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Level: BtB2016 - Secrets of a Lost City back home search
Author(s): BtB 2016
total rating:9.46 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Drakan 10 9 9 10
Gorty 10 9 9 8
Jay 10 8 10 9
JesseG 10 9 10 9
Jorge22 9 10 10 10
Josey 10 10 10 10
Magnus 8 7 8 8
manarch2 10 9 9 10
Mman 10 10 10 10
MrJavi94 10 10 10 10
Mytly 10 9 9 10
Phil 10 10 9 9
Ray Croft 10 9 9 10
Revenge 10 10 10 10
Ryan 10 9 10 9
Thiago 5 9 10 10
totizedger 10 10 9 9
Treeble 10 10 10 10
category averages
(18 reviews)
9.56 9.28 9.50 9.50

Reviewer's comments

"Secrets of a Lost City is a pretty generic name for a level, but for some reason, I still had a good feeling about this level from the moment I booted it up. I'm not sure why, because the beginning is pretty unassuming. You begin outside a temple, and while it looks nice enough, there's not much to this area. Things pick up after a few minutes, though, as Lara tries to make her way into the temple and instead falls into a trap. The whole level is very focused on action and traps. It's honestly really refreshing to have a level that feels so focused, and the author does a good job at mixing things up. So within the action-heavy focus of the level, you'll get plenty of traps, platforming, timed runs and well-designed combat encounters - usually mixed up in interesting ways. The story is about Lara exploring the ancient temple of Ahriman where there's an evil cult, and this story comes across really well in the level. It'd be easy to just throw some human enemies at Lara and be like, "see, that's the evil cult right there!", but the level goes a step further, with Lara being captured and sacrificed by the cult, a woman transforming into a monster and eventually Lara fighting Ahriman himself. Within the limited means of Back to Basics, it's pretty impressive how well all of this comes across. There are three secrets in the level. They're surprisingly easy to find, but instead they offer additional challenges, so that's fun. The third secret requires you to have found the previous two secrets, and gives different rewards depending on whether or not you manage to finish the challenge it presents. After around fifty minutes, you return to area at the beginning of the level - except now the weather has changed, and water is pouring down the temple walls. It's a really neat effect, and suddenly the area doesn't look so unassuming anymore. There's a lesson here about not judging a book by its cover and how you should go with your gut. It's not often you learn life lessons from custom levels, but there you go." - Magnus (26-Jun-2017)

"This was the first level i picked out of all the entries and i'm feeling that this may be the winner but we will see later on. Gameplay is very varied with many inspired tasks, timed run to the sword was a highlight for me, first i thought i had to use the poles to get back up to the sword but then it turned out to be much more simple using the portals to get back up again (very creative). The timed shoot with the lasersight was also a really nice moment and not too hard either, the gameplay as a whole is very near perfect, quite straightforward knowing where to go next but not too much. Puzzles are very creative and you do have to think a little before you act which i really like. Music is used well to alert you of dangers and to give you a feeling of tension. There were not many enemies in this level but those you meet along the way are well placed. I'm a fan of platforming and this level sure delivers that in spades. Texturing is well done but lighting could have been better in some areas but overall it's nicely done. To sum things up a level for those who love a challenging level, maybe not the best for beginners though. Highly Recommended!!!" - totizedger (26-Jun-2017)

"The visuals here are extremely well-executed. Lighting, object use and room design are great and varied throughout. There's also some complex use of flipmaps that change some parts a lot. Gameplay here is relatively challenging with multiple trap sequences and timed sections, with some nice puzzle sections as well. There's also original ideas like some more complex scripted traps, and good implementation of the story into the level which comes together and ends in a good climax. As I mentioned earlier there are also major flipmap changes that bring it all together. I haven't played many levels of this BTB so far, but this could easily be my favourite of this set, and I have a hard time thinking of anything this level does wrong with what it's going for." - Mman (13-Jun-2017)

"I loved this level and really liked the usage of traps here. Everything can be found here. Beautiful Surroundings, Creative gameplay, good camera usage etc. and it just really felt like an adventure. The one with the spikes and the targets to shoot with the Magnum was one of my favourites here or in the night where the looks got even better. I never really got stuck except at the time run with the pole rope and the teleporters which took me a while until i understood. Recommended for everyone, especially for those who love action." - Ray Croft (05-Jun-2017)

"The last level I chose for the competition, as I already had the feeling this might be one of my favourites – it definately was! The gameplay is just extremely... dense and filled with inspired tasks from start to finish. Never a dull moment yet also immersive at the same time, where you are able to stop and explore the scenery for their atmosphere – the builder has really hit a point where the mix feels quite perfect. There are indeed many traps to overcome in this game, but most of them require some more thought instead of running in without thinking first. It's really not a too difficult game this way. Puzzles are truly inventive here, and I really like that often several elements like timed runs or traps are used to even create larger puzzles. A four lever and four block puzzle is used to prepare a timed run, a large room with a lot of platforming and some traps has to be navigated first in order to find a quick way for another timed run that seems impossible at first. And I didn't even speak about the imprisonment scene, the timed shoots, the animal puzzle, the amazing finale, the fantastic secrets... really the only very minor thing I can complain about is that at the start it's possible to escape from the trapdoors that open after using the jumpswitch above, but the door that is supposed to be open can't be passed as the builder put an invisible block in front of it, as if he was aware of that – a slightly more refined solution would've been nice here. But everything else is really stellar. The object design is very nice as well, the atmosphere is quite nice despite not as fantasticly designed areas as in two or so other levels of the contest – although I really can't fault texturing and lighting for that, as they indeed feel quite faultless and really are very, very well done. This game took me „only“ 45 minutes to finish, but it's indeed so action-packed that it offers more as some 5 hour long epic. Not by far, but this only means there are many excellent entries: My personal favourite of the contest." - manarch2 (29-May-2017)

"Very good level with greatly crafted twists and turns although encountering so many traps along the way isn't exactly my tomb raiding cup of tea. Not beautiful nor ugly or uninteresting but definitely effective. Still, I have to recognize it may be one of the most solid entries in this year's contest, certainly the work of a more seasoned builder (or a really, really good debut) and a must play." - Jorge22 (28-May-2017)

"Well, this is IT. Brilliant! A level for experts, full of traps, acrobatics and challenges, superbly done. It is not exactly my kind of level, but one can only admire the talent, creativity and expertise of the author, and I’ll confess that it was good fun even for me, and that I overjoyed with every success in a challenge. Not a single minute of boredom, perfect light, perfect camera, a very smart animal puzzle, interesting and scaring movie sequences, a lot of thinking needed to find paths sneakily hidden, and a lot of adrenaline everywhere. One more outstanding characteristic is that even if the main action happens in a cave environment, there are also beautiful areas to enjoy. Those who love action and difficult challenges will certainly love this level, and the others certainly must try it to perfect their skills. Congratulations to the author!" - Josey (25-May-2017)

"Lara goes toe to toe with a cult to bring down the God of Darkness. This was a great length of gameplay and it concluded satisfactorily at the right time. The gameplay is heavily skewed toward trap sequences and timed runs, but some puzzles help balance out the pace. I particularly enjoyed the area with the four lever switches and timed switches - it was a timed run and a puzzle wrapped together and I don't get to see that often. I got stuck in one part because I didn't think to shoot a golden crystal. The spike traps with a monkey swing above was impossible to use for backtracking so I had to reload. The animals puzzle was a bit odd (I mean, bears live in caves, but they also can be seen in forests, so which habitat is for the bear?) but it can still be cleared with some trial and error. Combat is used effectively, particularly toward the end, where you can't do the usual "crouch under the flying god to avoid his shots" gag and instead have to keep an eye out for him as you battle his cult followers, until you break his shield. Decorative objects are used well in some places, but other places looked just a bit barren. The architecture is well built, and the way the level changes time of day (and floods) after you break free from the cult is a great touch. The audio is used effectively and goes well with the "scare moments" and cutscenes - and those were effectively used to tell the story, and that kept me immersed during the whole adventure. The texturing is great and my only comment would be to increase variety in outdoor textures a bit. The lighting could have used some more variety of colors but is otherwise good. Overall a strong entry in the competition that plays very well and should appease raiders looking for a bit of adrenaline. 1 hour 6 minutes." - JesseG (22-May-2017)

"Very long level with many traps and enemies. Maybe a little more ammo and care kits would have been helpful. I did not like the place to open the 4 doors lol but otherwise the rest is super well done with a very good finish. I had no secret though I found 1 without being able to take it. Excellent." - Drakan (19-May-2017)

"This has been the first entry I've decided to play after having had a look at the reviews already posted by other players, and that's what made me accept to dive into the Persian adventure. And I can't be more proud of this decision, because it's a level that I've thoroughly enjoyed, and it's a good contender for this year. Speaking of the gameplay, it's probably one of the most consistent from this event, given the fact I've already played 8 entried up to date. I've managed, not only to find, but also claim the three challenging secrets that the author has put on the tray. They all were cleverly thought, but I especially found more difficult to achieve the second one, given the tight timed-run. Visually, it's a truthful pleasure to my eye to have played through this level where the author has put lots of effort into every single detail to enhance the atmosphere with a desertic feel. Briefly, a must-play of this Persian challenge that is likely to be a winner. Huge congratulations to the builder and thanks for having offered such a pleasant time." - MrJavi94 (02-May-2017)

"Another winner in this contest and one that, for me, ties with Lara Croft and the Forty Thieves. Although there were a few frustrating parts, I can do no less than award a 10 for Gameplay and puzzles, due to the sheer variety of activities on offer. Challenging trap sequences (particularly travelling up a room with deactivated traps and then later with activated traps), the opportunity to go for some Expert Challenge secrets (I accomplished one in a different method to that explained in the walkthrough), devilish yet enjoyable timed runs, approaching a section of the level, only to fall into the depths, a boss battle... I really was impressed. The beginning sunny parts of the level contrast well with the rainy, moonlit ending sections. Overall, brilliant work." - Ryan (30-Apr-2017)

"It's probably too early to be calling favorites (I'm playing them in order so this is just my 4th BtB-Persia raid), but it's hard not to. This level doesn't resort to exaggerated areas or effects, but rather focuses on smaller but carefully crafted areas littered with traps. Gameplaywise it's pretty straightforward, generally speaking, so while the next goal might not be exactly in front of you it doesn't take too long to figure out and there are some nice highlights here, such as the timed run for the scimitar sword (which at first I thought would involve pole climbing and whatnot but turns out the solution was a lot more elegant) and the timed run across four levers. Halfway through the level it starts to pour and a number of areas change -- and for the better, suprisingly -- so you continue on with your quest. As an added bonus, you do get a few nice 'cutscenes' of a supernatural force at work setting Lara in peril and even capturing Lara in a very nicely put together sequence. 70 minutes, 1 secret. 04/17" - Treeble (29-Apr-2017)

"So far, the level with the most interesting gameplay. It’s not only interesting, it’s also very innovative with some new ideas I haven’t come across in levels played before. Just for an example, running through a long corridor where you see at the end the object you need the pickup, right before reaching it the door closes. You run back because the floor will collapse and the other door closes too. What now ? The floor collapses and Lara reaches a new area. So it’s actually not a real trap, mora like a scripted event. Another thing that I liked about this one is the difference between the prior levels I’ve played from BtB. This time there are no real huge areas to explore. I mean, they are still kind of big, but in a different way. There were many hard parts but still it was fun to figure them out. I had some real problems with the timed run around the four raising blocks. I actually got stuck right at the beginning for several days where Lara is supposed to do a back jump while hanging from an edge. I already prepared to write a devilish review, but I was just stupid for not knowing the jump is possible. The author did a really good job in designing his traps. As this levels actually concentrated mostly only on traps, everything else suffers a little bit. It feels more like an arcade game and not like an exploration. Comparing it to Lara of arabia, forty thieves or lost brothers, it’s clear that this levels can’t compete in other categories. It is greatly designed in many parts with interesting architecture, but in this one you won’t find some ¨wow˝ rooms that steal your breathe. I remember that I, while playing other BtB2016 entries, often just admired the rooms how good they looked. That didn’t’ happened in this level. As an example, the cave design is far worse than the magnificent looking caves in Lara in arabia. Another example, some outside parts are not even close to the beauty of forty thieves. I also noticed that many rooms did really look monotone with just flat lighting. Something like that was never the case in the other levels I mentioned. Flyby sequences are really good. Another thing I noticed is that some objects had wrong applied light. As a conclusion, this level has extraordinary gameplay based mostly on traps, but doesn’t do the job for me in other categories based on comparison with other levels from this year’s BtB. Still an above average game, probably for hall of fame. Not to make some wrong conclusion about my ratings, but I feel the need to compare all levels from the same competition. Overall, recommended !" - Gorty (27-Apr-2017)

"This is one of the levels that had everything to be one of the best in this BtB. If it was not for the excess traps. The game starts okay, but then it becomes trap followed by trap. Whenever you exit a section of traps and arrive in a new area, is there, another section of traps and the journey becomes annoying and exhausting. Other than that, it's all well done but a friendly gameplay would have been the best option for me. Anyway, congratulations to author." - Thiago (26-Apr-2017)

"This is an extraordinarily intricate level. I would categorize it as a trapfest, as there are relatively few tranquil stretches in the nearly two hours it took me to complete it. It also has a cramped feel to it, as most of the action takes place in close quarters set in underground or indoor areas. On the other hand, the surroundings are quite pleasing to the eye, especially in those occasional open and well lighted areas where they can be viewed to full advantage. The several timed runs along the way were challenging but fair to the player. I was able to conquer only one of the Expert Challenges (the first one, although I may go back later and try again for the second one) and thus was unable to play a small portion of this level. But what I did play bore the stamp of an accomplished builder, and I suspect that this level will place high in the final rankings. I do hope, however, that future levels in this BtB competition will have more player-friendly lighting as well as tasks that are to be tackled in outdoor, daytime settings." - Phil (24-Apr-2017)

"This builder has chosen the austerity end of the B2B textures, setting much of the action in cave like areas rather than lavish palaces and temples, so, although well made, visually this may seem less glamorous than some of the other entries in the competition. However, the atmosphere is wonderful and the gameplay incredibly good. The ingenious traps, timed runs etc., are beautifully crafted and provide quite a challenge. It's not one for a novice player, but all very achievable for those with a bit of experience. Highly recommended." - Jay (22-Apr-2017)

"Oh my... What a ride this level was ! This one is definitely nasty, with its diverse challenges and traps, which made the level very fun to play I got to say. The setting was absolutely gorgeous, and the atmosphere perfectly on point with the events. The 'plot' was very intriguing as well, and the camera work serving it was brilliant. Flawless level, in a nutshell. *applaudes the builder* I managed to get all 3 expert challenges, not without dozens of tries and almost heart attacks, though :p" - Revenge (19-Apr-2017)

"This is probably the kind of level that some players will love and others will hate, given the heavy focus on traps and timed runs. Luckily, I am one of those who love this kind of challenging gameplay. My favourite part is the traps-and-timed run sequence in caves to get the sword. The timed target shooting is also fun. The builder really knows how to create tension: a prime example is a trap-filled room which you first have to traverse while the traps are deactivated, worrying all the while that they will activate any second, and then again once they do get activated.
Enemies are well used, especially the multiple supernatural enemies towards the end. The three secrets are in the form of ‘experts’ challenges’, with the third one accessible only if you find the first two. (I found only one on my first playthrough, but replayed earlier parts to get the other two.)
The visuals and atmosphere are nearly flawless: the daytime section in the first half is beautiful enough, but once night falls, the looks are simply spectacular. The room with the boss fight and the flooded caves at night are my particular favourites.
Overall: A fantastic level in terms of both gameplay and looks, and quite likely to be one of the winners of BtB 2016. Highly recommended." - Mytly (17-Apr-2017)
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