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Level: Aspidetr Easter Time 2016 - The Secret of the Forbidden Town back home search
Author(s): Greywolf
total rating:8.72 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
DJ Full 7 9 10 8
Jay 8 9 9 8
Jose 8 10 9 9
Josey 9 9 8 7
manarch2 8 9 9 8
Mezcal 8 9 10 9
Phil 9 9 9 9
Ryan 9 9 9 9
category averages
(8 reviews)
8.25 9.13 9.13 8.38

Reviewer's comments

"This is a monstrous and ambitiously put together game that is almost impossible to score fairly seeing as there are so many different dimensions to it. The first couple of levels are deceptively simple, both in terms of gameplay and visuals, but as you progress the levels become more complex and spacious, which could entail a lot of running around until you stumble on the correct manner of carrying out the tasks. The construction of the puzzles featured throughout must have been no mean feat and those who enjoy this type of gameplay (myself included) will likely drool with excitement, although itwill likely not be for everyone. Some of the puzzles are optional (only to gain secrets or other items, including the chain puzzle which, following other reviewers' advice, I decided to solve first to avoid the bug, which rendered the search for the clue redundant), but you may want to keep the walkthrough close to hand to not get caught out. The settings are often grand and exquisite, although the corridors are a little plain in appearance. The storyline is nicely fleshed out with the use of FMVs and extended cut scenes (although the dialogue was a bit excessive). After playing as Lara, you switch to an Elven character which was a nice change of pace, but she doesn't seem to be as adept with tightropes as Lara does, so I had a few frustrations before getting through. This game won't be everyone's cup of tea, but the effort put in is certainly worthy of applause." - Ryan (25-Feb-2018)

"Playing this game was quite satisfactory to me, mainly because of the following features: (a) it is full of interesting puzzles, a thing that I simply love; (b) it is beautiful. Perhaps the number of enemies and backtracks is a little excessive, and the same goes for the amount and duration of FMV parts; nevertheless, it was lovely to meet Lara's half sister and play with her, and it was also very good to find a so generous supply of necessary items. But in spite of the great number of flares, the darkness of some areas was irritating sometimes, and I would mention a certain hidden ladder that Lara (or Thalien) had to grab and climb, while sliding by a ramp, in order to find a secret; the darkness was absolute, and it was very difficult to guess if she had arrived or not to the top of the ladder, and if it was a case of climbing or jumping back. Another awkward part was the initial maze, but as I hate all kinds of mazes, I will not complain of this one. I also found a bug in the chains' puzzle and had to download a save to go on (thanks, my friend!), and I considered unfathomable that spikes' puzzle to catch an item part, but I must say that all other puzzles were very, very good and enjoyable. So, I present my sincere thanks and congratulations to the author for a very interesting, beautiful and recommended game." - Josey (01-Jul-2016)

"This is an enormously ambitious collection of levels that occupied me for weeks while I was busy doing other things along the way. As a result, the earlier details have already faded from my memory, but I recall being particularly impressed by the strength of puzzle construction. The lengthy bonus level requires the player to choose one of two paths, and I didn't go back and find out what I'd missed along the unchosen path. There's also too much required backtracking in the bonus level, but on the whole I was pleased to play this adventure. It may help to compare it with another recent mega release, Cradle of Life. Although Town is far more sophisticated than Cradle, I must say that I had more sheer fun playing Cradle with its diverse settings and less demanding gameplay. Another point of comparison are those action-interrupting FMVs and extended cut scenes. I'm aware that these are the result of a great deal of planning and work on the builder's part, but to me they add nothing to the gaming experience and in fact serve as distractions (particularly when I'm unfamiliar with the language being used), not to mention the download bloat that they necessitate. Manarch2 has provided a walkthrough for Town that I found absolutely indispensable. Highly recommended, but don't plan to play it over a weekend." - Phil (24-May-2016)

"What a big effort from this author! I think the most complete and good adventure from Greywolf. There are a lot of cutscenes and flybys for a long and complex history, cool enemies and enough guns, ammo and medipacks, a great atmosphere with musics from authors I always liked and usually nice environments... Really an adventure worth to play. A pain the bugs I found so I wasn't able to get the last spear in the room with the chains, and also I couldn't get the secret in the UW room with currents (impossible for me to pull the UW switch in the corner). Even so I was able to play the bonus level, not so good than the previous, with a lot of backtracking. Also some puzzles are confusing and hard to solve, slowing the gameplay, like the UW room with 7 openings, where it's very difficult to see the blocks you're triggering when pulling the switches. Anyway I found another interesting puzzles and tasks. Recommended." - Jose (27-Apr-2016)

"Almost impossible to score this level fairly - there are so many dimensions to consider here and this is such a massive work that just four marks are really not quite apt to express everything. On the one hand, this is almost more a movie than a game, with minutes-long flybys, cutscenes and FMVs that tell a really well thought out story. The amount of work that must've been gone into all these is baffling, also in terms of translation, object design, ... On the other side, this levelset feels a bit like a mixture of various projects of the builder. It's not a bad thing per se - and it's to the advantage of the builder that she's managed to put it all together in a quite coherent and logical way - but some parts are different in their quality (the first level seems to be quite simplistic in its design, while later parts are more impressive, despite many areas seem to originate in classic TR levels) and regarding those architectural copies, more originality would've been the better choice as well if you ask me. The gameplay is also a somewhat mixed bag. In the introduction the builder says one shouldn't play this level if one doesn't like mazes and puzzles. Well I hate mazes and love puzzles, so what would've been correct? Anyway, I use to play all new levels, so it was an easy choice ;). The "maze" part is mainly prominent in the first level, where the constant running around in confusing mazes is quite annoying (but it's not totally badly done), while there are a few good and original puzzles in every level that can quite be called the essence of this game. I managed to solve all but one of them with logic, taking notes on papers - which I'd advise you too if you don't want to use the walkthrough (or the latter doesn't help), it's really rewarding. But also there's a lot of exhausting backtracking (especially in the two town levels) and one or two pushables are a bit too long for their own good (not even talking about potential bugs in the puzzles, but often the builder warns us before). Still, the exploration based levels are mainly fun and apart of the secrets there are not overly obscurely hidden things, perhaps there are a few empty parts (like a whole mansion that can be skipped) but it adds to the pseudo-realism of the whole. The looks are quite professional, textures are cleanly applied and the lighting is quite realistic (only a tiny bit too bland at times). Sometimes you can see the borders of the map but given the large-scale architecture it's hard to avoid. The sounds are very aptly used and often stunning as well as the camera work. It's a game that has its ups and downs but manages to still be an epic at the end that one shouldn't miss. Found all secrets in a total of 3:40 hours." - manarch2 (17-Apr-2016)

"Well, the review by DJFULL perfectly expresses all my reactions and concerns with this super-ambitious release by Greywolf. I cannot recommend this set of levels to anyone without advising them to first wait for the walk through. Additionally, my experience was even further diminished because I did encounter a bug that forced me to reload an earlier save, and replay a whole level in the Forbidden Town because I did not solve the rope-pulley room when I first encountered it. I actually had completed a massive amount of other tasks in this level before returning to the rope- pulley room, but the correct order of pulling no longer worked. (And no, I did not pull any ropes initially, just turned around and left the room.) And that underwater eight-room switch maze with absolutely no accompanying solution hints or a sign was one of the worst time-wasting trial and error absolutely boring experiences I've experienced in a custom level. While I did enjoy the dark and drab atmosphere of the first level, exploring the Mayan ruin because that is similar to what those ruins actually look like upon excavation (except for the misplaced Inca motifs), I was completely disappointed with the follow-on “fantasy journey". That is due to my own personal preferences though, and while some might enjoy the storylines of that type of genre, rather than connecting with the characters and getting excited about those elvish and mystical lands, I could not shake the feeling that I was trapped in a mish-mash of The Lord of The Rings meets the Elder Scrolls upside the Dragon Age with a touched-up application of science-fiction musings into a jambalaya of “let's throw all this in there, including the kitchen sink, and see what we get." Well, not a lot of sustainable coherence actually. And be sure to use up all those hearty stores of ammo and other goodies before you get to"Volume II", where you will switch out dat and script files and everything resets...so you'll say adios to your 600 Uzi rounds, 100 shotgun shells, and more medipaks and explosive arrows than you'll ever need for any raiding Armageddon. I actually did not mind many of the puzzle tasks which required paper and pencil, or the on-line research, but there are some really weak English translations which can lead one astray, but for chess players, (SPOILER: you get an easy fork.) OK, having whined beyond all rationality now, I do want to commend the author on her ambition. This is one tough adventure, but there are moments of incredible beauty and intellectual satisfaction that come from pushing the raiding envelope in this journey. However, I would never have made any progress without the help of the stuck threads in trle.net and laraslevelbase.org (where, knowing only German curse words, I had to use google translations of their posts which produced many laughs reading those sardonic and humorous tipsters.) Wait for the walkthrough, but DO take this adventure if you want to be challenged with really hard traveling. There is a lot of inspired beauty (be sure to go for the required secrets in the second part for the bonus level Sunset in Glorindal, or you'll miss one of the most enjoyable parts) and devilishly frustrating moments here (oh, those lying-ass dragons in Feanor's palace!), but that's fine by me because these gifted authors provide me with astoundingly enjoyable moments in these types of ambitious projects, and I am very, very grateful for their work." - Mezcal (04-Apr-2016)

"Initially, I wasn't entirely convinced I was going to enjoy this game as it begins with a rather monotonous looking maze area and involves running around throwing switches. I'm really glad I persevered with it however, as it definitely gets better as it progresses, with some attractive outside areas and imposing inside rooms, not to mention some stunning artwork on the walls. There are a lot of puzzles to solve, some more effective than others, and I certainly enjoyed that aspect of the game, but I do realise it won't be to everyone's taste. The mystical aspect is well fleshed out with elaborate cut scenes and dialogue and don't forget to look at the readme as vital information is included therein. Initially, you play as Lara, switching to an elven character in the second part, which is interesting as all the inventory items are different. It's certainly an inventive and ambitious game and, although some aspects grate a little from time to time (somewhat excessive dialogue and reliance on maze-like passages), overall I found it entertaining and would recommend it, possibly with benefit of a walkthrough." - Jay (02-Apr-2016)

"After few days I'm still unsure what to think nor what to write. This is a seriously ambitious project with certain things done absolutely wrong. I hope Grey hasn't permanently turned from polishing her skills into building what she wants no matter of what because the result is a game I barely enjoyed despite of containing all things I like: brilliant camera work, admirable movie editing, complex plot with strong role-divided characters, unconventional puzzles with meaningful background. These should be a standard many builders don't dare to reach for, so I appreciate any time I can experience them. But here they fade in the shadow of misapproach repeating in quickly annoying fashion. One level doesn't offer any pickups so in preceding ones the floor is littered with too many, but then the inventory resets so any spare bullets are wasted and we lack them in upcoming battles anyway. Most of new architecture appears in levelinfo screenshots and loadscreens, feeling like a clickbait effort while in fact much of new architecture is boxy rooms and redundant corridors. There's a palace, a valley and a temple but any such decent geometry is in fact a copy of original level, which feels like a copy no matter how cleverly repainted, and the reason why we play custom levels is because we know the originals already. Even if these remakes were supposed to ensure fast progress through familiar locations, it doesn't work for motivation. Finally, the puzzles are designed so almost no level can be played without shutting the game for external help. I know the intention was to teach us something but it should be done from within the game, otherwise the immersion dies. And sometimes even if you get all the information required, it must match the Author's knowledge - for example if you imagine Griffin or Basilisk like depicted in Heroes III or Harry Potter, you will fail any riddle containing them. In the end using some trial and error was faster but anytime it comes to this I just lose last bits of motivation because winning or failing the puzzle stops to matter, as both become unsatisfying. If you want to make them enlightening instead, then don't throw all the info into one puzzle but prepare the challenge bit by bit, so when I encounter a related riddle I don't go learn Sindarin but I already know the characters, capable of telling which ones are missing just like I would tell Alpha and Omega if they were missing from a chart of Greek. Such puzzle would take 1 minute instead of 20, and 19 saved minutes I could spend on learning additional Elvish stuff even if I wasn't forced to. As an example of such fully standalone puzzle I can give the very first orb pushable which provides the number hint and gives some inbetween time necessary to get used to it. Some other hints could be clearer because they may be variously interpreted, for instance the word "can" at the pulley puzzle should be "must" and I have absolutely no idea what the jump pad description was supposed to mean. Still it was the level containing the latter, Sunset in Glorindal, which I managed to fairly enjoy, just because it was beautiful enough to let me in while not problematic enough to let me go. It's often as simple as that, however I think the Silmarillion universe should be even more magical and surreal than the one depicted here. On my way through it I encountered no definite bugs but you need to watch for proto-gamestoppers like the boulder trap in Chapter 3 or the underwater puzzle easily made unsolvable in Chapter 5. SUMMARY: A bittersweet gift where confusion and frustration often eclipse the value included. Would be much better if entirely original and self-explanatory. Recommended with setting a time limit on harder tasks and referring to the walkthrough if that limit is crossed." - DJ Full (01-Apr-2016)
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