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Level: BtB2018 - Hope of Meridian back home search
Author(s): Mr XY
total rating:9.27 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Cbl 10 9 10 10
Ceamonks890 9 9 9 9
Feder 10 9 10 10
Jay 9 9 10 10
JoeTheCrazyGamer 10 10 10 10
Jorge22 9 10 10 10
Jose 9 10 9 10
Josey 10 10 10 10
Magnus 7 7 7 7
manarch2 8 9 9 10
MichaelP 9 9 10 9
Mman 9 9 8 9
Mytly 10 8 9 9
requiemsoul 8 8 9 10
Ryan 9 9 9 10
Treeble 10 10 10 10
category averages
(16 reviews)
9.13 9.06 9.31 9.56

Reviewer's comments

"In this year’s second Back to Basics level, Lara travels to a planet named after (I’ll admit that this one’s a bit of a stretch) a city in Horizon: Zero Dawn, trying to find out what has happened to the missing crew on a research station. I’m always impressed when levels manage to tell a story within the constraints of BtB - this level shows Lara’s inner thoughts through text added for pickups, which works really well. What also works well is the gameplay, which is fun and varied throughout. Little things - like briefly changing the gravity to get past some spikes, or using a teleporter to get through a timed run in time - go a long way towards making things feel fresh - plus they suit the sci-fi theme really well. There are a lot of doors and winding hallways in the first half of the level, so things can get a bit confusing. It’s not a bad-looking research station, but everything does blend together a bit. Things pick up in the second half of the level, as Lara exits to the planet’s surface and has to track down three keys to get across a bridge. It looks alien enough, I guess (I like the bubbly plants), but most of the actual gameplay still takes place inside different parts of the research station, as Lara solves three separate puzzles to get the keys. After around forty minutes, the level ends. And while it’s not a surprising ending, it is at least a satisfying one." - Magnus (05-Jul-2018)

"The highlight of this level is the use of a rover to travel long distances on the planet’s surface and as a weight to activate pressure pads. (I also love that the rover is named in honour of Mugs – thank you for that little tribute, BtB package team!) There are also several other enjoyable tasks, such as a sequence in which you have to keep changing the gravity in a set of corridors; a timed run that involves a clever use of teleportation; another timed task in an area that’s filling up with poison gas; and multiple keypad puzzles, that put together also enable you to get one of the secrets.
Getting the first secret is fun, but collecting the rather randomly scattered alien totems for the second secret is somewhat less so (I resorted to the walkthrough for the locations of two of them). There aren’t a lot of enemies: just a handful of alien creatures (whose significance becomes clear later on) and a boss fight. The rather complex story is told quite ingeniously, using readable objects and object descriptions. The end is rather disturbing – indeed, the most disturbing I have ever encountered in a custom level, with maybe the exception of Josep Borrut’s ‘A Witch shall be born’ – but nonetheless, it’s fascinating.
The interior of the base is not particularly attractive, with mostly grey textures and few decorative objects. It’s understandable that a base on an alien planet would prioritize function over looks, but still – a little more visual appeal would have been nice. The exterior of the alien planet, though, is lovely and atmospheric, with eerie blue fog, bright blue plants, mysterious glowing pyramids and floating rocks.
Overall: An interesting and enjoyable level with a nice setting, a variety of gameplay, and an intriguing story. Highly recommended." - Mytly (04-Jul-2018)

"Only the second BtB level I am playing with year and clearly a contender for the win. You get a nice storyline and work you way through it step by step with some exploration and searching, a few tricks and traps to manage and some cool fun driving around with the rover. Some of the seemingly easy laser trap passages are actually not as simple and I liked the thinking puzzle with the code pads and the cool additions like the poison room and the healing station. There is excellent use of transporters and a dramatic build up to the boss fight and the resolution of the storyline. I ended up having to do the boss fight twice because one of those mutants decided to land on the crucial artifact and not disappear - hence I could not pick it up, but that is really a minor gripe in an otherwise really cool adventure." - MichaelP (02-Jul-2018)

"Only two levels into the Back to Basics 2018 contest entries at time of writing and undoubtedly, this one ranks as my favorite thus far. Taking place at a research facility on the aliens' home turf this time round, we find ourselves scouring the seemingly abandoned but nevertheless hostile planet, for any sign of the research team. And needless to say, they met with quite the grim fate I'll tell ya all that much. Gameplay offers a lot of variety in challenges you can do(from playing around with gravity to access levers, an easter egg-styled secret hunt for alien totems & escaping a hazardous series of rooms filled with toxic gas, to the little things such as relying on various teleporters or a fancy space rover to get around the expansive landscape). The atmosphere(while not quite as nerve-wracking as Edge of Forever was for me personally), is still very excellent at conveying an immersive sense of isolation, with effective use of lighting, camerashots, textures & general assets(which combine to create a world that may make you feel alone, but is at the same time, incredibly beautiful to explore while it lasts). So in conclusion, highly recommended!" - Ceamonks890 (30-Jun-2018)

"At least for me, a perfect level, where we have beauty, gameplay, good taste in ornamentation, puzzle and action perfectly balanced. It is a lovely display of creativity, with an intriguing and unusual storyline, where we can find some tough challenges (oh, those lasers and fires with spikes) and some puzzling and easier ones. The level has all the things raiders do love: plenty of exploration, a healthy appeal to intelligence, a vehicle that does not explode in wet places, well placed enemies (real enemies? well…), smartly hidden secrets, not very tough and impossible timed runs… and no one single moment of boredom. Highly recommended, and congratulations!" - Josey (28-Jun-2018)

"Although this is just my second BtB-Space incursion, it's already a contender for my favorite. The level offers you a compelling storyline and as you embark on this quest for eight missing people you actually get to discover their fates. Generally speaking it's a very simple and straightforward level, but it is set on a massive exploration space which you get to cover with the Mugs Rover. I particularly loved the gravity cube puzzle, and also felt the atmosphere for the outer world was spot on. In fact, I am not sure if this was a source of inspiration to the author or not, but I got great Mass Effect vibes out of this level, it was almost as though as I was driving the Mako to far outposts for one fetch quest or another -- in this case, three power nodes. Only stumbled upon one of the alien totems but I wasn't actively looking out for them. 55 minutes. 06/18" - Treeble (27-Jun-2018)

"No doubt this could be one of the best levels of the competition. Gameplay goes from exploring a desolated space colony looking for codes to driving the rover and solving some very clever puzzles, and all along the way there are plenty of surprises that keep you on your toes. The author also developed a plot, a mistery that you have to solve as you go further into the level, culminating with a great finale. I missed one secret, but I was able to get the other with a very useful weapon. Ammo and medipacks are duly provided. Lighting and textures were also very good. Congratulations to the author! Definetely recommended." - Feder (24-Jun-2018)

"This space BTB is so well designed and the puzzles were Really cool. Involving a bit of maths to open the armoury. The main goal of the level is to collect 3 bridge nodes and defeat a boss to find the crew. This was my favourite of the BTB space levels." - JoeTheCrazyGamer (24-Jun-2018)

"I must say I really had fun with this. The gameplay is most absorbing and well devised, making excellent use of the rover vehicle and transporters to zap Lara to different areas with a good variety of tasks to achieve. One or two slightly challenging tasks will put this beyond the reach of inexperienced players, but otherwise it should be achievable for most. The builder certainly has made excellent use of the wonderful objects and textures provided, and succeeds in creating some stunning alien environments." - Jay (22-Jun-2018)

"I may be only two levels through, but without wishing to appear presumptive, I think this could be one of my top three in the contest. Unlike On the Edge of Forever, this isn't just set in one main location andy instead introduces more wide open areas to explore. The architecture, texturing and lighting are pretty much flawless and every now and then, I stopped just to take in my surroundings. The gameplay is consistently entertaining and manages to keep the interest throughout the 55 minutes this lasted. There's a few exploration aspects, enjoyable timed runs, a couple of traps, a torch puzzle and the method of using the Rover to activate pressure pads is a really nice one. If you manage to find all of the Alien Totems, you are provided with an extra secret. They're not too difficult to find it. If I have any gripes, it may be that one timed run past fire traps had to be executed rather than finely. But apart from that, I loved it from start to finish." - Ryan (21-Jun-2018)

"As I used a random number generator for the levels, it is pure coincidence that this level came last, but it's for sure my favourite overall (for those interested, #2 is Renaissance and #3 is Starlantis). It's a really great work overall in any regard. There are several pretty novel puzzles in here and quirky attempts on timed runs, a somewhat different perspective on keypads, the rover is fun to use (though it's the only time we see it in the competition, for some reason) and even the slightly labyrinthine first section is superbly done with another interesting timed run among other things. The storyline is also very nicely incorporated into the game. On the other side, it all feels somehow... a bit empty. The individual tasks are nice, but it feels like they are scattered across the map and the task density could be somewhat higher in my opinion. I was pretty sad when the level ended after just about 30 minutes. Technically, I can't really fault this level much, except the minor thing that DOZY is still enabled (but I think this is not the only BtB level this year that doesn't have it disabled). The enemy usage is extremely non-varied, but it makes sense in the context of the game and actually the timing of the attacks made me jump once or twice. The two secrets are greatly hidden, the second being a very nice exploratory extra task that at least made the large desert area which lacks any other tasks at least a bit of meaningful (except of being beautiful, of course). Yes, the looks of this level are indeed very clean and very professional; while the inside areas are a bit more simple, the other areas are quite stunning. The textures and lighting section is almost faultless and the camera work deserves special praise, especially the one at the "boss fight" is just extraordinary but also several others. Anyway, despite some disappointment about the sudden (but nevertheless cinematic and dramatic) ending, I think this is a worthy top contender and also for me concluding level of this contest." - manarch2 (20-Jun-2018)

"This is mostly set in a base type setting, although it introduces more exotic elements later. The base is well executed, with good use of objects and design to feel convincing, and plenty of parts where you can look into other areas. The architecture of individual areas is relatively simple, but it's convincing, and gets stronger in the second part. The gradual introduction of more alien elements is done well too. Gameplay starts off with relatively straightforward environmental navigation, but starts introducing puzzles soon enough, and the tasks gradually escalate as you go through, although it's not especially difficult. The thing that really brings it all together is the story aspect; the level makes every use it can of item interaction and other elements (even the enemy usage) to tell a story that develops throughout, feeds into a few puzzles and wraps up in the end. The secrets are also nicely done. A good level made great by going the extra mile with usually less focused-on elements." - Mman (19-Jun-2018)

"A considerable amount of this level is very mazy and eventually makes you want to see it through. Still, I thought the design was beautifully crafted, so was the general atmosphere and even the mazy part was very cleverly created. Unfortunately, I only found four of the five small blue statues, so I was left wondering what could have awaited me after discovering what had happened to the crew (abducted and then transformed into aliens, I guess), blowing them into smithereens and leaving. I liked all the teleportings and the way one could use the Rover to open quite a few doors (first, one has to find out that's what one's supposed to do). A really nice entry." - Jorge22 (13-Jun-2018)

"Summary: With the atmosphere and suspense of a sci-fi horror thriller, this was a fun level that had the feeling of a classic Star Trek episode. Alternating between the outdoor, vividly blue planet and the dark, haunted hallways of the base, Lara has to build up clues to a mystery throughout the level, with a satisfying and cinematic conclusion. While I encountered some frustration due to certain game features being invisible if played at a screen resolution height below 720 pixels or so, I very much enjoyed this level, especially the vehicle sequence and the final boss. Details (spoilers): What a story! The various letters from which Lara must piece together the mysterious disappearance (or . . . what appears to be a disappearance!) of the station's crew was riveting, and a twist I didn't actually see coming. Cameras and music, like those in the very first hallway between buildings when Lara gets trapped for a moment, seriously up the suspense of the level. Puzzles were fantastic, particularly the floating water room and the fire hall timed run, and another timed run that really required a sprint-dive in order to succeed. Solving each puzzle was tricky but logical, making it satisfying to complete. I found both secrets, and for each there was a nice reward and a sense of something added to the game, my favorite kind of secret in the style of The Lost Artifact. I was particularly glad I bothered to do the secrets, since the Magnum made the final boss battle a bit easier. The vehicle made the level particularly fun, roving around the planet surface searching for items. So far, a stand-out favorite among this year's BtB levels, with all the elements I look for in any Tomb Raider level." - Cbl (10-Jun-2018)

"A good map with touches of surivival horror. The anti- gravity puzzle is very original and the ending is surprising and very cinematic. The first section is maybe a bit confusing and I like it better when we drive the Rover (impressive item)." - requiemsoul (06-Jun-2018)

"Excellent. The first area is a bit complex, labyrinth with all those keypads so I had to backtrack a lot to see what number to use in each one. The second big outside area seems hard, but not too hard when you dispose of a rover to explore and soon you'll realize that once you get a node and go back outside you don't need to re-explore the building areas again. Not an excessive backtracking. Even the five idols to get the second secret were not too difficult to find. Very good architecture and texturization, some innovative ideas like the water corridors in the ceilings or the pad tiles to use with the vehicle, the timed runs were not too hard and the whole game kept interesting and entertaining all the time; I've enjoyed it a lot. Sure one of the candidates to the podium. Congrats!" - Jose (05-Jun-2018)
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