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Level: BtB2016 - The Tale of the Lost Brother back home search
Author(s): BtB 2016
total rating:9.45 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Drakan 10 10 9 10
Gorty 7 10 10 9
Jay 9 9 10 9
JesseG 7 10 10 9
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Josey 10 10 10 10
Magnus 7 7 8 8
manarch2 7 8 10 9
Mman 9 9 10 10
MrJavi94 10 10 10 10
Phil 9 10 10 10
Revenge 8 10 10 10
Ryan 10 10 10 10
Thiago 10 10 10 10
Treeble 10 10 10 10
category averages
(15 reviews)
8.87 9.53 9.80 9.60

Reviewer's comments

"Sometimes, when I'm thirty minutes into a level I'm not enjoying, searching for a hidden switch and cursing my own existence, I wonder why I even bother with the Back to Basics competitions. (The answer? I have to fulfill my yearly review quota to keep enjoying the secret reviewer perks I'm not allowed to tell you about.) But halfway through this year’s/last year's competition, I finally found a level I really liked. These are the moments I live for (or play Tomb Raider for, but what's the difference, right Tomb Raider trufans ahaha). The level tells the story of the evil vizier Sharam and the two people, a brother and a sister, who are trying to defeat him. There are some really good attempts at telling this story in the level, like when you reach the magic realm (or whatever it's meant to be) and you see Sharam (a part played by the enemy in the bull slot) watching over you from atop a cliff. The ambush a while later is also done rather well, and the ending wraps things up nicely. Unfortunately, all of these moments come in the second half of the level - once you reach the magic realm - and the first half is just spent running around the streets of a city. Not that this part of the level isn't fun - it's just a bit aimless. It's a nice-looking level. It's well-textured and well-lit - I really liked how warm the lighting was in the first half of the level. There are some fairly impressive-looking temple rooms in the second half of the level, although once you start exploring them, you realize that they're really not that complex. The same is true for the gameplay, which is pretty simple overall. What it is, though, is creative. Like when you have to serve kebabs to the customers in a restaurant. Or a simple push-block puzzle where the twist is that there are seemingly two ways to solve it, but only one of them actually works. It's fun, in a low-key sort of way. Some things do bring down the gameplay, unfortunately. There are some annoyingly-hidden switches, and the first half of the level has way too many doors and keys and switches everywhere. The author tries to solve this by often having a camera cutaway showing you where the relevant door is, but that just feels like a Band-Aid. Overall, though, I think this level is well worth playing. I like the way the level tells a story and the creative gameplay. It's not perfect, but that doesn't really matter (it's ninety minutes long, though, so be warned). Halfway through this year's competition, it may be too early to say for sure if this is one of the best levels, but with only seven levels left to play, it's definitely in the Top 8." - Magnus (26-Jun-2017)

"The visuals here are excellent; there's a stream of opulent and varied areas, and even the simpler ones generally have interesting touches in them. There's also a lot to this level, which makes the consistency even more impressive. As a whole pretty much everything about the visual design is exemplary.
The gameplay in the first half (the level is essentially split in two) is generally good, but it's a bit backtracking heavy and is almost all exploration and puzzles, with only a small selection of action/trap moments; it felt like a couple more of those could be mixed in. The second half picks up in that regard, and keeps a good balance of everything. There's even some references to the other TR games in certain obstacles, and it all climaxes in a great ending with a sequel hook (although I felt it could do with a small gameplay denouement rather than just ending straight after the boss). On that note the story is very well implemented here and adds another layer to the level. The lack of secrets sticks out a little given the size of the level gives plenty of places to put them, but I assume the lack of them is a time constraints issue, still a shame though. This is the best all-round level of those I've played in this BTB so far, but I think a couple of the others have had stronger gameplay." - Mman (19-Jun-2017)

"Simply magnificent. That is the best description for this level. Here we have talent, good taste, expertise, a wonderful choice of music, a spectacular display of movie sequences and skill. (Really, I would play the game any number of times only to see the movie of the monster pushing Lara into the water). Surely we have also a very few drawbacks: at the beginning, for example, Lara has to run, jump and catch a ledge in order to climb up with a ledge jump. She has to catch the initial ledge at exactly a certain point, or she will not be able to jump up and catch the ledge above; this is somewhat irritating. There are also some slightly boring jump sequences from ledges to ledges, a certain amount of backtracks (though shortcuts are given when the distances are very long), the underwater world is very nebulous (although I followed the setup instructions), and Lara would welcome a GPS, even if I consider this level a wonderful exercise for the memory. But talent and creativity are present everywhere, and there is a special thing to remark: although this is not a linear game, there is a marked and logical sequence of actions from beginning to end, with a perfect use of camera hints. You MUST play this level, putting your attention and memory to good use. Congratulations and many thanks to the author." - Josey (04-Jun-2017)

"This is a worthy finale to the best of all BtB competitions. In past years I've grumbled about the darkness and the undue length of many of the levels, but this time there's no complaint in either department. Lost Brother is one of the longer ones, clocking in at about two hours and forty-five minutes, but I never once had the feeling that it was overstaying its welcome. The flybys at the very end were perhaps a bit overlong, overdramatic and unnecessary, and the builder was maybe a bit stingy with the weaponry and the ammunition, but these are my only quibbles, and minor ones at that. The scenery here is nothing short of stunning, and the lighting shows everything off to good advantage. In terms of sheer beauty I have to give the nod to Lost Brother, and the visual amenities are a large part of why I enjoy playing Tomb Raider so much. And we can't neglect Dutchy's contributions, as his meticulous walkthroughs took all the mystery -- but not the enjoyment -- out of playing these levels. This year's BtB participants deserve a special round of applause for giving us such wonderful and consistently superb entertainment. Of the fourteen levels I would classify thirteen as excellent and the other one as good. Hopefully the bar has not been raised so high as to remove any hope of improvement for next year. Bravo to all concerned." - Phil (03-Jun-2017)

"All I can say at the end is ... this level really felt like there's a film maker gone lost on this builder. The full ten points in the third category are deserved just alone by the incredible cutscenes especially in the second level, which grows more and more immersive towards the end and the storyline is excellently carried along. Everything that is presented here, even if not totally unique and sometimes even basic, is presented very histrionically. In fact, the gameplay itself is really a bit less inspired than in other levels in this contest, often about finding and using a lot of objects (although in sufficiently unique ways, I admit, like the money for the guards or Lara playing waitress at some point) and not so much about creative platforming or solving inspired puzzles – in fact the longest pushable puzzle was fairly tedious. There are also several large areas you simply rush through without much exploration or thinking required in order to progress. In the second level things improve in terms of gameplay as well – at least –, with some nice exploration of the canyon or the quest for the hourglasses. Visually, there's little to fault here – basically all areas are eye-candy – texturing is applied with great care and there are only minimal issues, the lighting is also good but just misses being perfect as it's generally a bit too flat. The object use is very nice as well as the already mentioned enemies which are really spicing up this game immensely (the unique use of the bull has to be seen to be believed). I really don't see why the builder completely didn't hide a single secret in this game, it's really a shame. Anyway, this level is certainly a must-play (or better: a must-see) for everyone. Took me 1:15 hours to finish." - manarch2 (29-May-2017)

"Just for the 2nd part I put high notes because I really liked this part of the game. The 1st part is only a long search in large environments (especially do not shoot on the baddys) . Everything is well textured and illuminated. Apparently I had some cameras that showed very badly the place. Very nice level. Recommended." - Drakan (19-May-2017)

"Wonderful entry. Two things stand out throughout this game: its absolutely sheer beauty and the fact that no one can fairly complain of the lack of tips throughout as for basically every main action there's a corresponding image. So, it's all made with much care and the player always in mind. Personally, I liked the first part, in the city, namely details such as the guards who helped Lara for some coins or a kebab, better than the second, inside the palace - but there's no logical explanation except for the fact that I prefer outdoor areas. The level is fair to the player and shows plenty of inventiveness. The only thing I didn't really understand was the "watchdog" waiting for Lara at the very end after brother and sister have been reunited. But details aside, this belongs in the first league without a shadow of a doubt." - Jorge22 (08-May-2017)

"Lara feeds a bunch of hungry mouths in order to save her friend's brother from a wicked demon. I'm sorry to say, it felt to me like this level didn't know when to end. The gameplay has a good amount of exploring and some puzzles and traps, but is also heavily skewed toward combat, which takes a good amount of the gameplay time. I did enjoy getting lost exploring the vast, beautiful areas at times. But those areas also lend themselves toward much backtracking, having Lara run back and forth across town after finding the next puzzle or key. I also need to critique that one puzzle with the 4 sarcophagus and turnable wheels: there is no visual indication which wheels to use, or whether you are on the right track, so it just boils down to turning the wheels randomly for a while until the 4 sarcophagus simultaneously open up. Enemies are used quite often to raise the tension, and sometimes to help tell the story. It is great, although I could have gone with a few less of those cheetah hammer guys. Decorative objects are used very well in each area, I was impressed with the dedication given to each area in this respect. The geometry in this level is great, the only thing I would critique would be many of the large corridors, which only seemed increase time spent on the aforementioned backtracking. Music is used very well, it almost feels like it was made for this specific level. Flybys and cameras are the heart of this level, as they help tell the story. The ending was quite satisfying to watch at the end of that long adventure. The texturing is perfect as far as I'm concerned. Same with the lighting, but my one critique there is the underwater sections - specifically the flooded area in chapter 2. The lighting is very blue, which looks great from above the surface, but when the camera dips below the water and applies the extra hardcoded layer of blue, it is very hard to see and it made my eyes hurt. I really felt relieved each time the camera resurfaced. Overall this level is a very long winded but enjoyable tale that is strong in its engagement and visual appeal. 2 hours 9 minutes." - JesseG (06-May-2017)

"Okay, so what's exactly this? I'm playing BtB levels according to a random factor of mine, and this is my 8th level finished. Why am I saying this? Because in this 2-3 hours of net gaming level, everyone who plays it will be astonished by the brilliance thas has been offered to us. There's an evident hard work behind the scenes, most likely done by a professional builder who perfectly knows, if not everything, nearly everything about the editor. Besides, the gameplay of this level seemed very, very original to me, as I just loved the way we can interact with the tuaregs in pink robes. It's so cute, and yet so admirable at the same time, that we, as players, can only get impressed by the monsterful skills from the author. In terms of visuals, it's a true gem in every sense of the word. I've especially admired the palace section from the second chapter, where there's an obvious clever use of textures and objects that give a very realistic feel. My only complain, and it's rather a minor one, is that there are no secrets to find in this brilliant game, although knowing that firsthand (having read the readme file) one's disposition is not to search for any secret. The manticore taking charge at Lara in the second chapter was a bit cruel imo, and even more since we're shown this creature in the final flyby still custodiating the outdoor area of the palace. All in all, a wonderfully aesthetical and human adventure with yet so original gameplay and with a breathtaking architecture that is definitely going to make this a very likely winner. Unforgettable experience offered here, brutally recommended, as I can't tell the opposite. Kudos to the builder!" - MrJavi94 (02-May-2017)

"I think I may have finally found my favourite so far. I seriously debated giving this one all tens, but decided to in the end. Everything about this wonderful creation clicked with me real well: gorgeous surroundings and architecture, well placed audio, not too much darkness, brilliant and complicated gameplay and nicely placed enemies (yes, that Seth figure takes away countless amounts of health, but doesn't he always?). I tried to think of something to criticise (OK, maybe the aforementioned Seth figure), but couldn't. A great level in its own right as well as in the contest." - Ryan (02-May-2017)

"This a most player-friendly level, which I liked very much. I especially appreciated the way the builder avoided the excessive back tracking which can blight an otherwise enjoyable level - somehow here one finds oneself very much in the right place after completing a task. It's very logical gameplay so I didn't find myself stuck very often, and then not for long. It's a two parter (yes another level that takes more than three hours net gaming). Enemies are sparingly used in part one, and in fact Lara gets a lot of help from the locals, provided she either bribes or feeds them. Part two is a different matter, with a few quite fearsome enemy encounters - fear not, plenty of medipacks are provided. In both parts the traps etc., should be readily negotiated by most players, whilst still providing plenty of fun. Excellent use has been made of the objects and textures provided in the package. Highly recommended." - Jay (29-Apr-2017)

"Ok, I just found my favorite BtB-Persia entry. I'm still amazed what builders come up with in such short time, I could build for years on end and not achieve half of what this level offers. Environments are beautiful all around, excellent use of textures and lighting - perhaps I could have done without the underwater fog, but even that helped enhance the dense atmosphere you get from the city surrounding you. Gameplay revolves mostly around exploration and, although the city has a maze-like feel to it, it's relatively easy to figure out where you are and where you're supposed to go to next — plus you get plenty of camera hints. I loved how the author has used enemies, which in turn allowed for a funny puzzle inside a restaurant of sorts. I have no idea how a manticore would manage to sneak up on Lara, but I also enjoyed that and the other cutscenes you get here, giving a good sense of progression to the storyline as well. All in all, an absolute masterpiece and very likely to be among the top entries this year. Do not miss out on it. 140 minutes. 04/17" - Treeble (29-Apr-2017)

"Again a long and amazing level :D The story is divided into two parts quite different from eachother which gave a good variety of environments. Visually, the level was absolutely marvellous, with many use of fog effects that enhanced that even more, in terms of textures, lighting and architecture. The level had a really catching atmosphere as well, in the first part, more a serene one, and in the second part, a more threatening one. The flybys, in particular, were really really well made, the builder must have spent a lot of time on them ! I just rated the gameplay a bit lower because there wasn't really hard puzzles in this level, just a few straightforward ones involving pushables, and the gameplay in general wasn't particularly hard, so I was kinda left hungry for more :p Here it was more climbing, exploring, key hunting. Even if it's not the kind of gameplay I like most, it was still well made enough to be very enjoyable, and there was lots of combat in some parts as well, which were very fun to play. Statistics : 3h11, there were no secrets but I don't mind to be honest." - Revenge (27-Apr-2017)

"I loved this level... Since the start to the end. Great scenarios, beautifully well done rooms, richness in detail. Everything provides an incredible adventure with a enjoyable gameplay. Highly recommended. Congratulations to author." - Thiago (26-Apr-2017)

"A beautiful designed game with confusing gameplay. It starts in a nice looking cave-sand pit that really encourages to play the level. The first frustrating moment starts right at the beginning of this adventure. I was running around in that pit like a decapitated chicken looking for a way to get up. I was wondering if I had some intellectual problems. I found the answer in the comunnity forums. It was a bit cryptic to put something like that right at the beginning. It didn’t looked like I was supposed to do that grab jump because Lara could normally pull up and stand on that cliff platform. Another thing about that jump was that it had to be very precise on the right edge or she wouldn’t even grab up. The texturing around the first part was very good with sometimes noticeable errors. That rope was totally unnecessary for the little jump. I feel that the level doesn’t give the player a little warm up, but instead hits it hard from the start. I noticed a disappearing spider web object. After climbing up the ladder a beautiful designed architecture with amazing texturing opened up. Really impressive, but I do which some more work with the light was done because it was ˝worse˝ than some other this years BtB entries. A great object placement is very noticeable. The next frustrating part was the killing of the pink baddys and, again, wandering around like a mad person. I guess this one is on me, as I didn’t read the comments and the examine object in the inventory, but still, this is a huge thing to let a player enter a dead end and make him start the game over. That was my case because I didn’t had a save game with the baddys alive and I normally don’t look right away in the inventory to see what just excited landed in Lara’s bag. Every dead end in a level that can occur with normal playing is a mistake done by the author. The baddys should be either invincible, not bleeding or not in a baddy_slot. There are objects looking like people in the puzzle_hole slot who receive money from Lara and work fine. After finally giving them the coins, like they were a keyhole, stabbing them with the gold, the gate opened up. I noticed by now that sometimes the game lags ( frame drops ) and that sometimes camera hints are missing. After finally getting up to that jump switch another frustrating thing started … activating that switch was a nightmare. I needed like 20 tries, Lara was sliding on that switch with her hand spread wide, but just wouldn’t grab on it. The angle placement was very bad. Another thing that I didn’t like is that there are sometimes huge areas to explore, like that part searching for an underwater switch in a bright, hard to watch, underwater environment. After collecting the kebab and using thes word a really impressive, beautiful and breathtaking area opened up, but soon it gets again very annoying to explore these huge fields stacked up with so many objects and corners. I spent like 1001 nights to get to know the area, look into every corner, find every door and switch. It did got really annoying. That crack in the wall was very hard to notice. Also, I found a roof that suddenly combust Lara, which is an odd way to mask illegal slopes. I remember running in circles many times through the same area and after few times finally finding a sneaky hidden door with a switch in it. So, not to make this review any longer, as a conclusion I would say this level has an extremely good architecture, texturing, object use and very good light. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy the gameplay so much as I did playing some other entries. Maybe giving it a too strict rating in the gameplay and submitting the lowest review it will get, but in the end it won’t matter for the competition as the lowest rating gets removed from calculations anyway. Highly recommended, but pack enough patients in the bag." - Gorty (19-Apr-2017)
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