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Level: LB Advent Calendar 2017 - Another Christmas Spell back home search
Author(s): Jesus C.Croft LoreRaider Sponge Talos
total rating:8.84 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
DJ Full 9 10 10 9
Gorty 7 9 9 8
Jay 9 9 9 9
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 7 9 10 9
manarch2 7 9 9 8
Manymee 10 9 9 10
Mulf 5 7 6 8
Phil 9 9 10 10
Ryan 9 9 9 9
Victoria 9 9 9 9
category averages
(11 reviews)
8.27 9.00 9.09 9.00

Reviewer's comments

"This delightful level caps a memorable December, which this year gave us a number of excellent raids. The outstanding feature of Another Christmas Spell, in my opinion, is its charming ambiance sprinkled with fine cut scenes and bright, colorful surroundings. It's not as long as Forest Kingdom, clocking in at just over an hour and a half, but it's equally as entertaining. Dutchy has again provided his typically competent walkthrough to guide the player by the hand, and the enemy-free landscape does not require the use of any weapons, even to shoot inanimate objects. There are a few quirky features, such as the need to push open spike doors that instinct would have the players avoid, and a door opened by turning the pages of a book instead of turning a wheel. Our community is indeed blessed to have builders of the caliber displayed in these charming Advent levels. Highly recommended." - Phil (01-Jan-2018)

"This level answers one question: have the Wiccans finally entered the mainstream and taken their place in pop-cultural New-Age hokey-pokery? They most certainly have. Christmas, Wiccans, dreamcatchers, spells, charms, ghosts, crypts, Gothic architecture, and the Bodleyan (sic) Library: it’s a highly eclectic concoction, this.
However, the level raises other questions: whatever became of the Kantian dictum that one should not use people as means to an end? Or, in this case, as puzzle holes? Several times in this level you get to insert items into people, which action then causes a door to open somewhere, or some such thing. Also, why do level builders feel the urge do muck up perfectly good animations for no perceivable purpose? No, I’m not talking merely about the rightly infamous pole-climb (which is indistinguishable from trolling, whatever the original intention in altering it), but also about the entirely inconsequential fumbling with the climbing-out-of-water animation; not only is it not better than the original, it also takes longer and hence becomes a (minor perhaps, but still) perfectly avoidable source of irritation; as does the sliding-down-a-slope animation (I remember sliding down only one slope in the entire game, actually—and it was a single-square slope, which made the animation look ridiculous). The rope swing is dodgy too, more so than usual. And does telepathy factor into this level’s eclectic underpinnings as well? Because at some point I had to find out in the Stuck forum that not only was I supposed to climb that tree and figure out for what purpose (fair enough), I also had to somehow divine that it had come down from its suspended position and could now be climbed in the first place; I still have no idea which action it was that made it come down, or how, or why the heck there wouldn’t be a camera clue.
In fact, up until that point I was prepared to cut the level some slack, not because it is a Christmas level, as others have developed a habit of doing, thus skewing the scores (already skewed towards the positive) even more for this type of level; but rather because for a Christmas level, its elements of German gameplay, i. e. of the toaster switch type, were comparatively subdued: the link between cause and effect wasn’t entirely randomised; and it even had some actual gameplay in the industrial section, including a (very forgiving) sequence of jumping across fire pillars!
Oh, but didn’t it go down the drain thereafter. Lack of camera clues, enforced backtracking over a long distance, increasingly obscure tasks and the not entirely unlikely possibility to get stuck for good (without you realising it) combine forces and pretty much destroy the last third or so of the level. I’d guess that this is, in part, due to the fact this is a group project (nobody volunteering to opine that the pole-climbing animation, which Guy #1 has spent so much time on, should be scrapped); it was certainly the (related) issue of the existence of a deadline which caused some of the problems: I gather from the Levelbase thread that at least one of them was introduced only after beta-testing, meaning the level as it was originally released was rushed, used ‘public betatesters’ and then proceeded to patch the damned thing up to make it playable, much in the same way that commercial game companies do these days. You don’t have to do that, you know. No shareholders or executives are breathing down your neck, prompting you to make stupid decisions. You’re free! Act like it." - Mulf (01-Jan-2018)

"The only problem to me was that cursed quadruple crawl through steam emitters, or six times if you picked that passage in the first order. I really can live if such error strikes a mediocre level but it's utterly devastating in a game as wonderful as this one here. But Mario told me they will fix it, so I can grant a nine in advance. Also it's not quite true you cannot adjust the turning during the tree climb. You can't do it the ordinary way, but if you slide down you can turn and aim precisely. In general I loved the storyline progresion. I know it has a lot of running but the "chapters" of exploration, puzzling, isolation, infiltration, plot twist and resolution are all timed perfectly, and I find it much more important than to count how many times I found a key or filled a puzzle hole, same as when I read a good book I don't really care how many words it has but how they are used." - DJ Full (31-Dec-2017)

"This is a wonderful team effort that mixes Christmas with a touch of spookiness. Lara gets to do the usual exploring for various unusual custom objects to use in rather unorthodox places, which is no bad thing and I really enjoyed the little touches that were added in to make this an even more enjoyable experience, like the spirals that transport Lara up and down, the spike wall double doors and the timed running initiated by a book. So simple yet so effective. Again, the surroundings are pleasingly put together, with maybe the exception of the sewers, but that's maybe a given. A big thanks to the Advent Calendar team for this level and this year's overall festive fun." - Ryan (30-Dec-2017)

"The typical features from a Christmas level: it's easy get stucked 'cause the new items you never know where or how to use them or, another times the absence of hints like the climbable tree. Even so this time there are many other things to guide the player like some camera shots to know where to use some items. Not very big areas but a lot of tasks to accomplish. You'll find professional touches like the book-cog-switch or the way to go down once you've got the final artifact. As usual in this kind of levels, the environments are pretty and well ornated, the secrets are well hidden and there's a good use of nice musics and flybys. Anyway, a solid level worth to play for this Christmas time. Recommended." - Jose (28-Dec-2017)

"Magical, just magical. What a marvellous end to this year's Advent Calendar. The level is full of exciting objects and brilliant animations as Lara explores mansion, courtyard, factory and (of course) the odd sewer. The requisite snow and Christmas decorations are firmly in place (well, apart from the sewer) and the atmosphere is wonderful. Gameplay is not always instinctive and I spent ages wondering what the devil I was doing hanging from a rope, eventually to discover a really sneaky re-textured jump switch. Clever stuff. The only other hiccup in the proceedings was because I'd thrown a switch on one side of a water hole, whilst totally ignoring the matching (and entirely obvious) switch on the other side. I maintain that it takes natural talent to be as unobservant as I am; not everyone can do it! That aside, the difficulty level should be readily achievable by most players and I urge you not to miss this excellent offering. Hope you do better finding the snowflake secrets than I did however - three out of five. Not great, but quite good for me actually." - Jay (28-Dec-2017)

"Another Christmas spell, another nice team effort we get here. A dark, mysterious atmosphere coupled with a good storyline and lots of great ghost scenes - really something worth to play. Gameplaywise it's a bit barren, with too much key/lever hunting, backtracking (that seems to be so common nowadays that it almost has become an accepted standard). At least there are varied tasks later on with a few burner jumps, one micro and one longer timed run and some decent platforming. The whole puzzle with the torch and the harp was enjoyable, as well as the jumpswitch and the following drop in the outer courtyard. I also didn't like that you can exit the mansion without a certain item, but thankfully the game-stopping issues are dealt in the new version which also has a few more hints thankfully. The visuals are giving this a good overall impression, the texturing is charming and diverse and the lighting is rather good, with a few avoidable cracks here and there and several not very cleanly applied textures, but nothing too annoying. The object design is great, but their placement is occasionally a bit buggy (apparently also reduced in the new version) and I also didn't like the pole animations as you have to climb up in the perfect angle, there's no way to change it anymore. It's again visible that this is an effort by four different builders, but I think that the connections (although noticable) aren't too strong and the whole works rather well as an unit. Overall, mostly entertaining stuff with a few lengths and issues, but mainly a nice final addition to the calendar. Found all five secrets - most felt like being placed as an afterthought - in 40 minutes." - manarch2 (27-Dec-2017)

"This year's 24th door of the LLB advent calender presented us with a very interesting level indeed. It is set in a library plus a bit of underworld and a bit of town; I avoided the big trapdoor in the first courtyard for the longest time as I did not want to be wading through sewers in a christmas level, but in the end I had to go anyway. Took me a while to figure out the reason for that particular trapdoor, but as with the entire level, I managed to figure it out without help, and that is a major bonus in my eyes. Hence gameplay & puzzles 10. There are a plethora of pretty objects, literally no enemies and the secrets were findable, although I don't think I found all five - but as the game progressed I was getting more interested in the story than in the secrets. There are certain elements that one may feel are rather unchristmassy (like the ghost being summoned for fire and the magic book etc) but by the end of the day, I appreciate that not all Xmas levels can be about finding presents. Doing the good deed is just as good. :) The atmosphere was really immersive, sound and cameras well-placed, although I never found out just how the tree came down, and I would have appreciated just a little more festive music. Lighting and textures were flawless. All in all one of the best christmas levels I've played. Thanks to all the builders!" - Manymee (26-Dec-2017)

"A very nice Christmas themed level from a group of authors. I finished the level with mixed feelings. At the beginning it was very hard to find the main path and where I was supposed to go. The first third of the level was pure exploration with collecting keys and pulling a switch. Not really something too enjoyable. It included some long pushing of a musical instrument and some confusing designed door openings. After that it got more interesting in terms of gameplay, but unfortunately losses its charm really fast and turns in the last third again in, more or less, key collecting. The middle third of the game was memorable by the annoying backtracking. Some of them were really long. Another thing I have to mention is the task repeating. I think I did the rope more than four times. After the second rope I just couldn’t do it the third and fourth time. The ˝negative˝ gameplay parts were usually nicely intersected with some fun jumping around. There were few objects without collision ( door frames ) and some of them went through walls. The atmosphere was just incredibly and something I really enjoyed. The little cutscenes really did their job. The light was good, could be better, but the textures were wherever they could stretched and squeezed. The walls needed to be more grinded. Some cracks can be easily noticed trough playing. The game was very good in design architecturally with the inside parts of the Talos mansion looking less attractive. Some outside parts remind a lot of TR3 London. Overall, a nice peaceful and calm Christmas level with some suspense elements. Recommended !" - Gorty (26-Dec-2017)

"The level was challenging enough while maintaining the cute Christmas theme. I enjoyed playing the level and never got bored. The whole idea of this level was brilliant." - Victoria (26-Dec-2017)

"Claiming this is the best Christmas level ever may be a bit too much but I can most definitely class it among the very best. What a great team effort and what a Christmas gift! The entire game is intriguing and excellent in its architecture, lighting, sounds and music, animations and gameplay and successfuly mixes adventure and the Christmas spirit. The last part is just surprising and amazing with its nice little touches such as the boulders that have already rolled before Lara comes in and the spike doors that are meant to be opened. It also seems to move at a faster pace, which creates a rather well achieved contrast. True, the climbable tree is a bit far fetched and the animation there may make Lara fall to her death and I suddenly entered a wall up in the church but, honestly, those aren't even gripes. So, what can I add? Thank you so very much, everyone in the team, for having offered us such an uncommonly excellent Christmas level." - Jorge22 (26-Dec-2017)
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