Tomb Raider has had an interesting journey. After starting as an interesting exploration-esque title, it went away for a bit, only to return as a truly interesting series. Ever since the rise of Uncharted, Tomb Raider has found a lot of success chasing after the thrill of adventure and fun of being Indiana Jones. The latest series has gotten a lot of attention, since it brings so many great things together. Shadow of the Tomb Raider furthers this by trying to bring an interesting setting, puzzles and thrilling combat together. Given the praise earlier titles received, will it be a hit or should they have stopped when they were ahead?
Shadow of the Tomb Raider takes place after the events of Rise of the Tomb Raider and follows Croft’s adventure to stop an impending apocalypse. It makes for an interesting journey, one that is held back by fairly boring scenes. Between the stuff with Trinity, figuring out where to go and just trying to get the required parts lacks the excitement that is found towards the end of the adventure.
If there is one major criticism, it’s the story tries too hard. Events often occur with more tension that is needed or in a way that feels contrived. Sure, it makes the story interesting, at least at times, though there is only so many times something can go wrong or something incredible happen before it loses its impact.
Even if the story isn’t all it can be, gameplay is more than compelling. First and foremost, Shadow of the Tomb Raider does a fantastic job of handling difficulty. Instead of asking player’s simple modes and a brief explanation of what this means, players are allowed to make their own difficulty. So, if you want puzzles to be challenging and combat easy, you can do that. Likewise, you can make it all easy or hard, flip and flop or just read the rather beefy explanations of each difficulty. This allows players to figure out what is right for them, outside of things being easy, normal, hard and so forth.
Combat comes down to knowing when to act and making the most of each moment. Reckless attacks will be punished, just like being too slow to act will cause different issues, forcing players to think ahead. One thing that is nice is the crafting system gives players a couple more options. You can shoot, maybe inflict poison or just stun enemies and overcome every challenge like that.
Crafting also opens a lot of doors, as now there is a reason to bother looking around. The more supplies you have, the easier or at least more options you’ll have to overcome any challenge. Sometimes this can be accomplished by thinking inside the box, such as outright shooting a foe or waiting in stealth and playing a long game. Every choice has some kind of risk, which is why having more options makes a substantial difference.
Puzzles are an interesting thing, as they often rely on players having to realize what is being asked of them. Survival instinct will often show what you need to do, meaning a specific place or item will be highlighted, or it just makes sense. A lot of platforming sections are like the latter. Instead of illustrating where you need to go, they will just have obvious dead ends that offer only one way to progress. Whether this means you need to jump, lower yourself on a rope or just swing will depend on the situation, though they’re never that difficult.
Along with having a wide array of things to do, Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks fantastic. Whether you’re looking at a destroyed temple, jungle or a gather of people, it looks good. Even minor things, such as Lara’s mask or the details on a wall stand out, making it feel like a high quality experience, even if other areas fail to maintain the same impression.
Overall, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a good game but not a great one. Even though story has its moments, it often times fails to meet expectations. Combat and crafting can be fun and will often times be the best part. Puzzles can also add a lot of fun, though many of them have obvious solutions like shoot this or jump on that. Given the impressive graphics, it is enough to make for a satisfying experience, just not one I’d say exceeds expectations. So, if you loved the previous games, odds are you’ll like this, where as if you weren’t impressed with them, odds are your opinion will be unchanged.