Platforms: iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
We played on: iOS
Lara Croft, the iconic heroine of the Tomb Raider game series, has been garnering a lot of attention lately. With the 2013 reboot of the main franchise game and its successor on the way, Lara has gained the same kind of notoriety she did in the early days, but for much better reasons. Great story and great gameplay have now taken center stage. Lara Croft GO is all about gameplay, and it’s good. Really good.
Since there’s no real story in Lara Croft GO, we’ll skip to the gameplay. Square Enix, the developer of the game, has taken inspiration from the surprise success of Hitman GO. Lara’s goal is to find a really special relic called the Atlas of Beyond. To get to her prize she has to navigate a variety of environments, collecting jewels and other relics along the way while being hunted by a giant snake. The game is set in an isometric perspective with levels that seem to be painted rather than modeled. It’s aesthetic reminded me a lot of Monument Valley, another great puzzle game.
But Lara Croft GO’s gameplay is pretty different from Monument Valley. The puzzles here are turn-based. There are little diamonds on the path and Lara can only move to one diamond at a time. The same goes for enemies and even giant boulders. As Lara takes a step, they take a step as well. Lara needs to use this to her advantage to get past enemies and avoid being smashed by a rock. This takes a lot of strategy.
The strategy element is one of things that makes Lara Croft GO so great. The puzzles were just the right amount of complexity. The earlier ones were very easy to solve and the pace of the upward difficulty was excellent. There are never any instructions throughout the game, but I found it was better to figure things out on my own and learn from my mistakes. I got attacked by a lot of snakes before I learned the best way to get around them or get into a position where I could shoot them.
That’s another thing to note. While Lara does and must shoot enemies, it only happens within the confines of the puzzle. You can’t whip out your pistol at any time to clear the level. In some levels, Lara can obtain a spear, which allows her to take out enemies further away. But that’s it in terms of actually killing anything. You can scare creatures into a different position by using a torch or you can use the torch to take them out. But that’s as far as violence goes.
I’ve mentioned snakes, but there are also spiders and lizard men to contend with. Each of these enemies has a unique pattern of movement that you need to figure out as you go. And in a few levels you have to deal with the giant snake.
Lara Croft GO hasn’t been rated by the ESRB, but I imagine it would garner an E10+ or maybe even an E.
I had so much fun with Lara Croft GO that I didn’t want it to end. Even if you don’t like Tomb Raider or Lara Croft, you should still give this game a try. I’m so glad Square Enix decided to bring Lara Croft to this game style because it fits with the core gameplay of Tomb Raider so well. It’s also the perfect type of Lara Croft game to play on a mobile device. I personally love this type of puzzle game and Lara Croft GO delivered an amazing experience for me.