Level Review: Illuminate (Gtarmetro)

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It has taken me an uncharacteristically long time to release a new review- of any games or media for that matter, but specific to the topic at hand, of any Atmosphir levels. If you do not know what the game creator in question is where these levels have been released and subsequently reviewed, feel free to explore the world wide web for either OMB or the game creation tool in question. If not, links are provided here. Our subject in question today is none other than musical maestro and Atmosphir veteran Gtarmetro. Today’s review has been crafted purely as a form of feedback on the level, and although I do apologize for the horrendously long wait for this review, it’s quality cannot be doubted (the level, not my review haha) because it has been an LOTD for quite some time. Without further ado, let’s get to it…

When you first select Illuminate to play you’re going to want to head immediately to settings and switch shadows to ‘on.’ Now, John tells us this in the description of the level, but then again I’m sure half of you ignore those and go immediately into them blind for fun or merely from ignorance and impatience. Either way, do it- it is key to solving the slightly easy to intermediate puzzles present in this isometric, portal-esque level. The isometric viewing angle will take a few seconds to get used to but lucky for you, we are granted unlimited lives so any mistakes made will only revert to a previous checkpoint and not offer much real consequence to players. I’d say any beginning player with a basic grasp of the game’s controls should have no real issues with completing the level although the challenge does get relatively more strenuous as the level progresses. It isn’t a particularly long level at all, but of fair length with several “test chamber” like areas.

Each area presents a fairly new concept- at least in terms of usage within the level itself, if not the whole of Atmosphir. For example, at one point gravity shifters are introduced where there are specially floored blocks presented via shadows which you should’ve already turned on. In another area there are crossed boxes that denote which paths are dangerous versus safe to traverse. The looks of the level are fairly clean and similar again to what many would recognize as inspired by Portal or similar science lab projects. Shades of white, grey, and black make up the majority of the level with sparse props and plenty of interactive objects and platforms for added traversal to new sections and each subsequent challenge. I enjoyed this clean aesthetic and the sense the level elicits even if the isometric camera angle does present some tasks as more challenging than others, such as pushing small crates around for example- a generally mundane task made slightly more annoying with a RPG-like camera angle.

The concept of the level is fairly simple enough, as it presents a running dialogue of your friendly neighborhood lab overlord telling you what to do and how to pass certain tests, all the while a mysterious foreign voice buts in occasionally to enlist your aid in raiding data spheres from the bombable blocks scattered about the chambers. All in all, it’s a cryptic progression through the story and gradually opening up chambers and environments that should draw the player in even more so than the base mechanics presented throughout the level themselves, interesting though those are. Your only real challenge lies in timing jumps and guesstimating where platforms are since that’s hard to think about in isometric terms. However that’s not to say there isn’t a good deal of hazardous materials scattered about the level, or that you couldn’t fail because you skipped a section entirely and missed a bomb along the way. Trace your steps carefully and keep track of what you’re doing or you’ll wind up missing out on some important hints and dialogue as well.

If you pay attention to the narrator and occasionally aren’t afraid to ignore his opinions as well, then look around for the built-in achievement system that rewards you verbally more so than physically throughout the level. It’s a nice nod to several games and again to Portal and Portal 2 in many ways, and should deserve a laugh or two. I guess among other things, you could consider the fast-paced dialogue and witty banter equal reason to replay the level another way, as there are potentially different rewards for progressing along slightly different paths throughout. The whole experience is fairly linear, however there are select moments where you can complete a task a certain way and change the outcome of that entire segment of the level, which should be deserving of at least one more runthrough for the satiation of curiosity.

I’ve tried to avoid specific details so as to provide a somewhat spoiler-free review in this instance, although I have undoubtedly spoiled other levels in the past by being forced to go into specifics for the reviews in question. This is a golden oldie in the new age of Atmosphir on OMB and should’nt be missed if you’re new to the game. Look for it under the XP and LOTD sections and it should be one of the very first levels in the browser. Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it. And it does stand the test of time, as I’ve replayed it several times just to enjoy a solid old level.

Pros: Difficulty Builds, Quick Concepts, Dialogue, Replay Value

Cons: Occasional Misdirection, Tasks in an Isometric View

Play Browser Score: 4 Stars, Intermediate Challenge

Official Rating: 8.0/10.0

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