After The Last Revelation, the fate of Lara was unknown. Each one of her friends gathered at the mourning table had his own story about her to recall - and so, Tomb Raider: Chronicles shows several of Lara's adventures not connected with each other. As it was expected, the assets from each story were taken into the level editor.
This was a single-level example for starters. And here is a multilevel one:
But as an ancient city still standing, Rome rather serves as a real-world anchor for a surreal plot - and as always, the final destinations may vary.
As you see, the workflow environment quite differs from what we saw in the TR4 chapter. This is because no TR5 resources were provided in a ready form, and a builder had to manually mix the ingredients. The catch is, once you learn how to do it, it is hard to stop - as a result, early Roman levels very rarely stayed 100% faithful to the original asset, and you can often see inclusions, mostly Greek ones from TR1 and TR4, mixed into the Roman foundation.
Such approach persisted for Mediterranean projects and over time, only one builder attempted to challenge it, making an entire custom asset from scratch. It was so good it even served as a starter for Greek Back to Basics and therefore its Roman origin is rarely remembered. Here it is:
LePerk's levels are a bit harder but "Art History" is one of the most complete single levels of the class, throwing in some unexpected interactions and even blending in a spooky Irish overtone, on top of a few completely custom items.
Here is yet another unusual mixture, this time of TR5 and TR2, which proves working unexpectedly well. Diversity of patterns and colors makes it feel like an older brother of "Christmas in Seville", but it also has a bit of AOD overtone thanks to the outfit, house looting and the abundance of metal in the sewers - and I don't remember if I saw a diagonal rainfall elsewhere:
And of course there's this - you know those classical tunes which are so good they become ringtones, then you know neither the author nor the title and then you figure them out 50 years later by accident? Piega had such Roments... moments, I mean - "ooh, so it was THIS level I remembered all those things from"?
The last pun needs a cooldown, and the next chapter of Chronicles serves it with frosty infiltration, so prepare all you got - battle tactics, observation, memory and ability to connect the dots - for a level which will take some time but will also reward it if you reserve enough. In Soviet Russia, the dinner eats you...
Bigger but slower-paced, Walrus's levelset is remarkable for another flawless combination of assets - the included ones come from Russia, VCI, Offshore Rig and more, but it never feels like something is out of place.
Next one is the slowest, having a train which was either parked or just frozen to the tracks. It seems the more you play, the more chill it gets. Okay, I'm clickbaiting you - this map is just a little piece of a 23-level game which will take you more than a week of hardcore playing to complete.
Getting more and more frozen in time, we eventually reach eternity so it's time we left Russia. Did we though? Isn't there that one Russian guy stalking us through the isle? Not a biggie as long as he stays in the barn - but as a result of picturing Ireland as a horror setting, now somehow every dead and undead enemy seems to live here, and since pistols won't help against magic, primitive survival gameplay comes in. How many new interactions can you design? Yes...
As if willing to rebel, other builders choose the "realistic Harry Potter" scenario, and so in many levels Lara uses her dual lead spell to bring the undead back to where they belong.
Some builders go as far as rolling back to TR4 gameplay - did you think a nitrous oxide puzzle could belong in Ireland? LaraHCroft did, and it fits surprisingly well.
There's one builder who tried Ireland twice, once in classic and once in modern way. Here's the first attempt:
And here's the second one:
But all the time, even in levels which are totally NOT Irish, picturing other locations, other games or even horror movies, one thing is always sure: if you notice that characteristic Irish floor texture, beware - for it has become like a TV trope, and if you see it, it's obvious something scary is going to happen.
One of surprising examples of Irish asset was the tropical segment of "Templar's Secret" - if LaraHCroft could give us a motorbike, then why wouldn't Feder give us a quad?
Speaking of Templars, Luis's story is something to try when you want more homage - it roots very firmly in character of the original adventure, and also utilizes familiar cinematics adapted in a way to tell an alternate plot:
Not last, and not least: did you know the Irish rock and grass textures are actually Alexandria ones dimmed? Trix seemed to have noticed that and cleverly used it as a foundation of her solar eclipse level:
Somehow the TR5 Ireland has almost totally missed a cardinal element of horror - one of the most divisive gameplay modes ever invented, which some builders will dismiss, and other ones will walk extra miles to perfect: stealth. Tomb Raider had it since Nevada but it's usually VCI where it stays. One of the first custom builders to design it, and also port the associated TR5 mechanics into the editor, was Tomo.
On the other edge of the timeline, Lara_Fox_Croft included stealth in more than one level, to eventually become an expert on espionage gameplay. Here is how it started:
and here is how it's going, crossbreeding tomb raider with Metal Gear Solid :
But since Tomb Raider had stealth since Nevada, you can also take the VCI assets and use them with native mechanics of TR3 engine - gameplaywise, it is pretty much compatible backwards.
There is literally a galore of high-tech labs available to play, ranging from vast and classic:
to modern and condensed:
but the topic mostly stays the same: something went wrong in the lab and you need to fix it by disposing of all the mutated creatures and very often also the staff responsible.
Of course, the authorities behind it all will of course always get away, so you can get more and more levels of this sort.
And since the "laboratory" is an universal keyword to open every plot possible, those levels can literally contain anything, providing a ground for levels which aim to be realistic:
...as well as for those almost totally surreal:
Too many? Maybe. So of course, as if to mirror this question, there's THIS level. It's hard to tell if Simen wanted to go hyper-realistic or if he had enough and wanted to completely mock the genre. But the final effect is amazing so I stan it regardless.
But one level in TR5 is not playable yet frequently visible - the main menu. And it's probably this omnipresence paired with inaccessibility which made it a dark horse of custom level building: anytime you enter a location made of the title screen asset, it feels like a dream you both know and don't. Beaming with potential to host a hidden world, it inspired several unusual custom levels, including the pivot map of Piega's flagship game:
Okay. Before I go, let me return to the present times because, as the most tombraiderish of all Chronicles, not only was Rome the Dominus Maximus of the corresponding branch of level building, but is now undergoing a reneissance - on top of normal usages, each round of Create a Classic competition had one or more projects using this asset, and the current one has at least two in the works - so keep in mind it wasn't built in a day, but still prepare for fun - it's coming Rome.
Some of these levels were featured in our monthly level editor stream. You can check out VOD's from the livestream if you missed it!