My loooong overdue Shadow of the Tomb Raider review? (spoiler-free!!)
Back in early March 2018, all us Tomb Raider fans got what should’ve been a pleasant surprise alongside the honestly, not-so-great reboot film — a brand new game — which was announced alongside the film’s release based on Lara Croft’s origin story.
A quick little 30 second trailer showed us glimpses of Lara hiding in bushes ready to strike the dastardly Trinity at any moment, alongside a sacrifice with a dagger which would become awfully familiar a few months down the line… it seemed like everyone was excited for our favourite Raider’s return! Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the reboot’s third instalment, had been nothing but a rumour for at least two years before that moment.
Fast-forward to September 12th and I was psyched about the fact I’d pre-ordered the game’s special “Croft Edition” on my beloved Xbox One, which included the game, the season pass (so far, 6/7 tombs have been released so far with the final one due for release at the end of April 2019 to season pass holders), a couple of (now disappointing and bland) exclusive in-game outfits/weapons, the soundtrack (as a digital code to be redeemed via Square Enix’s website) and the thing that sold me over — 48 hours early access.
Originally, when it was the days counting down to getting the game in my hands, I was considering whether or not I was going to stream it on my Twitch channel (twitch.tv/mskieriot) straight away. After some thinking, I did something I normally wouldn’t do with a brand-new game; that evening, I loaded up my Xbox’s Twitch app (I don’t have any fancy overlays, alerts… yet) and the Shadow hype was about to begin right before my very eyes…
Unfortunately, the stream didn’t go entirely to plan as some of my loyal viewers (most of whom I know from some lovely communities on Discord *waves*) claimed they could hear some technical faults with my headset microphone, regardless of how many times I insisted it was background noises from the game’s jungle setting. We never did find out what caused it… *sigh* it also didn’t help that with the game being brand-new, there were a number of hidden glitches — some of them still there even seven months after the game’s initial release which still haven’t been fixed. I’m still not convinced if the game’s 100% completion glitch has been fixed either (my save is currently 96% done, last time I checked).
So… enough talk about how I did a dodgy stream with the game. Let’s actually talk about it! Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the third and (apparently) final instalment in Lara Croft’s origin story, and we’d finally find out how she becomes the Tomb Raider (and absolute badass) we all know and love her for. (I swear, the game’s tagline “Become the Tomb Raider” — I’m clinically dead to hearing it now.)
The game sticks our Lara in the middle of a Maya apocalypse, all because she wanted to look at a shiny dagger while hunting down the baddies from Rise, Trinity…. sigh. One thing I have to point out about Shadow is that it really does feel like a Tomb Raider game. There’s a significant lack of combat in this one, but a better focus on the most important things — the tombs! the puzzles! That’s what we’re here for, right?! At the time of writing, I did a really horrible (but brilliant? still unsure) tomb which involved Lara shooting fire arrows at more gas (a flashback to the Geothermal Caverns from TR2013) to travel across some platforms, which can be a bit awkward if you don’t time it right, as she’ll plummet to her death. Of course, the death sequences are as gruesome as ever. Fair play, Eidos/Square Enix… fair play.
Gameplay mechanics for the game are pretty much the same as ever as Lara once again gets herself into some disaster at the start of the game, loses her gear and has to craft and find some new gear… surely she would know better and have considered travel insurance by now?! I should give an honourable mention for the fact that we’re now allowed to change our difficulty for the story, combat and traversal whenever we want (I played on normal story, easy combat and normal traversal). Changing the difficulty will affect how Lara explains how to solve some of the puzzles through good ol’ Survival Instincts (I’d personally be lost with it!). For example, if you had the hardest difficulty set, or Deadly Obsession, as it’s called… Lara wouldn’t give you any hints, whereas you want her to be quiet for a minute… or five on easy.
As for the game’s story, while it was lovely to see Lara bringing her friend/tagalong Jonah with her and there’s some adorable cutscenes between them at the start of the game, I felt it lacked one and was easily forgettable. However, there’s one moment towards the end of the game that made me thinks “HOLY. SHIT.”. Moral of the story? Don’t piss off Lara Croft, you’ll regret it.
So, I think that’s all I can write about the game without being spoilery. Hope you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to come visit me on Twitch (twitch.tv/mskieriot — #TombRaiderTuesday normally happens 7pm UK time) or drop me a tweet on Twitter (twitter.com/mskieriot) and I’ll hopefully get around to writing about the DLC tombs I’ve been streaming soon!