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Level: BtB2016 - Before the Afterglow back home search
Author(s): eRIC
total rating:9.28 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Drakan 10 9 10 10
Gorty 9 9 10 9
Jay 9 9 10 10
JesseG 9 10 10 9
Jorge22 9 10 10 10
Josey 10 10 10 10
LaraSpears 10 10 10 10
Magnus 6 6 6 6
manarch2 8 8 9 9
MichaelP 9 9 9 9
Mman 10 10 9 9
MrJavi94 9 9 9 9
Mytly 9 9 9 10
Phil 10 10 9 10
Revenge 10 9 9 9
Ryan 9 10 10 9
Thiago 10 10 10 10
Treeble 9 10 9 10
category averages
(18 reviews)
9.17 9.28 9.33 9.33

Reviewer's comments

"This adventure is quite a ride. Very typical for this builder you get an enormous amount of rather smaller and quicker tasks to accomplish in quick succession, with a wide variety and diversity in them, so it does not get too tedious or boring, Each larger area you get into is usually introduced with a nice flyby that also gives you important clues about where to go or find things. There are way too many things goin to mention them all in this review but I enjoyed the color puzzle, the boulder room, the rarely used freezing of a little pond and the room full of traps nearer to the end. The secrets are a nice sidequest as well, two of them connected with the previous collection of keys. The only reason for me to not score a 10 in any category is a sense of there seemed always something a bit too much in places: there is a part were the audios got on my nerves, there are parts were the object placement was very overloaded, the enemies sometimes feel a bit placed as an afterthought - but all of these are really very minor issues in a fabulous game. [90 min, 6 secrets]" - MichaelP (30-Jul-2017)

"What can I NOT say about this one hell of an amazing level? I don't think I've ever been this blown away by a level's beautiful atmosphere, amazing environment, great lighting and gorgeous setting in ages! The beauty of this level lies in everything, from the beautiful item placement to the great accompanying gameplay, I truly think this level sets in my favorite levels list of all time. I really want to tank Eric for this level, I usually have anxiety and whenever I play this level, it just takes to me a whole new other beautiful place, it gets me so engrossed that I forget my anxiety, thank you!" - LaraSpears (26-Jul-2017)

"One of the best and more accomplished levels of this set, where Lara starts in the present but shortly after goes back to the past where most of the adventure is based on. Gameplay is also very interesting and gets more as you proceed. Visuals are also great, with a nice usage of objects and textures. The six secrets I managed to find weren't so hard to find, if you, of course, pay attention to details however small they are. Not my personal favourite entry but it's pretty close to be it. High recommendations!" - MrJavi94 (27-Jun-2017)

"This isn't the first BtB 2016 level to include time travel, and it probably won't be the last, but I guess that's to be expected when there are two different hourglasses in the wad (plus, what self-respecting Tomb Raider fan hasn't played The Sands of Time?). In this level, Lara ends up being transported to an ancient Persian temple (surprise, surprise). The time travel aspect ends up feeling pretty throwaway, unfortunately, since you only spend a few minutes in the present at the very start of the level, so you never get a chance to really experience the contrast between the two time periods (the end of the level works slightly better, but it's very brief). The gameplay of the level mainly revolves around exploration, so there are a lot of doors to open and keys to find and switches to pull. I'm not sure if the author used every item in the wad, but they must have come very close. There are a lot of nooks and crannies to find and it's really easy to miss something important, so it gets pretty tedious at times. It also gets pretty tiresome, as each time you've found all of the keys you need, you just end up in a new area where you have to do the exact same thing again. The paths to the keys have some simple puzzles and some platforming, but nothing too taxing. Once again, though, you'll need to keep your eyes open. And while you're doing that, this seems like the perfect time to look at the architecture of the level. It's... nice, I guess? There's a big-ish central room, which is nice. And most of the rest of the level looks nice, too. I don't know, there was nothing here that blew me away, but the level looked nice enough, so it falls squarely in that category where it doesn't stand out - for better *or* worse - so I don't really have much to say about it. At sixty minutes net gaming time, it's a fairly lengthy level, and I did feel like it started to drag towards the end. Partly, I think that's because my gross gaming time was a lot longer than sixty minutes. But also, I think it's because there are only so many keys you can find before you're over the whole key thing. If you like searching for things - keys, switches, nooks and/or crannies - then this is the level for you. If you don't... it's still an alright level, but it's probably not worth the time investment (no pun intended)." - Magnus (26-Jun-2017)

"This level puts a lot of focus on interesting geometry compared to other levels here, and makes appropriate use of objects where it fits. The starting area seemed a bit simpler looking than the rest, but this may have been intentional for contrast reasons. It doesn't quite have the sense of place the absolute best looking levels of this BTB have had for me, but it's still near the top.
The gameplay is varied but with a focus on challenging navigation where you have to pay close attention to the previously mentioned non-standard geometry. The start and end also provide some nice storyline grounding for the map, although the ending itself felt slightly anti- climatic as you don't even seem to get an artefact (unless I missed something or it's secrets related). That didn't outweigh the well-paced and enjoyable series of tasks before that though. Another entry that comes somewhere near the top in terms of quality this BTB." - Mman (21-Jun-2017)

"From the spectacular initial flyby to the ending horse ride: expertise, talent, good taste, originality and creativity, making an unforgettable game. No backtracks, no impossibly difficult timed runs, great sky, lovely music, a great variety of interesting tasks and beautiful surroundings, not a single minute of boredom. What more can I say? Congratulations and thanks for a perfect level!" - Josey (15-Jun-2017)

"Quite an enjoyable ride through Persia present and past. Mostly past at an unknown date. It looks pretty good and has a little of everything for everyone, with timed runs, traps, puzzles and much exploration. Having liked it globally, I particularly enjoyed the detail of the ghost (or whatever) that suddenly descended facing Lara near the start - the trick was repeated again after the waterfall with a bull but in that case it was a bit annoying in that very confined space unless Lara really knew how to get to the upper floor and that the boulders would eventually smash the bull. I didn't really understand why Lara should use 3 litres on the left scale and 5 on the right one. And I wish I'd seen there was a double task in the room with the cutters and the blade although I finally managed to jump back there. No matter, all in all one definitely of my favourite contenders from this year's bunch." - Jorge22 (04-Jun-2017)

"There’s a short, linear prologue and an even shorter epilogue that take place in the present; but the majority of the level takes place in the past, in three inter-connected hub areas. In each of the hubs, you have to collect multiple artefacts in order to open up the next area. There are a huge number of tasks, most of them great, with a focus on puzzles and traps. I particularly enjoyed the coloured tile puzzle and the slight twist on the water-balance puzzles. The gameplay is really great most of the time, but I couldn’t quite give it a full 10, given that the level feels so stretched out – towards the end, I felt as if the builder was just tacking on extra tasks just because he/she had ideas that he/she didn’t want to forgo. Sometimes a little restraint on the builder’s part makes for a better playing experience.
Enemies are mostly well used, but sometimes they can be annoying as they appear in very confined spaces, which makes it hard to fight them effectively.
The looks are gorgeous. The locations are a very organic mix of indoor and outdoor areas, with a ‘hanging gardens’ style of lush multilevel gardens, especially in the first hub area. The lighting is lovely, but towards the end, the predominant yellow and blue colour scheme starts to get boring (another factor adding to the ‘stretched out’ feel to the level).
Overall: A very well-built level with mostly great looks and gameplay and a cool time travel theme, but I felt as if I would have enjoyed it more if it had been a little shorter. Recommended." - Mytly (31-May-2017)

"Another very professional entry we have here, with fluent and enjoyable gameplay that never fails to impress with yet another quirky idea there are many small interesting tasks like timed runs or puzzles that will keep you engaged to the very end. Though, it also is a bit too linear and simple at times even if it doesn't quite feel like this. The time travel is very nicely executed too, as well as all the cutscenes which only strengthen the beauty of the various areas but also are quite valuable for knowing what to do. Architecture is the level's strongest point, all those heavily interconnected and very complex areas are a feast for the eyes although there are small downsides, like the slightly monotonous lighting that lacks contrast from time to time, some objects are also not perfectly lit. The texturing was quite faultless, though. A minor issue was that Lara can “survive” the fall into a later to-be-flooded pit by jumping on the slopes, and this time she also can see an already filled part of the water passage. Anyway, while this is perhaps not in the top class in terms of gameplay, this is another winner of this contest and definitely recommended. Found six mostly easy secrets, with one exception, in 1:05 hours." - manarch2 (29-May-2017)

"Another worthy contender in the 2016 BtB competition. This one was rather "short" at two hours and nine minutes, but once again I have no complaints about the extra gameplay. The opening music was different from what you hear in the other levels, and I prefer it as being less raucous. In my review of an earlier BtB level I said I thought I'd picked the right builder. Well, the builder I had in mind could just as easily have done this level, so we'll see when the results are announced. Everything here is polished and praiseworthy, from the excellent lighting (I rarely need to use flares in these Persian levels) to the imaginative tasks to the lush surroundings. Speaking of the latter, we mustn't overlook the contributions of the team that assembled this year's package, as the materials they've provided have enabled the contestants to give us levels of a consistent beauty never before seen in a BtB competition. Only one more level to go, and I'll be sorry to see it all come to an end. Highly recommended." - Phil (28-May-2017)

"Well... To me this level a great mix of easy and difficult. A great level with huge and beautiful areas. The bosses through the level are so easy. But the journey is quite enjoyable, passing through different types of rooms very designed which capture the Persian atmosphere well. At one point, it reminded me slightly Persepolis. I loved, very recommended and congratulations to author." - Thiago (28-May-2017)

"After a fairly simple start the game continues with rather complicated puzzles and keys and puzzles difficult to find, the 2nd part is very neat and very pretty. I took over 2h to finish it. Highly Recommended." - Drakan (18-May-2017)

"An extraordinary level. I really enjoyed it very much. I advanced mostly very smoothly and without problems through the level. There is not much negative to say about, but a few things did bothered me. Texturing was very good with some minor errors. Gameplay was interesting combined with some amazing triggered events that greatly boost the atmosphere. Few parts were confusing and few times I wished there was a camera hint. Some areas looked a bit chaotic with too much objects/stuff clustered in one place. Also, the overall architecture felt also somehow questionable. Flybys were very great. I would say that the light of some parts is less perfect than in some other levels from this years competition. There was no ˝wow˝ effects like in some other levels, but reason could be that this is I think the 7th level I’ve played. Overall, very recommended, but I enjoyed more some other levels I’ve reviewed." - Gorty (13-May-2017)

"This is another one that, for me, exceeded the guidelines of the contest by quite a bit. However, it was worth it as this had some of the most enjoyable gameplay I've experienced. There's a mite too much ledge jumping for my personal taste, but this is nicely balanced out by some good combat sequences and puzzles, including use of the water jugs and a neat pushable puzzle. Very enjoyable." - Ryan (04-May-2017)

"This moves along at a brisk pace and the lovely fluid gameplay is sustained throughout the level. I really enjoyed the traps, timed runs and inventive puzzles. It's beautifully built too and the element of 'time travel' makes for an interesting storyline. It's one of the intermediate entries in terms of length, but I was having so much fun I doubt I'd have minded if it had been longer." - Jay (04-May-2017)

"This level is one of the ones with really big areas. Well, at least after you pass the little introduction and go into the real heart of the level. Those areas were quite well designed and allowed interesting exploration and climbing sequences. The environments were looking a bit weird here and there, because of the combination of strange lighting of objects compared to the ambiance lighting and the mix of textures used, but overall it was still really pretty, and original. There was a good amount of nice traps challenges, and nice time-runs, along with original puzzles. The latter were a bit obscure though sometimes, but it actually made it more difficult so I kinda liked that, because otherwise the puzzles weren't really hard x) The climbing and exploration on the other hand, was often tedious, and I somehow enjoyed that. The atmosphere was generally well recreated as well, it's just the places that were a bit weird looking sometimes that lowered the quality of the level in my opinion, otherwise I really enjoyed it. Statistics : 2h17, 1 secret found, and 3 secret keys but I couln't figure out what to do with them xD" - Revenge (01-May-2017)

"Going against the trend of most of the other BtB-Persia levels I've played so far, this one doesn't try to impress you with massive spaces to navigate and instead focuses on delivering smaller, ingeniously crafted and yet still beautiful areas. The beginning was very linear, but once you make the first time jump things shake up a bit as you start questing for a number of different items at any given time, and although generally speaking these are simple and straightforward bits, they're still fun and might get you thinking once or twice how to maneuvre across the narrow passages. This will no doubt be among the top entries this year, but there was one camera flyby in particular which I felt was slightly misplaced as it triggers midair and you might find it returning to a broken neck. Which reminds me, camera flybys are very thoughtful as they more often than not highlight all points of interest in specific areas. 95 minutes, 2 secrets. 04/17" - Treeble (29-Apr-2017)

"Lara travels back in time to get the hourglass of time before returning to the present. This level overstayed its welcome a little; there were too many scavenger hunting areas: areas where you are shown 3 or 4 of the same puzzle receptacle and head off to comb the area for all those pickups. I enjoy this on a small scale, but in this level it just happened once too much for my taste. Aside from that, there was a wonderful balance of gameplay. There were some nice, unique puzzles, such as the color wheel. There is plenty of combat to use your armory of guns on, and a good amount of traps to dodge, especially toward the end. Enemies are used effectively to test the large variety of weapons Lara can find in this level. Decorative objects are used very well in every area, and it really helps the large areas pop out. The level is constructed impressively, with many large areas that don't feel empty in the slightest. Music is effectively used at combat encounters and cutscenes. Flybys were used in all the right places and helped showcase the sprawling environments. The textures are used very well. The lighting is great, and colored well with yellows and blues, I would have like to see just a few more different colors though. Overall a strong feature-length travel through time that I feel will be a top contender in this competition. 1 hour 50 minutes." - JesseG (26-Apr-2017)
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