SEVEN SPOOKY TOMB RAIDER CUSTOM LEVELS YOU SHOULD PLAY




 Happy October!
It’s almost my favourite holiday of the year and to celebrate, here’s something to get you in the mood for the spooky season!
There is a wide range of creativity within the Tomb Raider community, a large part of that being “Tomb Raider Level Editor” builders!
When “Tomb Raider: Chronicles” was released in 2000, a level editor was included with the PC version so fans could create their own adventures for the first time.
The TRLE community grew in enormity over the years. TRLE.net and laraslevelbase.org were founded to host the thousands upon thousands of levels. The engine itself also evolved thanks to the fans, the most recent one being “Tomb Engine” or “TEN”.
Here’s a few freaky fun ones to put you on till Halloween!

#7 - “PATH TO DAMNATION” BY MATHEW HART (2017)

Screenshot from trle.net

Official Synopsis
After the events of ‘Temple of the Moon’ and escaping to the small village, Lara was able to find people to help her get to the nearest city. From there, Lara called Winston to send a plane over to the nearest airstrip.
Upon the plane’s arrival, she felt quite off, somewhat of a loss of balance, maybe caused by the lunar shift on her body after the portal travel a few days back, however... She soon started to see things which were not real, demonic creatures so to speak. She boards the cargo plane carrying adventuring gear as well as artefacts from previous adventures, soon enough the back closes up and finally the craft takes off. Still feeling off, Lara goes to sit down on the side before trying to catch some rest. About a few hours into the journey, they hit a snowstorm, flying over what seems to be mountains and such but too foggy to be able to tell... But from this point on, things are about to get... deadly... one could say... this is the start of a path to damnation...”

Download “Path to Damnation” here!

#6 - “TOMB RAIDER: HORIZONS” (HELLGATE SAGA & DEMON SAGA) BY JUSTIN BRINNER (2021-)

Screenshot taken from Steven3517’s playthrough.

Join Lara, voiced by one of the. UK’s official cosplay ambassadors Rachel Marie AKA Athora, as she travels to different worlds fighting zombies, demons and more!
Justin has created his own universe (literally) for Horizons, the project being years in the making and there are still more chapters to come!

Download “The Hellgate Saga” here and watch Steven3517’s exclusive playthrough of “The Demon Saga” demo here!

#5 - “TOMB RAIDER: ABOVE THE HORIZON” BY MAAX (2019)

Screenshot from trle.net

Official Synopsis
Lara has been captured and imprisoned by the hostile NOVA organisation. They demand information about Tori’s whereabouts. She is Lara’s only friend. The enemy is really determined. Luckily, in the same time rebels attacked Nova building. This is Lara’s only chance to get out and find Tori.
Explore secrets of the Metropolis city and meet people, who live under oppression of the Nova organisation.”

Although more sci-fi than horror, I just couldn’t not include this!
“Above the Horizon” is one of the custom level projects to be in production for the longest amount of  time. The finished product is still yet to be released but updated demos have become available periodically.
Maax’s creation has a very immersive story with a 1940’s/SteamPunk feel to it. You will also encounter side missions which will earn you more items.
The cast includes Pai as Lara Croft and TRLE voice veteran Jenni Milward as Tori.

Download the latest demo for “Above the Horizon” here!

#4 - “THE ASYLUM” (1 & 2) BY IVAN CALLISTO SANCHEZ (2014-2022)

Screenshot from trle.net

These levels are perfect for horror fans who love jump scares! Trust me, there’s a lot!

Download “The Asylum” here and “The Asylum 2” here!


#3 - “HOUSE OF HORRORS” BY PAT CHANCEY (2021)
Cover by Aspidetr.

Official Synopsis
The news of a recently deceased clairvoyante stirs up some rumours about her backstory.
The woman had abandoned her property to live a somewhat nondescript existence at the fair in Maine after the rest of her family had died under most curious circumstances many years before.
Lara Croft sets out to unravel the mystery surrounding the house.”

“House of Horrors” is packed full of creepy goodness including ghosts, demonic creatures, a spot of dark magic and some challenging puzzles to top it off!

Download “House of Horrors” here!


#2 - “TOMB RAIDER: BIOHAZARD” BY BRADLEY SMY (2021)
Poster by Bradley.

Official Synopsis
Inspired by the 2019 Resident Evil 2 remake, Tomb Raider Biohazard has Lara Croft out on an adventure for survival. Set in Northern Ireland in 1993, Lara finds herself stranded in the woods after visiting a friend. She soon discovers an outbreak of a virus which has spread throughout the local residents.
Lara must try and find the source of the infection and stop it before it becomes a pandemic.”

Even though I’ve never played or seen anything from the “Resident Evil” franchise, I still really loved watching a playthrough of this! Very immersive gameplay and great characterisation of Lara voiced by the TRLE community’s own AgentXP!

Download “Tomb Raider: Biohazard” here!


#1 - “WAR OF THE WORLDS” BY MATEUSZ DZIECIOL (2021)
Official cover art by Marta Polak.

Official Synopsis
It's been almost 10 years after humanity has been decimated by the pandemic of an unknown disease. Lara is one of the survivors and lives in a bunker called Asylum with a group of others. Croft believes in the existence of a 'mythical' medicine and she hopes to find some proof in the ruins of the Medical Pavilion. Soon their peace is interrupted.”

At #1 is the truly astounding “War of the Worlds”! Mateusz dedicated 6+ years to his own take on H.G Wells’ famous novel of the same title, going back further than the release of “Rise of the Tomb Raider” in 2015! In that time, it went through many changes including a new cast. In December 2021, the highly anticipated game was finally released and was downloaded from trle.net so many times that it caused the site to crash!
It is one of the largest TRLE projects to date, consisting of a whopping 13 beautifully detailed levels!
The voice of Lara was provided by Jenni Milward who is well known in the community for voicing the character for many fan projects over the years and for her fan fiction writing talents.

For some exclusive behind the scenes, check out my interview with Mateusz and original Lara voice actress Pai here!

Download “War of the Worlds” here!

EXCLUSIVE: THE TOMB RAIDER/WITCHBLADE FAN FILM THAT NEVER WAS

 

Today, I raided the archives and uncovered some great content from an American Tomb Raider/Witchblade fan film called “Awakenings” that was cancelled in the early 2000s
It was the first and only film to feature both of these characters however, not the first time they have crossed paths. Sara Pezzini is the star of the hugely successful comic series by Top Cow, solving crime in the NYPD by day and hunting monsters by night with an ancient powerful weapon she knows as the “Witchblade”. In 2001, it became a hit TV series on American network, TNT, starring Yancy Butler.
There were also talks of a film adaptation but it never reached the production stage.
As their “Tomb Raider” series became just as popular in the 90s, Top Cow released a limited crossover spinoff of the two.

“Awakenings” by Roach’s Realm Productions encountered a number of roadblocks including a change of cast after filming began and lack of funding. This resulted in the project never being completed.
That said, I hope you enjoy some of the scenes that would’ve been in the film, as well as some behind the scenes and outtakes!
Special thanks to the director and Trish Ellis for the permission to share.

TOMB RAIDER SEQUEL CANCELLED - MGM LOSES FILM RIGHTS

 
MGM have lost the rights to the Tomb Raider film franchise. “Lovecraft Country”’s Misha Green was set to write and direct the sequel starring Alicia Vikander and had written a script entitled “Tomb Raider: Obsidian”. The film was intended to be inspired by “Rise of the Tomb Raider” and “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” and was initially supposed to start filming in 2020. The project hit a few delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Vikander’s pregnancy which left in limbo.

In April this year, Vikander travelled to Manchester (UK) to film some video messages for the “Tomb Raider: The Live Experience” attraction in London, wearing a costume inspired by “Rise of the Tomb Raider” which led fans to believe this would be her look in the sequel.

Alicia Vikander at Galleon Studios - April 2022.

Attendees of the attraction can still see the Swedish actress as Lara Croft. However, now that MGM has lost the film rights due to missing the deadline in May to get the project green-lit, she will no longer play the role on the big screen. This also goes for Green’s script and her involvement with the franchise.

There is now a bidding war with other studios to acquire the rights so it’s likely that we may get another Tomb Raider film in the future.

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON | THE BRIT WHO TOOK AMERICA BY STORM

 

As we eagerly await to see what the future holds for the “Tomb Raider” games, I’m looking back at the career of the most recent Lara Croft, Camilla Luddington, and how the young Bracknell-born actress rose to stardom in American television. All of which intertwined with playing one of the biggest figures in gaming.

Luddington’s love of acting began as the very young age of 4 when she won a local talent show. She later took acting classes at South Hill Park and signed with her first talent agent at age 11.
She was educated at The Marist School for girls before moving on to The American School in London.
After spending a year in Texas when her Father was posted there for work and six months in Pennsylvania for university, she went onto study screen acting at the New York Film Academy.

In her early 20s, Luddington made the decision to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.
While waitressing, she worked on several independent projects including “A Couple of White Chicks at the Hairdresser” - a short film starring Harry Shearer, Shelly Long and Deborah Theacker, “Behaving Badly” and a series pilot sizzle reel titled “Serving Time”.
Luddington also co-wrote and co-directed “The Filming of Shakey Willis” which was officially selected at the “LA Comedy Festival” and won the award for “Best TV/Web Series” at “QuirkFest”.
Her first television role was Emma Clark in an episode of “The Forgotten” in 2010. She also appeared in “CSI” and “Days of Our Lives” that same year.

Towards the end of 2010, around the age of 26, Luddington was chosen to portray a brand new reimagined version of a video game character that had become a pop culture icon, Lara Croft. However, she would not be officially announced until the development was near completion in early 2012.
Helping to shape and create this Lara for a new generation who was humanised, younger and untested, she would be the first actress to provide the performance capture for cutscenes as well as the voice and be at the start of an entire franchise reboot. One that would bleed into comics, novels and Hollywood films.

2011 was the breakthrough year for Luddington as she became widely recognised for her portrayal of Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge in “Lifetime”’s made-for-TV film, “William & Kate”.
Inspired by the early years of the Duchess’s relationship with Prince William and released in the lead up to the couple’s wedding, it attracted global attention and remains one of the American network’s most successful films to date.

Camilla Luddington (Kate Middleton) and Nico Evers-Swindell in “William & Kate”.


On the back of that, she soon booked roles on “Californication” and “True Blood”.
Following the release of “Tomb Raider” in March 2013, the game received many accolades and the new level of emotion Luddignton brought to Lara Croft earned her three award nominations - a “Spike Video Game Award” nomination for “Best Voice Actress”, a “NAVGTR” (National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers) nomination for “Outstanding Lead Performance in a Drama” and a “Behind The Voice Actors” nomination for “Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Video Game”.

It was, however, her role as Dr. Jo Wilson in the long standing medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy”, originally intended to be a recurring role for a few episodes, that would cement her status as one of the most recognisable faces on American television. It was then that she left her job as a waitress and she is now in her tenth year of playing the character.

Camilla Luddington as Jo Wilson in “Grey’s Anatomy” 2012/2021.

As production began on “Rise of the Tomb Raider”, the highly anticipated sequel to “Tomb Raider (2013)”, Luddington dabbled in other voice acting, playing Supergirl in the DC multiplayer battle game “Infinite Crisis”.
She also made her horror debut as June Abbott in “The Pact II” which she starred in alongside the Arrowverse’s Caity Lotz.

Camilla Luddington (June Abbott) and Caity Lotz (Annie Barlow) in “The Pact II”.


 “Rise of the Tomb Raider” swept up more awards upon it’s release in 2015, becoming one of the most successful in franchise history and after being nominated a second time, Luddington received the “Behind the Voice Actors” award for “Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Video Game”.

That same year, Luddington starred in another TV film called “The Healer” alongside Oliver Jackson-Cohen (“The Invisible Man”, “Emerald City”) and Jonathan Pryce.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Alec Bailey), Kaitlyn Bernard (Abigail) and Camilla Luddington (Cecilia) on set of “The Healer” in Nova Scotia.

In 2017, she voiced superhero magician Zatanna in DC Comics’ animated film “Justice League Dark” and began working on the conclusion to Lara Croft’s origin story “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” soon after the birth of her first child. During this time, she portrayed the character of Beth Turner in the murder mystery podcast series “The Angel of Vine”.
At the age of 34, Camilla Luddington recorded her last ADR lines for “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” just before the game’s showcase at E3 2018. Her final performance as the character won her the “Gamer’s Choice” award for “Fan Favourite Female Voice Actor”.
Now a dual citizen in the US, her career continues to grow and it’s lovely to see.

With Hayley Atwell taking on Lara Croft’s character for the upcoming animated Netflix series “Tomb Raider” and the previous four voice actresses - Shelley Blond, Judith Gibbins, Jonell Elliott and Keeley Hawes - returning for the mobile game “Tomb Raider: Reloaded”, it’s unclear if Luddington’s connection to the franchise will continue. However, she has stated in interviews that she would always be happy to return.

FAN FILM GOES VIRAL | EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR DEVIN GRAHAM

 


A couple of weeks ago, the new video from US based filmmaker and YouTuber, Devin Graham was released. In the first three days, the views rocketed to 63K. It now sits at over 255K!
Known for his ambitious stunt and travel videos, Devin set out to make a tribute to three iconic fictional adventurers. This would be the first time they would appear together on screen.
With the stunning Uzbekistan as it’s backdrop, the film’s story centres around Timur Tamerlane, a prominent figure in the country’s history who was a ruthless conqueror up until the early 1400s.
The stunts lifted the production quality even higher performed by some of Hollywood’s best. Michaela McAllister, who plays the rebooted Lara Croft (with the character’s voice provided by Fiona Iredu), can be seen as the stunt double for Yelena in Marvel’s film “Black Widow” and the “Hawkeye” series on Disney+. Her husband Braxton plays Nathan Drake from the “Uncharted” games and Braxton’s brother Corbett plays the OG himself, Indiana Jones!
It’s the crossover we’ve all wanted to see and I had the pleasure of speaking to Devin about his experiences on the shoot.

TDD: Hi Devin, thanks for taking the time to speak to me! Firstly, you have made history by bringing all these characters together on screen. What made you decide to do this project?
DG: I'm a huge fan of all 3 characters, and I had never seen it done before. I run the YouTube channel Devinsupertramp and on that channel it's all about creating content that's unique. We do a ton of video game stuff in real life, and I always approach it with trying to create something I'm genuinely excited about. As a fan of these characters, I tried to think of something fun I would want to see as a fan of all of them.

TDD: What drew you to Uzbekistan?
DG: I actually filmed another video in the country a few years ago, our Aladdin Parkour video. One of the locals out there, Bekruz, is a fan of our channel and he had reached out to us 4 years ago or so, and said he would love to produce/make anything we wanted to happen out there. I had actually never heard of the country, so when he reached out I had to google it and found out that it was truly this amazing country with incredible history. Bekruz helped make this entire project happen. I told him what we needed, and he figured out a way to make it happen.

TDD: Were there any particular challenges you faced prior to or during the shoot?
DG: Everything was pretty straightforward with this. We were filming 4 videos out there though in a two week time span, the Tomb Raider project, an Assassin's Creed Parkour video, a Prince of Persia video, and a Sonic The Hedgehog video. So biggest challenge was trying to balance my time for all 4 videos in the short window we had. And we filmed this the first two weeks in December where it was freezing. In the scene with Lara and Indy, in a few of the shots at the start, you'll see it snowing/raining. Out in below freezing in a tanktop, not ideal.

TDD: You have an incredible cast! Tell us how you decided on your actors.
DG: The cast we had were all amazing. They're all hollywood stunt men/woman in Hollywood. Michaela and Braxton who played Nathan and Lara are actually a married couple as well, so that helps. And Corbett, who played Indiana Jones is actually Braxtons brother. I've worked with all these people over a long period of time, so we're all friends. At the end of the film the credit that pops up says its a film by a bunch of friends, and that's exactly what it was. But they're all true professionals.

Michaela and Braxton performing one of their bigger stunts.

TDD: How were your costumes and props created?
DG: All the costumes were made by Allison Dredge. We went to film school together and she makes most of the costumes for our film shoots. And the Prince of Persia Dagger was hand made by Fitz who makes most of our props. Any other props we used we gathered while in Uzbekistan.




TDD: Favourite memories that stick out in your mind?
DG: I love the country of Uzbekistan. Everyone is so friendly and does everything they can to help. When Lara and Nathan fall from the building, we had the table structure they fall on built by locals. They made it happen so fast. Just the hospitality was on another level I've never experienced.

TDD: Might there be a sequel on the horizon and can you tease anything?
DG: We would love to make a sequel. With these passion projects, they're pretty expensive to make since they're fully self funded, so the hope is the video can get a lot of attention and that we can make another sequel, we already have the locations and some of the events in mind if we're able to make it happen, all I can say about it for now is it would be somewhere tropical :)


Thank you to Devin for doing this interview! Check out the film and behind the scenes video below…

 

TR25 FAN FILM FEATURE - TOMB RAIDER (2013)


 
Last year, I had the opportunity to write monthly blogs for the official Tomb Raider 25th Anniversary website highlighting a selection of fan films in the theme of the game of the month. The “Tomb Raider” (2013) entry didn’t make it into the series but I’ve been kindly given permission to post it here instead.


“Because when men will fall, you, my daughter...You will rise.” - Tomb Raider: Reborn by Aurélien Sallé 

In 2012, we were given our first glimpse into the future of Tomb Raider when the announcement trailer for Lara Croft’s fresh and gritty origin story premiered at E3, marking a new beginning for the franchise. It ignited the imagination of fans and filmmakers alike across the world and to this day, “Tomb Raider” (2013) has inspired the highest growing number of fan films in franchise history! With so much amazing work, it was very difficult to narrow it down - as you can probably tell - so you aren’t going to be short of things to watch.

“Tomb Raider: Reboot” (UK)

Written by David “dwyz” Wayman and Dan Brand. Directed by David “dwyz” Wayman. Starring Teya Simone as Lara Croft (Tomb Raider: Legend) and Alexandra Lyon as Lara Croft (Tomb Raider 2013).

Wayman and Brand’s short was released shortly before the game itself and took inspiration from the concept of rebirth. We see Lara from the previous trilogy go in search of answers to whether or not it is possible. In her first film role, Simone captured the confident and witty personality of this incarnation really well and with some nostalgic moments, a great sword fight and a sneaky nod to the Matrix, what more could you want? It was a lovely way to celebrate the launch and it serves as the perfect Segway into our next lot of fan films.


“Tomb Raider: Reborn” (FRANCE)
Written and directed by Aurélien Sallé.
Starring Tiphaine Vaudable (Illyne Cosplay) as Lara Croft.

This is only the final trailer as, sadly, the completed film was never released. However, I simply couldn’t leave it out!

The passion pours from this project! In just a few minutes, we’re taken on a journey of survival with elements of the supernatural and at the heart of it, a story of Father and Daughter superbly portrayed by Arauna Bernheim-Dennery (Young Lara) and Stephen Scardicchio (Richard Croft).
The stunning production value coupled with a beautiful original score by non other than writer/ director Aurélien Sallé amplifies all the performances, including that of official French cosplay ambassador Tiphaine Vaudable (Illyne Cosplay). A natural on screen!
To find out more about the film, check out their Facebook page.


“Tomb Raider: Legacy” (GERMANY)
Directed by Petra Pausch.
Starring Petra Pausch as Lara Croft and Nora Rüdiger as Sam Nishimura.

After years in production for the two film students, losing some footage making it a longer process than originally anticipated, the final fifty minute film was released in August 2017.

The faithful retelling of the game, which was shot in Germany and South Korea, boasts a very strong cast of characters! In particular, Pausch’s Lara Croft but also Rüdiger’s Sam Nishimura. Sam’s character development as she goes on her own journey to understand the island is wonderful and it’s great to see her character explored more than we see in the game.
     
The bond between the two leads is clear see, especially in video diary scenes and in moments when their roles are switched and Sam must be the strong one.
A fantastic piece from these two ladies!


“Croft” (CANADA)
Written by Trevor Addie and Irma Leong.
Directed by Trevor Addie.
Starring Cassandra Ebner, Liam Carter and Devyn Dalton.

Well, where to begin with this one...
“Croft” was released on YouTube Christmas Day 2013 and went viral in the first few hours.
Since then, it has screened at a number of film festivals across Canada and the US, winning awards along the way.

From the first note in the score as the film begins, you are immediately invested!
Music is vitally important to set the tone of a film and this nailed it.
Good writing and exceptional action sequences led by world class action actress and YouTuber, Cassandra Ebner, made the twenty minute film the huge success it has become!
In fact, this is the most emotional fan film I have ever had the pleasure of watching.
Get the tissues out...That’s all I’m saying.


“Raider Origins” (CANADA)
Written and directed by Jerome Kruin. 
Starring Irina Andreea as Lara Croft.

There was also quite a bit of hype surrounding this with its release set to tie in with that of the game.
Leading lady, Irina Andreea even helped promote the release of the PS4 in Toronto, wearing her costume from the film.

It premiered on gametrailers.com and then later came to YouTube.
The sets and visual effects are really well done! An impressive effort from the team!


Back in 2013, I got the chance to adapt the game script myself for “Tomb Raider: Hunted” - a short fan film starring Annie Roig and Sara Croft. As I was directly involved, I thought it wouldn’t be fair to list it with the others but if anyone is interested, it’s available to watch here.

Check out the rest of the TR25 fan film features below categorised by game…

COSPLAY CORNER: INTERVIEW WITH KATE SPEAK



Everyone meet Kate! She is an award nominated actress who has been in the profession for 20 years.
Her newest projects include “Out of Mecca”, an innovative sci-fi short by Stephen Reynolds, “Sequestration”, a short thriller filmed entirely via video call during the first lockdown, “The Lockdown Hauntings” with Tony Todd and  upcoming action comedy short, “Choose Your Weapon”, which shines a light on postnatal anxiety.
When not kicking butt on screen or coaching fitness, Kate spends her free time cosplaying one of her favourite characters, Lara Croft.
You may also recognise her for playing Lara later in life in our Tomb Raider fan film, “Athena”.
I’ve known her for a number of years now and so I thought it was about time I invited her to the Cosplay Corner!
Check out her video interview below.