September 23, 2009

Himalayan Mysteries - Review

Level info:

name: Himalayan Mysteries
release date: February 2008
class: snowy/alien
number of levels: 7
author: Titak
exe: patched, no TRLE needed
size: 167 MB
type: TR4

download link:
official walkthrough:


(by the author)
About 2500 years ago a giant bolt of fire came falling down from the skies above... Strange beings emerged from the wreckage. Strange beings emerged from the wreckage. Local inhabitants of this desolate mountain region came to worship these beings as gods and built shrines and temples to honor these beings. The Denboche cult was born.

"Lara Croft, daughter of Lord Hensingly Croft, was raised to be an aristocrat from birth. After attending finishing school at the age of 21, Lara's marriage into wealth had seemed assured, but on her way home from a skiing trip her charter plane had crashed deep in the heart of the Himalayas. The only survivor, Lara learned how to depend on her wits to stay alive in hostile conditions a world away from her sheltered upbringing. Two weeks later when she walked into the village of Tokakeriby her experiences had had a profound effect on her."

(this quote is from the booklet of Tomb Raider 1)

This adventure is my interpretation of what happened during those two weeks.

(by me)
While flying above the Himalayas, young Lara has an accident, caused by the secret stone she's carrying. Although the pilot dies, Lara is still alive, but not for long unless she finds her backpack, water, food, compass and some warm clothes. So that's the goal of the first level. After that she begins the search for her lost Cai'xia Stone.

Her adventure will lead her to the lost Debonche Monastery where she makes friend whit the monks. Deep in the mountains she discovers an alien settlement, and finds out that ages ago an alien starship came to Earth, but got trapped in the ice. Her mysterious Cai'xia Stone actually belongs to the aliens and represents a source of immense energy that will help them return to their home planet. Lara decides to help them, fixes their ship and sends them back home.


When you say that Titak is the author of this game, it always means that the game is more than excellent. In my opinion, this is Lara's epic adventure, and definitely my favorite custom TR game. Titak had always released excellent games and levels, but this one, this one is her real master-piece. It is a sheer wonder that this game was made by Titak only, since the game was quite a challenge to make. It is obvious that Titak spent years and years in making this game. But it was certainly worthy of all her time and effort. Titak is a legend in TRLE community, she was a legend long before The Himalayan Mysteries was released, and this game made her one of the top custom TR authors of all times. Certainly not without reasons.

This adventure consists of three main parts: the wild mountain, the monastery, and the alien settlement and spaceship. Although there are some enemies around, the action is actually minimal. The only enemies here are soldiers before and after the monastery, and a few snowy leopards. And yes, a couple of robots in the alien settlement, but that's it. There are levels here completely without enemies, but it does not mean that they are easy. By all means, they are not.

Although this adventure is not easy, especially not for the beginner-raiders, it is not so impossibly hard as the most other custom TR levels. The game flow here is perfect. Although there are some really merciless timed runs and jump sequences, you won't find a single game killer. Titak made a perfect balance of hard and less hard elements, to make a really challenging, interesting and uninterrupted adventure. You may think that she could increase the number of enemies and kills, but that would be too much in my opinion. The puzzles here are difficult enough, the mazes are complicated and complex, and more enemies at certain points would definitely be out of place.

This adventure has a very high rating in all TRLE sites, and players are unanimously praising Titak for this. Most of them (me included) could not believe that this was a custom adventure and not the official. Its flow, story and gameplay can be compared only with those met in TR3, for example. The objects, whether static, animated or interactive, are all custom, including the bike which is completely transformed to look like an alien vehicle (no wheels, for example). Some of the traps are standard (spikes, boulders, blades) but others are custom (lasers, for example). You will be very pleased to see a completely new weapon (an alien Raygun), similar to the Grenade Launcher, with a completely new design and sounds. Puzzles are also all custom made, and that is a great thing, which requires a lot of creative thinking.

What really impressed me while playing this game for the first time, was a couple of unexpected turns in the storyline. Beginning from the crash site and the wild surrounding of the Himalayas, through a cozy but still dangerous and mysterious Buddhist monastery (not so unexpected, naturally), to a grand finale at the alien settlement, and later, inside their spaceship (absolutely unexpected), the game is full of surprises and completely new moments.

To be honest, this is my favorite custom TR game, and I am not able to find any flaws in it, but that doesn't mean that the game is flawless. When I played it for the first time, I wasn't able to sleep and eat until I finished it three days after. And I certainly don't regret it.

My rating: 9.9 of 10.

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