The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider was one of the best games to come out this year and possibly this decade. There. I said it. I’ll also say that I’m eager to try the sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider. That’s not out for some time, though. In order to fill the void, we’ve got Lara Croft GO, a mobile puzzler which plays pretty much nothing like Tomb Raider. It’s still worth a look, though. Check it out!
Much like its predecessor Hitman GO, Lara Croft GO takes a familiar concept – in this case, our favorite Tomb Raider’s tomb raiding adventures – and converts it into a bite-sized turn-based puzzle game. Rather than running about blasting baddies and making jumps, you’ll have to approach each challenge with a little more thought. Your actions in each stage will affect your future moves, so getting stuff done in the right order is typically vital. The best comparison I could make would be to something like Sokoban; though they’re different concepts entirely, the basic idea of planning ahead is the same. As per good game design standards, you’re usually given a level or two to learn a new mechanic before you’re thrown into the deep end, but these all generally boil down to pondering a solution before you act.
For example, many early areas revolve around cobras sitting coiled up on the ground. If Lara stands in front of one for any reason, it’ll strike, she’ll die and you’ll have to take the level from the top; on the other hand, Lara can defeat a cobra by moving into it from any other direction. Thus, levels become intricate dances between lethal snakes, requiring you to determine a safe path that doesn’t involve standing in front of a cobra at any point. Later foes might require grabbing a spear before impaling them rather than using the guns. Another common element involves ledges that crumble after Lara grabs them once; yet again, planning ahead is key to victory.
As odd as it might sound, this sort of situation helps the game embody the Indiana Jones-style adventuring that the franchise is known for. It might sound strange that a turn-based casual puzzle game can capture the same spirit of exploration as its bigger, badder cousins, but that’s what we’ve got here. It’s the sort of situation that could have turned out really poorly, but like Hitman GO, this title grabs its concept and runs with it. Along with solving puzzles, there are also collectibles to find strewn throughout each stage which unlock bonuses; OCD types will probably enjoy this, but I didn’t pay much attention to it during my playthrough.
Performance and graphics are solid in my experience. I played the title on an iPad Air 1 with no slowdown or issues whatsoever. The game appears to only run in landscape mode, but on an iPad I felt like this is negligible as it’s how I tend to play games anyway. Appropriately for the fact that you’re meant to play this on the road, levels are fairly short, allowing you to pick up and put down the game whenever.
Further, this being a mobile game in the year 2015, there are microtransactions; you can pay a couple bucks for some costumes, or defeat the purpose of the game entirely by dropping $5 for solutions to all of the puzzles. Five seconds of Googling revealed a walkthrough with both screenshots and video solutions available for free, so you might want to save your cash for other things.
Speaking of a Lincoln, that’s all Lara Croft GO costs, and it’s a solid chunk of content for $5. (Yes, that means they’re asking you to pay the price of the game again if you can’t clear it without hints and can’t figure out how to search up a walkthrough.) I’d estimate the game lasting around 5-10 hours depending on your puzzle-solving aptitude, though if you play the game in bite-sized chunks as is apparently intended that should spread its value out quite a bit. If you need a new commuting game or you’re just interested in a little adventure before the release of Rise of the Tomb Raider, you can’t really go wrong with Lara Croft GO.