Level: BtB2020 - The Holy Shell back home search
Author(s): BtB 2020
total rating:9.34 Gameplay &
Objects &
Sound &
Lighting &
eRIC 9 10 10 10
Jose 4 8 8 9
manarch2 9 9 9 9
nad 9 10 10 10
Relic Hunter 10 10 10 9
requiemsoul 10 10 10 9
Topixtor 9 10 10 9
Treeble 10 10 10 10
category averages
(8 reviews)
8.75 9.63 9.63 9.38

Reviewer's comments

"This level and "Garden of the four seasons" are the best ones of this superb BtB. Very unique, imaginative, and with puzzles with a smart design. It´s complex (some jump are a bit hard) but I do not think it is a level only for experts (and here almost all of us are). Some area could have been more iluminated. A masterpiece and highly recommended." - requiemsoul (09-Jul-2020)

"Well this one is different, but in a good way; I can't imagine the amount of work put into scripting and setting up all those new features, and I want to reward the obvious care for all the smallest details, both visual-wise and gameplay-wise. The result is a huge, entertaining, innovative game that kept me glued to the screen till the very end, making me forget it was built on such an old and limited engine, but still feeling like a modern and polished version of old school Tomb Raider, mixed with the Reboot and Crystal Dynamics games. I enjoyed the hunt for the bracelets, even if of course missing one leds to enormous backtrackings; however the extensive use of shortcuts fully makes up for that, so going back to find the 3 I missed was not such a chore; I also loved how you are prompted to remain into the village for lighting up the torches, hinting you can complete that area without returning, however it wasn't really so clear as I missed a key thinking it was in the other area... but maybe that was just my bad and you can't really expect to be guided so much. So, gameplay is varied but mostly focused on exploration with some twists, the creative use of the bow and all the other little ideas like the graffiti or the spider-avoiding minigame were awesome. Combat was a little downside, and I'm not talking about the limited ammo - even if it really doesn't even matter anymore after you find the bow - but because it's... not as important as I thought, except for the hoards of soldiers in the village area; it would have be nice if they didn't deal so much damage, with so little meds provided... a bit over the top and unfair in my opinion, but nothing tha can't be avoided with the powerful ammo you have. There could be so much to say... but I don't want to spoil everything. Textures were perfect in my opinion, as well as the geometry, only the lighting felt monotone but nicely executed. The final secret was rewarding and both finales were satysfing. But another thing really did stand out here: the story, or rather, the lore. Documents, cutscenes, little touches like the house were you find all the stolen goods, everything gives a sense of going forward in the story, set in a believable world. Levels that can do this succesfully are really, really rare, and ultimately this feature alone makes this offering step up from many others. My compliments, looking forward for your next masterpiece." - Topixtor (09-Jul-2020)

"The author already said it in the readme file: "This level is hard, long, big, non-linear..." Just the kind of levels I don't like. Weeks ago, I decided to play and review all the BtB levels this year, so I can't do an exception with this one, but if it were otherwise, I would abandone soon and never review it. Just like I did it in the level "A Debt in Tibet", I can't give a 5 or more in the gameplay section if I'm not be able to finish a level by myself and need to ask for savegames to finish it. Another pain. The swing around with the poles was too hard, and the timed run in the temple with the poles was too hard too; finally I was able to cross the tight rope (chain) with the darts. On the other hand, I found an excellent architecture and texturization, the rooms are very well ornated with a very good use of objects and enemies, found enough ammo for the guns and there are some cool details like the strong wind in the bridges or the nice animations. Hopefully someday this author decides to build a great level for everybody and not only for a few expert players." - Jose (07-Jul-2020)

"This is the sole BtB-Tibet level I found myself "bailing" out on to return later when a walkthrough would be available. The reason for that is that this might have been the most overwhelmed I've ever felt playing a Tomb Raider level, official or otherwise. From the get go you are surprised with tricks and features you're not used to, such as triggering a door by looking at different engravings on the walls, and it doesn't let up. From that angle, this is a technical marvel in its own and my dummy mind just can't get around to how advanced it feels. Lighting is also very realistic, and combined with the sandboxy feel of the game it really feels like "next level" stuff. The limited ammo at the beginning had me worrying and running away from spiders, unsure whether there'd be enough ammo or not (there might be just enough to kill all of the enemies we come across actually, but better safe than sorry, right?). That being said, while I do appreciate how far the envelope has been pushed with this massive open-ended level, if it weren't for the walkthrough I suspect I'd be playing this for days on end — two taps on the back of those who made it through without any help. The secret is also a very elaborate quest for 21 malae items placed throughout the map, very small and hard to spot and rather often in unexpected locations (the one in the chair comes to mind). All in all, definitely a great level, amazing atmosphere and a lot of quirks make it an unique adventure, however due to its non-linearity it may cause some unnecessary frustration and a lot of running around aimlessly if you decide to fly solo. 130 minutes, 1 secret. 07/20" - Treeble (06-Jul-2020)

"It's been about a week since I played this. Some levels are ones you can have an immediate, coherent impression upon completing them. With this one I needed that extra time to form more coherent thoughts as a great deal of effort appeared to go into the construction of this game. This game brims with original tasks, use of objects, and pleasantly surprising deviations from usual gameplay patterns from the very beginning. The graffiti task, the use of the tombs of climbable ledges, the shaking bridge, the conversion of normal arrows to explosive arrows, neat use of a wooden cage's support beams as poles to grab and platform off of, capping off with a clever double timed run and a final sequence featuring two endings had a lot of design put into them while being gameplay-friendly and grounded in realism. While the level is quite long and feels sprawling, backtracks are nicely tied up with the ability to open new doors to serve as shortcuts and tie separate areas together to the point its fairly easy to make out where each distinct area is. The hunt for the manae bracelets also provides an additional challenge and a rewarding secret for your trouble. Some players may be put off by the limited pistol ammo, but there is enough provided to make it through the entire game, justified as the enemies you can dispatch with them have their health nerfed to the point it doesn't make the player feel like they are at a major disadvantage. Once the mercenaries come out, Lara has access to the Magnum which is given plentiful ammunition, and is necessary as their damage is buffed considerably. Every setting featured in the level is given excellent care to bring out its atmosphere. The beginning tombs felt cursed and desolate, the eerie abandoned atmosphere of the village, the canyon with the shaking bridge, the orchard, and the sanctum of the eponymous Holy Shell all felt unique even though the same collection of assets is used. The only miss I recognized through the level was the pools of water throughout seemed to make the submerged areas wavy instead of the water itself. The water had this weird property of being still, yet the textures in each pool waved about. Perhaps it was an intended stylistic choice that didn't really click with me. In any case, The Holy Shell is a truly fascinating adventure that is worth the nearly three hours I've spent in it. My highest recommendations!" - Relic Hunter (04-Jul-2020)

"This level begins with a very interesting task. Lara has to find four symbols and look at them to get ahead, which I haven't played like this before. In the further course the game consists of two parts, the village and the area of the tombs. In the village there is a lot to do before Lara finds the crossbow, which is urgently needed to continue the game. In general there are several tasks in this game that I liked very much, like finding and loading the crossbow with explosive ammo, swinging around the corner, finding and shooting the seven holy torches or the action of getting the gong stick, just to name a few. The timerun to one of the Buddhas was excellently thought out, but quite tight. I especially liked the windy bridge, as well as the whole action where Lara loads the explosive ammunition. Great musik. In general, everything in this game is well thought out and in the right place. But the real challenge is to find the 21 bracelets to unlock the only secret in the game. If you want them, you will experience a small break in the gameplay, because these bracelets are small and very difficult to see. I only found 19 and it cost me some backtracks and a lot of time. Nevertheless, the game is highly recommended." - nad (30-Jun-2020)

"Whatever the risk was when the builder set up this indeed long and complex game, it has paid off at least if you ask me. Sometimes I really wanted to throw some of those malae on the builder's head because of some longer backtracks if you have missed certain items, but once you aware that you can do all things in the village without a return, things become easier and the game is not overly confusing. The technical skill of the builder is high as there are lots of novelties like those paintings at the start Lara really has to look at, along many others. I also have never seen diagonally placed pole ropes before. The double timed run in the room with many poles is also highly memorable as well as the way to get out of the cage, or the cinematic finale; I was almost sad that the goal of the timed run was not grabbing the heart before the monk, because I actually was there in time, but the "real" task was nice as well (even if the timer is more forgiving here). Really lots of fun encounters and tasks, devious traps - well done overall. The enemy fights are also somewhat novel, with limited ammo (not very nasty and known right from the start) and some you can and should better avoid. A few enemies tended to run into walls but nothing serious. The object placement is sometimes a bit weird with objects being stuck in walls or in each other, while in some parts this felt intended I think it's not always realistic. The atmosphere is quite effective, even if quite grim and monotonous even in the supposedly brighter village sections. I really liked that large cave with the two bridges, and sounds are also very nicely used. The texturing is very clean throughout, the lighting might've been a tiny bit better with a few more highlights, i.e. lighter or darker rooms, but it still conveys a nice feeling of abandonment and isolation. Overall, not perfect in any category but highly creative, highly unique and this is what I demand more from those levels, so also highly recommended from me. Found the excellent secret in 1:15 hours." - manarch2 (28-Jun-2020)

"Often in BtB contests there is one particular level very different from the rest , and this is it. The holy shell shines by its originality , also by its difficulty. There is only a few difficult actions to perform (i found the timed doors to get one of the buddha statuettes very hard ; even after watching Doggett TV to be sure how it may be done) also the unorthodoxy of the gameplay and inventive use of some objects can make one scratches his hair. Some of the new possibilities of moves and scripting have been put to good use, but at the difference of other levels where things appear by some kind of TR magical law, this builder tried to make things appear to happen by more natural laws. Also scripting was used to offer different kind of gameplay linked to the storyline which is always a plus. The atmosphere is terrific and i don't know if i have ever came across a level where the setting appears so real. The village is awesomely built as it looks exactly what a village should look without all the fantasy bells and whistles. The lighting is exactly spot on and the RGB lighting of the objects could not be better to create a harmonious world without nothing jarring. The orchard is so beautiful (my favourite place even if there is almost no gameplay here), and so is the windy canyon with the bridge. The inside of the monastery/necropolis is gloomy with attention to details to illustrate a ruined and cursed place. You begin the level with no spyglass and limited bullets so it's better to flee from some of the enemies until you reach the village, then you will have more powerful weapons/ammos you will need to set objects on fire and defend yourself. The level is not perfect , some of the tigers were stuck when coming back later, and i could enter the house in the orchard by falling through the roof , but that does not really matter. This immersive level comes from another dimension of levelbuilding made by a skilled designer who thinks outside the box. Recommanded to perseverant players for a strong sense of accomplishment. I'm not sure i would like to replay some parts of it though, for it can also be frustrating and the fun is not granted immediately." - eRIC (28-Jun-2020)
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