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The Ghosts of Croft Manor by Cowboy

afzalmiah 9 10 10 10
Alien Autopsy 8 9 6 8
Andzia9 10 10 10 10
BlackWolfTR 10 10 10 10
Capt. Abbey 9 9 10 10
Ceamonks890 9 9 9 9
Chronicles5 10 10 10 10
Dick 9 10 9 9
DJ Full 10 10 10 10
dmdibl 9 10 10 10
Ekrixi 9 8 10 9
eTux 8 10 10 9
Evan 10 10 10 10
FX 10 10 10 10
g12STL 8 9 10 8
Gerty 9 10 10 10
Hedteur 9 10 10 10
Ivan 10 10 10 10
izzynoodles 8 9 9 10
Jay 10 10 10 10
John 9 10 10 9
Jorge22 10 10 10 10
Jose 9 10 10 10
Juno Jim 10 10 10 10
Lara_Fox_Croft 10 10 10 10
m.julien 10 10 10 10
manarch2 9 10 10 10
mart256 10 10 10 10
MichaelP 8 10 9 9
Miriam 10 10 10 10
misho98 10 10 10 10
Mman 10 10 10 10
Moonpooka 10 10 10 10
Mytly 9 10 10 9
Nephilim 10 10 10 10
OverRaider 10 10 10 10
Phil 10 9 10 9
QRS 10 10 10 10
Robobok 10 10 10 10
rtrger 10 10 10 10
Ruben 10 10 10 10
Ryan 10 10 10 10
Sackboy123 10 9 10 9
Scottie 10 10 10 10
Shandroid 10 10 10 10
sharnilal 10 9 10 10
TheStig 9 10 10 10
TRTheoP 10 10 10 9
TrueRaider 10 10 10 10
Ward Dragon 8 9 9 10
young Lara Croft 10 9 9 9
release date: 06-Dec-2009
# of downloads: 375

average rating: 9.70
review count: 51
review this level

file size: 107.00 MB
file type: TR4
class: Mystery/Horror

author profile(s):

Reviewer's comments
"An excellent spooky level with an interesting narrative and a gameplay focused on solving puzzles. The level is set in the manor (duh), and I really love the concept of exploring it in two different times of history: the first time in the present and the second time in the past, where everything looks older, medieval-like and also more spooky. The atmosphere is more calm in the first level while in the second it is horrorish and unsettling - overall very immersive. As I mentioned, there are a lot of puzzles and riddles. Some of them are really creative - my favourites include the chess puzzle and the quest for the Virgo zodiac. The story included in the game is intriguing and adds depth to the game. The design is of high quality - I didn't really notice any flaws. Good use of textures, well-done lighting, and plenty of decorations which make the place look better. Music is used very well and makes the atmosphere more unnerving. All in all, I highly recommend this top-quality level, which will provide you with a scary experience and lots of fun while exploring the manor and solving its puzzles." - BlackWolfTR (02-Nov-2023)
"It was interesting to play a level without any weapons (or even needing them for that matter). The level starts off as innocent and somewhat safe but then turns into typical TR gameplay using multiple traps and bullying enemies. The level was creepy enough to warrant stress in the player, and the combat style (or lack there of) was very interesting. Especially the final boss. Great Halloween level and I'd recommend all skill levels to try out this level here! Great work!" - g12STL (29-Aug-2021)
"Well what can i say this manor game is just to die for! if you love manor levels like me then this is almost a dream come true on so many levels here, great effort has clearly gone into the story and gameplay here, such fun and original puzzles and tasks in both levels, it almost ticks off every single thing i look for in a manor level. the lighting and textures were very well done and i loved the cutscenes which added intrigue and explained laras mission. the first level is set in 1982 (which happens to be my birth year lol) and was definitely my favourite! so searching and exploring the mansion and gardens for the 12 zodiac artifacts were mostly simple quests but very original and interesting for example that puzzle with directing lara to different tiles throughout the map ive never done that in a level before and the timed runs were exciting and very fun and also i love traps and theres fire and spike traps in both levels and then knight enemies in the second level, speaking of the second level the creepy atmosphere and music were spot on because i was totally creeped out playing it. when youve collected the 3 items in the second level its time to face the boss who warns you that hes already killed 2 croft's! will lara be his third victim? go find out and play this great set of levels, i just loved them" - John (01-Jul-2021)
"One of the best levels that features a young Lara trying to find the twelve symbols of the Zodiac Circle scattered around Croft Manor, in order to venture into the Croft manor of the past to meet an ancestor and fight evil ghosts to escape. The whole story and setting were very intriguing,the small discussions with Winston, good and evil ghosts were nice to watch and I loved searching the beautifully designed rooms of the manor. I really liked most of the puzzles in the first level with my favorites being the freezer where Lara is locked and the attic. I would like to give a lot of praise to the designer for the enemies of the second level. Both the mummy-soldiers and the one-hit KO skeletons would make chilling sounds when they were moving which combined pretty well with the dark atmosphere of the manor. Conclusion: The Ghosts of Croft Manor by Cowboy is clearly a masterpiece created during the first years of the next generation TRLE. It certainly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame since it masters the concept of Croft Manor and presents a beautiful story with clever puzzles to solve" - TRTheoP (28-Jun-2018)
"I loved the calm atmosphere of level 1 and I equally loved the spooky atmosphere of level 2! 2 Very different themes with such great puzzles; soundtracks for both level styles were very fitting and really set the scene. An overall great, laid back puzzle solving experience. A very enjoyable short and sweet Home levelset. Took 2 hours to play." - izzynoodles (29-May-2018)
"Another four-tenner I forgot to rate, likely because after playing it I refused to bother my mind with any duty but wanted it to remain in pure delight for as long as possible. This is a manor level as wonderfully interactive as Experiment Intro but in a totally different way, also not just more organic but even serving a wonderful lesson on how to use NG effects to improve not damage a game - in short, plenty of original content, all entirely immersive, nothing overdone, and invoking a replay desire after years, right now as I type it." - DJ Full (06-Apr-2017)
"This is by far the best custom level I've ever played, everything about it is so enjoyable, all the puzzles are well thought out and requires a lot of thinking before attempting to solve it and the whole gameplay is entertaining too. The use of enemies was quite good too although got a bit frustrating sometimes when you couldn't kill them but they're slow so they're easy to bypass. The whole atmosphere is amazing too, the author knew how to create a horror atmosphere, the first level Zodiac Ritual started off as a nice calm level and after that is when the whole atmosphere changes over to a gloomy haunted house setting and the background audio makes it even creepier. The use of Lighting is great and I totally felt like I was there and the textures used inside Croft Manor are the best textures that I've seen so far." - Sackboy123 (18-Sep-2016)
"Now, I know what you're thinking: Young Lara, Manor level, unbearable. Well, think again. This masterpiece just goes to show, that in the right hands, it can be something special. The puzzles and atmosphere are ingeniously executed and the quest for the zodiac items made for a fun raid. Try it, you'll like it." - Ryan (31-Mar-2016)
"I cannot believe it has taken me this long to get around to reviewing this masterpiece(considering that this was THE levelset that properly introduced me to the TRLE community at large and changed my life in numerous ways forever, back when I was completing my final year of college in 2011.) So, since its Halloween at the time of writing this, I'd figured it would be the best time to get around and indulge in a bit of nostalgia, to get it off my bucket list of custom levels to check out, as an unofficial critic. And boy, did it not disappoint! The plot was very intriguing throughout, characters were fairly well-realized and decently acted(even if you have to suspend your sense of disbelief a tad, when you hear what's supposed to be a teenage voice coming out of an adult AoD Lara), gameplay was creative and widely varied, enemies/objects fitted their respective time period effectively and the atmosphere, lighting and texturing were just so utterly exquisite, that I quickly became immersed into the overall experience, in literally no time flat. Sure, it technically is yet another Core Design-styled manor level at the end of the day(which we already have more than enough of in my opinion), but for a nice refreshing change, Cowboy plays it smart and designs around those limitations brilliantly, making an all too-familiar map feel like new all over again, culminating with an epic boss fight that practically ensures a replay, in the not too distant future. But in conclusion, this was an absolute pleasure to revisit again after several years. And I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys mystery stories or incredibly atmospheric levels in general." - Ceamonks890 (31-Oct-2015)
"I had to take my revenge on this map (since I played it when I was 11 y.o and was jist stuck everywhere) Now I managed to complete it. That was a great story there ! Lara starting up her 1st adventure in her own home and so on. My favorite part was on the Virgo enigma that toke me a long moment to understand, but it was amazing ! The graphics and the atmosphere perfectly fit together, and you are immerged into the game pretty quickly ! The chess part was the most easy to me (since I already know the rules and play a lot in real life) but you had great ideas refering to the XVIth century ! Great work from Cowboy !" - Hedteur (03-Jun-2015)
"This is a replay. When I first experienced The Ghosts of Croft Manor I was left with a great satisfaction and I knew I would play it again. More than 5 years later I felt like revisiting this level. My time was well worth it, this level has a fantastic atmosphere the manor looks stunning both in night and day time. I was emjoyinh the puzzles and the foes and I felt the same when I played the first time. The feeling is there and unaltered. The plot was intriguing and Lara's ancestors were interesting enough. I had a hard time discerning their speech and I had to replay some dialogues because of the echoing. Last but not least I would mention a well deserved recommendation!" - young Lara Croft (11-Apr-2015)
"This starts off with a regular day in Croft Manor, just this Croft Manor isn't regular. There are many that Cowboy had added. Those Zodiac puzzles are one of the most creative puzzles in the classic Tomb Raider games including the unofficial custom games. The zodiac statues and temples are cool, I would have installed them since Tomb Raider 1 if I were Lara. And the underground hall was mysterious. There are dialogues between Lara and Winston including the freezer joke which I actually laughed to, those are well done, although actual English accent voice would have been better. But I'm not complaining. The second level really change the atmosphere, from a bright yet mysterious day to a dark, creepy and mysterious night. I really like it when they actually put the dimensional change in a game. The objects feel just right on place, they give the antique feels. The enemies are annoyingly good and well placed, and that spirit who threaten Lara was cool. The lighting was perfect with dark corners and tunnels. The chess hall left me wondering what to do for a while but it was fun. And I have to mention the music when we enter the labyrinth, despite the fact that I liked it so much that it gives the medieval feel, I felt like it was misplaced. This level is supposed to be dark and the music was to bright. Overall, this level-set is the best one from Cowboy, the puzzles and the clues are new and mysterious, and the atmosphere is its strongest point." - Nephilim (21-Jan-2015)
"The first level was perfect, would call it what I see as a perfect home/mystery level. Good puzzles, neat cutscenes, fridge joke that made me giggle, some ghost moments, atmospheric music and beautifully textured Croft's Manor. Audio was a bit repetitive, but original and suited the old house mood, so it was alright. Very medieval feeling, I liked it. Wished that level would not end, REALLY loved the puzzles and looking around the whole house. Next one was something original. Time traveling plus atmosphere that reminded me of spectral realm from Soul Reaver game. The lights and mood of the next level were interesting. Notes/secrets are a big plus. There was even a scary moment - when I realised that the armor statue is moving. While on the start I found myself fascinated, shortly after my impression was ruined by the music. It was just annoying, had to turn it off. Then it started to be a lot of running, from door to door far away and I began to like it less. Of course author added some nice puzzles and original things. But that second level lacked something, which makes me lower the whole rating. I had so much fun with the first one I might even redownload it one day when I will be looking for something relaxing." - Alien Autopsy (22-Sep-2013)
"I played this amazing little adventure long time ago. Now i replayed it and it didn`t dissapoint me. I love spooky and ghosty levels. Here you can play two nice levels in manor plus third level as final battle (epilogue). Very interesting game with some clever puzzles, key items to find, secrets (found 5/6), admiring such beautiful atmosphere, meeting spooky and ghosty enemies (to get rid of them better to find crossbow) and of course some wraiths. What i didn`t like much here was a maze but it wasn`t so bad so overall a mustplay for everyone. Fully recommended. 10/10/10/10" - OverRaider (24-Feb-2013)
"Another great game made by Cowboy. Even if it is a house level, the hunt for the 12 zodiac signs is on. Nice puzzles all not to hard to figure out although the lighting could have been a bit brighter in the chess room and also at the place where you have to figure out the card puzzle. Then there is another home level but this time by night. If you walk around careful you don't wake too many nasty enemies, I was glad I found the crossbow; that did help me a lot. The knights were getting on my nerves a bit. Then there is the last level where you have to avoid another knight but you have no way of eliminating him, so outrunning is the only answer." - Gerty (10-Dec-2012)
"The Zodiac Ritual (10-10-10-9): From the very intriguing first dialogue with Lara and Winston this first level was one of the most creative and also detailed games. Searching for a known number of items in a more or less well known place is always nice, but the builder put in an even more special search for the twelve zodiac items - he was even so player-friendly to hint every item on a pedestal. The puzzles are great fun to figure out, especially the boulder puzzle in the attic, the treasure hunt through the whole estate and the current puzzles, and the game was highly flowing and simply superb. There are three well hidden secrets to find in this level, all with a great sense of accomplishment when you found them. The object design is very creative; the texture set was diverse and as authentic as the objects, however the lighting at some places was somehow unrealistic - the usage of shadows that here and there did not fit to the lighting sources was not that great; I think a little more attention would have been better here.
Ghosts of Croft Manor (9-10-10-10): Already the second manor (and actually the same as before), but a few hundred years before. The mysterious atmopshere not only made with great sound usage but also nice effects with the ghosts and also the lighting was simply undescribable and this level was atmopsherewise one of the best I have ever seen, better than reality I think ;). Freeing the ghost by finding another three items throughout the level which again is great fun. The level is actually a little shorter than the previous, but there are two very clever puzzles in it, the chess and the cards one. The first I think was too easy because the tiles the chess figures had to be placed on were marked, and the second one was a little obscure as I didn't know on which tiles to jump, and even when figured out, you may think some false ones are the right ones (the spades). Overall the gameplay didn't as much thrilled me as in the first level (it was however not that bad to give it even lower marks) - there still are some nice features like the ghost that raises your health, the knights where some rare arrows have to be found, but everything was a little, little dull (e.g. the escape from the wraith and the long deadly cellar corridors), even the secrets weren't as hard as in the first level, but the looks for sure were much better because of the atmopsheric lighting and the well placed textures.
Epilogue: This short ending was mainly about re- placing the zodiac items that Kedrick pushed off the statues and didn't appeal me too much because everything that was done in this level has been done before, except the two nice cutscenes.
Summary: This is easily one of the best levelsets I have ever played, the techical detail (text messages, health-recovering areas, the items, sounds, ...) is fantastic, the atmosphere gripping - the level doesn't want to let you stop playing - and thus this level should not be missed by anyone. Playtime: 95 minutes. Highest recommendations." - manarch2 (14-Feb-2012)
"What a fantastic game! I loved it! The first level was mostly exploring the manor and looking for the artifacts and I loved it. The atmosphere was amazing and the Resident evil music fitted very well! It was such a mysterious level, but the second one was scary. It was Croft manor at night in the past and there were some scary enemies and I was very happy when I got the crossbow. The puzzles were very clever. In the epilogue it was kinda boring to pick up all the items again and put them again, but anyway, the game was perfect and of course I recommend it!" - misho98 (27-Dec-2011)
"Nice game. I like it a lot. Very good puzzles. In my opinion, the first part was more amazing. Moving around Lara's home and searching for artifacts. I didn't like the storyline of the second level. It wasn't bad, but that's not my type. On the other hand, it was interesting. It has good atmosphere and a bit scary in second level. Good work." - Ekrixi (14-Sep-2011)
"6) The Ghosts of Croft Manor (10,10,10,10) Total = 40/40 (100%)
This is my first serious level following various Kids and Joke ones (see my previous reviews) and what a contrast! I thought the entire house and grounds looked and played brilliantly, both times through. The Zodiac Ritual was well thought out, the pieces themselves were beautifully designed and I enjoyed the diversity of tasks required to collect them. Boy, the Anglo-Saxon helmet was difficult to get though. My only real niggle was the trapdoor in the maze, not Cowboy's fault but you have to stand in an exact position to activate it - perhaps this is just me getting used to the game mechanics? The ghostly atmosphere and contrast when you go back in time was spot on; in particular the clanky guys following you were very creepy (I called them The Clangers!). The climax was perfect, rushing round placing the Zodiac pieces on their rightful pedestals bringing the great storyline to a (super)natural conclusion. Perfect 10's well deserved, this would have fitted nicely into an official release no question (shame it wasn't). Ride 'em, Cowboy!

Previous Level - Simply Purple. Next Level - One Day in Venice." - Robobok (28-May-2011)
"This was a very good house level. At first I didn't want to play it because I don't like mystery or scary levels. But after I started to play it I was so wrong before! Amazing textures and perfect lighting. I don't really like mazes but I didn't mind. The ameplay was pretty annoying by looking for the zodiac pieces but it wasn't too annoying. The second part was a whole lot scarier and I found it hard to explore because I was scared at what might be around the corner (I am really easy to scare). The final battle with the evil ghost was really good and epic! This is a fantastic adventure and should not be missed." - afzalmiah (04-Mar-2011)
"This level, is the reason why I'm a new creator, a really good example of level design; Croft Manor, good ambience, good story, good idea, I've to say: this level was a rebirth of old tomb raider, Old manor. With a big smile I've played this level, all details made me happy, it was so good, thank's Cowboy for this precious moment." - Lara_Fox_Croft (29-Dec-2010)
"This is the first TRLE level I've played in probably five years. I thought the system was so antiquated that nobody still built with the level editor (I know that's very ignorant now), but was so disappointed with the new games. I was so pleasantly surprised to get addicted to custom levels again on a whim. The mastery of these builders makes for gameplay, atmosphere and challenges that far surpass any of the new official stuff and even the original games that were built in this engine. I was delighted to be freaked out by the super-spooky manor and also nostalgic to revisit it. The puzzly gameplay was so intense that I didn't miss shooting enemies at all. Going back in time was delicious. Thank you for a wonderful re-introduction to TRLE!" - Capt. Abbey (10-Dec-2010)
"The Zodiac Ritual: Though this levelset is classified as a 'Mystery', the first level at least is a purely 'Home' type level. The house and its grounds are pretty much the same as in TR2, but with high-res textures, and some extra rooms and outdoor structures (which replace the training area). The atmosphere is excellent: the builder really manages to make this place feel like a real home, from the dirty old wood textures to the ornate grandfather clock in the hallway, whose ticking can be heard all over the house.
But unfortunately, this level also suffers from the shortcomings of a Home level, i.e. dull gameplay. The idea of searching for 12 zodiac-based artefacts is interesting in itself (and the objects themselves are lovely and detailed), but the actual quests are mostly very mundane. Some of the tasks are really tedious, like fighting an underwater current for not one but two separate quests, or the Virgo quest, which merely involves walking all over the house and grounds. Only the quest for what turned out to be a secret was moderately challenging.
Winston's shocked reactions to his young charge's antics are quite amusing, but I couldn't understand the voice actors' accents very well, so I had to read the dialogue in the script provided.
Ghosts of Croft Manor: Lara has travelled back in time to an older and derelict version of her manor. Though the setting is technically the same as in the previous level, the subtle - and not-so-subtle - differences in lighting and furnishings of the house are incredible in their attention to detail as well as a surprising (in a custom level, anyway) degree of historical accuracy (e.g. no bathroom!).
Gameplay is several notches above the previous level, with several intriguing puzzles, including a chess-based one, plus a gauntlet of traps in the cellar and a timed run with a difference on the way back. The only thing I didn't like was trying to get out of the hedge maze with a wraith in hot pursuit (but that may be because I hate both mazes and wraiths).
The new enemies - especially the mummy/suit of armour and the wraith/joker - are excellent, and suit the level perfectly. But more than anything the best part of this level is the creepy atmosphere. The worst part is the all-pervasive darkness, which is really tiresome.
Epilogue: The final 'boss fight' is fun, though I'd have appreciated a new task rather than simply replacing the zodiac artefacts.
Overall: Lots of puzzles - some unique, some mundane - great atmosphere, and a good use of some new TRNG features. On the whole, an excellent levelset, with a few minor shortcomings. Definitely recommended." - Mytly (09-Oct-2010)
"Showing an original desing in a classic archetype, this game has become epic. A young Lara gets involved in a family ritual which she wants to solve. The inteligent puzzles and challenges capture the player's attention and it never let him/her get bored. New enemies, objects and textures turn into a main character. I feel there's no doubt that the atmosphere, sounds, cameras and lighting were PERFECT. This is a masterpiece worthy of the great artist. Secrets deserve especial attention, I have never seen such entertaing traps and paths to pick up them, I personally loved it. In conclusion, this level is a luxurious 5 star achievement." - Miriam (17-Aug-2010)
"One of the best (relatively) small self-contained adventures there is. The manor is modified for gameplay (twice!) very well, and all the objects fit perfectly. The music and lighting also come together to make the atmosphere slightly uneasy even in the non-horror based first level, and the second level is creepy throughout. For a manor level everything comes together perfectly.
Gameplay is also very high-quality, with the whole manor being made use of and a few good trap sequences. Everything comes together very logically as well; there were a few parts I needed help on but in those cases it was down to missing some obvious logic on my part. For a puzzle-based level pack like this I don't think it could be much better. Even the secrets are implemented very well and add to the background story (the story itself is also well-implemented throughout). If you're looking for a TR pack with puzzle- focused gameplay this is one of the best there is." - Mman (01-May-2010)
"It is so tough to find a great home level, so it was nice to play such a superior one. First of all, I just have to say how much I loved how Lara is transported back in time and can see her home in olden times. That was such fun. Everything is done so well here, from level design, to lighting, objects, secrets, atmosphere and oh-so-scary audio. The story was engrossing and the puzzles top-notch. I was so sad for it to end, but I loved how it ended! One of the best boss battles and I never once touched the boss! My only irk was the voice acting. I realize that not everyone will know a voice actor who is English, but I just can't handle hearing Lara speak with a thick non-English accent. There has got to be a plethora of willing Raiders out there willing to record tracks for the level builders, heck, I would do it and I could do Englishwoman, and I am not even British! The only thing worse than this Lara's voice would be an American Lara...or maybe not. Nonetheless, besides this hiccup, everything else about the level was outstanding!" - Shandroid (17-Mar-2010)
"The game is amazingly fun to play,and the manor so beautiful to explore.The atmosphere is like TR3 but even more familiar and better,with that sence of solitude and discovery.I love the sounds,the music,the dialogs and the story around the manor is charming.I\'d like to have something like this on future games. Completely amazing,seriously,one of the best TRLE I ever played." - Evan (02-Mar-2010)
"That was wonderful. Very beautiful manor, very interesting puzzles and very interesting story." - Andzia9 (24-Feb-2010)
"What a fantastic adventure! The atmosphere, the sound and the puzzles are great. I really felt fear, mainly due the sounds. The idea of the story and the ritual are great,I liked the haunts made by Cowboy.Maybe some objetcs are too repetitive, but thats only a detail. The first level is no-linear and the second one is totally linear, I liked that change. Excellent work!" - mart256 (18-Feb-2010)
"A good adventure! The levels are well achieved and the scenario is very good. The items are well made, as are the enigmas. I love this adventure" - FX (15-Feb-2010)
"What a fantastic game...easily the best interpretation(s) of Lara's Home I have ever seen. Both levels have a unique atmosphere and were a pleasure to explore. I was having so much fun I played both levels through in one sitting, which is rare for me. The Zodiac Ritual was a very interesting concept and each piece was located in an appropriate location around the mansion and grounds. Lara's search takes us to all our favorite places and all sorts of interesting things happen. Gameplay was excellent, creative, and quite varied. I especially enjoyed the fact that this level was totally non-linear and exploration based. It was challenging but not terribly difficult- just the way I like it. The twist on the freezer- Lara getting locked in- was too funny! Mirrored floor room was a great idea, and I also liked the Virgo puzzle in which Lara had to follow a path from one block to the next. I enjoyed the cutscenes and playful banter between Winston and Lara, though the voice acting wasn't always very clear. Most of the sounds were good- I'm a fan of the Resident Evil Save theme which was appropriate for the house. I also noticed a track I believe from the game Heavy Metal FAKK 2 which I had used in one of my older levels- great music for the title screen! What bothered me though was all the push-button music tracks around the house- they played on top of the RE save theme, which drowned out both tracks. Also a few sound effects had a scratchy recorded feel to them, but this is a very minor problem. The secrets were excellent, I found all three. The Anglo Saxon chamber felt like a completely different level- great atmosphere down there and fun traps to avoid. Textures were very well done- the whole house had a sort of grungy textured feel to it which was great, and they were all of great quality and well-applied. I was not so wild about the texturing of the manor gate, but most everything else was perfect. The translucent window textures are noteworthy as they added significantly to the atmosphere of both levels. Objects were nice as well, certainly an upgrade for Croft Manor. The Zodiac pieces were beautifully made. The kitchen was lovely and bright and the box of "Bartolios" on the counter was a great inside joke! Again, lighting and atmosphere were very well done in this level. Lara then travels through time to Croft Manor in the distant past, a different place entirely. The foggy green/blue lighting and horizon set an ominous mood, and the creepy background music fits just right. Couple that with a few knights and flaming sword templars slowly following you and you've got the recipe for a great scary level! I lit the torch and carried it around with me. This one was another largely non-linear jaunt around the manor, collecting 3 objects and perhaps a few secret notes along the way. Gameplay included a chess game and card game, both of which I enjoyed, a flame wraith chase through a maze, and my personal favorite, a mad dash out of the cellar while Lara's health is being drained. A good balance of thinking puzzles and traps/enemies. I liked the secret area with the crossbow and healing statue. All the secrets were great, each one adding more to the story. Again, great objects and textures, very appropriate for the time period. The outside area in front of the house was quite beautiful, as was any room with translucent blue windows. I liked the Ghost characters, even if their dialog was hard to hear at times. I might have liked a few more scares, or other types of ghosts or creatures to avoid, though I admit the templar that came out the kitchen door was quite a shock! I found the re-placing of the 12 Zodiac items at the end perhaps a bit tedious, but it was made more interesting by the health draining, the templar, and the flames. End cutscene brought things to a nice conclusion and sets Lara up for future adventures. I liked these levels as a prequel to future TR games and will consider this adventure part of my personal notions of Lara's chronology. We also learned quite a bit about the Manor itself and Lara's ancestors! Overall, a very mysterious and enjoyable level with all aspects from gameplay to atmosphere very well executed. I spent 2.5 hours here and found all six secrets. I look forward to playing this level again some day. Be sure not to miss this spooky adventure into Lara's past!" - Chronicles5 (14-Feb-2010)
"The Zodiac Ritual (10,10,10,10) I really enjoyed the quest for the 12 zodiac items. Varied and interesting gameplay in a very pleasant setting. The objects and the various next-gen features made this first level a joy to play. I had a much less happy time with part 2, however. Ghosts of Croft Manor / Epilogue (8,10,8,8) I think the main issue here was the lighting, which was both too dark and too full of arbitrary local highlights - the Chess puzzle was hard to visualise due to the fact that all the pieces appeared as various shades of brown or grey, so I ended up just using the walkthrough. Same problem with The card puzzle - it was easier to understand, unfortunately with some red cards appearing black due to more intrusive and unnecessary shading/lighting I misread the cards and again had to use the walkthrough. That, and the incomprehensible dialogue, kind of took the edge off the experience for me." - Dick (08-Feb-2010)
"The Zodiac Ritual (7/9/8/8, 75 mins, 3 secrets): Even though it is really well done, it is still a Lara's Home level and thus the entertainment factor of this part was limited for me - simply because I have been running around this house far too many times and I always get lost and frustrated with the tedium of not finding your needed items. Still - the search for the 12 Zodiac signs is spiced up nicely here with a few puzzle clues that were fun and in the end I did not have to search for any of the 12 for too long. I really liked the puzzle that sent you from square to square - simple but very effective.
Ghosts of Croft Manor / Epilogue (9/10/10/9, 45 mins, 3 secrets): And to make matters worse, you get a Lara's Home level right after a Lara's Home level... but this part is another story entirely. The spooky atmosphere is amazing, the ghost appearances very cool and as many of the doors are initially looked and the keys you sequentially find are aptly named, you also do not get lost much but it flows rather well. The chess puzzle is fun with great looking objects and you also get a series of spikes and burners to navigate around to spice things up. The Epilogue section was maybe a tad too tedious again in re-placing all 12 Zodiac signs one more time - as it is not difficult to achieve but requires you to do the same action several times. Maybe placing half of them would have been quite enough. Then again, the original idea of having a ghost drain Lara's energy is wonderfully executed.
Overall, Cowboy has certainly taken a Lara's Home level to a next level here, but for my taste, I still prefer to accompany Lara in her adventures in other places than the manor." - MichaelP (01-Feb-2010)
"There are two things I dislike about TR levels. One is young Lara and the other is mansion levels. So, when I saw this level I was slightly hesitant about downloading it. But, knowing Cowboy's rep' for producing good levels, and how the saying goes "never judge a book by it's cover" I decided to take a look; and I'm awfully glad I did. This is by no means your usual mansion level, oh no! This is by far one of the best adventures I have ever played and it had me hooked until 3am in the morning. Ok, so we have two levels here, both set in Croft Manor but with completely differing styles. The first level: The Zodiac Puzzle, sees Lara in Croft Manor by day and her task is to locate 12 zodiac items. To find them you need to solve 12 puzzles. The second level: The Ghosts Of Croft Manor, sees Lara in an earlier time zone but still in Croft Manor. It was creepy, and I mean creepy! This is another hunt for items and more puzzles await you, as well as some superb Knight enemies; some of which pop out at unexpected times. In both levels, the Manor has been re-vamped. It all looks fabulous and the atmosphere is superb. I particularly liked the use of the Res 4 safe room audio in level 2. This gave the creepy manor even more creepiness. You can also use the hi-fi's in (I think) four rooms and each hi-fi will play a different tune; very nice touch. I also liked the timed runs. They have a differences in some cases, like you have to get out of a situation before Lara's energy diminishes. As I say, the manor in both scenarios have had an over-haul, so expect to see some spectacular changes and beautifully placed textures and objects. Game-play was also fascinating and fun. All in all, this is one not to miss and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did." - Moonpooka (24-Jan-2010)
"What Fun !!! This is a really great game !!! A cool hunt through Croft Manor, with all sorts of different ways to find the 12 Astrological Symbols, puzzles and even a little chess challenge. New characters. No gunplay, but you can blow up some very well designed enemies. The in game cut scenes, with conversation lend a professional touch. All in all a very well thought out and designed modern game. The look and feel of the game is almost as good as the commercial versions available. What a great imagination you have, Cowboy. And thanks to all those that contributed to the game's making and support. Also, a big plus for me, Lara is proportioned correctly on my new flat screen." - Juno Jim (16-Jan-2010)
"Do you also be brassed off from these always the same home levels? As a rule the shack is unimaginatively textured and meagerly furnished. And there is mostly a dull Gameplay. And then thus one runs more or less listless the stairs up and down, looks into all the rooms and asks itself afterwards, why one has wasted his precious time with such a dull level. There are of course exceptions, but they are to be found as difficult as a small needle in a big hay stack. But it still happen signs and miracles. This small needle really exists. And she is called The Ghosts of Croft Manor. And it was hidden by Cowboy. Exactly, from that level builder who has already given to us this cracking level TR4 Gold-Fading Light. Already the first part of Ghosts of Croft Manor gives so properly pleasure. The shack was very nicely textured and the rooms are first-class furnished. Well, not everybody. Why is the big room beside the pool room so empty? It is right, that sometimes is less more, but this room is very meagerly furnished. In the contrast I like the kitchen quite exceptionally. A real highlight are the absolutely successful and well thought-out riddles. The exact counterpart of the cheerful and sunny first level is the gloomy second level. This second level is so completely different. Gloomy music, nasty opponents who move however very slowly and a completely other creation Inside and Outside. But the play fun has remained the same one. And after an epilogue and nearly three-hour playing time is one of the best level of 2009 finished. 2009 has seen many good levels and The Ghosts of Croft Manor belongs to it anyway" - Scottie (16-Jan-2010)
"Lets be honest, normally the words Mansion Level and innovative don't typically find themselves in the same review. We've all played levels which re-create croft manor with a few individual flourishes, but you dont typically get much out of them. So while I was impressed with the screen shots I set my level of expectation quite low for this manor level. It was pretty obvious in the first few minutes however that this is not your typical manor clone level. Set back in 1982 it chronicles the adventures of a young lara croft trying to desciphre an incident which occured in the manor many years earlier. Her quest leads her on the hunt for various well hidden items throughout the house and it's grounds. As the story progresses you find yourself swept into a dark and gloomy underworld of the manor, filled with ghosts and gouls and challanging traps. Visually this is abosuletly first rate. I love the fact that it is full of cut-scenes. All of the music is very well chosen and adds perfectly to the ambience. Every single manor texture has been updated with a nice high definition. The lighting is sublime. There's some really nice use of custom objects. I especially like the armour knights who follow you round the manor and sneak up on you if when you're not looking! The game play is reasonably linear but you will find yourself tracking across the Manor's ground if you've missed something. All in all I got 2 and half hours of excellent challanging gameplay. Absolutely, totally, 100% recommended!" - TheStig (10-Jan-2010)
"What a breathtaking level! It has totally amazed me. The storyline is intresting. The rooms are beautifully textured and well lit. The puzzles are varied, and all of these puzzles are simply perfect. Musics are mesmerizing and stunning, it created a great atmosphere. Trust me, this is the best Croft Manor EVER built. Highly recommended." - rtrger (10-Jan-2010)
"Yet one more of those customs that flash with creative ideas coupled with good taste and a fine level editor proficiency. It had me puzzled quite a few times but it was usually because of not paying enough attention to details, namely the link between the signs above the manor's doors back in 1580 and the levers in one room upstairs. In fact, the only thing that wasn't entirely my fault was in the present day's manor when I missed a secret helmet because I thought I had to push a vase into a pool when in fact I simply had to get it somewhere else. This game has a storyline and several moments when the characters kind of interact, great puzzles, a nice lighting and nice and appropriate sounds and music and it looks rather solid too regarding the building of places and objects. If I have seen better or not is mostly a matter of opinion... But, for what it's worth, I'll rate it with four perfect tens, of course." - Jorge22 (02-Jan-2010)
"A Croft Manor inspired game shooting straight to the top of the charts might look suspicious enough and warrant extra investigation if it had not come from Cowboy, but I urge you to inspect it anyway, as you'll be in for a raid that is very much worthy of your time despite any preconceived notions you might have about Lara's Home levels. The scavenger hunt element of it all, that is the basis of both parts of the game was not necessarily my favourite (though the fact that everything took place in a setting as familiar as the manor did help to alleviate some of my grievances with the concept), but this was merely a personal preference of mine and might not bother you. The individual tasks that hold the game together are rather fun - the first level is more puzzle based, while the second adds some elements of action, avoiding enemies and timed sequences. Everything is manageable, though I do believe the author took a risk by adding some fairly specific puzzles. For example the card puzzle did not make much sense for me, so I just took the forum comments on faith, while I had the chess puzzle figured out without much difficulty, but the author handles most of these outside-TR additions elegantly. I managed to miss every secret of the first part of the game, but found all 3 from the haunted manor part - and thought they were great additions and carried the story nicely. The advancement of the story and the rising complexity of gameplay were handled well, especially considering the role of non-linearity in the game! The voice actors do a splendid job, but I had some trouble comprehending the dialogue in the second level, which might be either due to the accent or sound effects used to give it a 'ghostly' sound. I loved the sound of it, and I'd be more than delighted listening someone just read out of a phone book in Scottish accent, but I thought it was unfortunate that one's comprehension of it depended on whether you'd pick up on your gameplay objectives or not. But besides that, there's really not much left to complain about - the atmosphere and looks are top notch, and I was thoroughly entertained for the 2 hours of net-gaming I spent in here. My highest recommendations!" - eTux (01-Jan-2010)
"To call this a house level is something like calling the Grand Canyon a hole in the ground. Everything here exudes charm, taste and a healthy dose of spookiness. I waited until Dutchy's walkthrough was available, and as I was playing this two-hour adventure I was reminded of the awe I feel for players who can figure out--on their own--complex tasks such as those presented here. The level of difficulty is not high when you consider only the performance of the tasks, it's just knowing what to do and when to do it that makes this game such a brain twister. For example, I consider myself to be a fairly good chess player, but the layout of the pieces on the board made no sense to me. The only thing that matters is that Dutchy's instructions worked, but it didn't play out according to Hoyle, at least not from my perspective. The overall ambiance is rather dark, especially in the second segment, but that's to be expected given the theme of the game. It's a masterpiece from one of the acknowledged masters in the field. Highly recommended." - Phil (31-Dec-2009)
"I jumped at the chance to play this game after playing Cowboy's "Tr4 Gold - Fading Light" earlier in the year. This is another masterful offering and requires a little thinking outside of the box, not to mention paying close attention to where you're standing and some quick reflexes. It offers players the chance to run around Croft Manor in both the present day and in Elizabethan times where you must contend with some pretty nasty enemies. The translation of the building back into Elizabethan times was very well done. I didn't get all the secrets in the first level - trying to work out how to get through the emitters whilst jumping side to side and avoiding sliding into the deathly water did my head in, and I was appropriately chilled out from all the Christmas levels that I didn't bother pursuing it. None of the traps and enemies in the haunted level were quite as challenging as that (or maybe I'd gotten my head together by the time I got to them), although I did wonder whether I would ever get out of the maze at one point with the deadly enemies queuing at the gate to do Lara in. After leaving the game alone for 24 hours, I gave it another shot and managed to get out on my first attempt. So all in all, just the right amount of challenge in these levels I think, firstly for the brain, and in the second level for playing skill. Even though Lara died numerous times in the spike trap, with her rapidly depleting energy levels adding a little more urgency to the situation, I wouldn't say I had to attempt anything more than 10 times, so I didn't find this level as frustrating as I have found some others. All in all, an enjoyable and well planned game, just as we have come to expect from Cowboy." - sharnilal (29-Dec-2009)
"This was a very enjoyable level set to play. The first level had a very calm and relaxing atmosphere, while the second level was much more intense and suspenseful. Some of the puzzles were quite creative and the sound effects were very nicely done. I had trouble understanding the spoken dialogue however (mostly because of the echoing effect) so I had to read the dialogue in the separate file to understand what had just happened in the cutscenes. There is not really any combat in this level set, but that's a good thing considering the setting and the atmosphere. Overall, this is a great atmospheric puzzle-oriented level set and well worth playing." - Ward Dragon (24-Dec-2009)
"Well, not much more to say that has not already been said by my fellow raiders. This is a real gem when it comes to custom levels. So much to do and things to explore in these levels. Everything is just amazing and skillfully built. Also, we are starting to see what really can be done with TRNG. Everyting from the venmous enemies to the energy drains, music etc. As a builder I really appreciate the many new TRNG things! And of course as a player it is a joy to play! The only thing I was a bit tired of after a while was the RE4 music :) I guess that might be due to me having played that game too much hehe. Other than that there is nothing bad to say about these levels. Just pure fun. All tens from me. Way to go, Cowboy!" - QRS (23-Dec-2009)
"I had enjoyed a lot the last creation from this author (TR4 Gold) so I expected this new levels could be really good too and I was not mistaked. I could say all kind of adjectives to describe it like impressive, fantastic, extraordinary, etc. but I think it's not necessary 'cause the rates from the reviewers speak for themselves. I was amazed with the perfection of the objects in first level and the clever puzzles. The second level was a bit "obscure" (I'm not talking about the lights) 'cause sometimes I got disoriented, but very enjoyable anyway. Really a very professional work you can't miss. Great!" - Jose (13-Dec-2009)
"I tried to start playing Fading Light, but I didn't have the time to complete it since it appeared to be a huge level. However after playing this one (which of course I believe it is shorter) I feel like I want to consider playing Fading Light for real. The puzzles are veeery clever (I particularly loved the Virgo item one). The objects are very well crafted (although after Lara placed them on their correct location, I was wondering how she was able to carry twelve of them around and still feel comfortable lol). The second level was breathtaking as the horizon was absolutely real. And those sounds in the background, and the atmosphere, oh my! they were darn creepy to say the least. I would highly recommend this level, it was a delight to play from beginning to end, and I am looking forward to finish Cowboy's previous game!" - Ivan (13-Dec-2009)
"Well! It's the first level of cowboy that I'm played and I think that it doesn't the last. It's a wonder. Excellent choice for lighting and textures (in high quality). Lara is in search of the 12 zodiac puzzles, a real treasure hunt! in the first part. The author used perfectly TRNG for enrich the gameplay. You can create your own journey, the game doesn't linear. in the second level, atmosphere becomes scary. Lighting, sounds and enemies can give you few frights. I was impressed by the imagination of the author to create puzzles (for example the chess) even if there aren't lot of actions in this game, with the atmosphere and the fascinating puzzles ,I didn't stop playing at this game before knowing the end of the story! Don't hesitate, play it now !!!" - m.julien (12-Dec-2009)
"A possible history of Croft manor, revolving around the solution to a zodiac puzzle, a scavenger hunt for the twelve signs. The author has created an elaborate background, as each of the zodiac figurines is meticulously crafted. Without such careful attention to detail this sort of level would impossible, as players would be jarred from the story by imperfection. There is also a long running script throughout the present day and in the Croft manor of centuries ago. Winston warns young Lara against pursuing the zodiac puzzle, as no one has ever been able to find a solution--knowing full well that this will prompt her to take up the challenge. Then he pretends to be shocked that she is off on the mad quest, which keeps her occupied. In the past, there is script dialogue with ghosts, one of whom was falsely accused, because of jealousy over a lady, naturally. Lara is asked to find incriminating items. (The scripts are done by members of the author's family.) While this is a house level, and the layout is basically as we remember it, most of the details are different, to accommodate hiding places for the zodiac signs. There are hints about the zodiac right at the beginning, but it is simple just to have Lara go exploring and to keep eyes open. Most of the game play can be done by anyone, though there is a somewhat challenging secret, involving an Anglo-Saxon helmet, with slope jumps and fire emitters. One diabolical author trick was to place the crowbar right out in the open, on a pedestal, where it would be essentially invisible to Lara as she goes rummaging through fireplace pokers looking for the crowbar. When Lara goes back centuries into the past the manor is filled with deadly ghosts who can set Lara on fire, and everything is gloomy. There is a life-sized chess puzzle, but it would have been nice if this had been placed outside, with a high vantage point so Lara could look down on the board to plan her moves. A few players may feel the constraints of having to work within the confines of the manor and its grounds, and having game play largely based on a scavenger hunt. Everything is the high quality we expect from this author. A must play level." - dmdibl (09-Dec-2009)
"Now what*s wrong with a scottish accent ? Many of my english friends around here are still suffering from learning proper german even after 20 years or more . Most of my scottish pals picked it up almost immediately and were able to speak very good german after a short while ! As expected , another issue from "The Cowboy" turns out to be a charming but also breathtaking adventure of top class ! The first part is non-linesr , the 12 Zodiac items can practically be achieved in any order . Very well designed gameplay here , remember when you went for help in the forums : I'm missing the Capricorn ! Next one : I found that but I`m still missing Aquarius ! Top Score by me for Part One ! Second Part takes place in the same location , Croft Manor, but another year. Spooky atmosphere here, including knights that come to life wielding deadly poisoned wheapons and even fiery hammers !This part is the more exciting one in the whole game for Lara has to show forth her skills in running,jumping and good timing to collect the 3 items she needs to fulfill her quest ! Another top notch issue by The Cowboy . I only missed some more wonderful Miles Davis Music as in Fading Light ..." - Ruben (09-Dec-2009)
"The Zodiac Puzzle: I've always enjoyed scavenger hunts and that's basically what's going on here. Search the manor house and grounds (which have had a wonderful makeover since we last saw them) for zodiac statuettes in accordance with a list of hints. The puzzles are quite brilliant and I found them hugely enjoyable. Ghosts of Croft Manor: Lara has gone back to an earlier time in the life of the mansion and boy is it creepy. I'd really like to have given this section about a 15 for atmosphere - the grounds are incredible by twilight, the mansion is heavily haunted and when the kitchen door flew open to reveal one of the ghosts I probably lost about 12 months off my life. There are more inventive and fun puzzles in this section and the ghosts are really well done and potentially quite deadly. Epilogue: It's a neat explanation of the beginnings of Lara's taste for adventure and a nice ending to this wonderful level." - Jay (08-Dec-2009)
"I was already a big fan of Cowboy's, particularly his use of atmosphere and lighting, and this level really hit the spot for me. Spooky/scary but mainly atmospheric in nature, this is Croft Manor with a twist. The atmosphere is second to none and the new objects really made you believe you were in an Elizabethan manor house. I thought the structure was excellent. You begin in daylight in a more modern manor and have to solve twelve varied and often challenging puzzles. You are then transported back in time to a walking armour and ghost filled manor. The attention to detail is astonishing with little cobwebs everywhere, faded decor and some nice new TRNG effects. Some could argue that gameplay is similar in both levels, but I didn't find that to be an issue. The second level is more structured in an order, whereas the first is extremely none linear. Just a shame it had to end, but after 2 hours I was very satisfied." - TrueRaider (08-Dec-2009)