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Level: BtB2018 - The Frayed Ends of Sanity back home search
Author(s): Tolle87
total rating:8.66 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Cbl 8 7 8 8
Ceamonks890 8 8 9 8
Feder 8 9 8 9
Jay 8 9 9 9
JoeTheCrazyGamer 7 10 9 9
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 8 9 9 9
Josey 9 9 9 9
Magnus 7 6 7 6
manarch2 8 7 8 8
MichaelP 10 8 9 9
Mman 9 9 9 9
Mytly 9 8 9 8
Phil 9 10 10 10
requiemsoul 9 8 8 9
Ryan 8 8 9 9
Treeble 10 10 10 10
category averages
(17 reviews)
8.53 8.53 8.82 8.76

Reviewer's comments

"This level is by far the most complex and elaborate of the BtB entries I've played so far, and I marvel at the creativity and imaginative talents that went into its conception and execution. Unless you an eidetic memory it's only to be played with a written walkthrough close at hand, for many of the required tasks are hardly intuitive. Even so, my game clock stood right at two hours and twenty minutes when I finished, so there's plenty to do and see here. I've discovered to my pleasure that it's almost never necessary to light a flare while playing these BtB levels, a far cry from past competitions. Maybe darkness is just inherent in some of the packages, and I recall that Northern Legends was the worst offender in this regard. I experienced some lag time near the end, but it wasn't persistent and I didn't find it annoying. Dutchy has done a fine job of laying out the gameplay in coherent and logical fashion, and I couldn't have done without his walkthrough. Some of the unique flourishes are described in earlier reviews, so I won't rehash them here. I know I still have three of the BtB levels to play, leaving little wiggle room in the scores, but I feel this one justifies the high marks I've given it. High recommendations." - Phil (10-Aug-2018)

"There’s a great idea at the core of this level, which is that Lara is suffering from hallucinations from an alien gas, and experiencing all kinds of weird things, such as a keyhole that moves when she tries to use a key, experiencing the same rooms all over again, prematurely reaching the end of the level, and seeing an alien T-Rex. The builder makes great use of the dialogue audio files provided with the level to create some hilarious moments, such as Lara saying ‘Ah … beautiful’ upon seeing a message that reads ‘Lara, you suck’, or a deadpan comment on seeing the T-Rex ‘Of course … a Tyrannosaurus in space … that’s perfectly logical’ (though I suppose that the package team gets most of the credit for that one). The hallucinatory bits are only interludes, however, within a much more mundane, though fairly enjoyable, level. There are plenty of interesting tasks, such as: a multi-stage timed run; an innovative way to get a code from a set of colour-coded rooms; a nice trap gauntlet; a switch puzzle involving stopping moving blocks; and many more. The tasks in and around the central lab area tend to be rather obscure, though, especially as there’s so much lag in that area, that even just looking around it is a chore. I ran into a repetitive crash after the second helmet section, but fortunately it went away after I reloaded and replayed from an earlier save.
There is a huge number of objects in this level – which is the reason for that lag – some of which are really overused, such as the railings with the glowing blue crystals on top. The enemies are quite judiciously used. Fighting the gas-producing mutant twice in two different locations seems a bit odd, though I suppose the first one was probably a hallucination. I do wish that the alien T-Rex had stuck around for longer, though! I found 5 of the 6 secrets; I especially liked the method for gaining access to the last one, a trick I’ve never seen before and would not have thought possible.
The colours in this level are a little too garish for my taste. Some locations do look nice nonetheless, despite the highly saturated colours, such as the alien temple at the end, and there are a few small nooks and crannies that are quite pretty. I do like the various examples of alien flora and fauna scattered around the lab and surrounding areas and the human technicians studying them. The final cutscene of Lara and her colleagues studying the sample of alien gas is cool too.
Overall: A level with a great premise and several memorable (and very funny) moments, but which get kind of buried within the sheer volume of tasks involved. Recommended." - Mytly (07-Jul-2018)

"Oh wee oh ohh. This year’s third Back to Basics level is apparently both named after and inspired by a Metallica song by the same name. According to Google, it’s about a singer who is “becoming increasingly paranoid and therefore on the brink of losing his mind” - and not, like I assumed, about space travel, poison gas and tomb raiding. Too bad, that could have made for a good song. Anyway, this time Lara’s on an alien planet, where she has to kill a mutant which produces a poisonous gas. But first she has to reach it - which is really what this level is about. It’s actually a very aimless level, and I was rarely sure what I was supposed to do. It starts out simple enough, as you make your way into the main base. Once you get there, there’s a door that needs two fuse thingies to open, so I thought that’s what I was looking for. But I kept finding other keys which all eventually led me to circuit boards - and I didn’t even know what those were for until near the end of the level! While I only got really stuck a few times, I really do prefer having a clear goal, and not this constant “oh, here’s a key that leads to another key” stuff. Am I making progress? Well, I found another key, so I must be! That said, it’s not a bad level by any means. There are quite a few clever moments, like pushable objects that need to be used in several different ways, or having to find the correct digits for a code to open a door, or getting an enemy to blow itself up. The best moments, however, are when Lara’s exposed to the poisonous gas and starts hallucinating. That’s when the level gets really creative. The level is fairly colorful and alien-looking. Colored lights and patchy textures abound. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it just looks like the author has played one too many Psiko levels. I also personally think it looks too alien for what’s supposed to be a human base on an alien planet, but maybe whoever constructed the base worked with what they had available. I can just imagine the interior decorator saying, “let’s put another alien skeleton over in this corner.” After seventy minutes, the level ends with Lara killing the mutant and bringing back a sample of the gas to the people in the base. Congratulations, Lara - you’ve just helped a government somewhere create a new biological weapon. Oh wee uh-oh?" - Magnus (05-Jul-2018)

"I was struggling a bit how to score this massive level, as it is full of very clever and creative gameplay ideas that are great fun to figure out, but can also easily get quite frustrating if you just don't get it. Initially the rooms feel very dark, but it gets better throughout, but at all times the level feels rather overloaded with the objects provided in the WAD - maybe less could have been more at times. In the first part you get to figure out a torch and code puzzle and then as you move on you really need to get your bearings in a huge multi layer area. I made the mistake of playing this level over a rather long period of time, so obviously I forgot certain things and had to figure them out again when I picked up the game after a while. Clear recommendation would be to play this in as few sittings as possible. The whole conceptual use of the helmet was unique and well pulled off, with particular mention going to the dino scene and the one trap gauntlet area was great fun to get through. All in all, a great level if you bring along the patience it requires - certainly one with a twist you have not seen before and that says a lot after almost 20 years of custom level building." - MichaelP (02-Jul-2018)

"Ok, a real “tour de force”, what a display of imagination and creativity! This longish level will keep you interested and busy for quite a long time. It is beautiful, although somewhat over-ornamented, to the point that the decorations impair the action and the understanding of what has to be done. I also suffered a little from darkness at some places, and was very lost as to the result of some actions, for example: what the repairing of the water duct had done?? to where, and what for, Lara had to move a tower? what happened after Lara finally grabbed and used that jump lever? But the helmet sequences were very well imagined (I enjoyed specially the Tyrannosaurus and the “Lara sucks” ones), despite some lags, that timed run involving platforms was great fun, I liked the torch sequence and the variety of actions here is very nice. In resume, play it!" - Josey (02-Jul-2018)

"What starts off as a fairly routine romp through a long forgotten alien temple(of which Lara's research team has set up shop at), gradually escalates into an utterly surreal experience as you'll find yourself overcome by many difficult trials, that will certainly push any player's skill to the absolute limit. And as such, should be approached with a degree of caution beforehand. But having said that, the gameplay is a much welcomed challenge for those whom are patient enough to see it through to the end, requiring a good chunk of critical thinking well in advance(taking into account the many timed sections, pushblocks to push or a particularly devious torch puzzle), with a noticeable amount of framerate slowdown in certain areas, thanks to the overwhelming amount of detail on display. What really sold this level for me however, were the eponymous hallucination effects generated by the mutant's toxic gas(which really shook up the routine path to progression in clever ways), making me almost second-guess my every action during these moments & even eliciting a good chuckle or two in-between. And as far as the rest of the general game design is concerned though, it holds up well under scrutiny(being a very convincing environment in spite of some questionable placement or utilization of elements like the objects or texturing in certain areas), with the builder making the best of the assets provided to them for the contest. So in conclusion(despite some technical issues & incredibly tough gameplay sections), this is quite the ambitious level that ultimately deserves to be experienced by anyone keen to try something a little different." - Ceamonks890 (01-Jul-2018)

"By all accounts I should have disliked this level. From the very beginning, when you are greeted by an overly elaborate torch puzzle involving a very tight timed crawl/run and to the moment you finally set foot inside this gargantuan space station. It's become another staple in the BtB competitions to always have at least one level that is so huge that it causes the game to lag. However, despite the very open nature in design and the obvious length, I never found myself stuck in this level, so I guess that's a plus. What's more, although at first the gameplay wasn't really doing anything for me, once I got to the Helmet it picked up. It's beyond my comprehension that a level of this size is built within the small timeframe given to the authors, and not only this author seems to have used pretty much everything at his disposal, they've also managed to bring in unique traits, such as hallucinations. I honestly have no idea how these were done but I was pleasantly surprised with all of them -- and even found myself laughing upon the "fake ending". Definitely a great contender for the top spot, but it's not my favorite entry despite it's sheer brilliance. 120 minutes, 2 secrets. 06/18" - Treeble (27-Jun-2018)

"Excellent TRLE, really intresting design of the level I got lost a few times whilst playing, There were some really good puzzles too as well." - JoeTheCrazyGamer (24-Jun-2018)

"I'd call this very appropriately titled as I felt my sanity leaking out of my ears from time to time. This is quite a complex game and, although I began quite well, I started making a complete dog's breakfast of it towards the end. This is not to detract from the level itself in any way. It's very good and very clever, two attributes that I appear to have been lacking whilst playing it. The title really properly refers to the rather entertaining hallucinations Lara encounters when wearing a protective helmet in toxic areas. Definitely a must-play." - Jay (22-Jun-2018)

"Wow, I'm really unsure where to start with this one. One thing is clear, there's definitely been a lot of effort put into this level and this builder clearly has a vivid imagination. There is a lot of gameplay packed in here, ranging from timed runs and swimming exercises, to pushblock puzzles, enticing an enemy to break something to help you get further through the level, two (!) dragon sequences and a really wonderful idea with the helmet and the unique gameplay twists that it provides (even going as far as a couple of hallucinogenic sections that twist the mind). Looks-wise, the lighting is a little too colourful at times, but overall it looks really attractive. That said, I felt it was a little too overloaded at times. The object density made my game lag quite a bit and I even ran into a few crashes, causing me to play in windowed mode for most of the time, which I really hate having to do. But, when all is said and done, this is still a remarkable and memorable effort." - Ryan (22-Jun-2018)

"This was a tough nut to crack and many were the times when I just couldn't remember where I'd seen some place I had to go to then, what to do exactly, how to reach a certain spot. Quite out of the box and quite interesting too, like Uvavoo revisited on harmless acid and pretty much improved too. The entire level ends up being a gigantic maze with loads of interesting objects and interactions and the only downside of a main room where things get a bit too slow. Teleportation, puzzles, a few very feasible traps in a certain part of the level, lifts and codes, dragons, swimming and, mostly, gas-induced harmless hallucinations are all memorable. If this isn't recommended in the space level category, I can't think of any other I've played that is." - Jorge22 (20-Jun-2018)

"This starts out with a mix of human and alien designs, which feels a little odd when the story doesn't really suggest that, however, it feels more cohesive later on and most of the actual designs and areas are interesting. The central base area does seem to have some bad performance issues though with how many objects it has. There's some extremely creative ideas here though that also forward the story, namely revolving around the "gas". Gameplay starts off relatively simple (although there are still some nice tasks) but things get more involved and interesting as it goes, with quite a bit being done with the main design twist (including a really clever bit of parody), and a nice climax, although the final part of it is a little frustrating and borderline luck based. A great level and potential candidate for my favourite, on top of being another that does good things with it's story concept." - Mman (19-Jun-2018)

"This surely has to be one of the longest levels of the competition, which is not bad because gameplay evolves continually and it is fun enough to keep you moving foward. Tasks are varied and very original (like the hallucination parts), but there is a problem that makes progression tedious: the rooms overloaded with objects that cause framerate problems. I've mention this issue before in some other levels, and I still beleive it can ruin a great gameplay, making it hard to explore or even appreciate those areas. Appart from that, great work with the architecture design! Although, I wasn't quite sure about where I was, because I started in a cave with some vestiges of an alien civilization, and suddenly I was in a base-lab with both human and alien furniture, which was pretty strange. Lighting and textures are well applied, and enemies are not too hard to overcome given that you get the uzis with some clips right at the beggining. Overall, a very entertaining level with plenty of fun tasks." - Feder (16-Jun-2018)

"This is a highly involved and complicated game that took me a total of 65 minutes to complete. The gameplay is very engaging, with a good mix of exploration, puzzle solving and traps, and what makes this level quite special are those unique "helmet areas" you really have to see. Many tasks include something new to well-known procedures. The overall design is elaborate, despite a few more simplistic and sometimes too eclectic areas and oppressive colours, but the texturing and object placement is mostly very nice. However, there's a massive lag on my end (the object density is pretty high, maybe that's a reason), especially in the main lab area, that was fairly annoying and made some platforming/timed tasks pretty difficult but in a way how it should not be. The six secrets are really hard and fun to find, and overall I think this is a really good level overall but it could've been slightly better without the lags." - manarch2 (14-Jun-2018)

"Summary: Psychedelic, object-dense, and lengthy, this is a challenging level with some clever gameplay, but made more difficult due to framerate drops, a lack of indications regarding overall goals or switch functions, and architecture so confusing as to be disorienting. Divided into three parts, Lara journeys from a purely alien world back into a more-or-less human lab station, where she must recover a variety of objects while facing challenging timed-runs and frequent traversal of the central lab and a multi-floored tower, before finally using an elevator to return to get outside and take on armed and mutant aliens of multiple kinds. Details: I found this level frustrating, primarily due to the slow-down in the main lab area. I followed the instructions and doused the torch as soon as I had used it, but the problem persisted, making it a slog to navigate the necessary backtracking. Part of the problem was the over-abundance of objects, which I believe detracted from the atmosphere too. Many did not have lighting that matched the rooms' ambience, and the use of "alien" objects in the human lab made it difficult to understand what they were supposed to be. Why put constantly empty shatter objects everywhere? Why the alien skeletons everywhere? In neither case was it clear why these things would be there, and overall it seemed like objects were placed because they looked interesting rather than being logical or even functional. I disliked the number of switches that did not have clear outcomes: a camera or at least a sound for each would have helped significantly. I enjoyed the lighting other than the objects, and several puzzles were awesome: the numbers/colors puzzle was clever, being underwater when it froze was cool, and I particularly liked the squishy block puzzle near the end, which required good timing in a creative way. Enemies were infrequent, but the final bosses (yes, multiple) were a nice challenge. I never thought of putting that particular enemy underwater which made the gameplay significantly different and engaging when encountering it. On my original playthrough, I encountered a bug that ended the level prematurely, sending me back to the title screen after entering a brightly lit archway while the TR3 ending music played, which I only discovered later was not the intended ending. After getting past this, there's a pretty fun hallucination, and another boss battle ended via some platforming and switch throwing. Great ideas and truly inspired gameplay, flawed by the needless use of so many objects. The lag in framerate discourages me from attempting to play this level again. 3 and some hours on first playthrough, due in part to the lag." - Cbl (10-Jun-2018)

"The longest level of this BtB. Not especially difficult but demanding for the average player. The lisergic sections are very original and friendly. The last boss is a little annoying and missing some mediapack in this task. The geometry and the location of the objects are a bit flashy." - requiemsoul (06-Jun-2018)

"I think it could be the most complete level in this contest. Hundreds of tasks with a huge dose of exploration and, as usual from this author, some innovative ideas. Even so I think this level will be complex for most players, 'cause the absence of hints when you pick up something to show where to go. Anyway, it notices an effort from this author tried to avoid the backtracking, implementing raising blocks so the players don't need to go back to certain areas. As usual, there are a lot of objects ornating all the rooms, a huge work with the lighting with many colourful areas, a lot of items to pick up and a lot of areas to explore. I don't want to talk about the bugs to not give hints to the contest for the players. Definitely, a very long and complex level for expert players with no very hard tasks, except one of the timed runs to use the first torch and another one before the series of traps in the passages to get one of the circuits. As usual, a very hard work from this builder. Take a try!" - Jose (06-Jun-2018)
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