trle.net
Level: Dark Skies 3/4 - Incantations / Subversion back home search
Author(s): justin
total rating:8.32 Gameplay &
Puzzles
Enemies,
Objects &
Secrets
Atmosphere,
Sound &
Cameras
Lighting &
Textures
Akcy 10 9 9 9
Bex 8 10 10 9
CC 8 9 10 9
Cuqui 9 10 10 10
Dimpfelmoser 8 8 9 9
DJTch7 9 8 9 10
eRIC 7 7 8 8
eTux 9 10 10 9
G.Croft 7 7 9 7
Gerty 8 8 9 9
Kristina 8 7 8 8
Leandro 8 9 8 10
Leeth 4 6 7 5
MichaelP 8 9 10 9
Monika 8 9 9 9
Navi 7 9 8 8
Phil 10 9 10 8
RaiderGirl 8 8 8 7
Ryan 8 8 9 8
Samu 7 7 7 6
Sash 9 10 10 8
Treeble 9 10 10 10
Tune Razor 7 7 8 7
Zhyttya 6 6 7 5
category averages
(24 reviews)
7.92 8.33 8.83 8.21

Reviewer's comments

"Unlike the preceding levels, you travel back and forth between these ones as you open up new pathways and shortcuts. Both of them have a much darker appearance which can make things hard to see and the flare bug didn't really help matters, but it wasn't a great deal of an annoyance. There are a couple of inventive but long- winded block puzzles and extremely difficult timed runs that had me going for ages, plus some tense enemy encounters and nice use of music to complement the various scenes. Nice work." - Ryan (18-Nov-2017)

"I just don't know what to feel about these levels. While i enjoyed the majority of the puzzles (mechanically) there are so many things that just makes me think otherwise about the levels. The time runs only started to appear near the end of the level, in most of the part i actually managed to get around them pretty easily (even the rope one that many people seem not to handle too well) but the green area part with the fire traps it's a bit over the top. I actually gave up on the level because the last timed door never really opened for me, or at least it seemed that way, even mastering the fire trap part that last door was never opened. Either the time run is absurd or the door bugged out for me. Anyway that's really not relevant if in fact, the door bugged out. The puzzle where you need to move a box from one way to another, being forced to travel around the areas to actually move the box through the rooms properly, was indeed boring. I also was forced to backtrack a lot when i realized i was missing an item. Just finish picking up key blue and red from the Subversion and head out to the Incantations, progressing quite a lot, just to realize that i had to go back (or load a previous save) because i was suppose to go to a corner on the central structure part to place a key. It was a miss play on my part, but i just think we shouldn't have access to a new area without the necessary tools to finish it. It just made me backtrack too much. The level was almost pitch dark and to help the flame bug kicked in in the Subversion level. So to conclude, i didn't enjoy as much as the last level." - Zhyttya (19-Jan-2016)

"Another love/hate level. There were some lovely details and the design it self was good but there are to many flaws in design it self. Some puzzles are buggy (doors) and you can progress to areas that you can NEVER leave unless you got an older save and that is, once again, poor level design. There are some interesting puzzles and timed runs (one GREAT ONE and a lot of poor ones) but the long dragging of boxes, the fact that you can progress ignoring some keys and just get stuck for life is a bit to annoying. Another lovely detail is that you can use the "sub key" in the wrong keyhole and there it goes.. No more key unless you read the walkthough and repeat all over again. I'm actually sorry to say this about the level because it was fun but things like this should NOT come out to the public to play. The enemies are fun and just in the right quantity and that is all. Was a fun level I can't deny it but the fact that I had to see the walk-through and repeat a lot all over again is a big minus for this game" - Leeth (19-Jan-2016)

"Picking up this game again after it had been on my HD for about 8 years I thought I better get the whole Dark Skies in one go, so downloading was in order. Had to go over the first two of the Dark Skies series, as I couldn’t remember one bit what it was all about. There is still a not so nice timed run in the beginning and for the rest it is rather spooky. For a “golden oldie” this is still quite a good adventure. I did need the walkthrough every now and then, as I got lost quite a few times." - Gerty (11-Mar-2011)

"Justin has really hit his stride in this two-parter. The first levels in the series were confined to nighttime city streets, but now we're blessed with an alien environment with enemies to match. You'll find challenges from the very beginning, when you have to beat a timed door even to get started. But I never experienced the frustration described by some of the other reviewers, because once you know what to do it takes only a few tries to beat the timer. There are also a couple of tedious block puzzles in Incantations, and I somehow got the ending of the first one completely wrong when I wrote the walkthrough years ago. I'm surprised that no one ever called me on it before now. When I recently replayed the series, got to the wrong part and became stuck, I had to hunt for the solution by trial and error (as the builder had long since forgotten this part!). However, I'm happy to report that I finally succeeded, and I've made the appropriate correction in the walkthrough. The entire series is now available in one convenient download at TRO-Online, and all of the important bugs and installation problems reported earlier have been fixed. Take the opportunity now to play a great series if you haven't already done so, or even if you have." - Phil (25-Apr-2007)

"This was pretty nice set of two levels including various things to do. You have to explore, solve many different sort of puzzles, complete jumping tasks and there are also challenging battles in this game. I like also the dark lighting which fits well in setting and makes this game quite good. I found also some minus sides like an extremely challenging timed run near the end of the level. I have never had to use DOZY to clear timed runs but this time that was my only change to finish the game. The environment could look much more detailed because it looks rather uncomplicated. Areas are alike "empty boxes"( I hope you understand what do I mean). I think this game isn't bad work but it doesn't belong to best levels of author." - Samu (25-Mar-2007)

The first thing comes to my mind after finished these levels is: WOW! I really liked the challenging timed tasks, we've been given just enough time to accomplish them. Also the tough fights; the semi transparent enemies are quite frightening, but not as much as the cool alien/raptor hybrids, they're easy to kill though, but when they jumped out from nowhere - like when opened the first door in Subversion - I jumped out of my skin. Didn't have that scary experience since TR1, and that wasn't yesterday. The levels aren't bright, still almost no need of flares, so the flare bug at the end didn't cause inconvenience. The textures of the first level is mostly base, but at the second, together with the enemies created a believable representation of something ancient and out of this world. - Akcy (22-Jun-2005)

“Two intertwined levels in modern environment with a few outside areas. Well made long and sometimes difficult. I think I could have done the hard timed run near the end without cheating if only the rope would swing but this stupid rope never wanted to swing immediately. The other timed doors were manageable. Many tasks to perform many pickups and many enemies: SAS raptors looking like aliens (well done) giant mosquitos translucent retextured demigods and giant scorpions. Maybe too many of them especially the demigods and the game crashed in some rooms for two reasons: when I tried to use the MP5 or the binoculars. So it was a great relief when the level ends.” – eRIC (22-Sep-2003)

“I usually never complain about dark levels but this one is VERY dark and when the flare-bug kicks in it’s not any fun.....Of course the darkness adds a lot to this gloomy atmosphere. The gameplay is sometimes brilliant sometimes confusing and sometimes ridiculously hard timed and not once but several times. The darkness and those many timed sequences was a bit too much for me not to forget the many many demigods to shoot. At one point I got stuck - since I had missed an earlier area where you had to find a card to be able to proceed - and there was no way back.....Sorry to say this was not a level of my liking.” – G.Croft (18-May-2003)

“OK Lara has been transported to . . . where? And now she has to do a very tight timed run to a VERY tall room with a scary drop. And it's not the only tall room with a scary drop in this level. Not much further in you come across the first of many see through enemies they function just like the solid version of them but they are really good to look at. Very dark and spooky in places and after you're first encounter with an enemy you spend the rest of your time on high alert. Where is this place? Entering Subversion you get the fright of your life attacked by what looks like a cross between a raptor/lizard demon. It looks terrific though. You think ok that's over and enter the next room to deal with 4 different types of enemy. That'll wake you up. Throughout the level you have to deal with a lot of enemies but you'll find brown cabinets everywhere containing a massive amount of ammo and medpacks. Walk right up to these cabinets then take one step back and press action. Now comes the most elaborate confusing block moving puzzle I've seen. You know where the blocks have to go it's getting them there that's the problem. I couldn't have done it without the walkthrough so many thanks to Phil. There are other smaller block puzzles like this throughout the level. You can get confused and turned around quite easily I did even while reading the walkthrough. Some things are triggered simply by standing up against something and you've no idea what it did. I marked down gameplay for that. Loved the end as you come to the 4 transporters with the howling wind and twilight zone music. I'm glad I've played it it was very good but I wouldn't play it again. This is one of those original levels that I will remember for a long time.” – CC (27-Apr-2003)

“This was another very dark level. Right at the start a timed door that is really tough and I only managed it after many many tries. It stays tricky along the way but you can make it without flycheat – just a matter of patience :) It was well designed also the enemies (scorpions demigods mosquitoes). Very few flares but as you get the flarebug they would not be of much use anyway ;-) So the gameplay was even more difficult due to that. I crashed to the desktop when I used the MP-5. Too bad. Maybe Justin should get a good beta tester ;) Other than that I did like it as I enjoy a challenge. I like Darks Skies 5-7 best though.” – Navi (22-Jan-2003)

“Wow!! An absolutely fantastic couple of levels. Once more a brilliant creation by Justin with new elements like burning skulls unexpected translucent enemies impressive Aliens and ingenious puzzles. The atmosphere is superb and I liked the nice colours. Textures and lighting are perfect. Sound effects amazing. In these levels I found the most difficult timed runs I ever made. I would even say TOO hard timed runs. And Lara makes a terrific fall into a pool. I think that's a challenging and very difficult level. However I had great fun playing this set of series. They are really enjoyable and I'm waiting for a sequel...” – Cuqui (01-Jan-2003)

“Despite the fact that I'm usually a big fan of justin's levels I did not enjoy this set as much as I have others of his that I have played. It starts out with an impossible timed run in the very first room and ends with two more impossible timed runs then in between is a maze of confusing corridors that are too dark and look almost identical; many enemies - some of which are invisible the aliens are really cool looking though; a long confusing and tedious pushable block puzzle; a combination button pushable block puzzle some keys to collect and use; transporter beams that take you back and forth between the two levels; supply cabinets to search that usually have multiple pickups plus walls to shoot out swinging blades to avoid and fans to shut off till you finally step onto the last transporter pad which takes you to an area with three more transporter pads all of which end the level...for now. This is a set of levels that you can be proud that you finished but I still prefer both the environment and gameplay of some of his earlier releases.” – RaiderGirl (27-Dec-2002)

“I am so glad that's over. It is very dark for my liking and the transparent enemies are not my favourite either. There are a lot of lifts enemies at the second level buttons and levers that seem endless and a few keys. The movable blocks puzzle got me frustrated at first and gave up on it but I thought I have to finish it now as I don't like leaving levels in the middle. The demigods SAS guards but mostly big scorpions and flying beetles were giving me trouble as I didn't have much health and the medipacks given weren't that many. There are a lot of ducts to visit and quite a few timed doors one timed run involving a rope unfortunately forced me to use DOZY as there was no way I could catch the grate and jump across before it drops back down. A couple of cards to use as well and I found three secrets. The flare bug is present for so long I really got mad as it is very dark plus in the subversion level if you use the MP5 gun you get dropped to the desktop which was also very irritating because of the many enemies and not being able to use a gun with much ammo at the time. I prefer Justin's Atlantis levels.” – Kristina (02-Dec-2002)

“Now this was one hell of an adventure! You'll hear a scary howling of some kinda monster at some times but you don't meet that beast just yet even if the enemies are very tough and come in great amounts. As a more base sort of adventure there were not many real puzzles and the ones with the pushable blocks sometimes were a bit tedious but that was compensated with some nice and one maniacal double-timed run which I'm still not sure how I mastered so soon. You just have to know a few tricks and with a bit of luck you can master them all. I didn't give full scores to the level because sometimes it was a bit dark and the evil double timed run could've been a bit longer in the time given to complete it. But there are so many great things that build the atmosphere like the flaming skulls on sticks the howling of the monster I already mentioned the ghostly minotaur demigods on the high platforms and I also loved the very end high on a some kind a skyscraper where the 3 teleporters are. If you want to be prepared for the battles search the cupboards because they usually reward you greatly. A fantastic double level from Justin can't wait to see what happens next!” – eTux (11-Sep-2002)

“As mentioned before (by Bex) those two levels start with a rather difficult timed door. This nearly put me off and I’m almost sure that quite a few people will stop right here and not play the game. I played the game first without a walkthrough and got stuck because I didn’t have the BLUE KEY. With the help of Phil Lambeth’ Walkthrough I played the two levels again and except near the end where I had to use DOZY twice (the rope jump and the timed door behind the fire) I made it through the game. Sometimes there are too many enemies all at once and poor Lara doesn’t know which one to eliminate first. This game is a real challenge and if you like that then you will have a good time playing this double level. (08/2002)” – Monika (23-Aug-2002)

“These are the best 'Dark Skies' levels yet! The things you will remember most about these levels long after you have played them will be a) those timed runs b) those high ledges and c) those new enemies. The game starts off with a timed run that I would have found impossible to do had I not seen the solution on the forums (pull the switch then do a backflip with a twist in the air and sprint). I've downrated the gameplay ever so slightly because of this as I feel that this timed run would really frustrate a lot of people. There's lots to explore and the sight of those new enemies really did chill my blood. The atmosphere is once again superb I felt constantly 'on edge' while I was playing always expecting something nasty to jump out at any moment. The gameplay is nice and logical I didn't find myself lost or impossibly stuck at any time. That said the overall difficulty level is quite high throughout and so I would say that these levels along with the previous 'Dark Skies' levels are not really for the novice raider. For the hard-core raider however they are a 'must-download'.” – Bex (22-Aug-2002)

“For me Incantations/Subversion was a level too far. In the past I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed Justin’s levels but this one was just too difficult. The level or rather pair of linked levels is absolutely enormous and full of Justin’s usual neat visual touches enemies leap out at you when you are least prepared or rather when you are least able to defend yourself and there are plenty of taxing puzzles. What I had real difficulty with was the interminable darkness a problem compounded by the frequent appearance of the flare bug which made it yet more difficult to navigate this expansive level. Add to that a number of frustratingly near-impossible timed runs and this level turned out for me to be one to be endured rather than enjoyed. Enemies take several forms: aliens that leap out of nowhere are well placed and really do take your breath away when they do! Giant bugs attack en-masse and being rather more difficult to kill are somewhat troublesome. Giant translucent scorpions also pop up from time to time and being quite resilient to all but the most explosive of ammo can be somewhat tedious to deal with. The hardest work for me though were the large numbers of thunderbolt-throwing demigods almost always appearing in pairs that need to be dealt with in such a defensive manner that it seemed to take an age to dispatch each one. Sound effects were really effective and with a little more light I could really have enjoyed the atmosphere of the level. As it was it was just too dark the timed runs too closely timed and the puzzles too obscure for me to enjoy playing. Technically this level is really impressive and for each flaw there is a redeeming tour-de-force elsewhere but sadly no amount of technical excellence can make up for the intense feeling of frustration I had whilst playing the level.” – Tune Razor (16-Aug-2002)

“As I expected this double level of the series has way excelled its predecessor. Justin has this knack of building more interesting and solid levels the further a series progresses with a few exceptions and this definitely follows that trend I felt though for my liking I had to take a couple of points off one point in gameplay as a couple of timed runs one after another were just hair wrenchingly difficult and I had to in fact flycheat past one and the lighting was way too dark throughout but as that added to the brilliant atmosphere which has to be one of this levels strong points I knew there was no better way that this could have been lit. What you’ll find in these levels well loads of hideous enemies and sometimes in large mixed packs SAS demigods giant scorpions giant wasps from Tinnos and retextured ahmets that amazingly looked exactly like the creature from Aliens fantastic audio that just chilled me to the bones new objects such as the hand shaped pedestals really cool puzzles such as a handful of timed runs though as I said some are just too hard and movable block puzzles and a back and forth progression between the levels that flowed perfectly. With 3 secrets found though I know I missed some and just over 2 hours of play this was certainly a very memorable extremely fun and pee inducingly eerie level.” – Sash (21-Jun-2002)

“Let me start by saying that I would not be surprised if the review count for this level set stays comparatively low. Why? Because it has a short but tough timed run right in the first room (took me some 30 tries or so) and then again a double set of timed runs near the end which I had to complete using the flycheat to not be too frustrated and then went back to after finishing the levels to eventually master them. However you are missing out on an excellent double level if you give up on those so try hard. But let’s start at the beginning: Incantations (Part 1: 0:30 hours; 8/9/10/10): After above mentioned timed run this is a rather straightforward ‘warm-up’ with nice progression in a gloomy ‘tech’ environment with deep elevator (?) shafts and air ducts and steam. One very well hidden movable block can have you puzzled for a while. I liked the three-switch/movable/raising blocks puzzle and the colourful texture and lighting effects are great. Two secrets to find in this part already and the reworked translucent enemies (demigods and giant scorpions) are very cool. Subversion (1:00 hour; 8/9/10/9): This is where the action is. I counted more than 50 enemies here (SAS with night visors ladybugs giant scorpions demigods and of course the fabulous Aliens (remodeled raptors) which unfortunately are too easy to kill for the character they represent). Especially the demigods high up on pillars do present a challenge occasionally. But there’s more in this part like a simple and a not so simple puzzle involving movable blocks the third secret (via a rather simple timed run) burning skulls swinging blades the central room which branches off to the sides for your quests for keys and cards signs that mark your way etc. There were two puzzles in a row where you had to operate five switches to progress and I thought that was a little tedious but all in all great fun in this part before you get transported back to level 3. Incantations (Part 2: 0:30 hours; 8/8/10/9): The variety of enemies stays with you here but numbers go down a bit. You move along in a maze like environment with shootable panels and it starts with an innocently easy timed run. There are steam pipes and slicer dicers to master and I thought that pool was a little shallow to actually survive that long drop but nevermind. Then of course you reach those two almost impossible timed runs near the end (one involving a rope and one involving two switches and a fire trap) and after a final battle outside and a transporter end up in a place that holds the promise of three further levels to come. I can’t wait!” - Michael (21-Jun-2002)

“Lasting almost three hours these two levels are awesome! They have great puzzles a lot of searching for keys and items and obviously there are also the tight timed runs. I had to cheat in the beginning because I didn't have the desert eagle nor the lasersight but I didn't cheat to get through the timed runs -- I always think they're very exciting and challenging! You get to a lot of transporters taking you back to places you already have been (shortcuts) taking you to new areas and also for the next levels (there are four transporters in the end of the level each one will take to another next level). Weapons the same found in the previous levels (M16 rifle and MP5 desert eagle and lasers) but the enemies changed a lot! Translucid giant scorpions and minotaur gods are the dangerous enemies here but you will also kill some MP with night-goggles and aliens that aren't that strong. The most incredible afterall was the lighting. As always justin makes a great work with his lighting ability. It's a pity that the flare bug appeared in both levels but this doesn't take out the fun! Download it. NOW!” – Treeble (21-Jun-2002)

“I haven't much to say: Justin created another level with brilliant graphics new objects and smart puzzles. But the most important (and nice) feature is the atmosphere that's very good. In this pack with two levels (that I think were inspired in the London levels from TR3) we have some almost invisible scorpions a very good Lara outfit working cupboards (they have a few problems but we can pass this) and perfect lighting. The puzzles are good too. Not brilliant but this is a city level what did you expect?” – Leandro (21-Jun-2002)

“I must have played more than 250 custom levels by now but this is the first one where I actually used DOZY. There are two timed runs which really seem impossible to me. I tried the first one 25 times or so and I wasn't anywhere near succeeding so I took the easy way. I like a challenge but this is ridiculous. Frankly after that I soon discovered that I had limitless fancy ammo so from then on the enemies posed no threat anymore. If I had known this when I'd started out it sure would have been tempting to shift into DOZY right away cause there are too many enemies for my liking. The atmosphere is weird and gripping at the same time. I'm not fully convinced that it works but there are some very unique areas and the giant hands that serve as pedestals are really great. The gameplay is rather neat except for the last part where I had to fall back onto the walkthrough from time to time. I like the signs that gave you directions and the moving and raising block puzzles were a clever variation of this TR standard. The manageable time runs were nice the deep plunge into the shallow pool quite a thrill and I liked the huge shaft that you crossed on different levels throughout this spooky adventure. It's a really ambitious project in a way that it tries to combine so many different and new elements and sometimes it seems as if it's falling apart but when you reach the final platform high above the dark city you truly feel as if you're there.” – Dimpfelmoser (21-Jun-2002)

“Props to Justin for creating an awesome set of levels! The atmosphere was great but the timed runs could have been a bit longer (timewise). Can't wait for the next level!” – DJTch7 (21-Jun-2002)
back home search