Experimenting with Lara Croft
The Tomb Raider series isn’t exactly known for startling innovation. Back in the day, it did pretty well in providing fun platforming and a new (at the time) approach to cinematic experiences. It definitely worked in the PS1 era, but not so much after that, when other series began doing Lara Croft’s thing, but in bigger and better ways. The time eventually came to mix things up without betraying the franchise’s core, and in doing so, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics gave their titular heroine new life before the reboot.
2010 saw the release of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, a smaller scale isometric digital title. Taking the action adventure franchise and turning it into an arcade-style game was a bold move, and the perfect merging of her gameplay into a new genre (plus the surprisingly fun addition of co-op) made for one of the sleeper hits of 2010. Thankfully, the experimentation didn’t stop there; not only did the game receive a sequel two years ago, but we also saw Lara Croft: Relic Run and watched the success of Hitman Go prove to work in the Lara Croft universe as well. In an age where old strategies are the safest option, the Tomb Raider series has been quietly taking steps to make sure it stretches beyond more of the same.
This extends to the rebooted franchise as well, which deviated to a more survival-oriented route. Lara is nothing if not capable, and both her 2013 reboot and last year’s Rise have shown her tenaciousness and versatility, in more ways than one. Given that her big competition is Uncharted, it was a wise move for Crystal Dynamics to differentiate her by sticking her in a sole location with the single goal of not dying.