I'm really feeling it!
I'm really feeling it!
Illustration for article titled Returning Gamer Reviews: The First Half of Tomb Raider (2013)

I have recently returned to consistent gaming after over a decade of dabbling. I am reviewing games that work for me, as I finish them. Well...usually...

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I’m writing this review before finishing this game. As of this point, I’m halfway through. Maybe I’ll write another review of the second half once I finish, and get two of my sixTAY days out of one game.

I did plenty of gaming in the ‘90s, but never played and Tomb Raider games. I didn’t find the sexification of Lara Croft to be appealing even as a teenage boy (and honestly my parents probably wouldn’t have let me play it anyway) so I really had no expectations going into this game. I bought it because (1) it cost five Brazilian Reais (about $1.50 then, about $1 now, don’t talk to me about it I get paid in Reais...), (2) I remember hearing that it was good.

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It is indeed good!

Game-play and Design

In terms of controls and feeling, the closest game I have played to this one is Batman: Arkham Asylum. They are both 3rd person action adventure games with a bit of platforming, lots of exploration and collecting of things, and a slowly improving kit of tools that unlocks pathways and areas previously inaccessible. Obviously, they aren’t identical - the combat is very different, more Mass Effect than Batman- but it still feels very similar to play in many ways.

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Only one thing on the checklist!
Only one thing on the checklist!

But most importantly, both of these games are essentially linear. Sure, you can go backwards to collect your collectibles, or pause and Raid a Tomb, but there is nonetheless a clear constant push to move to the next step of the narrative, and it’s always marked on your map. There aren’t really side quests like you’d see in an Open World game - just potential short-term distractions. It reminds me of the game design of another favorite game of mine - Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom.

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The Story

Gross
Gross
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Look, the story in this game doesn’t make sense. We got stranded on some kind of magic desert island, where theoretically very few people crash, but somehow there are literally hundreds (thousands?) of bad guys to kill, plus whole caves filled with very fresh-looking body parts? Seems odd. I obviously don’t know any twists that might be coming, or all of the details, but it doesn’t really track so far, and I kind of doubt that whatever they add will fix that.

But what works is how it definitely feels, the entire time, like Lara is seriously out of her depth. This is a way it feels completely different from the Batman games. Batman KNOWS he is a bad-ass. In this game, Lara doesn’t really know that yet, and it makes the whole thing feel so much more tense and interesting. You could argue that this is a sign of our sexist society- why do the guys get to be confidently ass-kicking from the beginning while we want to see the women work their way there? - and that’s probably fair. But then, Miles Morales does a similar thing in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse and if that were a game I would love it. (Heck, maybe Peter Parker does this in Spider-Man too, I don’t have a PS4..)

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Temporary Conclusion

Right now, this is my favorite game I’m playing.

So what other games of the last decade+ are like this game? (Preferably available on PC or Switch cuz I dunno when I’m going to get a PS4)

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