and it is. So much to see and do but where to start is the question. Non linear and confusing at times....I got turned around once or twice, knowing where to go but not quite sure how. It is big and with so much happening, hard to remember it all but highlights are the moving floors, the lava area and the Big Bad in the middle of the game with, of course, more enemies at the end. Good game play throughout. The vases puzzle is nicely done and easy until I got to the other 2 vases and because I stopped play at that point I was really confused when I got back to them and just had to re-do the sequence with the help of the walkthrough. Atmosphere perfect - each area and room rendered perfectly, even the run-through rooms that I had to stop and just look. And the time runs are a delight, created for all players, not just the chosen few who prefer anything difficult. The ending is consistent with the backstory as Lara takes the apple and is whisked away to Pan's mystical realm. Recommended for all with maybe a walkthrough not too far away and eyes wide open." - Bene (26-Nov-2015)

"Very nice level, well lit and textured but very long and quite complex with lot of research to get to the end. Excellent." - Drakan (21-Nov-2015)

"This is a rather huge and non-linear adventure and it is highly recommended to play it one long sitting or you will likely get lost completely. It starts rather calmly with a lot of pickups to collect in a beautiful valley/village setting and then picks up the pace with a few timed runs (all rather generous) until you get to elemental room which serves as a hub for several puzzles that bring it all together in the end. Very cleverly designed, although I have to say rather tricky to figure out all by yourself - especially the Earth part. I really liked the secret concept with keys to find for extra rooms (so you have to remember where the rooms are) and the one trap gauntlet was great fun as it seems tricky while it actually is not so much and you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you get through it. Now, the - relatively speaking - weakest point for me where the use of enemies, as they mostly appear in a rather predictable way and serve little purpose other then to hold you up for little bit and somehow the lions seemed oddly out of place most of the time. All in all, one of the longer levels of the competition but definitely worth the raid - just keep a walkthrough not too far away before pulling too much of your hair out. [108 min, 5 secrets]" - MichaelP (18-Nov-2015)

"Awesome level,excelent gameplay,puzzles and atmosphere!." - janachorider (05-Nov-2015)

"The beautiful village-temple setting of Arcadian Dream has a nice advantage of providing multiple ambiances for its variety of well-polished surroundings that nicely combines with the interconnectedness of the level. While rather daunting at the start with the complex environment, there is always something to do in each area that helps narrow down the focus on solving the mysteries of the four distinct sections of the level comprised of the village, the water temple, the fire temple, and the earth temple. Each section has its own flair and type of gameplay too. Whereas the village is about exploration and keeping a keen eye on your surroundings, the water and earth temple feature manipulation of the scenery to access new areas and puzzles to solve, whereas the fire temple hides an action-packed slopes and boulders sequence that culminates in a fight with the gorgon and her minions. The added challenge of finding the secrets and admiring the fairly nice secret rooms also helps flesh out the pacing of the adventure. While difficult to tackle at the start and having to keep track of many things, the gameplay entertains to a great extent. The strong aesthetics also help keep the player interested, with masterful texturing and geometry setting a great atmosphere that goes great with the late-afternoon glow of the outdoor areas and the more themed lighting inside the temples. Perhaps my only gripes with this excellent level are that some of the switches and other doodads to progress are sometimes hidden a little too well, and that wandering the many corridors and halls in trying to figure out the correct progression path starts wearing down the atmosphere and wonder of the areas. In the end I found playing this entry a rewarding and entertaining experience that is sure to take a top spot at the end of the contest." - Relic Hunter (04-Nov-2015)

"I was wondering when the non-linear levels were going to show up and here's the first one. It's just so gargantuan in scale that it's too easy to lose track of pretty much everything. No joke, I spent around 30 minutes just running through all open areas accessible from the beginning only to find myself lacking all sorts of items to properly proceed. After a few more minutes roaming aimlessly I accidentally stumbled onto a jumpswitch which finally set me on my path, but that's not to say it got easier from there — oh no, very much the opposite in fact. Not only there are so many wide open areas to backtrack to every now and then, you find yourself saying too many doors, not enough keys, and eventually that paradigm shifts and becomes too many keys, not enough doors instead. I left with a couple in my pocket and I'm led to believe they were meant for secrets, as the single one I found was not only in a deep corner of this labyrinth, but also locked away. Despite the overall sandboxy, non-linear design, I rather enjoyed some of the tasks here, just wish they were slightly more streamlined. 150 minutes, 1 secret. 10/15" - Treeble (04-Nov-2015)

"The most complex and complicated one out of this series. 2 eyes, 3 element tables and three cogs have to be found, secrets get available by several keys found on the way. This sounds simple and ordinary. But it isn’t at all. Element puzzles leading to the mentioned cogs are quite tricky, especially the earth and water sections show very intelligent gameplay – changing paths and combining doors as flooding and draining several areas as well. Some jumpswitches and bells to shoot are hard to detect, the village area provides quite a lot of tasks to perform in a very nice and convincing atmosphere. I wouldn’t have made it without the help of other players – there are no really hard challenges concerning jumping- and running abilities, the main focus lies on searching and exploring. It’s a masterpiece." - Christian (28-Oct-2015)

"I've still got 18 levels to play in this BtB competition, but at this point the clear favorite in my book is Arcadian Dream. It's long - at 2:45 it's a good bit longer even than To Atlantis, and I fussed about the length of that one - but the gameplay exudes excellence from start to finish, the lighting is consistently superb, and the surroundings have been crafted with painstaking care to achieve a beautiful environment for the player. The secrets are handled quite ingeniously as well, where you find keys that open doors to otherwise inaccessible areas. Everything is handled with a professional touch, but everything can be done by those with average playing skills. There's one stretch that was especially invigorating, where you slide down a long slope while avoiding lava pits and a pursuing boulder, followed by a slidewalk exercise that requires some manual dexterity. I can only recommend saving in different slots along the way (when you have time to take your fingers from the keyboard for a split second). This level is gorgeous, it's entertaining, and it gets my nod for the highest scores possible." - Phil (25-Oct-2015)

"I thought this was a brilliant level. Just the sort of raid I like where there is a extensive and nicely thought out interconneted map where you can see into areas you want to get to but can't yet. There is a welcome emphasis on puzzle gameplay where some of them are cleverly linked (particularly like the flood/drain sequence). There are also some tricky but doable jumps thrown in. Found all the well-hidden secrets and this level, for me, just beats 'To Atlantis', but both would be worthy winners. I just hope some of the remaining BTB levels live up to the high standard set by these two efforts." - Adrian (22-Oct-2015)

"What appears at first glance to be a small, pretty Greek village turns out to be a huge and complex area. This is the work of an inventive and devious mind and has some remarkable puzzles, revolving round an 'elements' theme. Exploration inevitably forms a large part of the game, given the sheer size of the area, and it's easy to become confused at times, even if you're not me. That's probably the most challenging aspect - there are some well used enemies and plenty of nifty traps, including a wonderful extended 'running the gauntlet' type scenario, but nothing is too difficult to achieve in that respect and the timed runs are definitely on the generous side. Another excellent entry in what has thus far been a very high standard of Back to Basics levels." - Jay (18-Oct-2015)

"This literally huge game impresses with a great atmosphere and very authentic visual design. The way the various areas are interwoven and glimpses into other areas are possible is impressive and the choice of textures and objects create a very realistic look and feel. This doesn't mean the visuals are flawless - there are several misplaced textures (especially on non-squaric tiles and in the maze - perhaps some walls could be better divided?) and the lighting, while generally having enough contrast and a good use of colour, includes a few rather strange dark shadows and too bright spots. The various water surfaces are visible even when the level is raised, which is a bit strange. But otherwise the looks are nearly perfect and are very much an eye-candy. The gameplay is quite heavily exploration-based in this first very complex and confusing area, but I really enjoyed the leisure exploration and there are no nastily hidden things, so everything is quite solvable even without a walkthrough. The setup is quite strong with the quest for three elemental tiles being the main quest and the way the central puzzle is designed is very intriguing - all side areas provide many interesting tasks, like the mentioned drain/flood puzzle with an interesting twist on the usual execution, an adrenaline-bumping trap gauntlet and a nice puzzle including triggers and flipmaps. Aside of those tasks the gameplay is maybe not as brilliant and includes a bit of backtracking - like running on the roofs to use a jumpswitch and drop down, which opens a door back on the roofs. Perhaps there could be even more shortcuts here. The use of enemies is very solid and the five secrets are excellently hidden, it was really hard to find them all. Overall a strong and in any aspect quite convincing entry in the contest which took me 70 minutes to finish." - manarch2 (14-Oct-2015)

"One of my favorite maps of this BtB and the hardest one. Multiple tasks and huge spaces to explore. The puzle of the movible corridor is fabolous. The platform section at the hell is pure fun. 140 minutes Difficulty:Medium/Hard." - requiemsoul (13-Oct-2015)
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