It’s obvious that this level is a sister level to City of Khamoon, but what I didn’t realize until this time around was that it’s also a sister-level to St. Francis’ Folly; it’s all about going vertical. The main Obelisk room is all about the height, and most of the side puzzles involve traversing great heights. It also benefits from being a level with a strong central location, without it being too obvious how you’re supposed to progress.
However, unlike SFF, jumping from down from on high isn’t necessarily fatal, and it can actually be useful- it’s just a more inviting atmosphere. It’s interesting in that this is one of the levels where the whole thing is obviously an elaborate puzzle expressly created to keep people out (hence my feeling that this whole Egypt section is one giant tomb), but it never really feels like Lara isn’t welcome.
Everything in its Right Place
One thing that distinguishes this level from most is the fact that instead of approaching something that was whole and leaving it in disarray, you’re actually putting something back together, and there’s something hugely satisfying about that. Doesn’t it just feel right when the bridges have been put back in order, and the symbols have been put back in their proper place in the city obelisk?
It never occurred to me to be bothered that in most other levels, you’re basically wrecking the joint- doors are left ajar, boulders once safely tucked away get littered all over the place, etc. Now that I’ve noticed this I’m afraid the ‘messing up the joint’ factor is going to start to bother me in other levels in a kind of scary, OCD sort of way.
A Step Forward into Terror
By the way, remember how the panther mummies terrify me? Well, I think I’ve figured out why- other than the fact that they look scary, they sound scary, and they jump out from behind corners at you and hurt you a lot. I mean, I think I’m especially scared of them because I imagine them all really looking like this if you get up close:
This Means Nothing, BUT….
I just wanted to say that I’ve always disliked the very first room in this level- it’s boring. I know it’s one room and you’re through it in about five seconds, but I find the textures so boring that it makes me want to stop playing Tomb Raider and do something else. To me, this room looks like what people who HATE Tomb Raider think it looks like.
It’s not really a “Worst”, since you’re out of it so fast, but I find it kind of amazing how discouraging it is- I’m all set to turn off the game after that room, then I get to the main Obelisk area and it’s like, “oh right, I forgot- this level is awesome.” What is it about those sandy textures that scream “boring” to me? I guess I’ll never know.
I love the whole balcony area that leads up to the level’s first secret, on top of the obelisk- whether or not you get the secret. There are higher places to jump from in this level, but it’s the most fun place to attempt a very picturesque swan dive. However, if I have to pick a single “best moment” (and hmm, I guess that’s kind of the point of this section?) it’s the satisfaction of putting the keys into the original obelisk back in the city.
The shimmying required in the room you must traverse to drop the bridge for the Eye of Horus (which is the room with the two psycho-mummies at the bottom that are on you like white on rice as soon as you hit the floor) is a bit excessive to me. Shimmy, pull up, get the secret, round the corner, shimmy some more, drop again, shimmy along the other wall…sigh. Add the fact that it’s very easy to misjudge where you can safely drop and grab in one instance, leading to Lara going ker-splatt on the floor and having to do everything from the last save crystal over, and it can be a very irritating area.
Rating: 4 Uzi Clips Out of Five
Like St. Francis Folly, this is one of those memorable levels that I almost feel guilty for rating anything less than the full 5/5, but there’s just something missing that keeps it off of my “top levels of all time” list. When in doubt, I ask myself “is this as fun to play as Lost Valley?”, and while Obelisk of Khamoon is a high-quality level for all of the reasons mentioned above, it’s just missing that x-fun-factor for me.
Next: Sanctuary of the Scion, or “OMG how is this thing that big- wait, these things are that big too?”
(Screenshots in this post have been taken with permission from Katie’s Tomb Raider Screenshots.)