It’s always interesting to see companies getting creative with their properties. Take Hitman GOfor example; the title combined a recognisable character with unique turn-based stealth. With Lara Croft GO, Square Enix has attempted it again with gaming’s leading lady.
Genre: Turn-based puzzle
Platform/s: Android / iOS / Windows
Reviewed on: Android
Developer: Square Enix Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Distributor: Digital distribution
Lara Croft GO is a turn-based action adventure that sees the titular heroine delving deep into an ancient ruin in search of treasure and adventure. The game feels like a refreshing return to the original themes of the older Tomb Raider games, where the sense of isolation and loneliness is as great as that of adventure and excitement.
The gameplay is easy to pick up, although it has a few baffling inconsistencies. Lara moves from point to point along a predetermined track, and the touch controls are responsive and well implemented. Swiping lets you roll, climb, shimmy and navigate effortlessly, and in general it’s easy to get to grips with the game. Combat takes a more puzzle-based approach and will see you outflanking and attacking enemies with a long-range spear. This is the first inconsistency: Lara has guns. Guns shoot further than spears can be thrown. This has been understood for hundreds of years, but the game chooses to ignore this. From a gameplay standpoint it can be forgiven because it’s the mechanism used to turn combat into a puzzle. Still, it’s odd.
Besides combat, most of the gameplay involves navigation puzzles. Most are solved with a little forethought and some creative lever-wrangling, and the game is never too taxing on the grey matter. Lara Croft GO barely holds the player’s hand and new elements are introduced the Dark Souls way: by killing you with them. Enemies and hazards appear without any tutorials or messages about handling them, so you can expect to die by spider-murder several times before you’ll fully understand their routine.
This no-hand-holding approach ties into the game’s theme of isolation. Lara is in this situation with only her wits to save her, and so are you. Receiving no external help may feel annoying at first, but it can also be immersive. The presentation of the game helps with immersion too. The music and sound effects are very atmospheric and usually chilled. The graphics are pretty too, relying on washed-out watercolours to create the environments. The aesthetics and audio go hand in hand to create a very relaxing action-puzzle title. The game also runs flawlessly on less powerful devices like the Galaxy S4 Mini.
LC: GO carries a price tag, setting you back about R67. The game offers five playable chapters, but it’s easy to rush through the game quickly, making it feel short. Replayability is limited to hunting down collectibles and unlocking outfits, but these have no impact on gameplay. Microtransactions also exist in the form of solutions to every puzzle and a pack of three outfits. Their worth depends entirely on your puzzle-solving abilities, or how badly you want to see Lara Croft cosplaying as Agent 47.
Relaxing and engaging gameplay
85Lara Croft GO is a fun, relaxing and very well-made mobile title. The feeling of isolation and minimalist design are immersive, and the presentation is great to behold. It’s a bit short and there are a few strange design elements, but it’s highly recommended.